Since Wanda and I had our marriage of 30 1/2 years sanctified by the Holy Mother Church 3 weeks ago, I thought it a good time to talk about Sacramental Marriage, and a discussion about Sanctifying Grace and Sacramental Grace.
*DISCLAIMER*---this is not a response to the clamor over CA Prop 8, or any other states cases concerning the word "marriage" as it applies to gender alike citizens. I'm posting these thoughts because this IS the way IT IS.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (Sec. 1700) states that humans possess a unique diginity because they are made in the image and likeness of God.
While all humans may share certain body characteristics and physical responses common to mammals, Men and Women have free will, can choose to love, and have immmortal souls that will live forever, qualities that we do not share with the rest of our classifications in genus, class and phylum Chordata.
The fact that homosexuals want their unions to be called "Marriage" do themselves a dis-service as so many do not believe in God, will not go to a minister of any faith to conduct a ceremony, and will not have the advantages of both Sanctifiying Grace, or Sacramental Grace. Why is this important?
Sacramental Marriage is elevated far above a mere civil union or a marriage between non-Christians. It gives the couple special graces that are simply not present in a non Sacramental marriage. Fr. James Seculoff, a diocesan pastor in Indiana who has counseled many couples over his 48 years as a priest, explains it this way.
"SANCTIFYING GRACE makes a couple's souls beautiful in the eyes of God. SACRAMENTAL GRACE helps a couple to live their vows. A Catholic Marriage is NOT JUST A LEGAL CONTRACT. It is a covenant between you, your spouse and God"
Anyone who has been married for more than a few years finds out that the institution is not what they expected it to be. Of course there are joyous moments and occasions, but there is also many more sacrifices, disagreements, concessions, and financial stress, to name a few.
So many events and issues crop up in marriages. sickness and death of children and parents/in-laws, sressful work situations, child raising disputes, temptations of adultery, alcohol/substance abuse----they run the full gamut. And this is likely why 2 adults making the decision in 2010 to get married have at best a 40% shot at making the thing work.
The question begs--If a Catholic marriage has both sanctifying and sacramental grace, why don't they all work out? Pretty simple. Too many Catholic couples go to the priest or deacon looking to get married, and all they are usually fixated on is the "Wedding Day", and the honeymoon. What the Church is concerned about is EVERY DAY AFTER the wedding day and the honeymoon.
My opinion is that the Church doesn't make engaged couples wait long enough before conveying the Sacrament. A Deacon studies for about 3-5 years to get his sacrament, married (Permanent Diaconate) or celibate and on the way to becoming a priest. By the time a Priest is ordained, he has waited and studied for 7 years to get his Sacrament. If the Church made a couple wait 18 months to be married, and instead of the classes given now, have them study many of the things that they could find themselves facing, perhaps the percentage of successful marriages would rise.
Sacramental Grace is the difference in making a marriage work. You receive the Sacramental Grace when vows are exchanged. So, how do you tap into continuing to receive Graces to make your marriage strong and fruitful?
1. PRAY TOGETHER! Bishop Sheen said that "It takes three to make love" He went on to say "just as you cannot have rain without clouds, it is impossible to have love without God". Use Reconciliation, Mass, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament as time for you and your spouse to commune with God.
2. GIVE YOUR MARRIAGE 100% EVERY DAY! I didn't need Bishop Sheen for this. If you don't, you'd be amazed how quickly your married life, and your sanity will disintegrate into a world of dookie. Feel free to ask me how I know this.
3. STUDY THE CHURCH'S TEACHINGS ON MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY. A few places to start are Familiaris Consortio (The Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World), Pope Paul VI's Humanae Vitae(on the regulation of Human Births), and Casti Cannubi (On Christian Marriage). If you are a couple of child bearing age, don't reject Natural Family Planning until you've learned all you can about it. After doing so you may reject artifical birth control, and avoid a state of grave sin. You can find these encyclicals easily online.
4. NEVER GO TO BED ANGRY WITH EACH OTHER. If you doubt the logic, I'll give you my mom's phone number.
5. HAVE FUN AND LAUGH TOGETHER--it truly is a tonic.
6. COMMUNICATE! The number 1 reason marriages fail is because spouses listen, but do not hear what their spouse is telling them. Spend time talking together in a place devoid of distractions. As Mr. Miagi said "ALWAYS LOOK EYE". Make sure you understand what your spouse is telling you.
7. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF, AND YOUR SPOUSE. Look out for your own health as well as your spouse's health.
With the help of Grace, we can intelligently make the choice every day to recommit our love for our spouse, and to God.
Inspiration from Integrated Catholic Life