Wednesday 20th February 2019

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Marriage, The Great Sacrament… The Gift Of Children And Their Rearing

February 3, 2019 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

 

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM

 

Part 2

 

The behavior of many of the so-called millennials has been the object of disappointment to many a Catholic family. I believe, however, that, in certain cases, those youngsters are more victims than perpetrators of the crisis.

This is the reason: Although parents are obliged to provide for the physical well-being of their children, they are far more strictly obliged to provide for their spiritual needs: They should make the home a place of peace and holiness, a true nursery of the Church. But it is also true that such a home atmosphere is definitely in short supply these days.

Because of the crisis of faith and morals in our days, especially inside the Church, many parents forget that they should bring up their children in the love and service of God, and give them a truly Catholic education, which is often not provided by the local Catholic school. Within the home, they must teach the love of neighbor, as manifested by rules of politeness, self-control, performance of duty, and acts of kindness and consideration.

They must furnish the home with good wholesome literature, and religious books and magazines. They must forbid any literature, television, or videos stained by vanity, graphic violence, or lust. Daily prayer is a source of great blessing for the family. In spiritual things, parents have the duty to teach their children, give them good examples, and pray for them.

After reading this paragraph, more than one reader may well ask me which planet I come from. I know, it is difficult to realize God’s plan today, but the plan remains the same. Parents have the duty to form their children’s consciences, even though those same children may later use their free will to turn against their formation as they leave home.

But the parents’ duty remains the same. At least they have the consolation of knowing that their children know the way back home, like the prodigal son of the Gospel. Children whose consciences were not formed will find it difficult to return home, if they ever do.

Parents must realize that they receive the actual grace through the Sacrament of Marriage to enable them to fulfill their important obligations. The sacramental grace gives them divine light and guidance, a great tenderness, patience, and love, so that they may help to save the souls of their children. In a family, the spouses’ first duty is to each other and to their children. Any service rendered to others should never interfere with their primary duties. Charity begins at home.

But we all know that it is not always peaches and cream. True, God lays a heavy and lifelong task on husband and wife, but He gives them the grace to bear it. He will increase that help and bestow it far more generously in response to fervent and constant prayer.

Each family which gathers at the altar to share in the Sacrifice of the Mass is a strong cell in the Mystical Body, the domestic Church. But such a family is also the strongest cell in society at large. The natural unit of society is the family. When families are stable and united, the society made up of those families will enjoy stability and peace.

This Sacrament of Marriage is therefore “social” in the broadest sense, as the center of Christian ministry to human society. People often remark on the witness value of the good Christian family as an example.

In such a domestic Church we also find the transmission, not only of Catholic morality, but also of the rich heritage of culture and civilization which the Church has nurtured over the centuries. Indeed, the Church has been described as “the family of the families of God.”

Nobody lives forever. People are born, grow up, live their lives, however short or long they may be, and then die. So, the Church depends, for her continued existence and normal increase, on the offspring of Christian parents; children must be born for life to continue, even in the Church. Without children being born, there is no future society, there is no Church. Therefore, parents are the agents of the Church in the education of her children. Hence contraception is a sin, purely and simply.

The Christian home, when it is all that it should be, is truly the domestic Church. There the children get their first knowledge of God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth. They are told that it is God who has given them to their parents, and made their parents love them. They learn how Christ was born at Bethlehem, and how He died on the cross for us. They are taught how to pray. Their parents show them by the example of their lives what religion really means in practice.

The influence of the Christian home does not cease with infancy: While the children are approaching manhood or womanhood, virtuous parents help to keep them from evil company and temptation. They guide them in the choice of career. They are at all times the children’s sincere friends and advisers. In brief, as long as they live, they try to keep and guard their children for God. The Christian home thus forms a most important part in the plan of Christ for the salvation of souls.

God our Lord blessed marriage in a very special way. He attached sanctifying grace and special gifts to the marriage covenant, and a right to all the actual graces necessary for its worthy fulfillment.

There are two essential properties of marriage: unity and indissolubility. The unity of marriage consists in having only one man and one woman as partners to the covenant. This is called monogamy.

The practice of keeping several wives in the same household (polygamy) leads to many evils, the chief of which are domestic unhappiness, the absence of true home life for parents and children, and the enslavement and degradation of women.

Luther favored polygamy and allowed the Landgrave Philip of Hesse in 1539 to marry another woman while his lawful wife was still alive; and some of their followers of the present day, against the clear teaching of Christ, make no difficulty in availing themselves of the same license.

 

The Will Of God

 

Marriage is also indissoluble or unbreakable, that is, the bond of valid marriage cannot be undone either by the contracting parties themselves or by any merely human power. This is true of all marriages, whether between Catholics, baptized non-Catholics, or pagans. “What therefore God has joined together,” says Christ, “let no man put asunder” (Matt. 19:6). That is why the Church can never accept divorce and remarriage, even among non-Catholics.

It is more plainly so with Christian marriage, which is an image of the indissoluble union between the Lord Jesus and His Church. To say that a consummated sacramental marriage could be dissolved is equivalent to saying that Jesus could sever Himself from His Church and abandon her.

The Pharisees favored divorce, and wanted to challenge Jesus on this issue, but He refuted them and reaffirmed the will of God from the beginning. Luther and many of his followers continued the thinking of the Pharisees and reintroduced divorce among baptized Christians. The early Church fathers are unanimous on the permanence of marriage.

Next article: problems in marriage: dissolution; separation; divorce; annulment.

 

+ + +

 

(Raymond de Souza, KM, is a Knight of the Sovereign and Military Order of Malta; a delegate for International Missions for Human Life International [HLI]; and an EWTN program host. Website: www. RaymonddeSouza.com.)

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