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Posts Tagged ‘Fidelity’

Divorce Statistics Indicate Catholic Couples Are Less Likely to Break Up

In 07 Observations on 2015/10/22 at 12:00 AM
by WAYNE LAUGESEN 
blog.adw.org 

WASHINGTON — An oft-repeated tale says Catholic marriages fare only slightly better than those among the rest of the American population — which is said to have a divorce rate of about 50%. If it were ever true, new research tells us it’s no longer the case.

“I’ve long been under the impression, without investigating the numbers, that this idea of Catholic marriages failing at about 50% is faulty,” said Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs, Colo.

So the bishop was pleased to see data compiled by Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate that shows Catholic marriages doing well, relative to marriages in the general population. Officials of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) share his enthusiasm.

“The lower rates of divorce among Catholics compared to the overall population is an encouraging statistic that we can learn from,” said Bethany Meola, assistant director of the Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Georgetown center reported in late September that a variety of national surveys show “Catholics stand out with only 28% of the ever-married having divorced at some point.”

While 28% remains a troubling statistic, the research suggests that this figure compares favorably with the 40% divorce rate for those with no religious affiliation, 39% for Protestants and 35% for those of other religious faiths.

Overall, 26% of all American adults have divorced, whereas 20% of Catholics have done so.

When statisticians looked more closely at the data dealing with Catholics, they found that Catholics who marry people of the same faith have a lower divorce rate than Catholics who marry non-Catholics.

Among mixed marriages, Catholics who marry Protestants or non-religious spouses have a divorce rate of 49% and 48% respectively. Catholics who marry someone of an “other” non-Protestant religion, such as Judaism, have a 35% rate, while Catholics who marry Catholics have a 27% divorce rate.

Not Surprising

“Practicing Catholics, especially those who enter matrimony with a practicing Catholic, have significantly lower divorce rates,” blogged Msgr. Charles Pope, pastor of Washington’s Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian Catholic Church, after studying the new research. “Of course, it makes sense, doesn’t it? The faith lived seeks God’s help.”

Christian Meert, diocesan director of the Office of Marriage and Family Life in Colorado Springs, Colo., isn’t surprised by the numbers either.

“If they are both Catholics and practice the sacraments and pray together, they will grow through every event in their lives,” Meert told the Register. “They also have received an incredible grace through the sacrament of matrimony, a grace that helps them through the difficulties life brings.”

Though Bishop Sheridan says Catholic marriage rates must improve, he suggested that a growing number of Catholic dioceses have made progress with solid marriage-preparation standards and doctrinal teachings that forbid contraception and explain natural family planning (NFP) to engaged couples.

“From everything I have read and heard, NFP really does add to the intimacy of the husband and wife,” Bishop Sheridan explained.

“It calls the husband and wife to bring attention to the sexual relationship. I have heard a great number of testimonials about this.”

Bishop Sheridan welcomed Christian Meert and his wife, Christine Meert, into his diocese after meeting the couple about a decade ago. Together, the French immigrants founded and began running the growing business CatholicMarriagePrepOnline.com.

The interactive Internet-based curriculum has become widely used throughout the world to help Catholics discern and prepare for marriage.

“It became our program with a few tweaks and moderations, and they have marketed it internationally,” Bishop Sheridan said. “I know other bishops are paying attention to it.”

Different Approach

Meert said that, in the past, the Church’s typical approach to marriage preparation involved important instruction on practical matters of finance and communication, “even if not in an always very Christian way.”

He said many of the programs did a poor job of following up with couples and did not instruct them in important matters of the faith.

“Many of them were stuck in dealing with just communication and finances, when the duty of the Church is to catechize, evangelize these couples and help them encounter Jesus and convert,” Meert said.

“The duty is to help them learn about the teachings of the Church, the formation of conscience, the sacrament of matrimony, prayer and all that pertains to the spiritual life.”

Meert hopes the growing popularity of pre-Cana programs, which adhere strictly to Church teachings on married life, will make a difference and improve success rates of Catholic marriages.

The USCCB’s Meola credited a variety of modern diocesan marriage-preparation programs throughout the United States with strengthening Catholic marriages and lowering divorce statistics.

“One likely reason for this lower divorce rate is that the Church has been a leader in modeling the need for adequate time for marriage preparation and formation, and many high-quality marriage-preparation programs are available throughout the country,” Meola explained.

Marriage: A Lifetime Vocation

Meola said marriage-preparation courses make a difference because they instill what should be obvious but often is not among today’s young adults: Marriage is a lifelong vocation.

“It’s not a product to be bought and then discarded at one’s convenience,” Meola said. “The ‘pause’ of marriage preparation helps couples pray, discuss and reflect on the significance of what they are planning to undertake. … Hopefully, the more the good news about God’s plan for marriage can be promoted and witnessed, the more young people will be attuned and open to God’s beautiful plan for them.”

The Georgetown research also found a decrease in the rate of annulments in the United States, which accounted for a staggering 49% of worldwide annulments in 2011.

In 1990, one annulment was introduced for every 4.5 Catholic marriages. Though the United States continues to lead with this statistic, the number had dropped to one for every 6.5 marriages in 2011.

Bishop Sheridan expressed hope that the promising data indicate a strengthening of Catholic marriages, but he worries it may signify something else.

“We cannot automatically assume that a drop in annulments means marriages are doing better,” the bishop said.

“My concern is that fewer people who could potentially benefit from a decree of nullity are petitioning for it. A growing number may be unaware that it exists. I sometimes worry that divorced people are sort of looking away, going to Communion and living as if it’s just fine, and they don’t have to do anything. I think it’s a question we have to ask and begin to explore.”

Wayne Laugesen writes from Colorado.

National Catholic Register 11/14/13

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Realities

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2014/10/24 at 12:00 AM

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time – A 19 October 2014

  • One of the saints who will adorn our new mural is St. Edith Stein, also known as St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. Edith Stein was a Jewish convert to Catholicism who became a Carmelite nun and was eventually martyred in the gas chambers of Auschwitz in 1942.
  • But unlike her fellow Jews, St. Edith Stein went very willingly and knowingly to her death.
  • Edith’s keen intellect, coupled with a deep and intense personal prayer life, led her to the

    understanding of what was to befall the Jewish people long before anyone else in Germany

    had a clue as to just how evil the Nazis were.

  • And so in imitation of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Edith Stein offered up her life to

    our Lord as a personal holocaust for the sake of the Jewish people, for averting the Second

    World War, and for the sanctification of her Carmelite family.

  • In doing this, Edith prayed that God would receive her life as an act of atonement for the

    terrible atrocities being committed against God’s chosen people, with the hope of converting

    atheists and the Nazis. This is why Edith Stein is a saint.

  • Edith Stein did not wish to be a Christian in name only. She wanted to be totally conformed

    to our Lord by bearing the cross she saw being laid upon the Jewish people. Edith wanted to

    share fully in our Lord’s suffering and death in a supreme act of love.

  • On August 2, 1942, she and her sister, Rosa, were taken by Nazis from the Carmel in Echt,

    Holland, and a week later they were gassed to death in the Birkenau section of Auschwitz.

  • Eyewitnesses who saw Edith during her last week of life all attest that she remained faithful,

    courageous, and impeccably charitable to all up to her last moments.

  • In a very dark and confusing time, St. Edith Stein shone like a bright ray of light. Quite

    selflessly, she offered her life for the sake of others. And as such, St. Edith Stein is a

    remarkable example of Christian heroism and charity in the face of astounding evil.

  • In some ways I wonder if we might be entering into another one of those very dark and

    confusing periods in human history when evil seems to have the upper hand in the world.

  • As we consider the terrible threat posed by ISIS, the fear of a worldwide outbreak of Ebola,

    and the ever-increasing moral confusion surrounding marriage and human sexuality that has

    ambushed our state, our country, and our culture, there is much to worry about.

  • I know, as well, that many of you have been following the confusing media reports coming

    from the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on issues related to

    marriage and evangelization that concluded yesterday.

  • There’s been much media speculation coming from the Synod that perhaps the Church is

    going to permit Catholics who are divorced and remarried without an annulment, as well as

    same-sex couples and those who cohabitate before marriage, to receive Holy Communion.

  • But let me state clearly and emphatically that, despite what you may have heard from the

    media this week, there has been no change in Church teaching on these issues.

  • Our doctrine is based upon the revelation of Jesus Christ, expressed in both Sacred Scripture

    and Tradition. While the Church may come to new and deeper insights about a particular

    teaching, the essence of a doctrinal teaching cannot change because truth does not change.

  • While the Church can change certain disciplines, we must also remember that Church

    disciplines are rooted in our doctrine. Therefore, a practice or discipline of the Church cannot be at odds with the Church’s doctrine. And any effort by a Church leader to knowingly distort, weaken, or change the Church’s doctrine is evil.

  • At the same time we must realize that there are a growing number of people in the Church who live in morally compromised arrangements. In other words, they are engaging in conjugal acts with someone who is not or cannot be their spouse in a sacramental marriage.
  • Setting aside appearances of judgmentalism and condemnation, the Church’s challenge is to really look at the way we engage with these folks so that we can call them to conversion and better help them conform their lives to Christ and His commandments.
  • The fact is that people will have a better chance of knowing God and finding salvation if they have a relationship with His Church, even if they cannot fully participate in the sacramental life of the Church.
  • So our challenge is to welcome these people into the Church without condoning their sin or compromising our teachings. Following the example of Jesus with the woman caught in adultery, we must be forthcoming with mercy while also exhorting people to sin no more.
  • The Church is a hospital for the spiritually sick. But to enter into this hospital, we must desire healing! It’s by being obedient and docile to the Church’s teachings that we find healing for our spiritual ills.
  • Sadly, not all who are invited to the Church will come. While open to all, those who enter the Church must be willing to convert and be docile to Her teachings, rather than arrogantly believing that they know better than Her and trying to force Her to change Her teachings.
  • Those who steadfastly refuse to acknowledge and adhere to the truth, and who try to force the Church to conform to this world with its mixed up morality, have no place in the Church.
  • If you are living in an irregular relationship right now by cohabitating before marriage, by being involved in a same-sex relationship, or by being divorced and remarried without an annulment, I want to say publicly that I’m glad that you’re here.
  • God loves you, the Church loves you, and I love you. Moreover, I am willing to do whatever is necessary to help you get to a place where you can fully take part in the sacramental life of the Church and live a Christian life with full integrity. But there must be some humility.
  • If you do not understand why the Church teaches as She does, come speak with me. My door is open to you – and so is my heart.
  • And I ask everyone else in this parish to be of like mind. While we cannot and must not respect sin, we can and must respect all people, and we must lovingly help others to hear the Gospel and live it in its fullness.
  • At her canonization Mass in 1998, St. John Paul II repeated Edith Stein’s famous quote: “Do not accept anything as the truth if it lacks love. And do not accept anything as love which lacks truth!”, to which he added: “One without the other becomes a destructive lie.”
  • As we do our best to proclaim the truth to our fallen world, let us be sure to do it with love.
  • As we consider the darkness in our world today, we must be – like Edith Stein – heroic rays

    of light that shine forth with the truth, goodness, and beauty of our Catholic faith.

  • Moreover, in this time of desperate confusion in our world and in our Church, let us place our hopes and trust in God Himself. Let us not forget that He is omnipotent and, as Isaiah

    says, He grasps us by the hand.

  • Trusting in Him, let us hold fast to the constant and unchanging teachings of His Church,

    confident that our obedience to those teachings will bring us to salvation.

  • Lastly, may we be willing to live lives of true charity by offering sacrifices and penances to

    God on behalf of those who attack and persecute this Church we love so much.

• May each of us cultivate within our hearts a true desire to suffer and lay down our lives for the Church so that all men may be saved. St. Edith Stein, pray for us.

 

© Reverend Timothy Reid, 10/19/2014

Relationship Between Faith and Marriage

In 07 Observations on 2013/03/08 at 12:00 AM

The Holy Father’ address focused on the relationship between faith and marriage in light of the “current crisis of faith that affects various areas of the world, bearing with it a crisis of conjugal society.”

“The Code of Canon Law defines the natural reality of marriage as the irrevocable covenant between a man and a woman. Mutual trust, in fact, is the indispensable basis of any agreement or covenant. On a theological level, the relationship between faith and marriage has an even deeper meaning. Even though a natural reality, the spousal bond between two baptised persons has been elevated by Christ to the dignity of a sacrament.”

“Contemporary culture, marked by a strong subjectivism and an ethical and religious relativism, poses serious challenges to the person and the family. First, the very capacity of human beings to bond themselves to another and whether a union that lasts an entire life is truly possible. … Thinking that persons might become themselves while remaining ‘autonomous’ and only entering into relationships with others that can be interrupted at any time is part of a widespread mentality. Everyone is aware of how a human being’s choice to bind themself with a bond lasting an entire life influences each person’s basic perspective according to which they are either anchored to a merely human plane or open themselves to the light of faith in the Lord.”

“‘Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing,’ Jesus taught His disciples, reminding them of the human being’s essential incapacity to carry out alone that which is necessary for the true good. Rejecting the divine proposal leads, in fact, to a profound imbalance in all human relationships, including marriage, and facilitates an erroneous understanding of freedom and self-realization. These, together with the flight from patiently borne suffering, condemns humanity to becoming locked within its own selfishness and self-centredness. On the contrary, accepting faith makes human persons capable of giving themselves … and thus of discovering the extent of being a human person.”

“Faith in God, sustained by God’s grace, is therefore a very important element in living mutual devotion and conjugal faithfulness. This does not mean to assert that faithfulness, among other properties, are not possible in the legitimate marriage between unbaptised couples. In fact, it is not devoid of goods that ‘come from God the Creator and are included, in a certain inchoative way, in the marital love that unites Christ with His Church’. But, of course, closing oneself off from God or rejecting the sacred dimension of the conjugal bond and its value in the order of grace make the concrete embodiment of the highest model of marriage conceived of by the Church, according to God’s plan, arduous. It may even undermine the very validity of the covenant if … it results in a rejection of the very principle of the conjugal obligation of faithfulness or of other essential elements or properties of the marriage.”

“Tertullian, in his famous “Letter to His Wife”, which speaks about married life marked by faith, writes that Christian couples are truly ‘two in one flesh. Where the flesh is one, one is the spirit too. Together they pray, together prostrate themselves, together perform their fasts; mutually teaching, mutually exhorting, mutually sustaining one another.’”

“The saints who lived their matrimonial and familial union within a Christian perspective were able to overcome even the most adverse situations, sometimes achieving the sanctification of their spouse and children through a love reinforced by a strong faith in God, sincere religious piety, and an intense sacramental life. Such experiences, marked by faith, allow us to understand, even today, how precious is the sacrifice offered by the spouse who has been abandoned or who has suffered a divorce—’being well aware that the valid marriage bond is indissoluble, and refraining from becoming involved in a new union. … In such cases their example of fidelity and Christian consistency takes on particular value as a witness before the world and the Church’.”

Lastly, I would like to reflect briefly on the ‘bonum coniugum’. Faith is important in carrying out the authentic conjugal good, which consists simply in wanting, always and in every case, the welfare of the other, on the basis of a true and indissoluble ‘consortium vitae’. Indeed, the context of Christian spouses living a true ‘communio coniugalis’ has its own dynamism of faith by which the ‘confessio’—the personal, sincere response to the announcement of salvation—involves the believer in the action of God’s love. ‘Confessio’ and ‘caritas’ are ‘the two ways in which God involves us, make us act with Him, in Him and for humanity, for His creation. … “Confessio” is not an abstract thing, it is “caritas”, it is love. Only in this way is it really the reflection of divine truth, which as truth is also, inseparably, love’.”

“Only through the call of love, does the presence of the Gospel become not just a word but a living reality. In other words, while it is true that ‘Faith without charity bears no fruit, while charity without faith would be a sentiment constantly at the mercy of doubt’, we must conclude that ‘Faith and charity each require the other, in such a way that each allows the other to set out along its respective path.’ If this holds true in the broader context of communal life, it should be even more valuable to the conjugal union. It is in that union, in fact, that faith makes the spouses’ love grow and bear fruit, giving space to the presence of the Triune God and making the conjugal life itself, lived thusly, to be ‘joyful news’ to the world.”

“I recognize the difficulties, from a legal and a practical perspective, in elucidating the essential element of the ‘bonum coniugum’, understood so far mainly in relation to the circumstance of invalidity. The ‘bonum coniugum’ also takes on importance in the area of simulating consent. Certainly, in cases submitted to your judgement, there will be an ‘in facto’ inquiry that can verify the possible validity of the grounds for annulment, predominant to or coexistent with the three Augustinian ‘goods’: procreativity, exclusivity, and perpetuity. Therefore, don’t let it escape your consideration that there might be cases where, precisely because of the absence of faith, the good of the spouses is damaged and thus excluded from the consent itself. For example, this can happen when one member of the couple has an erroneous understanding of the martial bond or of the principle of parity or when there is a refusal of the dual union that characterizes the marital bond by either excluding fidelity or by excluding the use of intercourse ‘humano modo’.

“With these considerations I certainly do not wish to suggest any facile relationship between a lack of faith and the invalidity of a marital union, but rather to highlight how such a deficiency may, but not necessarily, damage the goods of marriage, since the reference to the natural order desired by God is inherent to the conjugal covenant.”

VIS 130128

Marital Commitment by Fr. Reid

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2011/05/29 at 12:25 AM

• Both the second reading and the Gospel today come from St. John the Beloved Disciple.  And both of these readings focus on love, reminding us that as the children of God, we are called to love one another just as God – Who Is Love Itself – has loved us.

• Indeed, love is one of those topics that we cannot over-emphasize in the Church because our Lord teaches us that the greatest commandment is to love. We are called first to love our Lord above all things, and then to love one another as we love ourselves.

• Love comes in many forms: there is the charitable love that exists between friends and neighbors, the nurturing love that exists between parents and children, the fraternal love that exists between siblings, and, of course, there is the life-giving love that exists between a man and his wife.

• While I could give homilies on any of these forms of love, I want to focus today on this last type of love: marital love, because in many ways this is the most important form of love that we exercise with one another.

• Marriage forms the basis of family life, and families are the building blocks of any human society. For better or worse, marriage is public; it’s not just a private arrangement between two people, and therefore the success or failure of a marriage has an impact on society as  a whole.

• Therefore, it’s important that we all be invested in protecting the institution of marriage, which is very sadly under attack today. It’s also important that we live out our marriages in conformity with God’s laws. But to do this, we must understand what marriage is all about.

• If you look at the documents of Vatican II (Gaudium et Spes) and Canon Law, you’ll find that marriage is the intimate, exclusive, indissoluble communion of life and love entered into by a man and woman. God designed this sacrament for the procreation and education of children and for the purpose of the spouses own good.

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