Tag Archives: marriage

Turn, Turn, Turn…

July 5, 2014

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flowersTo Everything Turn, Turn, Turn….

Or so goes the song written by Pete Seeger in the late 1950s. The lyrics, except for the title which is repeated throughout the song, and the final verse of the song, are adapted from Chapter 3 of the Book of Ecclesiastes.
I have come to reflect again on this bit of scripture as I find myself moving from one era of my life to another. As I have grown older and hopefully wiser I have been taking time in my prayer to reflect on these movements in my life and how they really do fit into God’s plan.
A few years ago my children when off to college and thus I started a new era in my life. My mother recently passed away and a good friend has moved away (By coincidence she lives in the same town that Pete Seeger made famous – Beacon New York) . My pastor and spiritual guide has been reassigned to a different parish. I might be ready for a midlife crisis but the seasons of life are not only for empty-nesters – these seasons have been happening all of my life.
As a High school student, I readily anticipated and embraced going off to college and being independent (or so I thought) but even the anticipation left me with fear as I left behind security and family. My 20’s were filled with college, marriage and establishing some sort of career. It was quite hedonistic in it’s way, at least in that it was a time of the unholy trinity of Me, Myself, and I, but God was still leading me even though I didn’t know it. I learned about love through my marriage to my husband. I may not have known the fulness of God’s love for me yet, but I was learning. By my 30’s the season of raising children entered into my life. I would write more about it but it is a blur of diapers, potty training, sports camps, music lessons and play dates. Yet even during this crazy time of my life, I remember savoring every minute with my little children and never wanting it to change. God has his hand in teaching me about love here too. The sacrificial way in which we love our children, but I had more to learn.
My forties brought me a surprise. My children grew more independent and this season of my life brought me the surprise of God through a conversion experience I was not prepared for. I realized I was a child of God, His beloved and loved! I filled my life with learning and a zeal for evangelization. This season of my life brought me to volunteering for my church, to my work for the Archdiocese and in contact with mentors and friends who have helped me to learn more and grow deaper in my faith. Most of all this season has taught me how to pray.
I have lately realized that God is moving me into another season. A dear friend and spiritual sister has moved with her family to New York and my pastor who brought me to my faith and guided me through much of my spiritual life has been transferred. Like my children leaving the nest, it feels like the end of an era.
Even though my children graduating from High School left me reminiscent for the past, I relish the time with my grown up children and sharing their new lives as adults! I wonder what God has planned for me in this next season of my life. Maybe this season will bring me to more  wisdom and maturity in my faith? We will see.

I am sad to see the end of this season of my life, but it may be a time to deepen my friendships with those close and who have moved away, explore my relationships with my adult children and find out what God has in store for me next!
All I know is that seasons turn, turn, turn…

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

 

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‘Til death do us part

October 2, 2013

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How great is the love the Father has lavished on us! (1 John 3:1)

kirsch2

Marriage isn’t merely about the husband and wife, it’s also about the people around the couple as they live this holy sacrament.  Eugene and Mary Kirsch’s 58-year-marriage was a source of blessing to many others because of the beautiful witness they gave.

And they continued to teach about married love–until the very end.

“Family and faith is what’s important!”

Eugene (Gene) and Mary met on a blind date. Since both were very active, they went bowling for this first outing together. Their love seemed a perfect strike from the beginning, and they married in 1955. Five years later, they moved to a home in Roseville and joined Maternity of Mary Church in St. Paul. They raised four daughters–Vicki, Lori, Kathy and Karen. All of the girls went to grade school at Maternity of Mary, and got married there.

Gene and Mary had a home business together–Gene was an accountant and mainly worked out of their basement, while Mary typed forms for him upstairs. Mary was also a part-time sales associate at the JCPenney store in Roseville for 13 years. Their daughter, Vicki Flannigan, said, “Gaining wealth was never important to our parents, but family and faith was important.”

The Kirschs were devout Catholics. In fact, Mary attended daily Mass until she married at age 21, and resumed doing so when she retired from JCPenney. They were active parishioners for 53 years at Maternity of Mary. They were extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, went to Eucharistic Adoration together each week, and helped plan the Cana dinners. “We teased Dad because his pants always had holes in the knees from praying all the Rosaries,” their daughter, Karen Cossack, wrote.

“They always struck me as a couple very much in love,” the Kirschs’ pastor, Father Peter Williams, said. “They were faithful, devoted, and possessed a good sense of humor. I appreciated how they lived their vows, and the manner in which they raised their daughters.”

What’s the secret to a long marriage?

Their daughter Vicki said, “Our parents had a beautiful, married life. The perfect marriage, really. I cannot recall any disrespect or quarreling among those two.”

What was their secret to marital bliss?

Their children think it was a combination of a many things. They only had one plain TV set and seemed to somehow agree on the channel. Perhaps the simple life of one TV and two recliners aided in their success? As they aged, they continued to be active–in their faith, and with other things.  They took walks around the block together all year round, never walking without the other.  They played tennis and golf almost daily and went on 38 cruises together. Yep, 38! Gene would often get up on the ship’s stage and play the piano for people. He liked to sing, too–real loudly; at church, and at other places as well. Once, during a relative’s wedding reception, Gene took the microphone from the DJ and serenaded Mary with the song It had to be you.  Their daughter, Karen, wrote: “When the DJ asked them to reveal the secret of their long marriage, Mom just responded, “Love.”

Vicki wrote in an email:

“The key word for their successful marriage is ‘compliment.’ In my entire childhood and adult life, I can vividly recall both of them complimenting each other all the time! Dad complimented on every meal, nearly every bite! I believe that sometimes the food wasn’t all that delicious but dad still found the part of the meal that he would compliment her on — maybe just the fact that the food was served warm! She would compliment him on all his talents — piano playing, singing, being such a great conversationalist, speaking German, etc.”

In sickness and in health

Five years ago, Mary was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and it progressed fairly quickly, especially the type of dementia which is linked with this disease. Gene had a pace maker, but was still doing well. When their parents’ health first started this decline, their daughters turned their childhood home into a care facility. They organized meals for them and brought them to Mass at Maternity of Mary each week. Every day, the daughters made sure that one of them was there to check on their parents and visit with them. They had an excellent system in place.

All eight of the Kirsch grandchildren helped take care of Grandma and Grandpa, too. For example, Bridget Flannigan (age 29), a professional stylist, did Grandma’s hair and nails regularly. Katie King, age 23, a nurse at the Amplatz Children’s Hospital, checked her grandparents’ blood pressure and monitored their other medical needs–she also prayed with them.

On March 14 of this year, Mary fell in her home and fractured her tail bone. She was brought to the hospital and it was decided that she needed transitional care just long enough to recuperate. She was there for two weeks, and each morning the daughters brought their dad to the facility to visit and recite the Rosary. But Mary failed to thrive, and was not eating much.

Easter was on March 31st of this year (2013). While Mary was at the healthcare facility, twenty or so members from the Kirsch family accompanied Gene to Mass at Maternity of Mary. After Masses at their church, it is a tradition that the congregation prays an Our Father, a Hail Mary and a Glory Be for the next parishioner to pass away. Little did the Kirsch family know that they were all praying for Eugene–he was to meet his heavenly reward later that week.

However, before he passed on, Gene continued to visit his wife. In fact, the whole family piled into their cars after Easter Mass and paid Mary a joyful visit. “My mom and dad kissed on Easter and had a wonderful day surrounded by children and grandchildren,” wrote Karen. But Gene wasn’t quite himself while his bride was in the facility. It was so sad for him to see the love of his life suffering. Two days after Easter–while Gene was sitting beside his wife–she slumped forward into his lap, unresponsive. His beloved wife never spoke or opened her eyes again. The family was called together to pray the Rosary at Mary’s bedside. They knew the end was near, and prayed that it would be peaceful.

The next day, the family made the decision to move both Mary and Gene into the Shoreview Senior Living Center with the intention of having them together. Mary received hospice care while their daughters began the difficult task of planning for her funeral. “In the nursing home, when I was reading Matthew Kelly’s book, Rediscover Catholicism, to my parents, we all cried together. I felt both of their hearts were open and ready for God’s will,” said Karen.

A happy ending

Two days later, on the night of April 5, Gene and Mary were at the care center in their new beds–which were right next to each other. Some of their daughters were in sleeping bags on the floor. During the night, Gene got up to get a glass of water. In mid stride, he passed on–gently sinking to the ground as if he were carried in the arms of Jesus. “We thought God would take our mother first,” Vicki said, “and we knew that would be too hard on Dad.”

But God works in mysterious ways, and the Kirsch daughters now know that it was best that their father went first. They told their mother to look for Dad’s hand and go to heaven.

Two days later, Mary passed away peacefully. She had been anointed by Fr. Williams who had just returned from Italy. Mary and Gene–who loved to do everything together—were laid to rest on the same day. The Maternity of Mary altar was still decorated with the lovely Easter flowers that Mary admired each season. “They were a wonderful couple, something of a fixture at Maternity of Mary for decades,” Fr. Williams said. “They were likable and endearing. It was an honor for me to preside over their double funeral Mass – the first time such a thing has occurred for me in my nine years of serving as a priest.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 Matt Birk quotes that score extra points

February 8, 2013

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Licensed undeer Creative Commons

Licensed undeer Creative Commons

I was blessed to have Matt Birk’s brother in my fourth-grade class when I was a brand new teacher. For Valentine’s Day that year, I taught the students about measurement by instructing them on how to make French Silk pies. His enterprising mother told me that her boys used that recipe to turn a “sweet” profit. They had their own little business out of the home in which they took orders from neighbors and family members. They’d make the pies and then deliver them in a wagon. This was Matt Birk’s first job. I’m glad he has given up peddling pies and is now doing something that pays a bit better. With six kids, the grocery bills are as high as a football post, and difficult to tackle.

I know, my husband and I have nine kids. We have enjoyed watching Matt Birk and his wife, Adrianna, with their own brood. Often we are in the back of church together trying to quiet toddlers. They are excellent parents, and so good to their Catholic faith. In fact, my sister is in a Bible study with Adrianna; it’s a program she brought to our area. And, as many of you know, Matt Birk has done a brilliant job in speaking out for traditional marriage, family and life.

Thank you Birk family!

Here are some great quotes from him taken from an article in The National Catholic Register:

1) You’ve been active in the pro-life movement. What would you say to someone discouraged about the more than 50 million boys and girls killed in abortions during 40 years under Roe v. Wade?

The big picture is really ugly, but instead of letting that dominate your thinking, I would say to keep the faith and concentrate on the one or two things you can do. You may not be able to save thousands of lives on your own, but the one life you can save today does mean a lot.

Whether it’s teaching our own children to be pro-life, contacting our elected representatives or working at crisis-pregnancy centers, we can all do something. These examples are in addition to prayer, which everyone can do and which everyone should do. Prayer is the basis of any good action. Each little effort helps to bring about a culture of life, a culture in which children are appreciated rather than disposed of.

I spoke at a pro-life rally in Maryland a couple years ago, and it was a life-changing experience. I heard other speakers, including women who deeply regretted their own abortions. Their work, carried out through the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, was very persuasive. It wasn’t just a theoretical discussion; it was real women who had experienced the trauma of losing a child through abortion. They wanted to prevent other women from going through that same thing.

If people were told the truth about abortion, no one would ever seek out the procedure. We hear about “choice” and “reproductive rights,” but no one is ever told by an abortionist, “I will kill your baby by ripping off its arms and legs.” The women from Silent No More let people know the facts so that better decisions will be made. It’s very admirable work.

2) You’ve also been publicly supporting the institution of marriage. What are some misconceptions that people have regarding marriage?

The major misconception is that marriage is anything you want it to be, rather than the lifelong union of a man and a woman for the purpose of raising children. That’s what it has been for all of recorded history and what it continues to be today, regardless of what some people think.

There has been an intense attack on marriage for decades. It has become easier to get divorced, which means the breakup of the closest relationships: those involving spouses and children. This is devastating for the family, especially children, who need a father and a mother. When the marriage is torn apart, each child can feel like he or she is being torn apart.

After all these years of easy divorce, many people have given up on marriage completely. They just live together without any commitment. Needless to say, this isn’t the best of situations for them or for the children who might be involved. What’s needed is not a flight from responsibility, but a firmer commitment to it.

One of the things I’ve learned from the Catholic faith that applies to marriage, football and any other aspect of life is to appreciate discipline. On the surface, self-indulgence appears best for us, but that route only weakens us and leaves us unhappy. Self-denial appears to be worst for us, but that route strengthens us and makes us truly content.

Jesus said if anyone would be his follower he or she must deny his or herself, take up his or her cross and follow him. The way of the cross is the only way to be a true Christian, and it’s really the only way to get anything worthwhile done. It helps you to become the best version of yourself, to use a term from Catholic author and speaker Matthew Kelly.

In order for us to be the best versions of ourselves, we do not need to reinvent marriage, but to recommit ourselves to it. We need to look at it, not with our own agendas in mind, but with God’s plan in mind. He created us, so he knows what is best for us.

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Anne, Thomas and a Marriage Story

October 26, 2012

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I happened to catch the movie, “The Other Boleyn Girl” the other day. It is the story of Anne Boleyn and it could be said that her story is the other side of St. Thomas More’s story. I am not a historian and I am sure that it can be said that this movie may not be fully historical fact, but it does portray a story that is pertinent for today. It is a story about marriage and the redefinition of it.

If you are unfamiliar with the story of King Henry VIII and his six wives here is the short of it. King Henry wants a new wife and the Pope won’t give him an annulment. He defines himself as head of the church so that he can divorce his wife and marry the woman he is lusting for ~ Anne Boleyn. Anne manipulates her own sexuality to ultimately become queen of England. In the process she becomes the object [or cause] of the fall of the Catholic Church in England and the beginning of the Church of England. Again, I am not an expert on history, but this is the simplistic version of what I know.  You can find more of St. Thomas More’s life at: http://www.marriageuniqueforareason.org/2012/06/22/fortnight-for-freedom-day-2-st-thomas-more-married-saint-and-hero-of-religious-liberty/

Ultimately this historic story is about the defense of marriage. St. Thomas More as Lord Chancellor of England lost his life defending the Church and marriage. Anne, fueled by competitive drive, or possibly in this time of few rights for women – a sense of survival – succumbed to her own desires while fulfilling the desires of the King.

It is sometimes best for me to learn from a poor example rather than a good one. As I watched this film and the portrait of Anne – it struck me that it was her ambition that was her downfall. Her drive to be in control, her manipulation of the truth, her need to succeed that ultimately did her in. She wasn’t alone in this – King Henry’s needs seemed simpler or at least more direct – that of lust and perhaps to sire a son. Which I guess breaks down into sex and power. St. Thomas More was motivated by his knowlege of the truth. What do I want to be motivating me?

How much is our defense of marriage today like that of St. Thomas More’s dilemma?

To stand as the church teaches is not popular –while it may not cost you your life, it may cost you your friends. The acceptance of Anne Boleyn as Queen – redefined Marriage in England and King Henry created his own church so he could define the church to fit his needs. Today we have many who want to redefine marriage to suit their needs. It may be driven by power, lust or a type of manipulation – all under the guise of wanting to profess equality.

Ultimately Anne got what she wanted, but eventually lost her head and St. Thomas More also ultimately died defending marriage by not conceding to Anne as queen. It took courage. St. Thomas More showed us this courage in a few ways. First he lived his marriage rightly by loving his wife until widowed and strongly loved his family. Second, he stood strong on the teachings of the church -even though it cost him his life. He didn’t recognize the marriage of King Henry to Anne Boleyn because he knew that no one could redefine what was defined by God  – not even the king.

I am left wondering how I might behave in St. Thomas More’s shoes. Or maybe I am in them. How will I defend marriage? Our defence of our beliefs on marriage today deals with the same sex marriage issue, but much can be learned from Anne and Thomas.
If you struggle with the “Church” getting involved in matters of marriage or think there is no place for it. The story of Anne and Sir Thomas may give us some historical perspective on what happens when the “state” takes into its hands – redefining marriage. You may want to pick up “The Other Boleyn Girl” and “A Man for All Seasons” and see who you want to stand with? Will you defending the truth or choose to bend with the crowd or follow selfish motives?
A St. Thomas More Prayer for Religious Freedom and more information can be found on the website Unique for a Reason. http://www.marriageuniqueforareason.org

O God our Creator,
from your provident hand we have received
our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
You have called us as your people and given us
the right and the duty to worship you, the only true God,
and your Son, Jesus Christ.
Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit,
you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world,
bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel
to every corner of society.
We ask you to bless us
in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty.
Give us the strength of mind and heart
to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened;
give us courage in making our voices heard
on behalf of the rights of your Church
and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.
Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father,
a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters
gathered in your Church
in this decisive hour in the history of our nation,
so that, with every trial withstood
and every danger overcome—
for the sake of our children, our grandchildren,
and all who come after us—
this great land will always be “one nation, under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

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Marriage = Biology (NOT Bigotry)

October 25, 2012

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This well-done video came my way from a high school friend. Please pass it on.

Let’s think about what’s best for children & society, and  NOT redefine marriage!

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4 Little reasons why our marriage works

October 8, 2012

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Eric and Kathy Schneeman in Chile

1.  We love each other

Duh, right? This is the #1 ingredient for making a good marriage.

My father-in-law told us about love when we were engaged, “Do a lot of nice little things for each other.” St. Therese of Lisieux, “The Little Flower,” became a saint by doing for others what my father-in-law suggested. Her “Little Way” teaches us to do the ordinary things in life with extraordinary love. Eric and I apply this to married life. As husband and wife, we not only practice our faith together, but we are also asked to bring each other closer to God. We can do this by expressing our love in small, selfless ways: getting the coffee & tea ready (when we’d rather sleep in), mixing a whiskey sour just right (when we’d like to dive into our own glass of Cabernet), changing the baby (when we could pretend to be asleep), driving the teenagers to school in our PJs (when we could be answering emails), giving a back rub (when we’d rather read our novel). The smallest action, done with love, is more important than great deeds done for personal glory or gratification. Such is the power and presence of grace, and this grace strengthens marriages.

2.  We complement each other

Yes, we compliment each other, too: “Honey, you look hot in that dress!” or, “Wow, your muscles look bigger than yesterday!” and “You grilled that steak just right!” (Everyone likes to have his or her feathers ruffled.) But now on to complementing  each other without getting into anatomy 101 too much…

It’s obvious that man and woman were made for each other. For instance, “… He created male and female in His image so that they might become one body and might be fertile and multiply…” (See Genesis chapters 1 and 2). This Biblical passage goes hand in hand with the Natural Law. It just makes sense that we complement each other because the marriage bond is procreative. Human sexuality is sacred. Within marriage, it fulfills its purpose as an expression of deep, faithful and exclusive love that is open to new life (ForYourMarriage.org). Family arises from marriage, which in turn, forms the “Domestic Church.” Marriage between one man and one woman is the building block of society.

With nine kids whom we are raising to be good, Catholic leaders, I feel like my husband and I are doing our share in creating a hopeful future, and so are a lot of our friends and family. Jason Adkins, executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, says, “The long-term success and economic prosperity of societies depends upon the health of intact families.” The findings of the social sciences confirm that the best environment for raising children is a stable home provided by the marriage of their parents. (Please read my blog Six reasons kids do best when raised by married parents)

3.  We keep the romance alive

This is the fun part, but it ain’t easy. As you know, couples who are happily married work at it. And they work at it VERY HARD! My husband and I stay faithful to our vows. Eric travels a lot for work and when he is in difficult situations (like when someone he knows goes to a strip club) he leaves temptation behind. We have a friend who is a celebrity and has women who flirt with him. He told us, “I just flash my wedding band.” Exclusivity is paramount to a successful marriage.

To keep our hearts pitter-patting my husband and I make time for each other. Eric calls me a lot throughout his day. We travel. We run together. We pray together. We have mini dates in the pub area which we built in our basement–and we tell the children, “This is Mommy and Daddy time so…scram!” (They usually get a smile on their faces and then exit quickly–they’re glad their parents want to spend time together.)

Which brings me to…

4.  We witness our vocation to others

Oftentimes when Eric and I are sipping on cheap wine down in this “pub” (It’s cheap because we have to pay for college and Catholic high schools–not necessarily because my husband is cheap), our kids’ friends come over for a visit. Many of these children come from single-parent homes. They appreciate seeing a married couple enjoying each other’s company, and we are more than happy to let them know about the many blessings of a faithful, loving marriage. Our kids tell us that their friends have commented on this subject and remind them about how lucky they are to be raised in a stable home. Our sons who have left the nest (and who now appreciate their parents), will actually say to us, “Thanks for giving us a ‘normal’ home, and for being good role models.”

And we often say to them (after we get over our shock), “Remember, it’s the little things that make marriage work.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Marriage Matters

October 1, 2012

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Vote YES!

What if marriage is redefined? right now, according to Minnesota for Marriage, there is a court case pending in Hennepin County through which same-sex couples are asking judges to redefine marriage. I believe that the people–not the judges or politicians–should determine what the definition of marriage should be. Today a television ad was introduced by Minnesota for Marriage which will educate us and challenge viewers to really think. It will also encourage Minnesotans to VOTE YES on the Marriage Protection Amendment on November 6th.

Look for more ads to come in this series.

YouTube Preview Image

Thanks to Minnesota for Marriage for their hard work and dedication. And once again, I’m grateful to Kalley Yanta for sharing her news casting talent (I love your new hair style, Kalley!)

(Please view my other posts on theis subject: Marriage: 1 Man and 1 Woman, Marriage=1 Man+1 Woman, 6 reasons kids do best when raised by married parents, A joke: (But if it comes to this, it’s not funny) )

 

 

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A Joke (But if it comes to this it’s not funny)

September 24, 2012

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This came my way from our pastor’s file. Someone handed it to him…

Licensed under Creative Commons (Vectorportal)

A scene in City Hall in San Francisco:

Judge: “Next!”

“Good morning, we want to apply for a marriage license.”

Judge: “Tim and Jim Jones?”

“Yes. We are brothers.”

Judge: “Brothers? You can’t get married.”

“Why not? Aren’t you giving marriage licenses to same gender couples?”

Judge: “Yes, thousands. but we haven’t had any siblings. That’s incest!”

“Incest? No, we are not gay.”

Judge: “Not gay? Then why do you want to get married?”

“For the financial benefits, of course. And we do love each other. Besides, we don’t have any other prospects.”

Judge: “But we’re issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples who’ve been denied equal protection under the law. If you are not gay, you can get married to a woman.”

“Wait just a minute. A gay man has the same right to marry a woman as I have. But just because I’m straight doesn’t mean I want to marry a woman. I want to marry Jim.”

“And I want to marry Tim. Are you going to discriminate against us just because we are not gay?”

Judge: “All right. All right. I’ll give you your license. Next.”

“Hi. We are here to get married.”

Judge: “Names?”

“John Smith, Jane James, Robert Green and June Johnson.”

Judge: “Who wants to marry whom?”

“We all want to marry each other.”

Judge: “But there are four of you?”

“That’s right. You see, we’re all bisexual. I love Jane and Robert, Jane loves me and June, June loves Robert and Jane, and Robert loves June and me. All of us getting married together is the only way that we can express our sexual preferences in a marital relationship.”

Judge: “But we’ve only been granting licenses to gay and lesbian couples.”

“So you’re discriminating against bisexuals!”

Judge: “No, it’s just that, well…the traditional idea of marriage is that it’ s just for couples.”

“Since when are you standing on tradition?”

Judge: “Well, I mean, you have to draw the line somewhere.”

“Who says? There’s no logical reason to limit marriage to couples. The more the better. Besides, we demand our rights! The mayor says the constitution guarantees equal protection under the law. Give us a marriage license!”

Judge: “All right. All right. Next.”

“Hello. I’d like a marriage license.”

Judge: “In what name?”

“David Deets.”

Judge: “And the other man?”

“That’s all. I want to marry myself.”

Judge: “Marry yourself? What do you mean?”

“Well, my psychiatrist says I have dual personalities, so I want to marry the two together. Maybe I can file a joint income-tax return.”

Judge: “That does it! I quit! You people are making a mockery of marriage!”

 

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Marriage: 1 Man and 1 Woman

September 17, 2012

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On November 6 we vote to uphold traditional marriage. Our church is supporting efforts to pass a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Many people–including this blogger– are praying for the graces needed to foster, strengthen and support faith-filled, holy marriages and families. And I know that when it comes time to fill in my ballot for the Minnesota Marriage Protection Amendment, I will mark “Yes” with an affirmative stroke in order to promote the well-being of children and the common good. (Remember: a non-vote is a NO vote. Dinner guests at our home recently had a hard time believing this fact.)

We are blessed to have Fr. Michael Creagan as our pastor at The Church of Saint Joseph in West St. Paul. He granted me permission to share with you one of his bulletin articles on this subject. Father touches on some important points and pulled a lot of his information from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Please pass this on.

Marriage: 1 Man and 1 Woman

by Fr. Michael Creagan

In the past few years there has been a move to change the laws concerning the definition of marriage. These laws have been changed in countries such as the Netherlands and Canada (and in some parts of the U.S.A) to allow marriage between same-sex couples. The movement away from the traditional teaching on marriage can also easily open the doors for a variety of other relationships including polygamy. Canada is already experiencing the effects from its unfortunate decision.

The definition of marriage has quickly become a topic of discussion in our culture. The Catholic Church continues to teach that marriage is only between one man and one woman. It is important for us to have a brief understanding of this teaching. From time to time we may be involved in a discussion with someone who does not understand our teaching, and it is up to us to offer a clear answer delivered with great patience and charity. Sacred Scripture is filled with teachings and images concerning marriage between one man and one woman. This brief column does not present enough space to examine each of them, but I think most are familiar with these biblical teachings. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraphs 1639 and following) speaks of the natural structure of human sexuality that makes a man and woman complementary partners for the transmission of human life. Husband and wife are called to give themselves totally to each other in their masculinity and femininity (CCC1643). They are equal human beings, but different as man and woman fulfilling each other through this natural difference. This unique complementarity makes possible the conjugal bond that is the core of marriage. It is true some couples struggle with infertility or other issues, but the intent and beauty of this complementary gift are still present. A union of two men or two women can never allow for this conjugal gift and, therefore, it is wrong to equate it with marriage.

Some people may think, Well, that is okay for the Catholic Church, but what is wrong with changing the laws? The USCCB wrote:

“Across times, cultures, and very different religious beliefs, marriage is the foundation of the family. The family in turn is the basic unit of society. Thus, marriage is a personal relationship with public significance. Marriage is the fundamental pattern for male-female relationships. It contributes to society because it models the way in which women and men live interdependently and commit, for the whole life, to seek the good of each other. The marital union also provides the best conditions for raising children: namely the stable, loving relationship of a mother and father present only in marriage. It is true that some single parents have nobly and beautifully provided for their children, but the normative situation remains the best. The state rightly recognizes this relationship of husband and wife in marriage as a public institution in its laws because it makes an essential contribution to the common good.”

The teaching on marriage between one man and one woman is not meant to discriminate against anyone, rather, it is meant to uphold marriage in its fullness and for the common good. What are we to do as Catholics? First we must pray for a great understanding of marriage as between one man and one woman. Sometimes we may be called to patiently and charitably witness our faith in conversations. Other times we may be called to vote in support of marriage or encourage candidates to defend the definition of marriage as one man and one woman. Married couples themselves will be the best of teachers through their faithful witness. This is not an easy topic to understand. It requires a comprehension of both scriptural teaching and an understanding of natural law. The new Catechism of the Catholic Church is a great resource. Current speakers such at Dr. Janet Smith have also offered helpful information.  For further information on this teaching visit the USCCB website at http://foryourmarriage.org/marriage-resources/why-marriage-matters/

St. Joseph, pray for us! ~Fr. Michael Creagan

(Blogger’s note: Thanks to Father Creagan for sharing this article. If readers would like more information, visit this site: http://www.mncc.org/advocacy-areas/marriage-and-family/marriage-amendment/ And for an article written by Archbishop Nienstedt on the subject see http://thecatholicspirit.com/that-they-may-all-be-one/marriage-speaking-the-truth-with-love/.)

 

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Church points to impact marriage redesign would have on children, society

August 14, 2012

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Each family is a cell that is as vital to society as a cell phone is to communication. Photo/d:space Licensed under Creative Commons

Have you ever wondered why phones are called “cell” phones? If you already know this, you’re ahead of me: “Cell” doesn’t refer to a component in the phone but the fact that service providers divide up a city or region into geographic areas called cells which are equipped with a tower and radio equipment. Because of this structure, users within a cell can communicate with those in other cells.

Each cell plays a critical role in ensuring communication for the entire city or region. In a similar way, the Church teaches that each family is a cell vital to the function of society. According to the Catechism:

The family is the original cell of social life. It is the natural society in which husband and wife are called to give themselves in love and in the gift of life. Authority, stability, and a life of relationships within the family constitute the foundations for freedom, security, and fraternity within society. The family is the community in which, from childhood, one can learn moral values, begin to honor God, and make good use of freedom. Family life is an initiation into life in society. (CCC:2207)

Marriage is a private matter between a couple but the Church teaches that the broader society has an interest in the institution because it’s where children are most often conceived and raised. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948 recognizes the family’s special role: “The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.”

Caring for Children

Supporting marriage is a way of protecting children even though more emphasis is often placed on marriage’s legal and economic considerations. Congress, government administrative bureaus and agencies define the word ‘marriage’ as “only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.”

The Church doesn’t disagree with this definition but she views marriage and family also through a sacramental lens, focusing more on the welfare of children and their parents, who are the future of society. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith states:

By reason of the vocation and social responsibilities of the person, the good of the children and of the parents contributes to the good of civil society; the vitality and stability of society require that children come into the world within a family and that the family be firmly based on marriage. The tradition of the Church and anthropological reflection recognize in marriage and in its indissoluble unity the only setting worthy of truly responsible procreation.

Unfortunately, many marriages today do dissolve without unity but that’s not a reason to re-engineer the institution. According to Pope Benedict XVI, “marriage and family are rooted in the inmost nucleus of the truth about man and his destiny.”

He continues,

Today, the need to avoid confusing marriage with other types of unions based on weak love is especially urgent. It is only the rock of total, irrevocable love between a man and a woman that can serve as the foundation on which to build a society that will become a home for all mankind.

Consequences for Society

If government redefines marriage ignoring the particular roles of husband and wife—and mother and father—children won’t get the guidance they need as they grow to sexual maturity, the U.S. Bishops wrote in their pastoral letter, Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan. Without this protection the State would effectively deprive children of the right to both a mother and a father.

In addition, they write, expanding the definition of marriage beyond that of one man and one woman would make the pattern of spousal and familial love and the generation of new life only of relative importance rather than fundamental to the existence and wellbeing of society as a whole.

Church leaders have foreseen some consequences of fundamentally changing marriage and family but ultimately some believe it would take a generation or more to know the full effects. Bl. Pope John Paul II wrote about the possibility of “a destructive ‘anti-civilization.”

Promoting stability in marriage and the virtuous life it entails, will ensure “the happiness and well-being of the nation is safely guarded; what the families and individuals are, so also is the State, for a body is determined by its parts,” wrote Pope Pius XI in his encyclical Casti Connubii.

Those parts, or cells, are superior to other communities, wrote philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand in his book, Marriage: Mystery of Faithful Love.

We cannot dwell any further on this important question beyond seeing the rank that marriage holds among communities and understanding that it represents in itself something far superior to all others, and that in itself it would glorify God as an image of the relationship of Christ and His Church even if no other communities existed.

Continuing to Share God’s Plan

Given how vital the cell of marriage and the family is to all of civilization, the Church will continue to share God’s plan for the holy institutions as they are attacked from many sides, wrote Pope John Paul in his apostolic exhortation Familiaris Consortio:

 At a moment of history in which the family is the object of numerous forces that seek to destroy it or in some way to deform it, and aware that the well-being of society and her own good are intimately tied to the good of the family, the Church perceives in a more urgent and compelling way her mission of proclaiming to all people the plan of God for marriage and the family, ensuring their full vitality and human and Christian development, and thus contributing to the renewal of society and of the people of God.

 

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