Yesterday morning I was participating in the final Mass of the retreat I was a director for at the Jesuit Retreat House in OshKosh. Within an hour after that, I was outside of the house in which Elena lived at college this year packing the car with her belongings. (Considering how much she left in storage there for the summer, I was astounded at the number of boxes and bags we had to fit in the car.) After an almost five hour drive, we were back in the Twin Cities where I spent several hours doing laundry, dealing with accumulated mail and running other errands as I get ready to leave again for another almost ten days. This morning I packed and will soon head to the airport for a flight to New York for the opening of my cousin’s sculpture show, followed by a week of my own silent retreat at San Alphonso Retreat House on the New Jersey shore.
I’m exhausted all over again just reading what I’ve written! It is easy to get overwhelmed when in the midst of crazy scheduling. (And, as though to underscore the scheduling frenzy, when Dave picks me up from the aiport a week from Saturday, we will head straight to the graduation party of the son of some friends.)
In times like this, I return to the beautiful breathing meditation suggested by Thich Nhat Hanh in Living Buddha, Living Christ. He suggests watching the breath come in and out, reciting with each breath these lines:
Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment,
I know this is a wonderful moment.
Sometimes I just need the reminder. Breathe in…breathe out…smile…stay in the present moment.
I’m not taking my computer with me to New York. My own silent retreat is the one time I ignore e-mails and other internet distractions. So while I may post an occasional reflection here based on my retreat via my iPhone, you may not hear much from me until after my return on the 20th. Please keep me in your prayers during the retreat.
May you continue to be filled with Grace and Blessings during your retreat and all the days of your faith journey. At Mass each morning, you remain in my thoughts and in my prayers of thanksgiving for all of the giving of self and sharing you offer each of us. God Bless. . .
Reading 2, 2 Cor 5:6-10
Brothers and sisters;
We are always courageous
although we know that while we are at home in the body
we are away from the Lord;
for we walk by faith, not by sight.
Yet we are courageous
and we would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord.
Therefore, we aspire to please him,
whether we are at home or away.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ
so that each may receive recompense,
according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil.
The first reading at Mass this morning elevated, as a positive example, Susan’s post from Thursday, ‘Remember to Breathe’ as reflection for the Bishop’s discussion and discernment of the Eucharist and remarried Catholics. Susan’s post described family as love and sacrifice shared – as contrasted with loveless solitary suffering. How many who remain in loveless, abusive marriages are unable to breathe?
Ephesians 5:22–33 New International Version:
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing[a] her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church — for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[b] This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
“Unfortunately, a husband may hang on tightly to this passage to justify his actions of abusing his lovely wife — abusing her physically, or sexually, or even just verbally! They are all forms of domestic violence! And any forms of domestic violence or any violence violates the dignity of each person and offends Almighty God gravely and seriously! Often times, St. Paul’s passage from today’s First Reading is taken out of context! It often is misunderstood what St. Paul is really trying to teach us through his letter.” – Father Miguel Marie Soeherman, MFVA
Marriage was not romanticized in that culture. Marriage was for ‘procreation’, social status, and the proliferation of the family blood line. Love was very often not even a factor. Wives were not necessarily meant for romantic love in the 1st century – men had mistresses and concubines for that. Men could get rid of their wife simply by giving them a note that said they were released from the marriage. The main reason the women would need the note was so that they wouldn’t be stoned for adultery when they were caught working as prostitutes, because that’s one of the only options open to them after they were unceremoniously sent off. Paul is subverting that cultural view of marriage, and the horrible treatment of women. He was telling them that none of the cultural pictures of marriage constituted ‘love as a way of life’. – Patheos
“But going back to St. Paul’s passage for today it is often taken out of context! It is often misunderstood! Let me read to you what Pope Pius XI taught in 1930 which is still very relevant. He said (Casti connubii, 10 cf. The Navarre Bible — Captivity Epistles):”
“The submission of the wife neither ignores nor suppresses the liberty to which her dignity as a human person and her noble functions as wife, mother, and companion give her the full right.”
“It does not oblige her to yield indiscriminately to all the desires of her husband; and his desires may be unreasonable or incompatible with her wifely dignity.”
“It does not mean that she is on a level with persons who in law are called minors. And minors are ordinarily denied the unrestricted exercise of their rights because of their immature judgment and not having enough experience.”
That’s what Pope Pius XI taught regarding submission of wives to their husbands. And this is the proper and authentic interpretation on St. Paul’s teaching:
1) it does not mean violation of her rights according to her dignity as a human person;
2) it does not mean for her to submit to her husband’s desires blindly, totally, and completely because his desires may be unreasonable and not compatible to his wife’s dignity;
3) it does not mean she is to be treated like minors who are not able to make mature judgment.
In a nut-shell, submission of wives to their husbands does not mean violating her dignity as a human person!” – Father Miguel Marie Soeherman, MFVA
Should a spouse who leaves a loveless marriage because of domestic violence (and the violation of her dignity as a human person) be denied ‘love as a way of life’ – denied a loving ‘marriage bed’, denied the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist and denied full communion within his or her Catholic faith? Cardinal Kasper’s proposal to consider offering remarried Catholics, under limited circumstances, to return to the Sacraments has met with discussion and discernment appropriate – but also hostility inappropriate. . .
In faith, if the vessel of the body’s earthly journey hopefully leads to the salvation of the soul, does ‘until death do us part’ apply to the body only, or more importantly, also include the (spirit) soul?
‘For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ so that each may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, (to another’s body and soul) whether good or evil.’
Cardinals Burke, Cafarra, Mueller and others believe, as conveyed by John Gerardi, “One of the great weaknesses the American right has in defending marriage is the fact that, broadly, conservatives do not have a proper understanding of what marriage is, or what its purpose is. Since most Evangelical Protestants tolerate both divorce and contraception, they have lost a proper understanding of the ends towards which marriage is focused, namely, procreation and unity.”
“Without procreation as a focus, gay marriage becomes a much more reasonable proposition. Our modern idea of marriage is that it is focused chiefly on fostering affection (love) between the two persons. Procreation is not a chief purpose of marriage, and it is perfectly acceptable for couples to exclude the possibility of children for most, or even the entirety, of their marriage. But affection (love) is not a goal that is exclusive to unions between heterosexuals; homosexuals can and do feel affectionate towards each other, and use sexual activity to foster that affection.”
“Because it is oriented towards procreation, marriage must also naturally and rightly be a lifelong commitment. The procreation of children is not a task that ends at childbirth; it must continue throughout the children’s lives as the parents provide them with a stable, loving structure in which to advance in virtue and wisdom: the family, ordinarily led by the children’s biological parents. By having children, parents also receive a greater reason to persevere through the difficulties of their union, by working together for the benefit of their offspring. Thus, procreation is at the same time both the motive for marriage’s permanence and its guarantee of permanence.”
“Thus, if the Church receives Catholics who have divorced and remarried back to the Sacraments, it not only wrecks the Church’s consistent teaching on marriage as a lifelong institution, but it would also strike at the heart of marriage as focused on procreation, on raising up and fostering life. If Catholics are free to choose to end their marriages and take up with another person, the focus of married life shifts radically away from children and towards the self-actualization (love) of adults. This self-focus is at the heart of the contraceptive mentality, and (in an accelerated fashion) at the heart of the culture of death.”
And one of them, a doctor of the Law, putting him to the test, asked him, “Master, which is the great commandment in the Law?” Jesus said to him, “‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and all thy strength.’ This is the greatest and the first commandment. And the second is like it, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:35-40)
On Love (these two commandments) depend the whole Law and the Prophets. . . My Command is this, “Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12). . .
Without love, marriage cannot survive. Under limited circumstances, should not remarriage promised and lived in love, not solely for procreation, be given a (another) chance?
Please keep all married couples and families in your prayers. . .