Thursday, March 31, 2011

Is Marriage Only for Having Children?

To most people the answer to this question seems obvious.  In order to hold the Church and her beliefs up to ridicule one protestant asked if an infertile couple was sinning because Catholics stated the marriage is only for having children.  Not only is that statement inaccurate but it is not true.  No Catholics that I am aware of, on that debate forum, has stated that marriage is only for having children.  Children are a gift of life from the Father and integral to the marriage sacrament.

The Catechism says:
1652 "By its very nature the institution of marriage and married love is ordered to the procreation and education of the offspring and it is in them that it finds its crowning glory."162
Children are the supreme gift of marriage and contribute greatly to the good of the parents themselves. God himself said: "It is not good that man should be alone," and "from the beginning [he] made them male and female"; wishing to associate them in a special way in his own creative work, God blessed man and woman with the words: "Be fruitful and multiply." Hence, true married love and the whole structure of family life which results from it, without diminishment of the other ends of marriage, are directed to disposing the spouses to cooperate valiantly with the love of the Creator and Savior, who through them will increase and enrich his family from day to day.163
1653 The fruitfulness of conjugal love extends to the fruits of the moral, spiritual, and supernatural life that parents hand on to their children by education. Parents are the principal and first educators of their children.164 In this sense the fundamental task of marriage and family is to be at the service of life.165

1654 Spouses to whom God has not granted children can nevertheless have a conjugal life full of meaning, in both human and Christian terms. Their marriage can radiate a fruitfulness of charity, of hospitality, and of sacrifice.

1660 The marriage covenant, by which a man and a woman form with each other an intimate communion of life and love, has been founded and endowed with its own special laws by the Creator. By its very nature it is ordered to the good of the couple, as well as to the generation and education of children. Christ the Lord raised marriage between the baptized to the dignity of a sacrament (cf. CIC, can. 1055 § 1; cf. GS 48 § 1).

1661 The sacrament of Matrimony signifies the union of Christ and the Church. It gives spouses the grace to love each other with the love with which Christ has loved his Church; the grace of the sacrament thus perfects the human love of the spouses, strengthens their indissoluble unity, and sanctifies them on the way to eternal life (cf. Council of Trent: DS 1799).

1664 Unity, indissolubility, and openness to fertility are essential to marriage....; the refusal of fertility turns married life away from its "supreme gift," the child (GS 50 § 1).

[162 GS 48 § 1; 50.  163 GS 50 § 1; cf. Gen 2:18; Mt 19:4; Gen 1:28.  164 Cf. GE 3.]

GS stands for Gaudium et spes or The Church in the Modern World.  The Catechism is available online--click "Catechism".

While a married couple's cooperation in God's act of creation is essential to the sacrament of marriage, there are other components to marriage.  No Catholic denies this, nor does the Church state anywhere that marriage is only for procreation.  However, the marriage sacrament is invalid if the intent or desire for having children is not a part of it.  And, of course, infertility is not a sin--never was, never will be. As guilty as a couple may feel about it, it is beyond their control.  In my second grade class we teach that for something to be a sin, one must know it is wrong and choose to do it anyway.  Infertility is not chosen, therefore it is not a sin.  I hope that helps put that silly comment to rest.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Is Lying Ever Okay?

Immaculate Conception of Mary
Patroness of the U.S.

     Today, I got an update on a debate I had been following on Catholic Answers.  "Is Lying Ever Okay?"  I am truly surprised at the number of hard-line, black-or-white arguers.  "Thou shalt not lie!  Period!" is their battle cry.  Inevitably, at least to my mind, the argument degraded to talking about the Holocaust.  I say degraded because once people get really emotional involved in an argument online, the most extreme emotional appeal 'they' can think of is the Holocaust.  There is even an unofficial debate rule now that once some one mentions the Holocaust or Nazis they've lost the debate.
      The extremist, no-lie-is-ever-acceptable crowd says that you don't lie even to save your life or anyone else's.  Really?  Their is no gray area here at all?  That is the stance of some of these people who call themselves Christians.  Some say, "Well, Jesus never lied,"  "Jesus is the Truth."  Yea, we know that, but we aren't Jesus.  He is our example, but I really, really believe in my heart that Jesus would never in a million years condemn someone for a lie told to save someone's life.  Would I lie to a kidnapper?  Yes.  Would I lie to a Nazi?  Yes.  Would I believe that I committed a mortal sin by these lies?  No.  Never. 

The Immaculate Conception Icon
       Love and the protection of life trumps all.  After all Jesus is also the LIFE.  What did Jesus say is the greatest commandment?  LOVE God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul, and with all your strength, and LOVE your neighbor as yourself.  Not only does this 'commandment' cover all the old ten, but He was also giving us a message.  Love trumps all. 
     Do not lie to your husband about anything.  Do not lie to your children (however, they don't have a need to know everything, either).  Do not lie to the police.  Do not lie in court.  Do not make a practice of lying in your everyday life.  Any of those would be a grave sin.  But there really are gray areas in life.  Lying can be one of them in the right circumstances.  If (I think when) Christians, especially Catholics, begin to be persecuted again, will I lie and not tell them who my fellow Christians are?  Absolutely, yes.  Will I lie to protect the lives of the ones I love?  Absolutely.  Will I feel that I need to go to confession?  Absolutely not!  So, you hard-liners out there, the ones who said they would not even lie to protect a Jew hiding in the basement.  When persecution comes around, would you lie to protect your own?  Really? 
Blessed Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Pray for us!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Mary, Mother of GOD, is No Doormat

Something needs to be said. I hope Scott doesn't mind too much, if I jump in here.

[Note:  This was originally posted on CathApol two days ago in a response to a smart aleck response in the Comments section of "Jesus is the Door".  The responder said that if Jesus is the Door (to Heaven) Mary must be the Doormat, if we have to go through her to get to Jesus.  This was my first response in a short series-I hope.  Pictures added.]

The Blessed Virgin Mary is definitely not a doormat. She was and is a beautiful, obedient, servant of God; obedient to both the Father and her Son, the Son of God, Jesus Christ Our Savior, and then the Holy Spirit (after all she was there at Pentecost --Acts 1:14--and received the Holy Spirit at the same time the apostles did) whom her Son promised to all Christians. Mary, the Mother of the Christ, can rightly be called the first Christian.

Mary is the Queen mother. I can tell you one thing that I know for sure about Hebrew royalty, they honored their mothers! Jesus Christ is, after all, acknowledged almost universally by Christians to be the King of the Universe. That would make Mary, His mother, Queen Mother. The queen mother in Israel was not reverenced above the king, neither is Mary, the Queen Mother of Heaven reverenced above Jesus Christ the King of the Universe in the Catholic Church. Remember King Solomon? The Queen Mother, Bathsheba, was at his right hand in the palace. Adonijah asked Queen Bathsheba to intercede for him to his brother, King Solomon.

Then Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him for Adonijah, and the king stood up to meet her and paid her homage. Then he sat down upon his throne, and a throne was provided for the king's mother, who sat at his right. In I Kings 2, it says that she did intercede for her stepson, Adonijah.

"There is one small favor I would ask of you," [Queen Mother Bathsheba] said. "Do not refuse me." "Ask it, my mother," the king [Solomon] said to her, "for I will not refuse you." So she said, "Let Abishag the Shunamite be given to your brother Adonijah for his wife." "And why do you ask Abishag the Shunamite for Adonijah?" King Solomon answered his mother. "Ask the kingdom for him as well, for he is my elder brother and has with him Abiathar the priest and Joab, son of Zeruiah." And King Solomon swore by the LORD: "May God do thus and so to me, and more besides, if Adonijah has not proposed this at the cost of his life. And now, as the LORD lives, who has seated me firmly on the throne of my father David and made of me a dynasty as he promised, this day shall Adonijah be put to death."

In John 2, the Blessed Virgin Mary interceded for the wedding couple.

When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to Him, "They have no wine." (And) Jesus said to her, "Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come." His mother said to the servers, "Do whatever he tells you."...Jesus told them, "Fill the jars with water." So they filled them to the brim. Then He told them, "Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter." So they took it. And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine,...

Queen Bathsheba have the ear of her son the King. Queen Mary, too, had the ear of her Son, sitting as she was near Him, the King. Queen Bathsheba interceded for her stepson. Mary, mother of our King, interceded for the wedding couple. King Solomon said he would "not refuse [her]". Jesus Christ, on the surface, seems to turn His mother down, but note her confidence that Jesus would do as she asked ("Do whatever He tells you.") King Solomon took back his word to his mother; it was not politically expedient to grant his 'enemy', his half-brother, any favors, so he did not honor his promise. Jesus did as His mother asked, without any promise, and miraculously turned water into wine--and not just any wine but the best wine.

Let's approach this from another angle. Here are some generally acknowledged prophecies about the Messiah's mother (iow, MARY):

Genesis 3:15: "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at His heel."

Obviously the "woman" will has a significant role in that her child (offspring) will "bruise" Satan's "head". He made no such statement to the man, Adam. He did not mention the savior without the way in which He would enter the world--through the womb of the woman.

Psalm 22:10-11 (9-10 in other versions) Yet you drew me forth from the womb, made me safe at my mother's breast. Upon you I was thrust from the womb; since birth you are my God.

This is almost universally seen as a messianic prophecy from one of the Psalms. Why does this prophecy talk about the WOMB from which the Savior/messiah would come. His mother's womb (twice), His birth from her, even the breasts that would feed Him. Of course, His mother is significant; they don't just mention the Messiah, but also His mother.

Don't like that prophecy? How about the old stand by, Isaiah 7:14: "Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name Him Immanuel."

It should be properly read in English as "the virgin shall be with child, and the virgin bear a son, and the virgin shall name him Immanuel." The VIRGIN is prominent in this prophecy; she is the sign of the savior, she carries the Savior, bears the Savior, and names the Savior. Seems pretty significant to me.

There is are at least Seventeen names for Mary, the mother of the Savior.

Woman: Genesis 3:15; Jeremiah 31:22; John 2:4; John 19:26; Galatians 4:4; Revelation 12:1, 4, 6, 13-17.
Virgin: Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23; Luke 1:27 (twice).
Mary: Matthew 1:17, 18, 20; 13:55; Mark 6:3; Luke 1:26, 30, 34, 38, 39, 41, 46, 56, 2:5, 16, 19.
Mary His Mother: Matthew 2:11; Luke 2:34.
His Mother: Matthew 2:13, 14, 20, 21; 12:46, 47; 13:55; Mark 3:31; Luke 2:33, 43, 48, 51; 8:19; John 2:5, 12; (John 6:42); 19:25, 26.
Mary the Mother of Jesus: Acts 1:14.
Mother of Jesus: John 2:1, 3.
Full of Grace: Luke 1:28.
Handmaid of the Lord: Luke 1:38.
Blessed among women: Luke 1:42.
Mother of my Lord: Luke 1:43.
Here are some other significant Scriptures that Catholics (and many, many non-Catholics) believe are types, or figures of Mary, the mother of God the Son mentioned in Scripture (some repeat from above) [List from]:

•Genesis 3:15, 24:43-46 - Rebecca, 28:12 Jacob's Ladder, 30:13?,
•Exodus 3:11-12, 13:2, 13:14 (Magnificat), 15:20, 21, 26 (Magnificat), 25:8 Ark, 34:19-20
•Leviticus 12:2, 8 (Purification)
•Numbers 18:15 (Presentation)
•Judges 6:12, 15 (Annunciation)
•1 Samuel 2:1-10 (Magnificat)
•Isaiah 7:14 (Virgin Birth)
•Ezekiel 44:2 (Mary's perpetual Virginity)
•Mat 1:16, 18-25 (Mary to be found with Child), 2:11, 13-14, 20-23 (Maji flight to Egypt), 12:46-50 (Who is my mother?), 13:55 (is his mother not Mary?)
•Mark 3:31-35 (Your mother is outside), 6:3 (is he not son of Mary?)
•Luke 1:26-56 (Annunciation, visitation magnificat), 2:5-7, 16-19, 22, 33-35, 39, 41-51 (Nativity, shepherds, presentation, finding in the temple), 8:19-21 (Your mother outside) 11:27-28 Blessed is the womb that bore you
•John 1:14 (incarnation), 2:1-5 (Cana), 6:42 (Do we not know his mother), 19:25-27
•Acts 1:14 (Gathered in prayer with Mary), Gal 4:4 (God sent son born of woman)
•Col 1:15, 18 (first born, Head of body)
•Rev 11:19 (Ark in Heaven),12:1-17 (Woman clothed with the sun)

Besides Mary, the mother of God, what other person, besides the apostles themselves including Sts. Paul, Mark, and Luke, is mentioned so many times in Scripture? A doormat? I think not. The woman, the mother of the Messiah was prophesied and honored through Scripture, and the Church. She is no doormat. She is His mother, and she is our mother.

All Scripture quotes from the New American Bible, special nod to this page on Mary in Scripture for names of Mary, and for Mary in Scripture.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ash Wednesday--Don't forget to go get your ashes

Living in Oklahoma is an interesting life journey for a Catholic.  Ash Wednesday is one of those times that you stick out like a sore thumb--that is if you remember to go to church.  I lost track of time this morning and we missed 11:30 services.  However, we will be going tonight at 6 (at our parish) or 6:30 (at our Catholic War Veterans' meeting).  But then we miss out on most of the nasty remarks or 'helpful' people who try to wipe the 'smudge' from your forehead.  (Click on The Mom for a great story by a friend of mine).  I think the comments and people's nasty wet thumbs are part of the penance of Ash Wednesday. 
" the books both in the Old Law and in the New that the men who repented of their sins bestrewed themselves with ashes and clothed their bodies with sackcloth. Now let us do this little at the beginning of our Lent that we strew ashes upon our heads to signify that we ought to repent of our sins during the Lenten fast" (Quote here.)
--St. Aelfric, c. 8th century.

This is the day, after all, that we remember "That thou art dust, and unto dust you shall return."  No, it is not a holy day of obligation, but it is definitely a beneficial reminder of humility and mortality.  Go to church!