All posts tagged: marriage

Single Life Is More Fundamental for Christianity than both Married and Religious Life

The question of single life and its place within the Church has once again become significant of late. Not only are men and women marrying later in life, but many people are finding that quite virtuous pursuits of career or service have not allotted them the time to invest in finding a partner. Online dating options alone cannot overcome the loneliness that is structured into the economic and social autonomy of most adults. Various youth and church groups, while well intentioned, are seriously ill-equipped to address all the challenges of singlehood. The complexity and challenges of the larger cultural and social matrix is important to keep in mind when considering any understanding of the single life. Here, the challenges of modernity assert themselves rather aggressively for our context is characterized in particular by forgetting. This seems an outlandish claim in a world saturated with information. But if we understand this correctly, it means that modernity is particularly skilled at forgetting the ideas, people, events, and history that shape its current perspective and reality. In the …

The Blessing of Marital Monotony

To be entirely romantic a thing must be irrevocable. —G.K. Chesterton When I am shopping for an anniversary card, I am almost always drawn to the cheesy ones that feature elderly couples on the front. You know the type: An aged man and woman seated on a park bench and leaning into one another, or maybe it is a B&W shot from behind as the pair stroll side by side down a country lane. I have been buying cards like that for Nancy since we were first married—maybe even before we were married if memory serves—because I have always believed they capture something essential about the Catholic nuptial vocation. Namely this: That the absolute core of sacramental marriage is the vow. “Growing old together” is not just a heartwarming Hallmark sentiment. It is the very foundation of a sanctifying, and thus successful, marriage commitment. Note that I did not say anything about “happy” marriage, although unqualified permanence certainly makes such happiness possible. If either party to a marital union reserves the right, either openly or …

The Cruciform Shape of the Family

Embarking on the journey of marriage and family life is filled with many joyful moments but also with moments of suffering. This suffering is inherently relational, meaning that by entering into commitments such as marriage and parenthood, we open ourselves up to the possibility of being wounded by such commitment. For example, think of the newlyweds who ache with overwhelming love for one another, a mother who labors to meet her child, the infertile couple who longs to conceive, the parents who suffer with and for a sick child, or the elderly man who sits at his dying wife’s bedside after a lifetime shared together. As we can see, suffering takes a unique, relational shape in the context of marriage and family life. This shape reflects Christ’s suffering in the sense that he entered into relationship with mankind, therefore opening himself up to such relational wounds—wounds of love. When we gaze upon Christ crucified, we see not only the horrific suffering of his Passion but also a sign of hope in his Resurrection. However, it …

Editorial Musings: The Charism of Infertility

Over the last year, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the sacrament of marriage while teaching a course to undergraduates on precisely this topic. As I teach this course, I’m always amazed by the gift of sacramental marriage in ecclesial life. The couple’s consent binds them not simply to one another but to one another through Christ. The couple becomes in the sacrament of marriage an icon of Christ and the Church, mediating Eucharistic love to the world. The couple does so through family life, the charism of mundaneness that renews every aspect of the created order. It is precisely in this context that I have come to recognize that couples struggling with infertility have a particular charism within the sacrament of marriage itself. When I tell people that my spouse and I cannot have children (at least thus far), there is always one of two reactions. The first is a question: Have you heard about the Creighton Model of treating infertility? We say yes. The second reaction is a well-intentioned (though deeply idiotic) …

Marriage as Mission: The Implications of the Charism of Marriage

The role of the Holy Spirit in the nuptial union of a couple can be understood in light of the charism given to the couple by the Spirit. It is this gift that the couple is called to give back to the Church through participation in her mission. Grounded in the baptismal identity of all Christians, the charism of marriage implies that the baptismal vocation will be taken up in the nuptial and familial life of the couple. Practicing this form of participation in the mission of the Church includes the call to evangelize in real ways, concretely through the social doctrines of the Church. Thus, the charism of marriage should be considered in marriage formation as couples learn to foster their charism and discern its implications in their own lives. We can then consider: If marriage formation was approached as a fostering of charism, how might the identity and role of married persons and their families in the Church evolve? As the charism of marriage implies a mission in marriage, how might this new …

Joy and Parenting

There is a common sentiment, one which I shared as a single person, that the place where you live is simply a practical location to store food and clothing, sleep, charge your cell phone, and relax away from all the tasks and commitments of life. This was how I felt about my dorm room in college, a cinder block cube where I seldom worked and where I would certainly never have invited anyone for dinner. Until recently, I never actually owned a home, so many of the spots I dwelled in were temporary and shared. This did not negate the possibility of experiencing these places as a kind of home, but I lived more of my life away from the home than in it. It was not until I married and we started our family that I started to treat the place we lived as a place that meant something more than a cozy nook to eat and sleep in. The phrase “domestic Church” coined in the Dogmatic Constitution of the Second Vatican Council (Lumen Gentium, §11) establishes the home of Christian families as “the first school of Christian …

The Deacon’s Wife: Exploring Her Role in the Catholic Church

“How wonderful the bond . . . one in hope, one in desire, one in discipline, one in the same service!” (Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], §1642) The identity of the wife of the permanent deacon exists in a uniquely uncharacterized, uncategorized reality. Examining both universal and national declarations and norms only validates the difficulty of finding any substantive (certainly, any consistent) theological understanding of this most particular relationship between Marriage and Holy Orders, wife and husband.[1] Indeed, while this most relevant dynamic has been addressed in part, it remains a lacuna within the theological tradition of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church. Whereas the husband in this marriage is ontologically changed by the sacrament of Holy Orders, which confers upon him “an imprint that cannot be removed and configures [him] to Christ, who made himself the ‘deacon’ or servant of all” (CCC §1570), the wife in this marriage does not in any capacity participate in this particular sacramental characterization. Even as husband and wife “are no longer two, but one flesh,” (Mt 19:6, …

What’s New in the Marriage Rite?

Starting today, the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the dioceses of the United States may begin using a new ritual book for wedding liturgies, entitled The Order of Celebrating Matrimony.  (It becomes mandatory on December 30, the Feast of the Holy Family.) We are welcoming a text that is truly enriched and expanded, yet still very recognizable to those of us who are familiar with (or participated in) the outgoing Rite of Marriage book, which had been in use for over four decades. The old Rite of Marriage was translated from the 1969 Latin edition – the first set of revised marriage rites published for the universal Church after the Second Vatican Council.  A second Latin edition was then promulgated in 1990, featuring a number of changes.  However, because the Church in the English-speaking world would spend most of the subsequent two decades employing a new method of liturgical translation and readying the Roman Missal for its 2011 implementation, updating the vernacular edition of the marriage rites got put on the …

Three ‘Single’ Thoughts on Marriage

Thought 1: Marriage is a gift. Single people often hear the message, “If you want to get married, make yourself someone worthy of marriage.” It’s in magazines and media. It’s in the advice of friends and parents. Be interesting. Take up another hobby. Smile more. Make yourself more beautiful, skinnier, and happier. Be aggressive. Go after what you want. It’s in the competitive air we breathe. Marriage is seen as a personal achievement. It’s a life goal, a marker that you’ve made it. You’re one of the elite, the worthy ones, willing to do the hard work of earning marriage. And if you aren’t willing to work hard, you’ll be left out. It’s a dog eat dog world. Blood, sweat, and tears, and all that. This is battle, people. The Catholic world talks about being “worthy-of-marriage” a little differently, but it’s the same idea. Read more Theology of the Body. Have experiences that make you an interesting person to be around. Meet the Holy Father. Go on pilgrimage. Be holier. Don’t curse. Pray more, and …

Why (Most) Dorm Parties Make Love Impossible: The Communion of the Eyes

Last week, in the blog for my class on the sacrament of marriage, I addressed how pornography has malformed the imagination of most Catholics, making it difficult for the gift of love intrinsic to the spousal relationship to take place. I also suggested that the Catholic sacramental theology of marriage, linked to narrative and practices, offers a renewal of the imagination for the pornographic age. Yet, what is the pornographic imagination? And why is it such a problem? I want to suggest that the pornographic imagination is not simply reducible to the media of pornography itself. Instead, it is the constant temptation to reduce the human being (my “beloved”) to an object of my personal experience. To turn them into an object simply existing for my personal delight. Although Jean-Luc Marion, the French Catholic philosopher, does not talk about pornography per se, his account of love in Prolegomena to Charity is helpful for defining this imagination. Love, for Marion, should be about the other. But that’s difficult. When I love someone, I have a deeply conscious, …