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.

'Political correctness' could have cost lives in White House Security breach Watch

Image of It was later revealed that the fence-jumper made it all the way to the East Room of the White House, on the second floor.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"Political correctness" is a hot-button term that has come to mean irrelevance as applied to any given situation. According to Representative Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah), who sits on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, "political correctness" ... continue reading


Watch out Saudi Arabia! U.S. oil production expected to rapidly increase Watch

Image of A Saudi Arabian oil refinery.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The International Energy Agency says that U.S. production of petroleum is set to exceed that of Saudi Arabia's for the first time since 1991. A growing sign of the future of the American energy sector. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The production of oil and ... continue reading


Latinos run from Obama en mass after president punts immigration reform Watch

Image of Latino activists have turned their back on President Obama after he dropped immigration reform until the midterm election.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

President Barack Obama has bowed to worried Senate Democrats, delaying executive actions on immigration until after the midterm elections, fearing that using executive actions would make immigration reform a partisan issue which would hurt Democrats. LOS ANGELES, ... continue reading


As thousands of illegals enter U.S., who's stuck with the education bill? Watch

Image of Tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors have flooded into the U.S. during 2014 alone, mostly from South America. While they await immigration trials, schools are responsible for teaching them.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The large numbers of unaccompanied minors who have been illegally crossing into the U.S. from Mexico in ever greater numbers have caused American schools to scramble in an attempt to provide services. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The children and teens who ... continue reading


St. Michael the Archangel, Defend Us in Battle: Pope Francis Takes on the Devil Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Now the new People of God is the Church. That is the reason she considers him her protector and support in all her struggles for the defense and expansion of the kingdom of God on earth. It is true that "the powers of death shall not prevail", as the Lord assured ... continue reading


Need milk? Eggs or flower? The Post Office may have you covered Watch

Image of Amazon partnered with the USPS to provide daily grocery deliveries to people in the San Francisco Bay area, a program the USPS wants to extend to the rest of the country.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The U.S. Postal Service has revealed a new plan to reverse its six-year streak of billion-dollar losses, which is as ingenious as it is simple. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The USPS wants to deliver your groceries to you, and the agency sent this proposal to ... continue reading


Where the buffalo roam... Native Americans plan return of free range Bison on the American Great Plains Watch

Image of Bison calves are playful and eager to roam free.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Buffalo are part of the American west. Across the vast prairies of the Great Plains, herds grazed and migrated, crisscrossing the open grasslands in great, thundering tides. Each year, some of these buffalo were hunted by Native Americans who used everything, from ... continue reading


What did he drink to stay alive? Prison guards suspected of murder after inmate dies of thirst Watch

Image of Investigations continue into the death of a mentally ill man at a North Carolina prison.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A mentally ill North Carolina man died of thirst after being placed in solitary confinement for 35 and having the water to his cell shut down by prison officials. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Michael Kerr, an inmate at the Alexander Correctional Institution ... continue reading


Who Are the Mother and Brothers of Jesus? We Are Watch

Image of The Father of Jesus becomes our Father also, as we enter, through Him, into the inner life of the Trinity. He underscores this truth right before He ascended when He instructed Mary of Magdala to tell the disciples

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

In this exchange, Jesus opens up for those with eyes to see and ears to hear the deeper interior importance and meaning of the motherhood of Mary  and the interior meaning of all family relationships renewed by the Holy Spirit. He gives to those with ears to ... continue reading


Oklahoma City beheader linked to radical Islamic groups Watch

Image of Alton Nolen, the Oklahoma City man who decapitated his coworker last week had attended a local mosque with ties to radical Islamist groups.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Alton Nolen, the Oklahoma City man who decapitated his coworker last week had attended a local mosque with ties to radical Islamist groups. Suharto Webb, an Imam with ties to former Al Qaeda mastermind Anwar al-Awlaki, had been the leader of the Islamic Society of ... 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, Job 9:1-12, 14-16
1 Job spoke next. He said:2 Indeed, I know ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 88:10-11, 12-13, 14-15
10 Do you work wonders for the dead, can shadows rise ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 9:57-62
57 As they travelled along they met a man on the road ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 1st, 2014 Image

St. Therese of Lisieux
October 1: Generations of Catholics have admired this young saint, called ... 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