Archive for the ‘Marriage’ Category

Being Faithful

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

I ordinarily wouldn’t comment on the current lurid story about the Congressman who has been sending indecent text messages and photographs to women.  But I was struck by a “man in the street” interview in one of our daily papers, which asked whether the Congressman had remained faithful to his wife, or if his conduct was “cheating”.

You would think this is a no-brainer.  But in our mixed up culture, people are apparently having a hard time figuring out the right answer.

Let’s start with the basics.  Marital fidelity means much more than just refraining from sexual contact with someone other than my spouse.   That’s certainly a minimum requirement, but it is by no means adequate or complete.

Real fidelity is not just about physical conduct.  It involves all of my person — my body and my soul, my conduct and my attitudes, my emotions and my will. I have to fully commit all of myself exclusively to my spouse forever.

To do that, I have to resist the temptations that are constantly presented to me.  Our world is certainly saturated with sexual temptations.  Every one of us who goes online, or who carries a smart phone in his pocket, or who walks down the streets of Manhattan, knows the reality of these temptations. It is very easy to fall into the trap, and to go down the path to destruction step by step.  There are so many excuses — it was just harmless fun, it didn’t hurt anyone, I never touched her, etc.  Of course, those are all lies, and in our moments of honesty we recognize them as such.

To really be faithful, I need to develop the virtue of chastity.  Kim Burdette, the Coordinator of our Chastity Education program uses a simple, but clear definition of this virtue:

Chastity is reserving all sexual actions and thoughts for your spouse to affirm your love for them.

I love this definition because it doesn’t focus on the feelings of temptation — those feelings come to us whether we welcome them or not.  But it reminds me that, like any virtue, chastity is built by repeated acts of my will — I have to make decisions in times of temptation to turn away from the allure of sin, to reject using others for my selfish pleasure, and to focus on giving myself only to my wife.

This is not easy.  It takes discipline, and it requires a renewal of commitment every time I fail.  Not that I can do this on my own, of course — if I rely on my strength alone, I am doomed to fail.  As the Holy Father said just yesterday, when discussing the virtue of marital fidelity, “this loyalty is not possible without the grace of God, without the support of faith and the Holy Spirit.”

But don’t just listen to me, or even to the Holy Father, about what we have to do.  Let’s put it in purely secular terms for a second.   The prophet Johnny Cash laid out the marital fidelity agenda very, very well:

I keep a close watch on this heart of mine
I keep my eyes wide open all the time
I keep the ends out for the tie that binds
Because you’re mine, I walk the line


Signs of Hope for Marriage

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

All too often, as we strive to defend marriage in the midst of this Culture of Death, it is easy to miss the signs.  They are there, right in front of us, but our concentration on law and public policy often leads us to miss them. Plus, the secular sources of information are hardly likely to give them much attention, since the media tends to stress the bizarre, the sensational, the dysfunctional.

Yet the signs of hope are always there.

Just within the last week, they have been called to my own attention very vividly.

Last Saturday, I attended the Spanish Couples Congress in the Bronx.  This event was co-sponsored by the Family Life Office of the Archdiocese and the Catholic Marriage Movement — a very vibrant and dynamic group of Latino couples who are dedicated to strengthening their own marriages and proclaiming the truth and beauty of the Sacrament of Marriage.    The day was beautiful and powerful — even to someone like me who understands very little Spanish!

The most encouraging thing was the luminous faith and love of the scores of volunteers and hundreds of attendees.  Many of these couples were native New Yorkers, but so many came here from distant countries — the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Honduras, and others.  But what they all have in common is a love for their spouse, and a love for God as an integral part of their marriage.

This truly was an act of hopeful witness to the power of married love, and the privileged place it holds in God’s plan for us.

A second event also provides us with a beacon of hope for marriage.  Every year, the Family Life Office sponsors the 5oth Wedding Jubilee Mass at St. Patrick’s.  It is a wonderful event — hundreds of jubilee couples come to the Cathedral with their families and proclaim their ever-new love for each other.  The church is packed and joyous, and there isn’t a dry eye in the house when the couples stand and renew their marriage vows.

These jubilee couples are a sign of God’s love — especially to the endurance of that love, no matter what hostile winds blow.  They testify to the potential of every marriage, and to the power of married love — a power that can change lives and transform the world.

The Jubilee Mass is one of my favorite events of the year.  Ironically, I couldn’t attend this year because I was presenting at a Pre-Cana class that day.  But it, too, gave me such encouragement and hope for the future of marriage.

Here before me I found sixty couples who were taking the courageous step of getting married in the Catholic Church — at a time when the culture, and perhaps many of their friends and loved ones, were telling them that they were crazy to do so.  They sat on hard chairs all day, listened to me offer them insights and advice about the nature of real married love — the gift of self to another.  Their smiles, laughter, genuine affection for each other, openness to me, and most of all their shining hopefulness all buoyed me, and reminded me that love and hope are always intimate partners.

There is no doubt that we are in a serious struggle to defend authentic marriage.  We also have the challenge to call couples to rise above the ways of the world and embrace God’s plan for their marriage.  But we must always remember to pay attention to those signs of hope that God in His goodness continues to offer us.  This is a struggle worth fighting, one couple at a time, and our ultimate weapon is the power of married love.

As St. Augustine once famously wrote, “Nothing conquers except truth and the victory of truth is love.”“Nothing conquers except truth and the victory of truth is love.”

Why Not “Civil Unions”?

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

As the debate over same-sex “marriage” heats up in New York, you occasionally hear legislators say that they oppose same-sex “marriage” but are in favor of “civil unions”.  This is an effort to appear reasonable, and open to compromise, which is certainly laudable.  The problem us, the term “civil unions” doesn’t mean what they think it means.

When most people use the term “civil unions”, they mean some kind of legal arrangement that grants rights to same-sex couples, like hospital visitation, inheritance rights, insurance eligibility, etc., without putting that relationship on the same legal plane as marriage.

The problem is, that’s not what the term “civil unions” actually means.  It means the same thing as same-sex “marriage”.

Bills that recognize “civil unions” grant them all the same rights and privileges of marriage.  The “civil unions” bill that was passed in New Jersey, for example, specifically states that any provision of law that deals with marriage, spouses, etc., must be read to include “civil unions” and those who enter into them.  The “civil unions” bill introduced in Rhode Island today does exactly the same thing. The legal difference between “marriage” and “civil unions” is absolutely nothing — it’s just the name.

So, all the statutes that prohibit discrimination based on “marital status” would have to be read to prohibit discrimination against those in “civil unions”.  In fact, the case that led to the New Jersey Methodist organization being stripped of its tax exempt status wasn’t based on their refusal to recognize a “marriage”, but their refusal to recognize a “civil union” — which the courts treated as the same thing as a marriage.

It’s also well known that same-sex “marriage” advocates have used “civil unions” laws as a step towards the judicial imposition of same-sex “marriage” .  The argument they make is that granting the rights of marriage, but denying the term “marriage”, is invidious discrimination in violation of the Equal Protection Clause (or its state equivalent).  That was precisely the approach that was successfully used in Connecticut to impose same-sex “marriage” by judicial fiat.  That same argument is being made in court in New Jersey.

The reality also is that “civil unions” are not on the table in the New York State Legislature.  To my knowledge, a “civil unions” bill has never been introduced in the Legislature, and nobody has said that they are interested in doing so.  Indeed, same-sex “marriage” advocates frequently say that they don’t want “civil unions”.

The choice in the Legislature is not “civil unions” versus same-sex “marriage”.  It’s all about re-defining marriage.

Once More Unto the Breach

Sunday, April 3rd, 2011

The Governor of New York State has let it be known that he will soon begin to demolish the foundation of society.

Of course, he didn’t put it quite that way.  Instead, he promised to push for the passage of the so-called “Marriage Equality Act”, which would re-define marriage, which is the fundamental support of a healthy society.  The Governor is apparently not satisfied with the authentic meaning of marriage — a union of one man and one woman dedicated to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of children.  Instead, he wants to change it to mean something that it cannot — a union between persons of the same sex.

Several times in recent years, the State Assembly has passed the bill to re-define marriage, but it has only come up for a vote once in the Senate, where it was defeated in 2009.  But it has risen again, and it appears that the Governor will put some of his considerable political muscle behind it.

This, in a state where there is a marriage and family crisis — where 41% of births are out-of-wedlock, only 66% of households with children are headed by a married couple, and there are over 50,000 divorces in families with children under 18.  Now is hardly the time to re-define marriage, leaving people with the impression that it is all about adult satisfaction and not about children, and that children don’t need both a mother and a father who are in a stable, life-long relationship.

For more information about this critical issue, and how you can take action, visit the webpage of the Family Life/Respect Life Office.  There you can find resources to get the pro-marriage message into our parishes and communities, and to answer some of the common misconceptions about this issue.

Ultimately, we need to make clear that this is not about “equal rights” or “discrimination”. Same sex couples have the right to live as they wish, but nobody has the right to re-define marriage for all of society.  Please take action today to defend marriage.

Varia

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

The following are some of the highlights from the daily email briefing about news and events, which I send out to some of my friends and contacts (if you’re interested in subscribing to the daily mailing, leave your email address in the comments box):

  • Two lawsuits have now been filed challenging NYC’s crisis pregnancy center law:  here and here.
  • Pro-lifers continue to make progress in state legislaturesSouth Dakota enacts a 72-hour waiting period that also requires a woman to receive counseling about alternatives, and Arizona moves forward on a ban on sex- and race-selection abortions.  New York, clueless as always, continues to mire in the Culture of Death.
  • A UN report shows that changing sexual attitudes and behavior — particularly reducing promiscuity and adultery — actually does reduce HIV transmission, as evidenced by the experience of Zimbabwe.  Apologies to the Holy Father (who was pilloried in the press for pointing this out) will no doubt be forthcoming.
  • The real (i.e., eugenic) effects of pre-natal testing can be found in the abortion rate for handicapped children.
  • When Illinois’ civil unions bill was being considered, Cardinal George warned that it would threaten Catholic programs, and was derided for it. Well, what do you know — he was right, and Catholic Charities will probably be forced out of the foster care field: .
  • Bishop Tobin of Providence calls for an end to “Catholic apathy” on the defense of marriage, and strongly denounces efforts to legalize same-sex “marriage”.
  • The Vatican is investing in a company that specializes in adult stem cell research.
  • There are substantial concerns about the new Irish coalition government, and its policies on life and marriage.
  • Scholars crunch the numbers and find that Christians who attend church actually divorce less often than those who don’t.
  • A very nice profile of Maria McFadden Maffucci, editor of the indispensable Human Life Review. She denies it, but she really is a pro-life “hero”.
  • (Please note that these links will take you to websites that are not affiliated with the Archdiocese.  We neither take responsibility for nor endorse the contents of the websites.)

    Varia

    Sunday, February 20th, 2011

    The following are some of the highlights from the daily email briefing about news and events, which I send out to some of my friends and contacts (if you’re interested in subscribing to the daily mailing, leave your email address in the comments box):

  • Robert George weighs in on the Live Action debate.
  • Philosopher Christopher Tollefsen responds to those who disagreed with his moral critique of Live Action’s tactics.  Other response here and herePeter Kreeft defends Live Action,  as does Hadley Arkes.
  • As a charter member of the Kathryn Jean Lopez Fan Club, I give you three of her pieces: on the power of pro-life witness, the suffering of women, and the culture of death; an interview with Maggie Gallagher on the current status of the defense of marriage; and an interview of Brad Wilcox on the overall health  of marriage.
  • The forces of “tolerance” refuse to brook any dissent.  Now the “gay rights” crowd is going after the iPhone app that helps people prepare for Confession, because it has the audacity to state that homosexual acts are sinful.  Note the chilling term they use — “anti-gay spiritual abuse”.  In 1984, Orwell used the term “thoughtcrime”.
  • An amendment to the federal budget will cut funding from abortionists.  Also, the Protect Life Act, which will remove abortion funding from the health care law, has been approved by committee and sent to the full House for consideration.  The Democrats in Congress, however, continue to rally behind Planned Parenthood and resist measures to defund them.
  • A positive initiative in Kansas to support pregnant women.  Here in New York, of course, our Governor cut all funding for the pro-life Maternity and Early Childhood Foundation, while continuing unlimited Medicaid funding for abortion and tons of money for Planned Parenthood.  Red states, blue states.
  • Wesley Smith explains how to fight against the evil thoughts of Peter Singer, the Princeton philosopher who justifies infanticide.  Smith warns that we must oppose this now, lest infanticide become as accepted as abortion is now.
  • Why is our government funding an international program that is making it easier to carry on the exploitation of “sex workers”, including minors?
  • The Brave New World, Northern Chapter — a Canadian court will permit doctors to remove life support from a gravely ill baby, against her parent’s wishes; the court rejected the parents’ request to bring her home so she can die among her family.
  • The fight to keep Ireland pro-life continues.
  • (Please note that these links will take you to websites that are not affiliated with the Archdiocese.  We neither take responsibility for nor endorse the contents of the websites.)

    Varia

    Sunday, February 6th, 2011

    The following are some of the highlights from the daily email briefing about news and events, which I send out to some of my friends and contacts (if you’re interested in subscribing to the daily mailing, leave your email address in the comments box):

  • Probably the most shocking expose yet by Live Action of the appalling practices of Planned Parenthood abortion clinics, this time covering up sex trafficking and child abuse.   This evil organization should be defunded.  Which is the purpose of a new website from a coalition of pro-life groups.
  • The pro-abortion forces are also getting desperate, resorting to lying about the content of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, claiming that it doesn’t protect underage women who are raped: .  In response to the lie, the bill’s sponsors are clarifying the language.  Um, given the track record of abortion clinics that overlook parental notice laws and statutory rape laws, isn’t there a wee bit of hypocrisy here?
  • At least one public official understands the correct response — the Governor of New Jersey vetoed a bill that funded Planned Parenthood.
  • On the other hand, the Administration is now considering whether the health care law gives them the authority to require all private health insurers to cover contraceptives.  Gasoline on the fire.
  • The clueless New York Times “analyzes” the reasons for the high abortion rate in New York City and finds that’s it all because of inadequate sex education and lack of access to contraceptives.  All the usual suspects were interviewed, no abstinence educator was contacted, no acknowledgment that abortion is being used as the birth control of last resort.  Nothing but the party line, as always.
  • A handy reminder that the Philadelphia abortionist — remember him? — is the exemplar for the state of abortion law in the United States.
  • Yet another study showing the benefits of marriage to health and longevity.
  • How porn normalizes the brutalization of women (warning — the article I include here is safely readable, but the one from the Atlantic Magazine that it links to is very, very graphic)
  • The highest constitutional court of France has declined to create a right to same-sex “marriage”.  I wonder if our judges who love to cite foreign law will take note of this.
  • Some foolish legislators like to target pregnancy support centers (like NYC’s City Council).  Others are smart enough to praise them, like South Dakota’s State Legislature.
  • (Please note that these links will take you to websites that are not affiliated with the Archdiocese.  We neither take responsibility for nor endorse the contents of the websites.)

    Varia

    Sunday, January 30th, 2011

    The following are some of the highlights from the daily email briefing about news and events, which I send out to some of my friends and contacts (if you’re interested in subscribing to the daily mailing, leave your email address in the comments box):

  • Try to imagine a world without abortion, and what it would be like.  Can we go there please?
  • Our 100% pro-abortion President lauds the anniversary of the iniquitous legal usurpation that permitted the destruction of an entire class of human beings.
  • Meanwhile, the Catholic pro-life Speaker of the House has a different perspective on the anniversary, and has plans to do something about it.
  • The Newsletter of the Cult of Moloch, er, I mean the Times, publishes a snide opinion piece about the abortion rate in NYC that winds up with a sympathetic look at a late-term abortionist.  All the callous indifference of the Culture of Death that’s fit to print.
  • Anti-euthanasia hero Wesley Smith warns us of the looming threat of health care rationing.
  • Kathryn Jean Lopez suggests a nice target for the Tea Party — cutting abortion funding in the federal budget.  Proving her point, an obscure change in the Medicaid rules will produce greater “access” (i.e., government spending) for contraceptives, which will inevitably lead to more abortions.
  • Sobering summary of the true costs of egg donation on women and on the human beings in embryonic stage who are lost in the process.
  • This is how it is in modern Ireland — Franciscans of the Renewal friars pray outside of a “family planning” center, are vilified on the radio as a result.  How does that go, “Blessed are those who are persecuted…”?
  • It’s pretty well established that divorce is bad for kids. Yet another study shows that it’s worse for boys than girls.  So what does our state do? That’s right — it passes a “no-fault” divorce law last year, which makes divorce easier, with no regard to the best interests of children.
  • This is really neat — a time-lapsed video of the March for Life.
  • (Please note that these links will take you to websites that are not affiliated with the Archdiocese.  We neither take responsibility for nor endorse the contents of the websites.)

    Varia

    Thursday, December 30th, 2010

    The following are some of the highlights from the daily email briefing about news and events, which  I send out to some of my friends and contacts (if you’re interested in subscribing to the daily mailing, leave your email address in the comments box):

  • The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has issued a statement regarding the Holy Father’s comment about condoms.  In essence — there were no changes in Church teaching, as any attentive reader would already have understood.
  • Bishop Olmstead of Phoenix revoked the Catholic status of a hospital that approved an abortion (and which has been involved in cooperation with contraception, sterilization and abortion in other cases) and that refused to acknowledge the bishop’s authority to oversee their compliance with Catholic ethics.  Story and Bishop’s Olmstead’s full statement.
  • Rather than humbly submitting to the judgment of the Bishop, the Catholic Health Association has once again wounded unity in the Church by siding with the hospital against the Bishop.  Amazing, since the Ethical and Religious Directives, which is cited as authoritative by CHA, gives the ultimate moral authority to the diocesan Bishop, not to CHA or to the hospital.
  • More facts about the situation, directly from Bishop Olmstead.  For those who want the Canon Law side of the story, check out this analysis.
  • One of the tactics of the same-sex “marriage” movement is to brand us all as “haters”.  The strategy is to “marginalize, privatize, anathematize”.
  • Meanwhile, this headline says it all: “Obama ‘wrestling’ with same-sex marriage”.  Yeah, as if the outcome of that wrestling match is really in doubt.
  • It appears that Sonia Sotomayor is now a leader of the “liberal wing” of our Black-Robed Platonic Guardian Rulers on the Supreme Court.  This will, no doubt, become even more evident when the first abortion or “same-sex marriage” case reaches Mount Olympus.
  • A Ugandan Archbishop decries child sacrifice, which is rampant in that troubled nation.  The Cult of Moloch lives on.
  • Speaking of the demon and his devotees, the Temple of Moloch, er, I mean Planned Parenthood, has ejected one of its chapters because they didn’t want to perform abortions.  Oh, but they’re just “pro-choice”, not “pro-abortion”, right?
  • While the Cult of Moloch continues to say that crisis pregnancy centers mislead pregnant girls, check out Kathryn Jean Lopez’s piece on the MTV show “16 and Pregnant”, and you’ll understand how our culture and the abortion industry consistently and blatantly lie to pregnant women.
  • Some useful advice from scientists — really.  If you want your relationship to survive, make sure you speak about “we”, instead of “you and me”.  You could also follow their advice delay sex until marriage, which can strengthen your relationship.
  • What do men want more than anything else from the women in their lives?  To be admired.   Here’s the other side of the story — what women want is to be loved by a man they admire.  Now that’s an agenda for a good marriage.
  • (Please note that these links will take you to websites that are not affiliated with the Archdiocese.  We neither take responsibility for nor endorse the contents of the websites.)

    Varia

    Sunday, December 19th, 2010

    The following are some of the highlights from the daily email briefing about news and events, which  I send out to some of my friends and contacts (if you’re interested in subscribing to the daily mailing, leave your email address in the comments box):

  • More responses to Time Magazine’s slander against the Holy Father from Tom Peters, Fr. Zuhlsdorf and Kathryn Jean Lopez.   For my response, see below.
  • An appalling story on the international surrogate parent business — a gross example of the objectification of the human person as an economic commodity, and the commercial and emotional exploitation of the poor and the desperate.
  • I typically refer to the pro-abortion movement as the “Cult of Moloch” because of its religious adherence to the sacrifice of children.  Here is a scary account by a former clinic worker, who relates that the clinic in which she worked was pervaded with the occult and looked upon abortion as a form of sacrifice.  On the positive side, this same woman credits prayer witness outside of the clinic as being instrumental in her conversion.
  • Speaking of the death-cult, Planned Parenthood has released its annual report, and once again the numbers are jarring.  $363 million in federal funding.  324,000 abortions (a 6% increase over the previous year) and only 9,400 adoption referrals. Another $700 million spent on spreading contraception and abortion internationally.  Time to defund the billion-dollar Murder Incorporated.  Joint the fight.
  • And, if you want to see the real-world effect of the work by the Temple of Moloch, read about the creeping genocide that is resulting from the high rates of abortion among blacks and Hispanics in New York City.
  • The new political climate, and the results of the November’s elections, means that key new GOP House leaders are likely to push for restrictions on federal funding for abortion.
  • Same-sex “marriage” advocates are gearing up for the battle in New York next year. See here and here.
  • If you want a glimpse into the Strange New World, check out this review of a book about “polyamory” (romantic/sexual relationships with multiple partners).  Coming soon to a “right to privacy” near you.
  • Kathryn Jean Lopez examines two competing views of the role of religion in public life: Sarah Palin’s v. John Kennedy’s.  See also Rick Santorum on the same issue.
  • The European Court of Human Rights decided a major abortion case this week, in a challenge to Ireland’s pro-life laws.  The court did not invent a fundamental right to abortion, but  did rule against some parts of Ireland’s pro-life legislation,  which undermines the abilities of nations to restrict abortion.
  • A heartrending story about a funeral held for babies who were stillborn, and whose bodies were abandoned in hospitals, the “unwanted dead”.
  • (Please note that these links will take you to websites that are not affiliated with the Archdiocese.  We neither take responsibility for nor endorse the contents of the websites.)