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A Leaven In The World… Faith Must Underlie Marriage

May 7, 2018 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK

Military life, it hardly need be said, can be tough. Some join because of that, some despite it. I am not simply a priest who put a uniform on, having served as an Armor Officer, and it is a privilege and a blessing to do what one loves for men and women in uniform with a shared understanding of the sacrifice.
The sailors and marines to whom I brought the Lord and His sacraments signed up for tough duty, including separation from spouse and family. My voluntary celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom gave me and our other priest chaplains deeper credibility since we embraced readily what they suffered involuntarily when deployed at sea or in combat zones.
Military priests also weather more anti-Catholic abuse, serving as they do among a cross-section of America wherever assigned. You can understand my delight when, upon walking up the brow of my first ship, aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, I was met at the quarter deck with a very enthusiastic young Navy officer who exclaimed, “You’re the priest? I want to become a Catholic!” I turned in prayer to the Lord for just a moment to give a word of thanks.
That young officer did become a Catholic under my tutelage and later was followed by his wife into the Church. Both had been raised as committed Protestants. His conversion began as an intellectual one. Hers took more time and trust.
Today they are blessed with six children, the eldest of whom is preparing to enter postulancy for the religious life this coming fall. How did this come about? Not by accident.
Many of us are asking why there is a dearth in vocations. As with many things in life, so with this: One must look to family life for the answers.
Faith must be the way of life for the family, not just one thing in our lives. As I tell people often, God the Father in Jesus has given us His everything. In order to be with the Father, Jesus must be everything for us. Every aspect of our lives must be affected by our faith. The idea of neutral ground is a fallacy of the evil one. The Lord expressed this when He said, “If you are lukewarm, I will spit you out of my mouth.”
Why does the Church bless nearly every aspect of our lives? As a reminder, an encouragement, and a means of sanctification. In every blessing is implied or expressed an exorcism, a casting out of the evil one, so as to turn everything over to Christ’s Lordship.
Josh and Sandy home-school their children all the way through high school. Their influence over their children has not been sacrificed to random teachers who may or may not share their faith and philosophy. Many Catholic families today are wounded by the exposure of their children from a very young age to toxic and sinful philosophies and beliefs in our schools.
Public education is not truly free: The cost is very great if a child’s salvation is jeopardized. The moment a child enters a school for the first time, his parents’ influence begins to evaporate.
With education in the home, as our home-schooling families know, the faith is much more easily integrated into every aspect of learning. A child begins to see from a young age not to separate God from daily life, like going to Sunday Mass and then forgetting about God from Monday to Saturday. A malformed child who has compartmentalized God from any aspect of his or her life is at a disadvantage for obvious reasons and must struggle to overcome it later in life.
I recently spoke to Josh, who expressed some of his thoughts on marriage and family life, the seed ground of religious vocations as well as of future marriages and families — what he believes “couples in the pews don’t know.”
He has developed a “philosophy” of marriage. It’s not new: It’s based on Church teaching and wisdom. It is “his” in the sense that he has internalized wisdom from the sources in Christ and can now express it with understanding and credibility.
His philosophy has four points. First, a “Basic catechism” — the purpose of life is to know and experience God. Everything is abandoned to that. Second, “Marriage is a calling to an ordained path to get to God. Being married to my spouse is my way to Him. A person called to marriage can’t get to God except through that marriage.” Third, “Procreation is so integral to marriage that natural biological impediments are the only thing that should prevent it.” And fourth, “80 percent of being a good parent is being a good spouse — that’s the weighting of the parenting grade (4 parts spouse to 1 part kids = parenting grade).”
He also offers strategies for living the Sacrament of Marriage, including: “Vocation of marriage: Purpose is to present a picture of Christ and His Church to the world — Christ giving up of Himself in sacrifice, the Church responding to that in obedience.” And: “Men initiate and lead, women respond and support — society doesn’t like that? Tough cookies!” Also: “Two sinners cannot live intimately together without buckets of grace — you must access that grace by attuning yourselves to the divine through prayer and sacraments.”
As to selecting a spouse: “Choose wisely — He has someone picked out for you in this vocation, use wisdom in discerning that person.”
The “tactics” he offers are the practical tools for implementing the strategy:
“Giving each other the benefit of the doubt is the key to working out the daily interactions.”
“Men need to feel significant.”
“Women need to feel secure.”
“Other opposite-sex relationships of any intimacy are poison and lead to misunderstandings in all three relationships for no real benefit at best.”
In an age when being sure about anything is an insult to those who disagree, perhaps Josh’s insights can help to provide more solid grounds for the most important relationships upon which the next generation depends, and which the good of the Church depends on as well.
Last, but not least, Josh says this about a bad habit to avoid: “Sarcasm is a cheap form of humor and will undercut a relationship.”
Thank you for reading and praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever.
@MCITLFrAphorism

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