The former bulletin column concluded with the sixth grace in the Sacrament of Matrimony known as chastity.
Finally, the Sacrament of Matrimony confers on the married partners the virtue of loyalty – some- times called fidelity. The virtue of commitment, the virtue of remaining faithful to your promise, and on this level it is not only that the future of the Church depends, but the future of our society. We, as Catholics, are to be models of what married life should be, so that remaining faithful to what we believe Christ wants marriage to be, that we will with the grace of God win many persons to the Catholic Church who are inspired by what they see among believing, faithful, Catholic husbands and wives.
As you read the history of the Church in the early centuries, how do you explain that a handful of men called by Jesus, no special qualifications, moving from Palestine to Rome, by the end of the first century do you know, there were over one hundred dioceses in the Catholic Church – by the year 100 AD! And by the beginning of the fourth century the Catholic Church had become so strong, so widespread, that the Roman Emperor had no choice, he had to give the Catholic Church freedom. Three centuries of persecution, it just made the Church grow!
What are the two qualities (this is non-Catholic, non-Christian unbelieving historians that tell us) the two main reasons why the Catholic Church had such phenomenal growth against all human odds was because of the charity and chastity of the faithful. That there were even, and if you can imagine people, sober, sane and intelligent men and women who would even sacrifice marriage in a life-time of virginity. And that married Christians did not divorce and remarry.
The orator Cicero, writes in one of his letters (he was a member of the Roman Senate), “A senator was late in coming to senate meeting, and the rule was you had to explain why you were late. So the Senator told his fellow senators, ‘Apologies for being late, I have just divorced *meum vigsium quattarm uxorium – my twenty- fourth wife’.” There is no stability in marriage outside of Catholic Christianity – period, close the book.
And the second was the practice of charity. We read, if you already read it, read it for the first time the, “Confessions of Saint Augustine” what he tells about his mother Monica who happened to be married to a pagan. The love of Monica (that is Augustine’s mother), Patricius (that is her husband, the father of Augustine) when the pagan’s saw that loving unlovable, in this case loving an unfaithful spouse. Ah, when you see that you realize it must be the work of God.
To be continued....
The Most Eminent and Most Reverend Lord
Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church
Jorge Mario Bergoglio, SJ
who assumes for himself the name
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In last week’s column we read what the
fundamental reason why Christ instituted the Sacrament of Marriage. And again, that purpose was in order to provide husband and wife with that kind of love, love for one another and love for the children except for them would not come into the world.
Let’s take a look at the second reason for marriage which is still on the level of sustained love between the spouses. It is one thing to have met someone, to call someone even your close friend; it is something else to live with a person. There are wives and husbands married for just one week, and they wake up one morning and suddenly realize that they married a man in the wife’s case or a woman in the husband’s. In other words, superhuman grace is needed to continue loving. Not only is the love to be sustained, but the love between husband and wife should grow! And the very differences of personality and how different people can be, the very conflict between one of the couple’s has a strong iron will, the other also has a strong iron will. ...in order to, on the one hand, for a person who has a strong will, which in more appropriate language means, a “self-will”. In order for that strong, alias “self-will” to love another person, and if the other person also has a strong will, no marriage will survive on a fifty- fifty ratio. It must be one hundred percent on both sides. The willingness to give in!
The Sacrament of Marriage provides graces and those that receive the Sacrament of Marriage are infallibly assured by Christ, who instituted the sacrament, that they have the power and the strength to practice them:
The first grace is to practice generosity. It is love. The Sacrament of Marriage has been instituted by Christ, in order that married couples might be enabled to love – love as Christ, our Master and Model loves us – generously, giving. And the hardest part of giving, is giving-in.
The Sacrament of Matrimony provides a second grace for the practice of selflessness. A lot of people when they marry, and they tell either – she tells him or he tells her, “I love you”. What they mean is, “I love you for what you can give me”. And when either the other partner runs out of “giving” anymore, or the ego of the partner wants “more”, then we just say without a second thought, “They no longer love one another”. Ah! Memorize this, “Love means to give”. Those two words are divinely revealed synonyms. And the hardest thing to give, the most precious possession we have, is ourselves.
To be continued....