Total Pageviews

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Matter of Marriage

I wasn't necessarily floored by President Barack Obama's announcement of his "support" for "same-sex marriage" as I was mightily disappointed with Vice President Joe Biden for his endorsement of the issue.

While I do not expect the POTUS to be guided by the principles of the Catholic Church, Biden presents us with an altogether different matter.  That Biden, a Catholic, would knowingly and willingly take on a position that runs squarely against the teachings of the Catholic Church is certainly grave cause for concern. 

It is ironic that the POTUS cites Christ as an example for why support for "same-sex marriage" is warranted.  However, Obama's application of the Golden Rule does not exactly fit the equation.  If there was ever an issue were the Lord took such a strong stand, it was the matter of marriage.  In fact, the Lord made his most direct statements on the subject by both deed and word.

St. John records Jesus' first miracle at the wedding at Cana, wherein Christ turns water into wine at His Mother's request.  Christ's presence at the wedding sanctified it.  Later on, in St. Matthew's Gospel account, when the Pharisees try to trap Jesus on the matter of divorce, he gives them this direct and strong response:

[3] And there came to him the Pharisees tempting him, and saying: Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? [4] Who answering, said to them: Have ye not read, that he who made man from the beginning, Made them male and female? And he said: [5] For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be in one flesh.
[6] Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.

When Jesus makes His pronouncement, He goes back as far as Genesis, confirming not only the earthly permanence of marriage, but, the fact that this Sacrament is covenant between a man and a woman.  Thus, this is not some mere invention of the Church, but something that comes directly from the mouth of no less than God, Himself.

Furthermore, throughout the Gospels, Christ refers to Himself as the Bridgegroom.  St. Paul, in his Epistles, refers to the Church as Christ's Bride. He urges husbands to love their wives as Christ loves His Bride, the Church.  It is interesting that the Bible begins and ends with a marriage.  In Genesis, we read the account of the creation of Adam and Eve and how Eve is given to Adam as his wife.  In Revelation, one of the final acts of the book is the marriage between the Lamb and the New Jerusalem, Christ and His Church, the Bridegroom and the Bride.

In the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we prepare for that wedding banquet of the Lamb and His Bride, the New Jerusalem.  When the Sacrament of Marriage is celebrated within the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the bridegroom and the bride are reminded of this important sacramental and sacrificial aspect of their marriage.  They are called to be closely united to each other in love, just as Christ is closely united in love with the Church. 

The Church cannot change that which Christ, Himself, has declared unchangeable.  She cannot go against that which her Divine Spouse has already made clear.  Marriage between one man and one woman is non-negotiable. 

As a Catholic, Biden is bound by Church teaching, as the are those of us who profess to be members of the Church.  Being in public office, I believe, does not excuse anyone from acting with a properly formed conscience.  As much as I admire the late President John F. Kennedy, his infamous 1960 speech really did not help matters any when it came to Faith and the Public Square.  A Roman Catholic should not have to check his or her Faith at the door when running for public office. 

In the final analysis, we are not going to be judged as to whether or not we followed the tenents of a particular political party.  Rather, we will be judged on whether or not we remained faithful to Christ and to His Church.

Regaining our Traditions

For several years, the Texas conference has celebrated the Solemnity of the Ascension in place of the Seventh Sunday of Easter.  While some may argue that there are pastoral reasons for making the change, it seems to me that we need to return the solemnity to its rightful place, Thursday.

Fr. Z, in his excellent blog, makes many fine arguments for this return.  We base this beautiful Solemnity on the final Gospel accounts.  The evangelists tell us that 40 days after the Resurretion, the Lord appeared to the surviving 11 Apostles for the last time, charging them to preach the Good News to all nations and baptize everyone in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  He then promised to be with them (and us) always, even to the end of time. 

The number 40 has a special biblical significance.  In the book of Genesis, we read that the Lord sent a deluge upon the earth for 40 days and 40 nights to purify creation.  Ancient Israel wandered the desert for 40 years.  Forty days after the birth of Christ, the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph took the holy Infant to the Temple to present Him to the Lord.  Jesus spent 40 days and 40 nights in the desert after His baptism in the Jordan by St. John the Baptist.

There is also another dimension that we might want to explore, the notion of the significance of Thursday.  Let us look at Jesus' promise, "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."  Jesus was about to leave His beloved Apostolic band, and yet, He promises to remain with them.  How can this be?  We need to go back 43 days to another Thursday, Holy Thursday, wherein the Lord instituted the Sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist.  When Jesus spoke the words, "This is My Body" and "This is My Blood", He meant what He said.  This was how He intended to remain with us, under the forms of bread and wine. 

If we look at nearly every post-Resurrection appearance that the Lord made throughout these 40 days, each of them had some element of the Eucharist.  Even his appearance to St. Mary Magdalene carries with it a Eucharistic reference.  When He tells her to stop hanging on to Him, He is trying to prepare her for the fact that He will take on a new form, that of the Eucharist.  When He meets up with the two disciples walking along the road to Emmaus, He celebrates the Eucharist with them, breaking both the Scriptures and the Bread, helping them to see that this is how He will remain with them.

While Sunday is the day of the Lord, we should not lose that important connection to Thursday.  Holy Thursday points the way to Ascension Thursday.