Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Damien O'Connor

4/10/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

It is paramount that sacramentally married couples boldly live their vocations and be a very visible Sign in mainstream society

From the beginning of time there was nothing more natural or understood than the structure of a family being a man, woman and children.  It is shockingly narcissistic and naÔve to think that suddenly now, we the current (and temporary) stewards of the earth, have come to some sort of unfounded evolution of thought and behavior that contradicts a previously universal truth that has existed since the creation of the world. 

A wedding service

A wedding service

Article Highlights

By Damien O'Connor

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

4/10/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: marriage, traditional marriage, defending marriage, marriage and family, marriage as vocation, marriage and holiness, family, children, spouses, Damien O'Connor


BRIDGEPORT, CONN. (Catholic Online) - I remember when I was a high school morality teacher, I used to show a video by National Geographic entitled, Lions in the Darkness.  I'm sure that most of my students questioned my sanity for showing it to them.  Nevertheless they watched the video intently.  The scenes simply documented the daily habits of the lions and lionesses.  The scenes revealed them copulating, hunting/eating, sleeping together, killing the weak and a total disregard for the greater good of the animal kingdom.  It was simply in their nature and their DNA to act this way.  This was their normal state.

The question I presented to my classes was quite simple, "How are human beings any different in today's society than the lions?"    Now these were fairly intelligent adolescents yet they all struggled with this question.  Some simply could not make a distinction between the lions and humans while others, rightfully so, were offended by the implication I was making about them (as part of society) through my question.  Thank God for the students that were offended!

The recent debate over same-sex marriage has gained national attention in the United States and rightfully so.  The institution of marriage or more appropriately, the Sacrament of marriage has been reduced to a simplistic list of qualities a couple should have if they meet the criteria for marriage as understood by mainstream society.   The current language that seems to qualify a couple for marriage is:
- I/We love each other
- I/We make each other happy
- I/We enjoy intercourse together
- I/We would die for each other

There is a subtle yet dangerous dynamic that occurs in every aspect of mainstream society called Normalization.  Simply put, the more we are exposed to something, the more normal it becomes and ultimately accepted.  Rarely do we see qualitative or quantitative studies to substantiate that which we now consider normal even if it had always been considered abnormal or even evil in nature.  Rarely do we see studies that evaluate what benefits the greater good of society, consult teachings from scripture or even basic common sense and human nature.  Nevertheless normalization is all around us and it is often evil.

It has become "normal" and expected to be politically correct and yet no one can provide a credible source through which politically correct or incorrect language and behavior is elucidated.  Beyond inclusive language that in many cases seems reasonable, political correctness is nothing more than an overwhelmingly persuasive way of thinking that is based in fear.  Due to normalization we now live in a very strange reality: we self-censor ourselves.  We are afraid to say anything, so we say nothing.  This is not of God and most certainly not Christian.  Society and I would dare say most politicians, do not want Catholics to think, use logic, common sense and most certainly live our faith through a radical missionary spirit: which is exactly what we are called to do through our baptism.

The marriage debate regarding same-sex couples offends me deeply not because I am anti homosexuals but because the Sacrament of Marriage is immeasurably more than how it is defined by most in society and is most certainly more than a catchy one-liner on Facebook or 120 characters on twitter.  Furthermore, and to be fair, if I was in a homosexual relationship and perceived the way in which marriage is predominantly exemplified in society, it would seem only fair that same sex couples qualify for the same rights.  That is precisely my point.  I have never understood it as a right but as a vocation.

I knew as a young adult that I was meant to give myself to God in some way as we all are.  I had grown up around priests and they deeply influenced my faith development.  I witnessed the profound graces of their vocation as I observed them live their faith.  I also knew them as human beings, who like me, could be Christ to others or falter and need God's mercy through the sacrament of confession.  Needless to say, I was naturally drawn to the priesthood but wasn't sure if that was what God was calling me to.  I began praying daily that God would show me my vocation, because we all have one.  I knew that true joy could only be achieved by fully giving of myself to God and not taking or desiring that which others had.  I spent over a year praying daily that I may grow closer to God and that when my vocation became clear, I would first be completely grounded in our Lord.

Then I was given the greatest gift of my life, my wife Monica.  Far more important than our nascent physical attraction, love for each other and friendship, God called us to be together.  The way in which we live our marriage is a Sign of the Sacrament of Marriage.  Our vocation is to be a living Sign of God's love to all those we encounter, most especially our children, who through the miracle of their birth, bore witness to our Holy vocation and expanded the circle of love.  Although we fail at this often, that is our constant calling and what we have given our lives for.  I simply do not understand marriage outside of these parameters.  Our marriage (as all marriages) is meant to be a gift to the world and ultimately God, and not a gift that I deserve or qualify for.  I deserve it no more than I deserve life itself.

Since Adam and Eve the world has understood marriage and the family as the basis of a civilized society.  It has always been the primary source for education, faith development, morals, dignity, self-worth, sacrifice and the stewardship of God's most precious gift, children.  

From the beginning of time there was nothing more natural or understood than the structure of a family being a man, woman and children.  It is shockingly narcissistic and naÔve to think that suddenly now, we the current (and temporary) stewards of the earth, have come to some sort of unfounded evolution of thought and behavior that contradicts a previously universal truth that has existed since the creation of the world.

Society needs a "new normal" regarding marriage.  It is paramount that sacramentally married couples boldly live their vocations and be a very visible Sign in mainstream society.  We must all pray publically for vocations to sacramental marriages.  When a man and a woman desire marriage, they must understand that their preparation to receive the sacrament, is just as important as the formation prior to joining religious life or ordination to the priesthood.

They are giving their lives completely united in God.  Canonically, a man and a woman have a right to be married.  However, this does not presume that they are automatically predisposed to be Signs of a sacramental marriage.  We must have the courage and discipline to prepare these couples with the same fervor, spirit and candor that is applied to men who desire ordination to the priesthood or women who wish to join religious life.

From the beginning of Christianity it has always been through our example that we evangelized the world.  I implore sacramentally married couples to live their vocation with a missionary spirit, joyfully in the public square!

Salvation history was changed forever through a family, the Holy Family.

"At a historical moment of severe family fragmentation throughout the Western world, the example of evangelical Catholic families that share joys and burdens, and do so with wit and grace, is one of the most powerful conversion tools available to the Catholic Church." (George Weigel)

-----

Damien O'Connor is the Senior Director of the Office for Pastoral Services for the Diocese of Bridgeport, CT.  In 2011 Damien was appointed to the National Advisory Council (NAC) of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.  In 2012 he was elected to the Executive Board of the NAC and is the current Proactive Chairperson.  Damien passionately believes that we all must put our faith into action and that by surrendering our lives completely to God, we will know a joy that cannot be measured. He has been married for 15 years to his wife Monica and has three children: Damien, Jr (13), Mary Rose, Ana Theresa (11, twins).  Damien and his family are parishioners at St. Michael Church, New Haven, CT and is a 4th Degree Member of the Knights of Columbus.

---


Pope Francis calls for your 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women:
That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.



Comments


More U.S.

Suffering, Struggle and the Christian Revolution Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

The Christian tradition instructs us that even undeserved and unmerited suffering, when joined in love to the sufferings of Jesus Christ, can produce extraordinary fruit within us - and then through us, as we change. This is a part of the teaching on the mystery ... continue reading


FORCED BESTIALITY: Evil teenage girls sexually assault autistic boy - and record it for posterity Watch

Image of Seventeen-year-old Lauren Bush along with her 15-year-old accomplice are accused by the St. Mary's County sheriff's department on numerous charges.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In an episode shocking for its sheer cruelty, two teenage girls in Maryland are now in custody after they repeatedly abused a 16-year-old autistic boy - eventually making him perform sexual acts with a family pet - and recording it all on their cell phones. LOS ... continue reading


HOW LONG BEFORE THE SYSTEM BREAKS? Working Americans increasingly made to pay for those on welfare Watch

Image of Those who work in America are increasingly being made to pay for those who don't -- in the manner of an over-burdened ox.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

If you're an American who awakes each day to begin a day of toil you have no interest in, take heed: There are only more reasons to hit your pillow in frustration each night as you drift off to sleep. You are an endangered species, and the media has not rallied ... continue reading


Ron Paul warns Feds may stage 'Waco styled' raid Watch

Image of Cliven Bundy has been fighting with the Bureau of Land Management for 20 years over his cattle and grazing rights.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While Cliven Bundy, his family, their supporters, and myriad militiamen forced federal agents from the Bureau of Land Management to back off of the Bundy's Nevada ranch and release hundreds of captured cattle, one politician warns that the feds could be planning ... continue reading


What does this say about America? More people getting food stamps than women working full-time Watch

Image of There were only 15,678,000 women who worked full-time, year-round in the United States in 1969.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It's a distressing figure that shines a most unflattering light on affairs here in the United States. According to recent statistics, those  participating in the food stamp program, or SNAP outnumbered the number of women who worked full-time, year-round ... continue reading


Palm/Passion Sunday: Will We Make This Week Holy By Encountering Jesus Christ? Watch

Image of Holy Week invites us to let go of self and embrace the Lord Jesus anew through saying Yes to the invitation to continuing conversion. How desperately we all need to hear the Good news that we can begin again!

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Palm/ Passion Sunday: Make This Holy Week a Deep Encounter With Jesus Christ!During this week called Holy, the Lord Jesus is extending His saving Hand to each one of us anew. The timeless one has broken into time and now transforms it from within. The question is ... continue reading


Living Among the Pharisees Watch

Image of Christ Before the High Priest

By Deal W. Hudson

I will not quote directly from the article - there is no need to infect readers with the Phariseeism pervading Ruse's psychological/spiritual analysis of Thomas Williams. The readers can judge for themselves. I've been the target of similar, and worse, ... continue reading


Time for a Movement Rooted in the Real Social Doctrine of the Church Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Christian social teaching challenges any notion of human freedom which begins and ends with the isolated, atomistic, person as the measure of its application. We are by nature and grace called to relationship. Only in communion can we become fully human and find ... continue reading


Nevada cattle rancher has won fight with feds -- for now Watch

Image of Clive Bundy claims his herd of roughly 900 cattle have grazed on the land along the riverbed near Bunkerville, 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas, since 1870.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

For the time being, Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy has appeared to have won his week-long battle with the federal government. His case has spurred nationwide attention, and has garnered protestors rallying for his rights.  LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Is Pope Francis Opening the Possibility of Ordaining Mature, Proven Married Men to Priesthood Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

The prophetic witness of voluntary, consecrated celibacy has endured beyond the ranks of celibate clergy. It is also preserved in the inspired vowed life of monastic orders and the sacrificial witness of religious men and women. In addition, in many of the ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Isaiah 61:1-3, 6, 8-9
1 The spirit of Lord Yahweh is on me for Yahweh has ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 89:21-22, 25, 27
21 My hand will always be with him, my arm will make ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 4:16-21
16 He came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, ... Read More

Reading 2, Revelation 1:5-8
5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 17th, 2014 Image

St. Anicetus
April 17: Anicetus was a Syrian from Emesa. He became pope about 155 and ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter