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 na´ve 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

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 na´ve 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: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for September 2014
Mentally disabled:
That the mentally disabled may receive the love and help they need for a dignified life.
Service to the poor: That Christians, inspired by the Word of God, may serve the poor and suffering.



Comments


More U.S.

As death toll passes 2,600 U.S. lawmakers worry about spread of Ebola Watch

Image of Red Cross workers in Guinea in protective gear. Currently, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia are the worst nations worst hit by the West African Ebola outbreak.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Legislators in Washington are becoming increasingly concerned about the spread of Ebola and worry that it could become more contagious and potentially spread into the United States. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - President Obama's new plan to put 3,000 U.S. ... continue reading


Obama gains support from House to further fight against ISIS Watch

Image of President Obama, with the support of the House of Representatives, may now start arming and training Syrian groups to fight the Islamic State, and will continue to strike targets in Iraq.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While President Barack Obama told Americans-in somewhat ambiguous terms-last week that he intended to destroy the Islamic State, as of September 17, he promised that the United States will not fight another ground war in Iraq. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


Values Voters: What We Can Learn from Ted Cruz Being Booed at the In Defense of Christians Conference Watch

Image of Senator Ted Cruz from Texas was the keynote speaker at what was billed as a Gala Solidarity Dinner. Sadly, it certainly did not demonstrate solidarity between Christians. A small group in the assembly, rudely and loudly, reacted negatively to some of the words Senator Cruz spoke as he expressed his convictions concerning the persecution taking place in this land which is properly holy, precisely because of its role in God's loving plan of salvation for the whole human race.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The events of Wednesday, September 10, 2014, at the Inaugural In Defense of Christians Gala make abundantly clear that there is a serious and urgent need for values voters to meet and discuss the crisis in the Mideast and ways in which we can work together to ... continue reading


Our Age Need Rebels of Love: The Christian Church is the Real Counterculture Watch

Image of As a young man I rejected secularist, atheistic humanism - but not humanism itself. As I studied the early Church fathers I came to understand that the true humanism is authentic Christianity, the kind professed, in word and deed, by the early Christians. As I read early Church history I was brought back to the mother church of the entire Christian movement, the Catholic Church. I came to believe that she offers the theological anthropology, ecclesiology and world view of the early fathers of the Church. I also came to believe that she was the real counterculture.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

We can - we will - change the culture of the contemporary West, if we are willing to suffer, struggle and offer ourselves to the Lord for the task. His power, the power of the Holy Spirit, working through us, will accomplish what we can never accomplish on our ... continue reading


What is a Catholic Deacon? Bishop Kevin Rhoades Gives the Answer Watch

Image of The Most Reverend Kevin Rhoades, the Bishop of the Diocese of Ft. Wayne-South Bend, presiding over the Mass of Ordination to the Diaconate of six new Holy Cross Deacons

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

It is a privilege to ordain you permanent deacons.  No, I didn't make a mistake.  Don't worry: you are scheduled to be ordained priests next year by Bishop Jenky!  But what happens today in the sacrament of Orders is not something transitional; it ... continue reading


ISIS among us! New York man sought to kill Iraq war veterans Watch

Image of Mufid Elfgeeh, a 30-year-old, Yemeni born man who lived in New York, attempted to send three people to Iraq to fight for the Islamic State, and purchase firearms to kill veterans from the Iraq War.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Yemeni born food store owner in upstate New York sent funding to the Islamic State and attempted to sent three jihadists to Syria to fight alongside the terrorist cell while plotting to perpetrate attacks against American troops who had served in Iraq. LOS ... continue reading


Father Frank Pavone: 16433 Children Buried in One Grave Watch

Image of Fr. Pavone prays at the graveside of the children

By Fr. Frank Pavone

For many years, this mass grave had no marker or headstone, just as the children have no names. But now there is a stone, and we are going to name the babies. Supporters of abortion do not want people to see mass graves in our midst. It's too disturbing a ... continue reading


Nice try! Democrats try to distance themselves from Obama for midterm, but it's too late! Watch

Image of Kentucky Senate candidate, Alison Grimes, seen here with a shotgun in an ad where she attempts to distance herself from the disastrous and unpopular policies of President Barack Obama.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Democratic Senate candidate, Alison Grimes, is trying her best to let Kentuckians know that she is certainly not an Obama Democrat, releasing a campaign ad where she wields a gun to prove it. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Grimes' 30-second ad takes place in ... continue reading


Are terrorists invading the US through the open border with Mexico? Watch

Image of The Islamic State nay already have sympathizers and cells within the USA. The porous border does nothing to aid the situation.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Americans are worried that the Islamic State will soon conduct terror attacks within the U.S., inserting agents via the porous border between the states and Mexico. At least one sheriff has told the media he received an official alert while the federal government is ... continue reading


'We'll send them to hell!' Texas sheriff declares war on Islamic State Watch

Image of Texas sheriff Gary Painter reveals that he believes the Islamic State has already infiltrated the U.S. through the porous southern border.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Law enforcement agencies along the U.S.-Mexico border have received alerts to be on the lookout for terrorists from Islamic State attempting to cross into the United States, a sheriff from the region has said. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Midland County ... 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, First Corinthians 15:1-11
1 I want to make quite clear to you, brothers, what ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 118:1-2, 16-17, 28
1 Alleluia! Give thanks to Yahweh for he is good, for ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 7:36-50
36 One of the Pharisees invited him to a meal. When ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 18th, 2014 Image

St. Joseph of Cupertino
September 18: St. Joseph was born at Cupertino, in the diocese of Nardo in the ... 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