The Extraordinary Form of the Mass will be televised from the Shrine in Hanceville on the following dates.
Sunday, April 6th
Sunday, Sept 14th
Monday, November 3rd
Una Voce Carmel is proud to announce the first in a series of relevant topics to all Catholics. Over the last month, UVC has been hard at work lining up a number of speakers and a venue to sponsor a series to correspond with this year’s Lent season.On Sunday, February 10th, a 7pm, Fr. Gerard Saguto, FSSP, will discuss Culture, Convenience and Catholicism, at the Social Hall of St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church, 10655 Haverstick Road, Carmel, Indiana. Father Saguto will speak for about one hour, followed by a short question and answer session from those in the audience.
Father attended college at Christendom College, Front Royal, VA in 1998 and seminary at Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Lincoln, Nebraska. In 2004, he was ordained by Bishop Bruskewitz in Lincoln Nebraska. He is the current administrator of SS Philomena and Cecilia Catholic Church, Brookville, Indiana.
For more information, call us at 581-0315 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following article is an exclusive service provided by Columbia, the magazine of the Knights of Columbus.
What’s Old Is New AgainPope Benedict XVI’s apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum seeks reconciliation, not a return to the pastBY GERALD KORSON
When Pope Benedict XVI published an apostolic letter last July promoting a broader usage of the Missal of 1962, it was only the latest of a long line of papal initiatives addressing the spiritual needs of Catholics who are attracted to the liturgical form used prior to the Second Vatican Council.
The letter, titled Summorum Pontificum, simplifies the conditions under which the Mass of the 1962 Roman Missal may be celebrated. It also encourages that it be made available wherever groups of faithful Catholics desire it. The new norms took effect last Sept. 14, the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross.
Rather than petition the local bishop as was required under previous norms, “a stable group of faithful who adhere to the earlier liturgical tradition” may go to their own pastor, who “should willingly accept” their request.
“Basically, what Summorum Pontificum says is that a group of people in a parish can approach their pastor and ask if the older liturgy could be celebrated in that parish,” said Msgr. Anthony Sherman, associate director of the Secretariat on the Liturgy of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
If the pastor responds in the negative, the apostolic letter says, parishioners may petition the local bishop. If the bishop cannot make such arrangements, the matter should be referred to the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei “to obtain counsel and assistance.”
The new apostolic letter, which the pope issued motu proprio (on his own initiative), also states that priests may celebrate the 1962 liturgy in their private Masses and within their religious communities. Individual pastors may permit the older rituals for the sacraments of baptism, marriage, penance and the anointing of the sick “if the good of souls would seem to require it.”
Although liturgical development since Vatican II has often been the subject of division within the Church, Msgr. Sherman said the response to Summorum Pontificum has been “mostly rather calm.”
Many dioceses, such as Indianapolis, already had parishes that were celebrating the 1962 liturgy, he said, and that “alleviated a lot of pressure.”
So far, reception of the document suggests that Pope Benedict’s hope for “an interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church” might someday be realized.
The pope emphasized that the Roman Missals of 1970 and 1962 “are, in fact, two usages of the one Roman rite,” with the former as the “ordinary” form and the latter as the “extraordinary” form.
“The basic structure is the same,” Msgr. Sherman noted. Yet he cautioned against experimenting with a hybrid liturgy that blends the ordinary and extraordinary forms together, resulting in something “that doesn’t resemble either.”
Pope Benedict also detailed in his apostolic letter how the liturgy had been revised a number of times by various popes throughout the centuries between the Council of Trent, which in 1570 made the Tridentine liturgy normative, and Vatican II, which “expressed a desire that the respectful reverence due to divine worship should be renewed and adapted to the needs of our time.”
As the pope stated in his cover letter, “There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal. In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture.” The two forms, he said, can be “mutually enriching.” Newer prefaces and some of the saints canonized since 1962 can be added to the earlier Missal. Likewise, the ordinary form will be able to “more powerfully” demonstrate “the sacrality which attracts many people to the former usage.”
A PASTORAL MATTER
Active papal concern for members of the Catholic faithful who remain attached to the earlier Missal dates to 1980, when Pope John Paul II asked the bishops of the world to report on any difficulties or resistance they had encountered in implementing the 1970 Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI.
In 1984, Pope John Paul granted an indult by which a bishop could allow in his own diocese the celebration of the Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal.
Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre of France, who opposed the reforms of Vatican II and rejected the new form of the Mass, incurred automatic excommunication by consecrating bishops without Vatican approval in 1987. In response, Pope John Paul issued the apostolic letter Ecclesia Dei the following year. Ecclesia Deicalled for a “wide and generous application” of the 1984 indult. It also established a pontifical commission to help bishops restore to full communion with the Catholic Church the followers and clergy of Lefebvre’s schismatic Society of St. Pius X, who wished to remain united with the Holy Father.
Many bishops heeded the pope’s urging by permitting and even encouraging the celebration of the 1962 liturgy in their dioceses. By the time Summorum Pontificum was written, the extraordinary form of the Mass was celebrated every Sunday in two-thirds of all dioceses and in more than 200 parishes across the United States.
TOWARD A WIDER USE
Summorum Pontificum states that the celebrant must be “qualified” to use the 1962 Missal. “The use of the old Missal presupposes a certain degree of liturgical formation and some knowledge of the Latin language; neither of these is found very often,” the pope said in his cover letter. Msgr. M. Francis Mannion, a priest of the Diocese of Salt Lake City who was ordained in 1973, said he can “barely remember the Tridentine Mass, much less know how to celebrate it. So, I would regard myself as among the incompetent in this area.” Msgr. Mannion is member of St. Vincent de Paul Council 13297 in Salt Lake City. Workshops to train priests to celebrate the extraordinary form are already being offered in several places, but Msgr. Mannion, who was the founding director of the Liturgical Institute in Chicago, indicated that it would be difficult for such training to be added in seminaries. “Liturgical formation in seminaries already consumes a good deal of time,” he pointed out. “How can an additional curriculum be incorporated?” Formation programs, he said, “will have to ensure that the curriculum to teach the revised liturgy is not in any way compromised.” Learning the Missal of 1962 will not be an issue for Father Gerard Saguto, pastor of Sts. Philomena and Cecilia Parish in Oak Forest, Ind. As a member of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter – a clerical society of Catholic priests dedicated to making available the 1962 liturgy in Latin – his parish has offered only the extraordinary form of the Mass ever since Bishop Daniel Buechlein of Indianapolis invited the fraternity to take over the then-closed church three years ago. A member of Brookville (Ind.) Council 1010, Father Saguto said he did not experience the earlier liturgy until he was 19 years old. “I had no idea what was going on, I didn’t understand a word of it, but I thought it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen in my life,” he recalled. “It was the reverence and the mystery that was communicated, a sense of the sacred and an awe that I had never experienced before.” His testimony of youthful attraction to the older form holds true in his own 60-family parish, which he said is populated mostly by younger adults and families with several children. In some cases, “the parents were raised on the new Mass, but all the children know is the old.” Pope Benedict’s cover letter acknowledges a certain “youth movement” in favor of the extraordinary form. It was presumed after Vatican II that only older Catholics would ask for the 1962 Missal, the pope said, but “in the meantime it has clearly been demonstrated that young persons too have discovered this liturgical form, felt its attraction and found in it a form of encounter with the Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist, particularly suited to them.”UNIFYING RITES? Will the implementation of Summorum Pontificum bring about the kind of unity within the Church that the pope envisions? “Surely there will be some degree of reconciliation, but the project will be difficult among those with entrenched negative attitudes” toward Vatican II, said Msgr. Mannion. Father Saguto echoed this view, predicting that it will take 10 years or more before we see results. “A lot of heels have been dug in very deep now,” he said. He remains optimistic, however. “Sometimes I see the old Mass as a bit of leaven,” said Father Saguto. “If we have patience, we’ll see a certain sense of a reawakening.” Msgr. Sherman said there is potential for greater unity “if everybody respects what the Church is trying to achieve.”Gerald Korson was editor of Our Sunday Visitor from 1998-2007. He writes from Fort Wayne, Ind.
THE ROLE OF BLESSED POPE JOHN XXIII
Although the extraordinary form of the Mass is often called the “Latin Mass,” it should not be distinguished from the ordinary form by its use of the Latin language. The Second Vatican Council allowed for greater use of the vernacular language, but it also said “the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 36). The 1970 Missal can be, and often is, celebrated in Latin, which remains its official translation.
Likewise, the Missal of 1962 is still popularly called the “Tridentine” liturgy, even though the Missal underwent various revisions since 1570. It is also sometimes called the Mass of John XXIII, because Blessed Pope John XXIII promulgated the 1962 edition of the Missal. Among the most notable revisions at that time included the addition of St. Joseph’s name to the Canon and the removal of a controversial reference to the Jews as “perfidious” (faithless) in the liturgy of Good Friday.
PENNSYLVANIA KNIGHTS SPONSOR MASS
Woodlawn Council 2161 in Aliquippa, Pa., organized a celebration of the extraordinary form of the Mass last Oct. 8, just weeks after Pope Benedict’s directives took effect on Sept. 14. Grand Knight A. Todd Wilson, 44, said the Mass was the council’s annual memorial Mass for deceased Knights and that it was well-attended and well-received.
“We publicized it to surrounding parishes and there was a positive response. A member of the council printed the Mass prayers at no cost and another donated flowers for the altar,” said Wilson.
Council 2161 has for several years supported seminarians studying for the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest and the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, two religious societies that train priests to celebrate the extraordinary form of the Latin Rite. Wilson said when he read that Pope Benedict had issued the apostolic letter encouraging the celebration of the liturgy, the council “took it as a cue.” Father Eugene Dougherty, a member of Chartiers Council 875 in Crafton, Pa., was enlisted to celebrate the Mass.
Because response among the Knights and the community was so positive Wilson said they have formed the Knights of Columbus Traditional Latin Mass Guild. “Our plan now is to have a monthly Mass followed by our council’s social meeting,” he said.
Father Roberto Cano FSSP
And having agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen
On this Sunday of Septuagesima, our Holy Mother the Church bids the faithful to prepare their hearts and souls for the holy season of Lent. The three preceding Sundays before the First Sunday of Lent are days of preparation and transition. By means of the liturgical year, we go from the days of rejoicing and feasting of Christmas and the Epiphany to the rigors and sobriety of the days of Lent. However, the Church is aware of our human frailty and knows how difficult it is for us to go from great feasting to a sudden spirit of fasting and penance. Thus, the Church has instituted this season and has observed it even up to our day since the time of St. Gregory the Great. The violet vestments, the omission of the Gloria and Alleluia and the almost mournful tone of the propers are all indications that we have entered upon a season of preparation and penance. This time of Septuagesima has been likened by many liturgists to the seventy years of the Babylonian captivity. There the Jews were convinced of their fault, wept for their sins and longed for their return to Jerusalem, so too, the Church, during this season, would have us consider our earthly exile here, repent for our sins and work for our entrance into the Heavenly Jerusalem. Both the Epistle and Gospel of today have a central theme and that is the theme of our salvation. What better way then to prepare for the upcoming Feast of Easter, the feast of our redemption, than by considering for some moments our eternal salvation?
In the parable of today’s Gospel, the householder contracts the laborers of his vineyard for a denarius. The denarius, as some of the Fathers of the Church tell us, is a name given to our salvation. For the denarius was a coin which was received in exchange for ten smaller pieces and was equivalent to a full day’s wage, and thus it has been associated to the reward we receive for keeping the ten commandments, namely, eternal salvation. We learn from the sacred text concerning the denarius three basic points: 1) the reward is the same for all 2) the reward does not depend on the length of time one has worked 3) one man may do as much work in an hour as another man in a whole day. These points are really lessons Our Lord wishes for us to understand, the great gift of eternal salvation.
When we speak about salvation the first thing we must realize that it is truly and really a gift from Almighty God. As we know by the doctrine of the Faith, salvation is something man cannot merit on his own, but rather the infinite merits of Christ have made salvation possible. Recall the words of St. Paul in his epistle to the Romans, “For as by the disobedience of one man, many were made sinners; so also by the obedience of one, many shall be made just” (Rom. V, 19). If salvation is a gift from God, then it should be clear to us then that He is certainly free to bestow it upon whom He wills, namely, the elect. This is why false doctrines which claim universal salvation for everyone as long as “they are good persons” are so ridiculous. God who is infinitely free has the right to bestow His gift on who He wants and according to what terms. And this is where Divine Revelation becomes essential, so we can come to know what those terms actually are. In order to do so, however, we must possess Divine Revelation in its totality, the totality of which is found only in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Hence, the meaning of the traditional doctrine “nulla salus extra ecclesiam” (there is no salvation outside the Church). For if any man is saved it is by Christ the one mediator between God and man and through His Church, His Mystical Body on earth. For it was only to the Catholic Church that the means of salvation, namely, divinely revealed Faith and the sacraments have been entrusted.
Therefore, if we understand that salvation is a gift, it should not surprise us that the gift is the same for all who are saved. This is why the householder grants to each of the laborers the same wage regardless of the hour they began to work. Eternal salvation consists essentially in the vision and enjoyment of God. This is what we call the Beatific Vision. That vision by which the soul sees God “face to face” in an intuitive and immediate manner, that is, without the aid of the senses or another medium. This is possible by the supernatural light we call the lumen gloriae (the light of glory), which basically elevates and fortifies the intellect in order that it can see God as He is in Himself, that is, all His attributes, His essence and the three divine Persons. Nevertheless, we cannot forget the words of Christ who said, “In my Father’s house there are many mansions” (Jn. XIV, 2). Which means that the souls of the just in Heaven will possess this vision in different degrees according to their merits and degree of charity. Obviously, what the Blessed Virgin Mary sees compared to what any other soul of the just sees is different according to intensity. If we were to compare souls to glasses of water, a glass of water which is 32 oz. compared to a 8 oz. glass, clearly holds more water because it has a greater capacity even though both glasses are full. In the end, it is the soul who is capable of greater love, that is, supernatural charity who will possess a higher degree of this vision and of glory. Again the words of St. John of the Cross apply, “In the evening of this life, we will be judged by the way we loved.”
The second lesson that we are to consider is that the reward does not depend on the time of our labor. Indeed, what absolutely matters is that we die a good death, that is, in the state of sanctifying grace. This grace of a good death is what the Church calls the grace of final perseverance and as the name suggests it is also a gift which no man can merit. This is why it is so important to begin to pray for this grace now while we still have the opportunity. While it is likely for a man who is sincere and honest in the practice of the faith to die a good death, it is not guaranteed, however. Therefore, we should take the counsel of St. Paul and seek to work out our salvation with fear and trembling cf. Phil. II, 12. Why is it, dear brethren, that we always put off for tomorrow what we can do today? How many times have we said I will begin to lead a deeper life of prayer, or a more virtuous life or receive the sacraments with greater frequency and so on and so forth? Yet, we have failed to carry out our resolutions. I believe it is because we are not more generous with God, that is, we are stingy with our love. And I say this from personal experience. What we have to realize is that the reward of eternal salvation is not due to us simply because we have been baptized and possess the True Faith. That is why Christ said, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” Just look at the situation of the Church today, where there are over 1 billion baptized Catholics in the world, yet how many truly live like Catholics? What should be clear is that we are called to heroic sanctity by our baptism, but if we fail to reach it is because we have willed it to be so. This is the reality! We should also realize that the reward of eternal salvation does not depend on the duration of that calling, that is, of our baptism. Undoubtedly, St. Augustine who received baptism as an adult shares a greater degree of the Beatific Vision than many of the just who were baptized in their infancy. How many times have we seen it that those who are converts to the Faith often possess a greater zeal than those of us who have had the faith from the cradle? And this is why Christ also said, “the last shall be first and the first last.”
The third lesson that we are to consider is that one man may do as much work in an hour as another man in a whole day. This lesson has to do with the gratuitous Will of God as it is quite clear that all of us here are blessed with certain gifts both supernatural and natural which others do not possess or in the same degree. Why is that so? Before answering that question, we need to recall a principle of St. Thomas Aquinas which states that God’s love is the cause of goodness in things and therefore anything that exists has existence because God has willed it and therefore loves it. Therefore, according to St. Thomas, “Since God’s love is the cause of goodness in things, no one thing would be better than another if God did not will greater good for one than for another…And the reason why some things are better than others, is that God wills them a greater good. Hence it follows that He loves more the better things” (ST, Ia, q. 20 aa. 3-4). We pose the question again, why does one man possess more gifts supernaturally and naturally than another? To put it simply, God loves that person more. And this shouldn’t surprise us when we think of the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Since God loves Our Lady with an immense love from all eternity and chose her to be the Mother of God, it follows that by a singular grace God preserved her from the stain of Original Sin and has filled her soul with grace and unparallel virtue. That God loves some souls more than others perhaps may sound unfair or unjust to our modern sensibilities. Particularly for us who live in such an egalitarian society where we are taught to believe that there are no differences between one person and the other and that differences are actually evil or solely occasions for discrimination. Just like in the natural world where some forms of plants and animals possess higher perfections and abilities so too in the supernatural world are some souls endowed with higher perfections and gifts. To use the words of St. Paul, “Is there injustice with God? God forbid! For He saith to Moses: I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy. And I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy” (Rom. IX, 9-10). The point of all this, is that what might take an entire life for one man to merit eternal life it may take another but a matter of years. All of this is according to the divine plan and therefore it is not for us to ask “why” or “how,” but rather to cooperate with the grace given to us.
This lengthy discussion on salvation brings us full circle to consider the season which we now begin, the season of Septuagesima. For this season in conjunction with that of Lent is a time particularly for conversion and penance. If in the past we have been like those laborers of the eleventh hour who were idle most of the day, now is the time to labor spiritually in the vineyard of our soul. How much do we realize that we are stewards and not owners? That we are stewards of our lives and not the masters of it. For just as God gave us life, it will also be He Who will take it away. All too often we get distracted with the affairs of the world and the affairs of others. Indeed, how much time have we spent on those things that don’t concern us, all to the detriment of our spiritual welfare. But we must remember that the world is not our home! Our Lord said to Martha, “Martha, Martha thou art careful, and art troubled about many things: but one thing is necessary. Mary hath chosen the best part, which shall not be taken from her” (Lk. X, 41-42). I won’t fail to repeat, salvation is a gift and that is why so often the Church through the Sacred Liturgy reminds us of this reality. By having our final end always before us, we may never deviate from the path to attain it. It is there for the taking, but we must then employ the gifts and means Almighty God has given us to reach it. Let us, then, embrace the work God has sent us, namely, to work out our salvation and may we respond at last to Our Lord’s appeal, “Today if you shall hear His voice, harden not your hearts” (Ps. XCIV, 8).
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost Amen.
Father Roberto Cano, FSSP
And He went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them. Lk. II, 51
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost Amen.
On this the octave day of the Epiphany, Holy Mother Church honors this day by focusing on the Holy Family of Nazareth. For it was in the divine plan not only that the Son of God become man, but also that He grow and be nurtured by the loving care of parents, namely, under the care of St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary. Due to their exalted mission as the parents of the Redeemer, St. Joseph and particularly Our Lady enjoyed great personal sanctity, and therefore serve as primary examples for both spouses and parents. How then on such a great feast can we fail to speak about marriage and the family?
God created marriage as we are told in the book of Genesis, “It is not good for man to be alone: let us make him a help like unto himself…Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be two in one flesh” (Gen. II, 18, 24). Thus, in creating marriage, God created it with a certain nature/end and with specific properties. When God creates, He creates with a divine plan and not arbitrarily. Any attempts by individuals or secular governments to change or distort the nature of marriage are done in vain for the very author of marriage is God Himself Who does not change.
In essence, marriage whether we are speaking about a Christian marriage or a natural marriage, is a contract between two parties, namely, a man and a woman from which a perpetual bond is formed. What occurs in the marriage contract can be gleaned from the following definition: “in the marriage contract a man and a woman give and accept an exclusive and perpetual right for acts which of themselves are suitable for the generation of children.” This is true for all marriages, and therefore if any one of the parties withholds their intention to fulfill the terms of the contract, then the contract is null and void and therefore there is no marriage. This point is fundamental to understand particularly in our day when so many couples attempt to enter into wedlock while having the intention to not generate children from their union. What this obviously means is that these couples were never truly married, but rather were living in a state of concubinage. And here we see the great evil that contraception and sterilization has had on marriage and the family. Both contraception and sterilization seek to usurp the authority of God who has established the marital act solely within the confines of marriage which by definition seeks to procreate and bring forth new life. These artificial means, however, only serve to frustrate the end of the marital act and allow the couple to take pleasure in the act itself. Thus, making the means, that is, the marital act an end unto itself.
Now Christian marriage, that is marriage between the baptized, differs from natural marriage in so far that it is more than a contract, for it has been elevated to the dignity of a sacrament and therefore is an efficacious sign of grace. The great doctor of the Church, St. Augustine, tells us that the three blessings of Christian marriage are: children, conjugal faith and the sacrament. Upholding the traditional doctrine Pope Pius XI, in his encyclical on Christian marriage, Casti Connubii, tells us:
Thus amongst the blessings of marriage, the child holds the first place. And indeed the Creator of the human race Himself, Who in His goodness wished to use men as His helpers in the propagation of life, taught this when, instituting marriage in Paradise, He said to our first parents, and through them to all future spouses: ‘Increase and multiply, and fill the earth’ (CC, 11).
It should be clear then that the primary end of marriage is the procreation and education of children. Children are brought into this world not only to populate the world and to continue the existence of the human race, but more importantly to be worshippers of the One, True God. In order for them to do so, however, they must be baptized to receive the gift of faith and to become members of the Mystical Body of Christ, the Catholic Church. We know from the life of St. Joseph that to be a father simply does not mean to engage in the conjugal act and bring about new life, but rather to provide, educate and form the child that is entrusted into one’s care. It goes without saying, that those marriages which are barren of children are no less a marriage than one which may enjoy an abundance of children. Children are a gift from Almighty God, and it is according to His Will that He bestows the gift of life to the different couples.
The second blessing which St. Augustine speaks about is conjugal faith and this refers to mutual fidelity between the spouses concerning the marital act. Since “the two become one flesh” as Sacred Scripture tells us it is impossible for the marriage contract to allow for other partners aside from one’s spouse. In essence, we are talking about the property of marriage which we call unity. In sacramental marriage not only are the bodies of the spouses united, but even more importantly their souls are united. Here we see the great evil of divorce which basically condones the practice of successive polygamy and polyandry, that is, the practice of having more than one wife or husband. Since marriage is of divine institution, it is clear that no government or civil magistrate has the power to dissolve the bond which is formed so that the interested party can form another. Married persons have to be always vigilant of maintaining their conjugal fidelity for even a willful thought or desire can betray their marriage vows. As Christ said, “But I say to you, that whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her hath already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. V, 28). The key, however, to remaining faithful in conjugal relations is the love one has for the other spouse. This love must be holy and pure, not that passion filled love of lust and infatuation, but rather that love of which St. Paul speaks about, “Husbands, love your wives as Christ also loved the Church…So also ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife, loveth himself. For no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, as also Christ doth the church” (Eph. V, 25, 28-29). Since the love of Christ for His Bride the Church is without limits as proven by His Supreme Sacrifice on the Cross, so too must the love of a husband for his wife be without limits even unto the point of his very life. Is it not true, dear brethren, that those moments in which conjugal fidelity is most tested are in those moments when the love of one’s spouse has lessened or become extinct?
The final blessing of which St. Augustine speaks about is the sacrament. By this St. Augustine refers to that second property of marriage of indissolubility and the elevating of the marriage contract to a sacrament and therefore a source of sanctifying grace. It is clear that marriage once validly contracted enjoys a perpetual bond that cannot be dissolved except by the death of one of the spouses. For Christ has said, “What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder…Whosever shall put away his wife and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if the wife shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery” (Mk. X, 9, 11-12). Indeed, the marriage union of the baptized recalls the perfect union which exists between Christ and the Church. Archbishop Fulton Sheen would remind couples preparing for marriage that it takes “three to get married.” How true this is particularly of Christian marriage where God must be at the center! Although, marriage does not confer a character like baptism, confirmation and holy orders, it does confer sacramental graces continuously to the married couple. These graces are granted so that the spouses can better fulfill their duties of state. In the words of Pius XI:
The faithful once joined by marriage ties can never be deprived of the help and the binding force of the sacrament…the grace of matrimony will remain for the most part an unused talent hidden in the field unless the parties exercise these supernatural powers and cultivate and develop the seeds of grace they have received. If, however, doing all that lies within their power, they cooperate diligently, they will be able with ease to bear the burdens of their state and to fulfill their duties (CC, 41).
All too often Catholic married couples with the passing of the years forget that their marriage is a sacramental marriage. They forget that God is at the center and willing to assist them in their duties if they seek His assistance. Instead, they live their marriage as two persons who at one point in their lives fell in love. They should then hear the counsel of St. Raphael to Tobias, “Hear me, and I will show thee who they are, over whom the devil can prevail. For they who in such manner receive matrimony, as to shut out God from themselves, and from their mind, and to give themselves to their lust, as the horse and mule, which have not understanding, over them the devil hath power” (Tob. VI, 16-17). A Christian marriage without God is a contradiction of terms and is destined to fail. Is it any wonder then that in such marriages the devil has already triumphed?
This lengthy discussion on marriage brings us to our last point which is the family. The family is built upon the indissoluble bond of marriage and is the foundation for every culture and nation. The Fathers of the Church when speaking about the family often called it the “domestic church.” This is because of the similarities between the two divinely constituted institutions. Just as the Church has a hierarchical structure with the different members fulfilling specific offices, so does the family have a hierarchical structure with different offices. Today, however, this reality is often hidden or denied as a result of the emasculation of the male gender and the subsequent loss of authentic femininity in the female gender. What am I speaking about? I am speaking about the current crisis in many families where the father and the mother have reversed roles. Although there are several factors that have caused this crisis, a large part of the problem is the great deception of our modern culture which states that there is no difference between the genders. But this is completely absurd! On a physical, emotional and psychological level men and women are different and in fact it is these differences which the other gender compliments. The sacred text is clear, “male and female he created them” (Gen. I, 27). Thus, we should realize that the family has been created by God with a certain structure in which the father is to fulfill certain specific duties that are in accord with his nature and likewise with the mother. The father is the head and it is his principal duty to provide and protect his family. The mother for her part is subject to her husband not as a slave or servant, but at his loving companion and it is her duty to nurture the children and tend to the upkeep of the home. Now there may be some among the congregation who might be tempted to scoff and say, “Father that might be true for some families, but in mine it simply isn’t the case because of…” While there might be legitimate reasons for both parents to work and aid one another in their specific roles, nevertheless, the structure of the family does not change regardless of the circumstances. The father is the father and the mother is the mother! And lest we forget the role of children, the children are to follow the example of Our Blessed Lord who was subject to both St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin. They should recognize that in their obedience to their parents they are obeying the Will of God in their lives. For all paternity on earth is a share in the paternity of the God the Father and therefore to obey one’s father is to obey one’s Heavenly Father.
We return once again to the Holy Family and see that the great secret of their sanctity was living their ordinary lives in an extraordinary manner. We cannot fail to forget that Christ chose to spend the majority of His life hidden as the son of the carpenter, but even then He remained the Redeemer of the world. By this example He shows us that we are called to live our Catholic faith in our different states of life and that there is not a task so menial or trivial that escapes the sight of God. “Everything is grace” to put it in the words of St. Therese of the Child Jesus and so we cannot overlook our duties as an obstacle to our sanctification, but rather the means to our sanctification. So often in our day we complain about the lack of peace in the world, but do we realize that peace begins in the home. Peace, as St. Augustine, tells us is the tranquility of order. The question which remains is: Do we follow the order God has established in our marriages and our families? If the answer is no, then is there any wonder why there is unrest in the hearts of the spouses and the children? As a priest I cannot fail to exhort the families of the parish to pray and to pray together. You have certainly heard it said, “The family that prays together, stays together.” For when a family is praying together then not only is it obeying the command of the Lord, but also petitioning for the help the family needs to support the weaknesses of its members. Dear brethren, if we are praying in our families and seeking to follow the order which God has established in our families then we will be like that wise man in the Gospel who built his house upon the rock so that when the rains and floods came it did not fall. But if we are failing to pray and follow the divine order established by God then we will be like the foolish man who built his house upon sand. As the Scripture says, “the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell, and great was the fall thereof” (Mt. VII,. 27)
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost Amen.