Saturday, March 12, 2011

New bloggy:

See you there!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

What is marriage?

It's one of the little games floating around the internet. Go to Google, type in "[your name] is" and hit enter. The search results are frequently hilarious or poignant, conveying things like "Maggie is a banana," "Maggie is the girl for me," or "Maggie is a poet." To make it work, you mustn't forget to put the words in quotes.

Play the same good with the word marriage, and what do you get?

Marriage is an alliance entered into by a man who can't sleep with the window shut
marriage is good for you
marriage is dead
marriage is not hopeless after an affair
marriage is like drinking a Slurpee
marriage is an instrument of salvation for society

And the negative... "marriage is not"...

Marriage is Not a Private Affair
Marriage Is Not About Procreation
marriage is not a love affair
marriage is not the same around the globe
marriage is not built on surprises
marriage is not a sport
marriage is not a commandment

On a more scientific basis than a simple Google search, one can say that marriage is a social instrument that binds a man and a woman together in a semi-permanent way so that they share financial and legal responsibilities. That's how the law would define it.

As a Christian, I understand marriage to be much more. Marriage is a sacrament, a path to holiness, a channel of grace, a reflection of the marriage between Christ and the Church; the creation of a new family, the core building block of society, and the gift of children. Something that changes the soul for all time, like baptism; irrevocable, unbreakable, forever.

I understand that marriage is not: a civil right. Call me a bigot, but I do not believe marriage is something we have a legal "right" to. Once you study the Enlightenment all the talk about "rights" makes you giggle a little - people swallow their grammar school propaganda whole! I wouldn't be surprised if many of the same people who talk about "marriage equality" also believe that Christopher Columbus discovered America and George Washington cut down the cherry tree. Rather than a right, marriage is a calling, a vocation (voca = Latin to call) . Not everyone is called to marriage, and that is OK. It is not a negative judgment on them as a person. It means they are called to something else., something equally amazing.

I understand that marriage is not: something that can be begun or ended by the government. In a legal sense, of course, the state has the power to contract, annul, and end marriages. But legal marriage is not real marriage - the real marriage is the commitment that takes place between two hearts. It is too deep and important a thing to be the property of a low-level bureaucrat in City Hall. It is a spiritual state and as such can only be governed with any authenticity by the Church. What God has joined, it's literally impossible for man to tear asunder - man doesn't have the authority, or the ability, to do so.

I've got to stop writing now, but I'm still thinking about this. What is marriage?

Monday, July 05, 2010

I am going to start doing a little project

On vocations. Not focusing just on vocations to the priesthood, diaconate, or consecrated life. In Catholic World those are the vocations that get "talked up" because they seem to be the rare vocations... the path easily missed... the calling easily drowned out by the noise and distraction of our culture. Marriage, on the other hand, is the "natural" vocation, the seemingly more easy choice, the path nobody will look at you funny for taking, the expected thing to do. So we don't talk about marriage, much. Until someone tries to legalize homosexual "marriage" of course.

Despite the relative silence, there IS a vocations crisis happening in marriage, as well. A quick look at the divorce rates in our country makes that clear. And we can't blame it on the pagans or the ungodly liberals. Did you know what group has the lowest divorce rate in the USA? Atheists. Do you know what group has the highest divorce rate? Fundamentalist Christians. No joke.

Even Churches that follow the Bible's teaching on divorce are having problems. The Catholic Church in America has one of the highest rates of annulment of any Catholic country in the entire world. (I'm going to go into that topic more in a later post, what is an annulment, why is it NOT a "Catholic divorce," what makes it so different from divorce etc, but I'll leave it for now.)

The Church generally requires a lengthy preparation period during engagement, in which the couple has to discuss everything from faith to finances to sex with their priest and the specially-trained groups who run Pre-Cana programs. The intense Catholic system of pre-marital counseling is much admired by other denominations and by secular authorities. And yet later, so many of these couples are determined to have had an impediment to marriage. In my Cleveland diocese the mandatory prep period is at least six months. I have heard in other dioceses of waiting periods of nine months to a year. Is that the answer? Make it longer and more intensive?

I believe myself that I am called to marriage, and I believe I know who I am called to marriage with, but I am trying to stay open to whatever path God leads me on. To me there aren't a lot of resources for people who have discerned the marriage vocation and I'm going to be doing some investigating to see what I can find. Ooooo... this could be boring or it could be interesting! I guess we'll see :)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

It's a beautiful day

And I'm about ready to scream. I am going to scream if I have to spend one more minute being sick and unwell and having old things go wrong again on my insides, when I thought they were resolved. I am going to scream if one more *new* problem shows up. I am going to scream if I have to spend one more day where my energy level belly-flops by mid-afternoon.

I am going to scream if I have to take off work and visit one more doctor who frowns and shakes his head and says, "let's take a wait and see approach" or "I don't know if it's cancer or not. Could be. Probably not. Can't tell without opening you up. Don't worry about it" or "take off work again next week for this test. Oh, and the soonest you can get in for a follow-up appointment is next month." I am going to scream from the effort of trying not to talk about this because after a few months, people get tired of hearing about it and assume you're just a psych case.

I am going to scream, and the screaming will activate my head whirling because that is my body's current way of responding to stress. By making my brain vibrate and my head ache and sending electricity through it.

And I'm so tired of praying. I pray constantly for help, and that's about it. My "dialogue" with God seems to be a monologue that currently consists of my helpless yelping for a hand up.

I am doing better than I was. I keep telling myself that. Things have improved. Or I've slipped back to square one. One of the two.

Please Lord... help me. See, even though I'm sick of it I can't stop. 1. Because it's a habit, and 2. Because He's the only one who can help.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Ugh ugh ugh

I am so tired of feeling unwell and having things go wrong in my body (new things are going wrong as we speak - or rather, old things are rearing their ugly heads again).

I am tying to distract myself by blogging.

Not. Working.

One thing I would like to complain about is all the Catholics in the diocese of Cleveland who are moaning about their churches closing. These are mostly the ethnic paishes (Hungarians, Polish, Czech etc). Yes, it hurts like crazy to have your parish close, and yes these are beautiful buildings that it is awful to lose. Especially compared to the modern warehouse parishes that one is forced to worship at in the suburbs. And yes, a lot of these parishes were technically "in the black" and self-sufficient, able to pay their bills.

But let's be realistic. The population just wasn't there anymore. St. Peter's in Cleveland, for instance, had only a few hundred souls going there. And by Catholic standards, 300, 400, 500 people at a church is piddling. Compare that to most Catholic churches in the suburbs which typically have thousands (sometimes tens of thousands) of souls on the books. It's clear where the ministry needs are.

In some ways this is the fault of all of us Catholics for fleeing the city. The percentage of Catholics in Northeast Ohio is the same as it always has been, but we don't live in the urban areas anymore... we got scared. We got to be middle class and we could afford to leave, and we left. The Church has to be where the people are. Not that she should abandon the city, but resources have to be shifted. There would be nothing more ridiculous (or ultimately more contrary to the evangelizing demands of the Gospel) than to have three priests ministering to ten people in the city while three thousand of God's children are cared for by one pastor in the suburbs.

And some of the commentary is just ridiculous. The Plain Dealer has a reader who comments at the end of every article, "Who closed more churches, Lenin or Lennon?" referring to the bishop. Right. The bishop is the equivalent of a murderous Communist. For the record, Lenin wins big time on the church closing score. By the 1950s there was one, *ONE* Catholic parish allowed by the authorities to exist in the entire city of Moscow. Some of the Eastern Europeans are also using the phrase "ethnic cleansing" to attack Bishop Lennon, who is of Irish ancestry and is therefore the enemy... Ridiculous. And offensive. Just... ugh.