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Archive for February, 2008

As I pondered revising my remarks about cohabitation and premarital relations, written about twenty years ago, I wondered if maybe I had made a mistake by addressing bad behavior instead of giving the gravity to good or wholesome behavior. I suppose I thought that everyone should already know right from wrong. This presupposition does not hold today and I am not sure it did then. Maybe 40% or more of those asking for marriage in the Church are already living together? Large numbers of such couples are no longer seeking true marriage, ever!

How should couples act prior to marriage? I would like to offer certain recommendations:

FIRST, the whole dating scene is a mess. We should opt for the older practices of courtship. Dating today is an excuse for “making out” and compromising virginity. Younger children should not go out on dates and older teens should be chaperoned. Young adults need the mindset that stepping out with the opposite sex is not simply for a good time, but part of the search for a future mate. Dating is transitory. Courtship plays for keeps!

SECOND, both men and women should prize their purity and do all they can to preserve it as a gift for their future spouse. There should be no double-standard for men. As for women, it is not true feminism or liberation to be as sleazy as certain men. Restraint in this area shows strength of character and a discipline that will keep them in good stead within marriage. Today, we must also contend with sexually transmitted diseases which infect millions, sometimes with lethal consequences. Sex kills! This is contrary to its very purpose. The only sure way to remain clean of infection is for a couple to remain pure and to enter upon the marriage bed undefiled.

THIRD, modesty in speech and dress should rule the day. Vulgar flirtation and immodest dress is in vogue starting with pre-teens and going into adulthood. Many complain that styles are so risqué that it is hard for true ladies to find decent clothing. Some women have resorted again to making their own dresses. Men and women are not the same. One pretty but flirtatious girl who had every boy’s eye remarked to me that she stopped short of getting the boys’ motors running. Poor thing, I explained, boys’ motors are always running! The best of young men can be quite weak in the flesh and they need good girls to keep them good. Young men should not lie or compel favors from women with their physical strength. Women should not tempt men with their clothes, or lack of clothes, and suggestive speech. Those who play games with the flames of passion are likely to get burned.

FOURTH, we should avoid those persons, places or things that can lead us into sin. Bad companions are problematic for both children and adults. Those who would lead us into sin and refuse efforts at conversion or change are best avoided. Girls who like dangerous bad boys often pay a terrible price and the loss of a good reputation. Boys should hang out with nice girls, the kind they might find regularly at church. Church groups, respectable public places, clean movies, and a parent’s dinner table are great places to meet and spend time. Bars and secluded car parks are no good. Definitely they should not share motel rooms or cohabitate. When couples are alone the defenses often go down. Things can also corrupt relationships, like bad movies, dirty magazines and lewd television programs.

FIFTH, while showing compassion to those who make mistakes, we need to retain a sense of shame for scandalous activity. I recall a teenage girl who had a child and everyone kissed and admired the beautiful baby. We were thankful that a prolife decision was made. However, I was troubled that she showed no remorse or embarrassment at having given away her virginity or having an illegitimate child. Most babies in the past born to such girls were given up for adoption. The stigma served a purpose and its eradication is no service to other girls who might make a similar mistake. God draws good out of evil. But our sin remains and needs confession and absolution.

SIXTH, it is best to pursue love interests among friends who share our faith and values. Just because another person is Catholic is no longer insurance that he or she takes our faith and morals seriously. Mixed marriages (with non-Catholics) should be discouraged but, in any case, the young man and woman should be on the same page about morality and the significance of marriage. If they should decide to get married, they should both affirm that divorce will never be in the cards. Chastity is important because fornication before marriage opens the door to adultery after marriage. Once you take sex out of marriage it is very hard to put back into the box. Spouses should be best friends. There will be differences, but also many preoccupations held in common.

SEVENTH, we should insist upon a component of prayer and worship with those who are courted. If the couple do what is right, pray regularly and go to Mass together, the odds are that they will remain faithful to marriage until one of them dies.

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FAITHFUL MONKS

abbott.jpg 

A young monk arrives at the monastery.

He is assigned to helping the other monks in copying the old canons and laws of the church by hand.

He notices, however, that all of the monks are copying from copies, not from the original manuscript.

So, the new monk goes to the head abbot to question this, pointing out that if someone made even a small error in the first copy, it would never be picked up!

In fact, that error would be continued in all of the subsequent copies.

The head monk, says, “We have been copying from the copies for centuries, but you make a good point, my son.”

He goes down into the dark caves underneath the monastery where the original manuscripts are held as archives in a locked vault that hasn’t been opened for hundreds of years.

Hours go by and nobody sees the old abbot…

So, the young monk gets worried and goes down to look for him.

He sees him banging his head against the wall and wailing.

“We missed the R!”

“We missed the R!”

“We missed the R!”

His forehead is all bloody and bruised and he is crying uncontrollably.

The young monk asks the old abbot, “What’s wrong, father?”

With a choking voice, the old abbot replies,

“The word was…

“celebRate!!!”

 

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Do you ever like to listen to audio programs while driving in the car? I recently purchased several interesting sets. If interested, here are some recommendations for you:

www.NowYouKnowMedia.com

Church History

2,000 YEARS OF PAPAL HISTORY by Fr. John O’Malley, S.J.
(36 talks on 12 CDs)

Basic Teachings & Sacraments

WHO IS JESUS? by Fr. Brian O. McDermott, S.J.
(18 talks on 6 CDs)

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW ABOUT CATHOLICISM? by Fr. William J. Byron, S.J.
(36 talks on 12 CDs)

THE SACRAMENTS by Fr. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M.
(12 talks on 4 CDs)

The Scriptures

THE OLD TESTAMENT by Fr. Michael D. Guinan, O.F.M.
(36 talks on 12 CDs)

THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW by Fr. Donald Senior, C.P.
(12 talks on 4 CDs)

A JOURNEY THROUGH THE PARABLES by Fr. John Jay Hughes
(18 talks on 6 CDs)

Prayer & Spirituality

MAJOR SCHOOLS OF ROMAN CATHOLIC SPIRITUALITY by Dr. Patricia D. Fosarelli
(12 talks on 4 CDs)

THE SPIRIT CENTERED LIFE by Dr. Patricia D. Fosarelli
(24 talks on 8 CDs)

LET YOURSELF PRAY by Fr. William J. Byron, S.J.
(12 talks on 4 CDs)

Saints & the Christian Life

ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI by Br. William Short, O.F.M.
(24 talks on 8 CDs)

ST. IGNATIUS LOYOLA by Fr. John O’Malley, S.J.
(12 talks on 4 CDs)

Moral Teachings

SCIENCE, RELIGION & ETHICS IN 21ST CENTURY BIOMEDICAL DISCOVERIES by Fr. Kevin Fitzgerald, S.J.
(24 talks on 8 CDs)

CATHOLIC SOCIAL TEACHINGS by Fr. Thomas Massaro, S.J.
(12 talks on 4 CDs)

TERRORISM, COUNTERTERRORISM, & THE ETHICS OF WARFARE by Fr. Edward Malloy, C.S.C.
(12 talks on 4 CDs)

Non-Christian Religions

ENCOUNTERING ISLAM by Dr. Akbar Ahmed
(12 talks on 4 CDs)

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When a couple comes to see me with an interest in getting married, I ask them what might be considered a silly or stupid question, “Are you sure you want to go through with it?” It is a question to which I return months later at the end of the marriage formation. Almost always the couple says they are certain; if however, one or the other is not, everything is put on hold. I recall one fellow who was always sure when his girl was in the room with him. However, when I got him alone, he confessed to being unsure. I gave them a couple of weeks to talk it out and when they returned the lady insisted that he was sure now. He said he was as well. I asked her to leave the parlor. Guess what? Suddenly he was no longer sure! I refused to witness the marriage and the would-be bride had a fit. She wanted babies and figured this poor guy was her last shot. Next I heard, the priest in a neighboring parish did the deed. But my conscience was clear.

I recall another guy who wanted to do the “right thing” as he had gotten a girl pregnant. When talking to them I noticed a certain coldness from his intended. Separating them, I turned to her and said bluntly, “You don’t love him, do you?” She answered with candor, “No, but he got me pregnant!” I refused to do the marriage. Everyone else told them that they should get married. They left and I heard nothing more for several months. Then the guy showed up at my door. He explained that they had gotten married by a justice of the peace. He said, “Father, I want to thank you because although we did not listen to you, you were the only person who said not to do it.” He explained that she had lost the baby and the very next day she left him.

I remember another couple seeking marriage that has remained in my thoughts these many years. Kathleen was a nice Irish woman in her thirties. She really wanted to get on with her life and have a family. She met Omar and fell in love. She was a faithful Catholic. Her would-be groom was an Egyptian Muslim. I explained that marriage was possible, but would not be easy. One thing required was a dispensation. The Catholic party had to pledge that he or she would do all in his or her power to raise any children in the Church. She was readily agreeable. However, Omar immediately banged on the table and stood up. He shouted, “No child of mine will be a Christian! They will be Muslim like me and my father before me!” Kathleen and I were both taken aback by the outburst. We talked about the opposition and she began to cry. She insisted, “Don’t worry Father, I will change him.” Change him, when he was planning to take her back to his country with him? I tried to get it across to her that there would be no changing this guy. Indeed, it was evident that he intended to change her. Soon all her supports would be stripped away. No, this was a bad situation. In any case, you do not marry a person to change them. Such intentions almost always cause fighting and disappointment. I said that no marriage was possible in the Church and urged her to reconsider her choice. They married out of the Church and left the country. She remained close to her parents for a short time and then there was silence. Her family has not heard from her in years. The rumor was that he had two other wives waiting for them back home.

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Recently it was thrown into my face, “You’re a priest, what do you know about sex and marriage?” Apparently, the person who made this comment did not know much more than I did, because her marriage was crumbling around her. Did she think I was born yesterday and beamed down like television’s Mr. Bean? I grew up in a family and experienced the witness of my parents. It is true that as a celibate priest, and as a man who cherishes a half-century of unblemished virginity, I might seem somewhat removed from the experiences of most married men— if not most men in general given our promiscuous society. However, something must be said for the education given all priests and that insight which arises as a confessor of souls and a counselor to parishioners. While couples know marriage from their limited personal experience of it; priests develop a wider appreciation through a vicarious experience of the joys and sorrows of the marital state. Couples come to our doors eager to get married and sometimes a spouse comes alone to discuss a marriage that has gone sour. We see the mystery of love from every angle. Priests are also prophets of a Christian vision of marriage that is neither understood nor lived out in so much of a secular society.

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GREATEST PRANK CALL EVER

This is one of the funniest things I have ever heard. Warning, certains words and themes may be offensive. However, if you are sick and tired of unsolicited phone call offers, and have a tough skin, this is just too much!

I cannot recommend deceit, but this is real poetic justice! I laughed so hard I put myself into a coughing fit. It is such a wicked tube video that I may have to delete it later.

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