Skip to comments.HOMILIES PREACHED BY FATHER ALTIER ON MARRIAGE/HOLY MATRIMONY
Posted on 05/01/2006 4:20:02 AM PDT by MILESJESU
What It Means to Love
Friday May 18, 2001
Fifth Week of Easter
Reading (Acts 15:22-31)
Gospel (St. John 15:12-17)
In the Gospel reading today, we hear one of the most famous passages of the Gospel: our Lord telling us that we must love one another, and that there is no greater love than to lay down your life for your friends. What a wonderful thing that He calls us no longer servants, but He calls us friends and He lays down His life for each one of us. He tells us at the same time that we will be truly His friends if we do what He commands us. It is not just an easy sort of thing that we can take in a flippant way, but rather it has a demand on our side as well. We have to do what He commands us to do, and He has commanded us above all to love. That is the point we have seen over the last several days. We have to love God; we have to love our neighbor.
Then He tells us how to do it is to lay down our life. Now when we look at the crucifix, of course, there we see the greatest act of love that humanity has ever known. God is not necessarily asking that we will go to the Cross - physically, that is; spiritually, we must. For those who are married, you have made a vow and that vow is to lay down your life for the person to whom you have given yourself.
It is to lay down your life not once for a couple of hours on the Cross, but every single day and every single moment of every single day.
We are to pour ourselves out.
(Excerpt) Read more at desertvoice.excerptsofinri.com ...
Friday May 18, 2001
Fifth Week of Easter
Reading (Acts 15:22-31)
Gospel (St. John 15:12-17)
In the Gospel reading today, we hear one of the most famous passages of the Gospel: our Lord telling us that we must love one another, and that there is no greater love than to lay down your life for your friends. What a wonderful thing that He calls us no longer servants, but He calls us friends and He lays down His life for each one of us. He tells us at the same time that we will be truly His friends if we do what He commands us. It is not just an easy sort of thing that we can take in a flippant way, but rather it has a demand on our side as well. We have to do what He commands us to do, and He has commanded us above all to love. That is the point we have seen over the last several days. We have to love God; we have to love our neighbor. Then He tells us how to do it is to lay down our life. Now when we look at the crucifix, of course, there we see the greatest act of love that humanity has ever known. God is not necessarily asking that we will go to the Cross - physically, that is; spiritually, we must. For those who are married, you have made a vow and that vow is to lay down your life for the person to whom you have given yourself. It is to lay down your life not once for a couple of hours on the Cross, but every single day and every single moment of every single day. We are to pour ourselves out.
We are to learn how to love perfectly. I always tell the couples at their weddings that the idea is that every single day your love must grow more and more. Love never is static. It either grows or it goes backwards. If we are not loving more then we are loving less. Loving more is two people who are in love with one another giving themselves totally, completely, and as perfectly as they can to the other person. They are seeking the good of the other, trying to build up the other, and helping the other one to become a saint. That is what true love is really all about. The goal of married life, as it is for Christian life in general, is to become saints so that on the day that you die the Lord will be able to look at you and see a perfect reflection of Himself (One who is Love.) He will see one who has loved so perfectly what he or she has vowed that they will reflect the Lord completely. That is the goal of what this life is all about. As Christians who are baptized into Jesus Christ, we are called to the love of Christ Himself. No matter what our state in life, we are called to love; we are called to give. That is what love is all about. It is not a question of what am I going to get; it is a question of what am I giving. For married couples, you have given yourself entirely. It is not a partial gift. It is not something you can look at and say that you gave fifty percent or eighty percent. You gave one hundred percent. There is nothing left to take back. You have given it all. On a day to day, minute by minute, hour by hour basis, it is a matter of giving all constantly, continually. It is not an easy way, but it is the way of love. That is what our Lord has commanded us.
We see even from the first reading what the early Church recognized. They said to the early converts, "We do not want to burden you with anything beyond what is absolutely necessary." That is exactly what our Lord is doing for us. He says to only do what is necessary; we do not want to burden you with anything else. And what is absolutely necessary is to love: to love God, to love neighbor, to pour ourselves out completely as Jesus did on the Cross. We must continually come before Him in prayer, because that is the only way that we can do it. On a natural level it is not possible, but with God's Grace, all things are possible. With the Lord, through the Lord, and in the Lord, we can love and we have been loved. We can pour ourselves out and we can die for the person who is with us, not physically always, but spiritually to die to self so that we can live for another. In pouring ourselves out, we can give life to the other person. In giving life to the person, that individual recognizes what it means to be loved, and then will be able to love in return in a more perfect manner. That is the way God works with us. He pours His love into us and we are to be able to love Him in return. On a human level for married couples, for children, and so on, it is the same thing. We give to one another, and on receiving that gift from another, we learn what it means to be loved. It opens our hearts and we can respond in love. We can give of ourselves and we can lay down our life in that way, pour it out entirely, and there is no greater love than to lay down your life for your friend.
*This text was transcribed from the audio recording with minimal editing.
Keeping God at the Center of Marriage
Saturday May 12, 2001
Reading I (Gen 2:18-24)
Reading II (Eph 5:2a, 21-33)
Gospel (St. Matthew 5:1-12)
This homily was given at a wedding Mass at the Church of St. Agnes in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Today in the readings, you have chosen much. I could preach for hours on these readings. In fact, just next week, I will be giving a retreat on the Beatitudes and will preach for eight hours just on the Gospel reading for today. I will not bother you with that though. In the readings, you have chosen points that are difficult for people to understand: The creation of the man and the woman, the unity of man and woman, the roles of a husband and a wife. I want to compliment you for choosing this reading from St. Paul's Letter to the Ephesians. Very few people choose this reading because they do not understand it. They think that it is a degrading thing; consequently, it bears much comment. But before we get to that, we want to go back to the beginning where St. Paul sends us at the end of the reading when he talks about how a husband and a wife become one flesh in marriage.
That is precisely what God did in the Garden; we see that from the first reading as well. So we go back to the Garden, to the creation of the human person. We need to be able to recognize what God had done in the Garden, and what it is He is going to do today. In the Garden, we hear that He first creates Adam and places him in the Garden of Eden. He creates all the animals and brings each one to Adam so that Adam could name them. We must understand, at this point, Adam did not know that he was the only human person. He had just been created; he had just been put in the garden; he had no experience of anything else and no knowledge that he was alone. As God brings all the animals, it almost sounds as though God thinks He is going to find a helpmate suitable for Adam in the animals because He says, "I will make a helpmate suitable for him." God knew that that would not work, but Adam did not. The only way Adam would find that he was the only person capable of loving on the face of the earth was to name all the animals and recognize that they are not persons, and that they cannot love.
God brings all the animals and Adam names each one. In that naming of all the animals, he recognizes that none of them indeed is a person. None of them could love. He was made to love and be loved; he was made in the image of God (Who is Love), and he had no one on a human level with which to share his love. It is with that kind of a backdrop, then, that we can understand Adam's exuberance when he wakes up. Not only does he find the most beautiful and perfect creature in all of God's creation, but he finds another human person. One made from his flesh and his bones. One made from him, equal to him in every way, and yet different from him so that the two would complement one another completely. What God did in the Garden is that He started by making one, and He took that one and He made two. Today He is reversing the order. A number of years ago, God created your souls. He created them to be specific, unique, and separate. Today, He is going to reverse the order of creation. Today, He is going to work a miracle. Today, He is going to unite into one the two that He created to be separate initially. There is a new creation that is going to happen this afternoon, right here in just a few moments. The miracle is not only going to take place before your eyes; the miracle will take place in your souls. They will be joined together in an unbreakable bond. The only thing that will end a marriage is death. And because it is a spiritual union, it does not matter if the two of you would be on opposite sides of the world - you will still be perfectly and completely united because your souls are joined together. We have to even understand the implications of that for marriage. It is to say that when one does something that is worthy of merit and grace, the other is going to lifted up and built up by it. But when one sins, the other is also going to be dragged down by it. The purpose of Christian marriage is to make two saints out of you, and then to raise little saints for God from your children.
Today, what you are going to vow, in just a couple of moments, is that you will love one another every day for the rest of your lives. Now people do not understand what love is all about. That brings us right to that second reading, because St. Paul tells us that wives are to be submissive to their husbands and husbands are to love their wives. That sounds to the American mind like St. Paul is saying, "Wives, be slaves; husbands, be nice to your wives." That is not what he is saying at all. What St. Paul is doing is he looked at the next chapter from Genesis (chapter 3) and he sees what the problems are that we have from Original Sin. He sees the weaknesses that are in the male and female because of Original Sin. He knows fully well that women have very little difficulty loving their husbands. He also knows fully well that men have very little difficulty submitting to their wives. But he knows that wives have difficulty submitting to their husbands and husbands have difficulty loving their wives. He is not asking anything of one that he is not asking of the other. What he is asking is that you will live the vows that you will make, that you will truly love one another. You will give yourselves totally to one another, not only today in the height of all the emotion of the marriage day, but everyday, and every moment of everyday, because that is what you are vowing.
What that love looks like is the real question. I suspect if we took a poll of the people here we would get a whole range of answers, but they would usually revolve around love being a nice feeling. It is "this warmth we have in our heart when we are together" and all that other nice stuff. Well, that is real fun, but after the honeymoon, maybe a couple of months into the marriage, it is not going to feel quite that way anymore - except that you should love one another more in a couple of months from now than you do today. Even if the emotions are not as high, even if the things surrounding you are not as wonderful as they are today, there needs to be a greater love. Indeed, everyday there needs to be a greater love for one another. Love never remains the same. It either grows or it decreases. There should never be a day when you wake up in the morning and you look across the bed you would say, "You know, I do not love this person as much today as I did yesterday." When that does happen in marriages, what people tend to do is they point the finger at the other person. They say, "If that one was doing what he (or she) promised, if they were making me happier, I would be able to love them. If I were getting this, I would be able to love them." Now, you are not going to make a conditional vow today: "I will love you only as long as I feel loved. I will love you as long as I have my needs met." It is nothing like that. Unconditionally, you are telling one another that you will love one another everyday for the rest of your lives. Regardless of whether the other one is fulfilling his or her vow, you are going to be answerable to God for your vow and how you live it. When we look then at this point (let's start with that one) of a husband loving his wife, what is that going to look like? Jesus tells us what that looks like. He gives us a new commandment and He says, "Love one another as I have loved you."
There in the mosaic above the altar [the mosaic is of the Crucifixion] is the love of Jesus Christ demonstrated clearly for all of us. And you have chosen today to make your marriage vows on top of the crucifix to be able to show that love that Jesus has for you, that you have for Him, and that through Him you have for one another. It means to lay down your life constantly, to pour yourself out as St. Paul says, "like a libation," to empty yourself for the good of your wife, to seek only her good, to do nothing that would be selfish. That is a challenge. We do not expect that you will be able to love your wife perfectly today, but hopefully by the end of your life you will have achieved that goal, to be able to seek only her good at all times.
Now with that in mind, for a wife to be submissive to her husband is not difficult when you know that you are being loved. When you know that what he wants is your good. When you know that what he wants is truly what is the best for you - you may not always agree that it is the best for you, but you know that is what he wants. Therefore, it is easy to be submissive, to be able to say "yes' for the good of the family.
St. Paul tells us that the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church. If the husband is the head, then the wife is the heart, and the two must be united. A heart that is off all by itself gets caught up in emotions and caught in the self and is not able to love the way it is supposed to. A head that is caught up in itself is nothing but pride and it is again caught up in self. So a head that looks in love for his wife and a heart that thinks in love for her husband, the two once again are one. The two complement one another in this way, perfect one another, and build one another up. Both are seeking the good of the other, both are in love with one another. Now to go to the Gospel then for just a moment, we have to be able to take this ideal that Jesus places before us, that St. Paul puts before us, and the Church puts before us of what marriage is to be. Then we listen to the Beatitudes. I would just like to highlight one that will inevitably arise if you live your marriage the way that you are going to vow to God that you will do it. "Happy are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you on My account." If you live your married life giving yourselves totally, people will not understand. People will think that you are odd. You will have many children and in our society that is not politically correct. Praise God for that. That is what Jesus said, "Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great." If everyone around you in the neighborhood into which you move thinks that you are just wonderful and you are doing great and that you are just the two nicest people that they have ever met, then you are not living your marriage the way you are vowing to. If the people around you think that you are kind of strange, that there is something wrong with this Catholic couple over there - they have got all these kids; they are always together and trying to do things with one another; they want to pray together and they want to be saints together - they will think that you are very strange and they will speak badly of you.
"Rejoice and be glad," Jesus said, when that happens. Then you know you are doing something right. I am not suggesting going out of your way to be odd or different, but just live the life that Jesus tells us to live. This is not something, as we all know, that can be done alone. Look at Genesis, chapter 3, and Original Sin and the punishments due to sin. But, in Jesus Christ, redeemed manhood and redeemed womanhood is possible, only in Jesus Christ.
That is why you are coming here today before Jesus Christ, before His Priest, to make your vows in His Church. You are making a vow to one another and you are asking God to work this miracle, but you are promising to the Lord that He will be the center of your marriage. Everyday, not only do you need to take time for one another, but you need to take time for God. You must pray. You must keep God at the center of your married life, and if He is that center of your life, then He will build you up. What He is uniting today will become more and more the perfect unity everyday until the day when God when calls you home. When He looks at you, He will see His image reflected so perfectly. Not only does marriage symbolize the union of Christ and His Church (as St. Paul talked about), it also symbolizes the Trinity: the love of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, three Persons Who are One. Today there are three, the two of you and God, and He will make the two of you one. The goal of this life is to become not only one with one another, but one with God so that on the day He calls you home, He will find two people who have learned to love so perfectly that they will be brought into the absolute intimacy of the life of the Trinity to love one another and to love God forever.
The Two Become One: A Perfect Unity of Persons
Monday October 29, 2002
Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Ephesians 5:21-33)
Gospel (St. Luke 13:18-21)
In the first reading today, we hear Saint Paul giving his teaching about the relationship between husband and wife, and how a wife is to be submissive to her husband and a husband is to love his wife. At the same time, as I pointed out many times, what he is really doing is simply asking each one of us, as male and female, to look at the natural weaknesses that are inherent in us because of Original Sin. As it is, men have very little difficulty being submissive to their wives they just have difficulty loving them. Wives, on the other hand, have very little difficulty loving their husbands they have difficulty being submissive to them.
But we have to recognize what Saint Paul said in verse 21: Be submissive to one another out of reverence for Christ. So he is not asking of one anything that he is not asking of the other. He is asking that each one of us would approach things differently because he is asking that we approach it from the point of view of our own personal strengths and weaknesses as male and female, and to be able to address our own weakness. Recall, this is not something that the husband and wife can hold over one anothers head. That is not the point that he is making here, but rather what he is trying to do is to address each one to be able to tell them to grow in holiness according to their own person.
So too in the Gospel reading, we can connect these two as Our Lord presents to us what the kingdom of God is like, one from a male perspective, and one from a female perspective. He says, It is like a man who takes a mustard seed and plants it in the ground. And it is like a woman who takes some yeast and puts it into the dough. What we see is that the two of them on the day they get married basically place themselves within one another; the two become one. Just as you can no longer separate the yeast from the dough when it is all mixed in together, so too with a marriage; you cannot separate the two, they have become one. Their souls are joined together. They literally are placed within one another and it is there that they must grow. On the day a couple gets married, it is planted, basically, in seminal form. But now as they grow together, that must develop and it must grow together so that the two not only are one in the most basic sense of that, but that the two are so intertwined together that you can barely tell the two apart because the two grow together. They mature together, they are united in all things, mind and heart and soul. In all things they have to be one.
That is the goal of what married life is all about, just as the Church and Christ are one. While we can make a clear distinction between Jesus as the Second Person of the Trinity and the Church as the Mystical Person of Christ, nonetheless, Christ and His Church are one. And so it is to be with married couples. Both are to be giving totally of themselves for one another, just as Christ gave Himself up for the Church and the Church, in turn, gives everything for Christ. That is exactly the way it is to be in marriage. Not looking at the other one and trying to measure up what the other is doing for me, but rather simply looking at the Lord and saying, I vowed that I would love this other person and that is what I have to do. Regardless of what the other person is doing for me, I have to pour myself out for the sake of this other one. That is what God is looking at, so we cannot be looking at the other. Remember, Saint Paul did not say, Okay, husbands, heres what you have to hold over your wives heads. And ladies, heres what you have to hold over your husbands heads. No, he said, Husbands, you listen. You love your wives. Wives, now you listen. You be subordinate to your husbands.
That is the point we need to look at: what God is asking of us. We need to help the other one to grow in holiness, absolutely. But it is not a matter of holding it over the other ones head and trying to put the other one down. Rather, it is simply seeking to serve one another and to pour oneself out for the sake of someone else. That is what Christian life is all about. In married life, God has given us a microcosm of what we are preparing for in Heaven, where there are two who love one another so perfectly that they are going to reflect what the unity of the Mystical Body in Heaven is all about: loving Christ and loving one another in a perfect unity of persons.
This text was transcribed from the audio recording with minimal editing.
If Your Vocation is Marriage, Choose a Spouse with Prayer
Friday February 28, 2003
Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Sirach 6:5-17)
Gospel (St. Mark 10:1-12)
In the readings today, we hear about relationships, friendship in Sirach and marriage in the Gospel. And the question of who one should marry then becomes critically important. It is something that oftentimes our young people do not really think about. They get caught in a trap that makes them think only about themselves and what is immediately in front of them without necessarily thinking about the long term and what the rest of their life is going to be like. On one level, of course, you cannot know what it is going to be; but, at the same time, one can make a reasonable estimation based on what you know.
And so Sirach gives us lots of information today about how careful we need to be with who we are going to let very close to us. He tells us that we need to test people who are going to claim to be our friends. We need to be very careful that while we have many acquaintances there is only one in a thousand who is a confidante because most are going to prove themselves not trustworthy. He tells us also about how there are fair-weather friends. There are people who, when times of sorrow and distress come, are going to abandon us. There are people who will not even acknowledge us when things are difficult. But then there is that one rare person who will be there even in difficult times, that one person who is not going to abandon us, the one whom we can trust in all things, the one to whom we can open up.
When we look at a friendship that way and in a friendship there is no ultimate commitment and we see that this is what Scripture is telling us about our friends, how much more then would we have to say about the person that one would marry? If we have to be so careful about choosing who our friends will be who will not live in the same house, who will be there in times where we are going to be in need of having that friend, who are going to be the confidante for us how much more important then when we look at the person who will live in the same house, who will share the same bed, who is the one to whom we should be able to open the heart in all things? It becomes critical that we be so careful in choosing that individual.
What we need to make sure we are teaching our young people is that not only do we look at this on the natural level (because marriage is not just about a friendship) but that we look at it on the supernatural level (because marriage is a vocation), and that we bring the whole situation to prayer. We have to bring it to God and ask Him, first of all, What is my vocation? which, sadly, most young people never ask; they just simply assume that they already know because they feel like being married or they like the opposite sex and therefore it must be that God wants them to be married. They have never really prayed about it. So that is the first thing we need to teach them: They need to pray and they need to ask God because the vocation comes from Him. We want to do His Will if we are going to find true happiness and fulfillment in our lives. Secondly, if it is determined that the vocation is marriage, then we need to pray about who the person is going to be because we want to marry the one that God has chosen for us, not the one that just happens to be there, not the one who is actually willing to marry somebody so rotten as I am as so many people today seem to think; but rather, Who is it that God wants me to marry? And we need to leave it in His hands to set it up and not to be worrying about all these things because if Gods vocation for a person is to be married, He obviously is going to arrange somehow that you are going to meet the person you are going to marry because it is His vocation for the other person to marry you! We need to learn to trust, which most of us do not do very well.
We understand, as Our Lord tells the Pharisees as well as the disciples, that marriage is a lifetime commitment. It is not going to be an easy task to live with one other person, and particularly one other person of the opposite sex; it is very, very difficult. And so when one makes that decision to marry, it needs to be made in prayer. We need to make sure that it truly is Gods Will. We need to make sure that the person to whom we are getting married is the right person, the one who is going to help us to become a saint, and the one whom God wants us to help become a saint. This person becomes our other half, the one who fulfills us and the one whom we fulfill.
We need to take this counsel from Scripture very carefully to look at the seriousness of the commitment of marriage and what is required. And then to look very seriously at the person, at the vocation, to make sure we are teaching our young people that they need to pray and that they need to be very careful to be sure that the person they are marrying is the one God wants them to marry not the one they have convinced themselves that God wants them to marry because they are infatuated, but that in fact it is Gods Will that this is the person they marry. There are lots of people with broken hearts who thought they were doing what God wanted them to do without ever asking. Now we need to make sure that through the lessons we have learned in this society, with a divorce rate that is astronomical, that we teach our children to avoid the same pitfalls, that we teach them the way to true happiness and true holiness in the married state, that we teach them how to choose their spouse and how to choose their vocation. There is only one way to choose that, and that is in prayer.
This text was transcribed from the audio recording with minimal editing.
Marriage The Way God Intended it to Be
October 5, 2003
Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading I (Genesis 2:18-24)
Reading II (Hebrews 2:9-11)
Gospel (St. Mark 10:2-16)
In the readings this morning, we see the foundations of human society, we see the foundation of the Church being presented to us, and that foundation is marriage. God, from the very beginning, we are told in Sacred Scripture, made them male and female. And it tells us it is for this reason that a man should leave his mother and his father and cleave to his wife, and the two become one flesh.
Now when Our Lord is asked about this in the Gospel reading, the question is Can a man divorce his wife? Saint Matthews Gospel makes it even clearer and he adds, for any reason whatever? We are told that He was being asked this as a test. You must understand that there were two different schools of thought at the time of Jesus, two primary schools of thought: one of Rabbi Gamaliel and one of Rabbi Hillel. Rabbi Hillel we would today probably label as a very left-wing liberal type. Rabbi Gamaliel, who was considered the greatest rabbi ever to live and the teacher of Saint Paul, was very strict with regard to the law. In Chapter 24 of the Book of Deuteronomy there is a prescript written by Moses allowing a man to write a bill of divorce and give it to his wife. So the question that they are really asking Jesus is Where do you stand on this issue? Are you coming down with Rabbi Gamaliel, or are you coming down on the side of Rabbi Hillel? And Jesus makes it clear that both of those are wrong. Rabbi Hillel and in fact in some of the rabbinic midrashes, as they are called (those are rabbinic commentaries on Scripture), on the very left-wing they would actually go so far as to basically suggest that if a woman were to burn the toast in the morning that would be cause enough because Moses said, If a man finds something indecent in his wife, he can write her a bill of divorce. I guess that is something unacceptable and that would be enough to get a divorce. Rabbi Gamaliel, on the other hand, said, No, it is only in cases of adultery that you can get a divorce. That is not what Jesus says.
Jesus tells us that we are to go back to the very beginning to what God intended in the garden, what God intended for humanity, and that is that God created them male and female. In the first reading which we heard from the second chapter of the Book of Genesis, we hear about God creating all the animals and bringing them to the man to see what the man will call each of them. It is in doing this that Adam recognizes that he is the only person God created at that time. None of the animals were persons. Regardless of what the unfortunate bumper sticker says, animals are not people too. Animals are animals, people are people, and the two shall never mix. But we have a very unfortunate group of people who are pretty confused about this these days, and the confusion gets worse. Not only did God not create an animal to be the helpmate for Adam, He did not create another man to be the helpmate for Adam either. He understood it was not good that the man would be alone, and He made a suitable partner for the man. There are many other things that would be unsuitable partners for the man, and the only suitable partner for the man is a woman and that is all.
But what we must understand is that this beautiful reality of marriage which God has made for us is not only about the man and the woman who enter into marriage, but marriage is about Church, marriage is about society; marriage is the foundation for both. In the second reading, while it does not say specifically this point about Jesus, it is really made very clear that in bringing many children to salvation, it was fitting that God should make their leader in the work of salvation perfect through suffering, and that He Who consecrates and they who are being consecrated would have one and the same Father and so on. So we see that the work of salvation is really by analogy a work of marriage. Saint Paul makes it very clear in his Letter to the Ephesians when he tells us that Jesus Christ came into this world and He took to Himself a wife: the Church, the Bride of Christ. And so the Church then becomes a mother, giving birth to each one of us in a spiritual rebirth. And so that we see in the relationship of Christ to His Church, Saint Paul says, That is understood only by understanding what marriage is really about: the union of a male and a female.
We have in our day this diabolical movement and that is the only thing it can be called to allow what they are now suggesting should be homosexual marriages, two men or two women trying to enter into a union of marriage. Needless to say, this cannot work. The very first purpose of marriage is the procreation and education of children. This is not even a potential among two males or two females, and so it is something which is completely forbidden. This is not merely Church law, and it is not only natural law which is written in our hearts and in our minds it is Divine Law. And because it is Divine Law, it can never change, ever. It does not matter how many judges in countries or states decide that it is okay to call two males or two females living together a family, they are not. We must be very clear about that. Two men can be very good friends; two women can be very good friends; they cannot be married and they cannot be a family. And it is a total violation of the dignity of a child to put them in a situation where they do not have a proper foundation of a mother and a father. To suggest that it is okay that Johnny has two daddies is a violation of that child, a violation of the rights and the dignity of that child. The same is true if you put a child with two women and say that Sally has two mommies. It totally violates everything of Gods creation and everything within ourselves, and worst of all, it violates the child.
Jesus called the children to Himself, and we in our society violate children. There is a huge problem, and it starts with the failure to recognize human dignity. It starts with the failure to recognize the dignity of Christian marriage and the dignity of the family. Today, more than anytime in human history, the family is under attack. I have said it many times before and I will say it again: The place where Satan has chosen to attack is at the very foundation, and the foundation of the family and the foundation of marriage is the woman. That is where Satan has attacked, telling lies that women are not equal, telling lies that women have to become like men to become equal to men. God created us male and female, He created both of us in His own image and likeness, and He created us equal. Thanks be to God! He created us different, but He created us equal. That must be made very clear.
If a woman does not believe that she is equal to a man because society does not treat her as an equal, she is buying the lie of Satan. Society, we have to remember, is ruled by Satan. The Lord made it clear 2,000 years ago when Satan offered to Jesus all the kingdoms of the world. Jesus did not tell him that he did not have authority to offer Him all the kingdoms of the world; He accepted that as a reality. And we all know that wherever Satan reigns he requires human sacrifice, so it is pretty obvious who is the king of America as we continue to sacrifice our little babies to Satan everyday. We must understand that the violation of children begins with the violation of their mothers. If a woman is an object, so is her child. We continue to violate children because we continue in this society to violate women. We give them birth control pills and tell them that this is good for them and this is going to make them equal because they can be as irresponsible and ridiculous as men. Why? Because we do not want women acting like they are supposed to. We want to destroy marriage and we want to destroy the covenant of the family.
Contraception is the number one cause of divorce. If there is any question about it, just look at the statistics. Every single time a new contraceptive became available, starting back in the Nineteen-teens, the divorce rate jumped. The only difference in society at that time was a new contraceptive. If it is okay to be irresponsible and selfish with your spouse, then it is equally okay to be irresponsible and selfish with your neighbors or your secretaries or anybody else that you want. It is not acceptable. I was on an airplane once and a man who struggled with his sexual identity was sitting next to me. He asked me what I thought about what he was doing, because he announced to me that he had moved in with his boyfriend, so I had the glorious opportunity to tell him what I thought about what he was doing, and I did. He stopped me mid-sentence at one point and he asked me pointblank, How many people in your parish do you think contracept? I thought, What does that have to do with anything? I explained to him what the situation would be and he said, Is it wrong if they do that? I said, It is a mortal sin. He said, Do you tell them that? I said, Yes, we tell them that. He scratched his head and looked at me and said, Well, you realize that if you would have said it was okay that they are not doing anything different than I am. I said, Well, that is not true. At least for them it is a male and a female. But his point was that it is sterile, it is selfish. It is not about life. It is about the self and ones own selfish pleasure. It is not an act of love.
God created the male and the female both in His image and likeness, and God is love. He created us to love and to be loved, not to use and to be used. It is time that we as Catholic people stand up for what it means, not only to be human, not only to be male and female, but to be married. It is time that we stop apologizing for having children. It is time that we stop having to hang our heads as though there is something wrong with being married because you are not out running around with somebody else. And it is time that we stand up for the dignity of the person and for the dignity of marriage. We have given into Satan when we start apologizing and waffling on what the family is about. We have given into Satan when we buy the lie that we are not equal. We have given into Satan when we suggest that it is okay to be selfish, and worst of all, when it is okay to be selfish in a covenant of love where two people have given themselves to each other as a gift and then they try to take the gift back and make it selfish for their own pleasure. It is a total and complete violation of the vows of Christian marriage and of the dignity of the person and of the dignity of human sexuality.
God made us male and female for a reason, and it is not enough for us to sit back and say, Well, personally, I do not accept homosexual marriages but I cant say anything about these other people. Yes, we can and we must. They are not married. They can never be married. And anything that they do acting as though they are married is a mortal sin. We must be clear about this. For whatever sad reason, we seem to think it is okay if a boy and a girl live together before they get married. And once we decided that was okay, then it is okay if two men want to say they are married or if two women want to say they are married. As long as we have thrown holy matrimony out the window, anything goes. And it all revolves around the dignity of the woman because as long as a woman is going to be treated like an object everybody else is an object because we are equal. If a woman is made to be used, then so is a man. And if a child is no longer the product of love but a product of lust, then the child is not wanted for his own sake but for whatever selfish reason, and then the child is nothing but an object because both parents were treated as an object. The child is unwanted and the child is just a thing.
This goes directly contrary to what we see in Scripture and to what the teaching of the Church is, has always been, and will always be. These are truths which are inalienable. These are truths which are written in our hearts and in our minds, and it does not matter what anyone else says. Every single person in every single culture knows the truth in this regard every last one. But we need to begin at least now to turn it around. And the turn around has to begin by first recognizing the dignity of the human person and acting upon that dignity. More than anyplace else, it must begin with those who are married. You must treat one another with dignity and with respect, and you must treat your children with dignity and respect. Your children will learn dignity and respect for other people by watching their parents. If you treat one another like objects, is there any reason why we should be surprised that your children treat others like objects? That is what they have learned that they are. That is what they have learned that a person of the opposite sex is because that is what they have seen modeled for them. It must begin with parents. It is time that married couples stand up for their own sacrament. It is time that we have to stop hanging our heads and apologizing that God has called us to what is right and natural and good. It is time that we stand up and say that it is good and it is holy and this is the Will of God. We must live it the way God intended it to be lived, and that is that two persons enter into a covenant of love and their souls are united in an unbreakable bond and that love must grow everyday. It is not about two people seeking themselves, but rather it is about two people finding themselves in the other. That is what it is about. But if you have no dignity, neither does your spouse, and neither do your children.
So read the first couple of chapters of Genesis. When God made the human person in the first chapter of Genesis, He saw that what He made was very good. He made us in His own image and likeness; that is where our dignity comes from. He put us together as male and female in a union which is holy, in a union which imitates the Trinity, in a union which imitates the love of Christ and His Church. That is the dignity God has called married couples to. Society is collapsing and the Church is in trouble because the foundation of both is being attacked, and that foundation is marriage. We must come to the aid of this beautiful sacrament. Those who live the sacrament must embrace it wholeheartedly and raise it up as God would intend and be that wall of defense against the attack of Satan so that the society will once again be stable and the Church will be well-founded on the foundation that God intended of a male and a female who grow together in love and have their souls united in a bond which is made by God not by themselves and is unbreakable by any human being in this world.
This text was transcribed from the audio recording with minimal editing.
The Importance of a Vow
November 7, 2004
Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading I (2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14)
Reading II (2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5)
Gospel (St. Luke 20:27-38)
In todays Gospel, Our Lord tells us about the reality of the resurrection. And with regard to the resurrection, He is using the analogy of marriage because that is what He is being challenged on: If this woman has been married to seven brothers, to whom will she be married in the resurrection? It is a question being asked by those who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead. In Judaism, at the time of Our Lord and for several hundred years prior to that, there were some who did believe in the resurrection of the dead and some who did not. As we see in the first reading today, the seven brothers who were put to death because they would not eat pork in violation of the law of God believed firmly in the resurrection. But there were these different factions among the Jewish people who believed in different things. And so Our Lord made very clear that there is going to be a resurrection.
Of course, we know that; it is the most important celebration of the feasts of the year when we celebrate Our Lords resurrection from the dead. As Saint Paul reminds us, if there is no resurrection from the dead then Jesus Himself must not have resurrected from the dead, and if Jesus is not risen from the dead then your faith is useless because that is what our faith is about; it is in Jesus, Who is crucified and risen from the dead so that death has been destroyed. Death is destroyed even in us. In Baptism, we are baptized into the death and the resurrection of Christ. We have to still share physically in the death and resurrection of Christ, which each and every one of us will, but the fact is that death has been overcome. And so it is something for a Christian person to be able to look at death and not be afraid. It is to realize that death is the passageway through which we must go if we want to enter into heaven.
Now it is with that in mind that we need to look at what we hear in the readings today, first of all, the point regarding marriage. It would almost appear that there is a put-down for those who are married. If people are not going to be married in heaven, it would almost seem that they ought not to be even in this life. But that is not the case at all. What Our Lord is telling us is that in heaven people are neither married nor given in marriage because the reality of what happens in marriage in this world symbolizes what is going to happen in the next. That is, when God unites two souls together in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, the two become one with one another; but that is also a union in God because, as we all know, no matter how hard you try you cannot put your own souls together. Only God, Who created your souls to be separate and unique, can re-create them to become one. When God does this, He creates an intimacy between two persons that is deeper and more profound than even what our minds are able to grasp. What we see happening in marriage are two people who have made a vow to love one another. Therefore, if they are living their vow, we have two people who are sacrificing themselves for the good of the other, two people who are giving themselves entirely to one another, two people who are helping one another to become saints, two people who are seeking to build one another up, two people who have learned to be selfless, to overcome the selfishness of sin by learning how to love and love by its nature is not selfish. When we see that kind of activity going on within a marriage, we wonder, How can something be even more intimate, how can something be even more profound than what we celebrate in marriage?
We have to look even further and remember that for those who are married, it is not only in your physical intimacy that you express the union of marriage. That is the very sign of marriage, which is why the Church is so very clear in teaching that this must be kept holy. This is not about having fun and games; this is about prayer. When was the last time most married couples thought that way, that when you engage in marital relations it is a prayer? It is something which is profoundly holy; it is the very sign of your sacrament. If you think about this in another context, the greatest sign of the Sacrament of Holy Orders is to say Mass. What would you think about a priest who came out to say Mass and was goofing around, being selfish and arrogant about the way he was saying Mass, who was not being reverent, who was not praying, going through the motions but in an entirely irreverent manner? It is exactly the same thing that I as a celibate would say to married couples who are approaching one another in a manner which is less than dignified. Any kind of violation, any act of using the other person, of course any act of contraception or sterilization, completely degrades and violates not only the other person but the vows of marriage and the very purpose of human sexuality.
We need to think about the holiness of that and ponder the fact that, beyond just that, every time you receive Holy Communion you are also symbolizing the union that is yours in marriage. For each and every one of us, whether married or unmarried, when we receive Holy Communion we celebrate the union of our soul with Jesus. But for a married couple, think about the fact that the way you approach Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament is exactly the way you should approach one another. When you receive the Body of Jesus in the Eucharist, it should be in the same way that you receive the body of your spouse, with the same kind of respect, the same reverence, the same dignity, the same holiness, because what it symbolizes is the same thing. It celebrates the union. But it shows to us, as we receive Holy Communion, that each and every one of us receiving Jesus points to the fact that our union with Christ is not just my own union with Christ, as it would be in marriage. In marriage, there are the two who are united to be one. In the Eucharist, through Baptism, being celebrated and symbolized in our reception of the Eucharist, all of us are one with Christ. And if we are united with Christ, then we are united also with one another.
That is the union that marriage symbolizes in this world. It is the union we are called to in heaven, which is why in heaven there will not be marriage. Not because marriage is not good, but because what God is calling all of us to whether married or unmarried in this life is something which is even more intimate than what a married couple has in this world. In heaven (assuming that both members of a married couple get to heaven), not only will you be united intimately with one another but you will be united with every single person who is a member of the Mystical Body, and that union will be in Jesus Christ. It will be even more intimate than the intimacy that you share now, not only with Our Lord and with your spouse, but with every single person who is a member of the Mystical Body. I am not talking about the physical part of the intimacy; I am talking about the union of souls, the union of two persons who are in marriage.
Now if we have this kind of union and we look at what a couple vows in marriage, then we ask ourselves, If we have made a vow to love another person, is there anything that is going to be withheld? The answer is obviously no. You have given yourself away as a gift, completely and totally, holding nothing back for yourself. And you have received as a gift the other person, completely and totally, rejecting nothing of who that person is and what that person is about. Therefore, you have taken on the identity of the other, and the other has taken on your identity. The two truly are one. Therefore, to violate what you have vowed in marriage is once again the violation of the gift: the gift that you have given and the gift that you have received. And therefore, to do anything that is going to violate that gift and that vow is going to violate everything that you are about as a human person, everything that marriage is about, and everything that God is about, because He is the One Who instituted marriage from the very beginning of creation and He is the One Who has put your souls together.
It is with that in mind, then, that we look at what happened in the first reading. We see these seven brothers and their heroic mother as the seven brothers go one at a time to death because they would not violate what they had promised to God. They would not do something that would violate their relationship with God, the vows they had made to God, and the union that was theirs with the Lord. Now we can look at it and say, All they had to do was eat a piece of pork! Whats the big deal? The big deal is that it violated the law. It violated what they had vowed to God. Now if we look at it for ourselves, if it is in the context of marriage we could say, All you have to do is just be a little bit selfish! Isnt that okay? NO. Isnt it okay just to break the laws a little bit? NO. You have vowed to love. That means you have vowed never to be selfish, never to do anything that would use the other person, abuse the other person, or violate the other person in any way, shape, or form. Therefore, nothing selfish and nothing that would violate the moral law is acceptable precisely because it is a violation of love.
Well, we have each vowed to love God. Therefore, we want in this life to live according to what we have vowed. It is that love which we celebrate every time we receive Holy Communion. We see Our Lords love: complete, total, self-sacrificing. He holds nothing back for Himself; He gives Himself entirely to us, and He is not going to hold back because of His promise. He is faithful, as Saint Paul tells us. He has made His vow and He will not violate it. Well, we have made vows to Him and we cannot violate them. So when we look at our situation, we can ask ourselves, What if somebody were to ask you to deny some point of the Faith, to do something that would be immoral (whatever it might be), or die just as we see in the first reading? What are we going to do? These heroic young men refused to violate love. They refused to violate what they had promised to God, and they were willing to die rather than to violate love. Every married couple should have that attitude. Every parent, of course, should have that attitude.
Every Christian person should have that attitude because each one of us is a spouse of Jesus Christ, our souls united to Him in love. He has given Himself to us and He continues to in the Eucharist, and we are to give ourselves to Him. Just as we receive Him, so we give ourselves to Him. It is a union of love. It is a union which symbolizes what we are called to in heaven. Once again, what can be more intimate than to receive God in Holy Communion, to have our souls united to Him, to have Him dwelling inside of us? That is even more intimate than a married couple! And yet this is merely a foreshadowing, just as the union of marriage is a foreshadowing of what we are called to in heaven.
It is beyond our wildest imagination what God has prepared for us, but what we know is that God has given Himself in love and He desires to give Himself to us in love completely. But that requires that we will do the same for Him. Saint Paul, in the second reading, told the Thessalonians that he was sure in the grace of God that he and they would be delivered from anything evil. That same guarantee is there for us. Whether it is the way you live your marriage, whether it is the way you live your day-to-day life out in the world, whether it is the way you live your life of prayer in union with Jesus, all the grace necessary to reject evil is there. All of the grace necessary to live what we have vowed is there. Everything that we need to truly love is there if we will avail ourselves of it.
Each one of us really needs to stop and take this question to prayer: What does it mean to love? It is not about gushy feelings; it is about a virtue. It is about a self-sacrificing, service-oriented, selfless virtue of giving oneself to another and living only for that other. First and foremost, the other is Jesus Christ. For those who are married, following from that it is your spouse and your children. It is to live this love as perfectly as you can here to prepare yourself for what is to come. And what is to come is symbolized in the intimacy and the union of Holy Matrimony and Holy Communion. We are called to an intimacy which is far, far greater, an intimacy which we cannot even begin to comprehend, an intimacy with Jesus Christ indeed with the Holy Trinity itself and with each and every member of the Mystical Body, where we will be united in perfect love and build one another up for the greater glory of Almighty God.
This text was transcribed from the audio recording with minimal editing.
HOMILIES PREACHED BY FATHER ALTIER ON MARRIAGE/HOLY MATRIMONY PING!
PLEASE FREEPMAIL ME IF YOU WANT ON OR OFF THIS LIST
Bump for later. My Sunday School class today (5th grade) is on Matrimony.
HOMILIES PREACHED BY FATHER ALTIER ON MARRIAGE/HOLY MATRIMONY BUMP
THE LAST HOMILY ON THIS THREAD PREACHED BY FATHER ALTIER ON MARRIAGE IS AWESOME IN MY OPINION
thanks for posting these. What is the status of Fr. Altier? Wasn't he only going to be "suspended" through Lent?
Dear Nihil Obstat,
Many Thanks for your comments. I am not sure whether the ban or censorship has been lifted on Father Altier.
However, I have received two recent letters from the Folks who run a "Voice in the Desert" and I will be posting them on this Thread as well as on Catholic Caucus Readings maintained by Freeper Salvation later.
The Folks who run a "Voice in the Desert" seem to be quite optimistic about the restoration of a web site-- I say that based on a recent email letter I received from them last week.
IN THE RISEN LORD JESUS CHRIST,
AWESOME MARRIAGE HOMILIES BUMP
This is a fine sermon. It is worth comparing with +John Chrysostomos' XX Homily on Ephesians :http://www.bible.ca/history/fathers/NPNF1-13/npnf1-13-27.htm#P1356_727848
I particularly love this piece of advice; its one my own father gave me before my wedding many, many years ago and which I have given to couples since on their wedding day.
"And again, never call her simply by her name, but with terms of endearment, with honor, with much love. Honor her, and she will not need honor from others; she will not want the glory that comes from others, if she enjoys that which comes from thee. Prefer her before all, on every account, both for her beauty and her discernment, and praise her. Thou wilt thus persuade her to give heed to none that are without, but to scorn all the world except thyself. Teach her the fear of God, and all good things will flow from this as from a fountain, and the house will be full of ten thousand blessings."
Many Thanks for your comments. You said that your "Sunday School Class" today (5th Grade) is on Matrimony.
When you say 5th Grade -- How old would the kids be ?
Do you teach only Girls or both Girls and Boys ?
You said today, but I thought yesterday was Monday unless you meant Sunday.
How are the little ones and big ones doing ?
IN THE RISEN LORD JESUS CHRIST,
5th grade is 10 or 11 years old. I have 12 boys in my class and 2 girls, if everyone comes. I said "Sunday School," but it's really on Monday, because our church building is too small to have all the children's education classes on Sundays!
We're all doing fine, and hope you are the same!
Many Thanks for your message. You said "We're all doing fine, and hope you are the same!".
Well actually, I am having a number of Health Issues. I will explain later in the day via Freep Mail.
Freeper Knitting a Conundrum have added me to their Prayer Request List and some other Freepers are also praying for me as well as the Prayer Warrior at FR.
IN THE RISEN LORD JESUS CHRIST,
Dear Freepers in Christ,
I have come across yet another gem of a Homily on Marriage that was preached by Father Altier in 2005.
I apologize that I had missed it when I posted this Thread.
Fidelity to the Vow of Holy Matrimony
Friday May 20, 2005
Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Sirach 6:5-17)
Gospel (St. Mark 10:1-12)
This teaching of Our Lord in the Gospel reading today regarding the question of divorce was one that His apostles found to be very difficult. In Saint Matthews Gospel, they actually asked the Lord, Who can do this? It would be more prudent not to get married if this is the case. But Our Lord makes very clear that marriage is a gift from God. It is a vocation and it is not something that can be taken lightly. But, once again, in America this has become a very hard saying for people because in America Catholics have a higher divorce rate than pagans in pagan countries. Let me say that again: In America, Catholics have a higher divorce rate than pagan countries. That is how bad things have gotten in America, and it is how bad things have gotten even among those who call themselves Catholic.
There are certainly many who did not want to be divorced, and have been abandoned. But there are also many who enter into marriage these days not having quite a concept of what marriage is really all about. They enter in these days with the idea: If things dont go the way I want them to, Ill just get out. Its not a big deal. Ill just find someone else. They have no concept of what the sacrament is all about.
The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is so beautiful and it is the way of saints, but it is a vocation. We have this idea: If one is married, everything should just be happy all the time and I should get whatever I want. Well, it is not about getting what I want. It is about giving; it is two people giving to one another and two people receiving from one another. But in America it has become two selfish people taking from one another. No one likes to be used because it is a violation of their dignity, and when people know they are being used they want out. The goal of Holy Matrimony is to make the people in the marriage saints, and we do not become saints by using one another.
We become saints by loving one another, which, of course, is exactly what is vowed on the day of marriage. A vow is something which is sacred, under the pain of sin if one fails to live according to the vow. Just as the religious make vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, even entertaining thoughts against those vows are sins (not necessarily mortal, but they are sinful if one violates the vow willingly). So too in marriage, it is a vow to God and a vow to one another. To fail in those vows is a sin. That is not what people like to hear these days because we think we should be able to do whatever we want and it is not going to matter. You are doing exactly what you wanted because it is a vow that you made. That is a choice that was made; and it was an absolute, one hundred percent decision and commitment. Therefore, it cannot be rescinded because it was made with free will and with knowledge. So you did not make a vow to love one another for a few weeks or a few years or for a trial period to see if we like it. There is a vow that is made to love one another unconditionally every single day every single moment of every single day for the rest of your lives. Again, that does not mean to have gushy feelings about one another every day. That is not what love is. Love is a virtue. It is giving, it is seeking always the good of the other, and so it is to serve one another.
Even if you have been abandoned, if you have been divorced, you still must remain faithful to the vows you have made, to continue to live according to the married state. That means there cannot be any dating if you are still married. If there is an annulment, that is a statement that there was never a sacrament, at which point the Church is saying that you are actually still free to be married because your soul was not joined to the soul of the other person. But without that, you are still married even if your spouse has abandoned you, and you must continue to live in fidelity to those marital vows. So if there is something that would violate your marriage if you were still living with that person, then it violates the marriage even if you are not living with that person. Remember that you have made the vow to God. Your vow is not dependent upon what the other person does. The other person will be held responsible for his or her vow; you will be responsible for yours. When you stand before God, even if you have been abandoned, even if the other person has not been faithful to his or her vows, God is going to look at you and say, But what did you vow? And how did you live the vow that you made?
This is why, when we look at the first reading and we hear from Sirach how careful we need to be, that one in a thousand would even be a confidante, how much more important is it that we find the right person to marry? If you have children who are pondering what their vocation is, make sure, number one, that they pray and ask God what their vocation is. Do not just assume they already know what it is. Number one, you have to ask; and, number two, if the vocation is to be married then tell them to ask God to bring the person to them, to bring them to the person they are to marry, and tell them to wait. There is no absolute rush to get married. There is no particular age by which a person must be married. If God is calling a person to the married state, God will provide the other person. He is not going to call you to marriage and then say, Now just go out and see if you can round somebody up to get married. No, if it is a vocation from God, it is holy and He will provide the other person if we will just trust not only the right person, but the right time. If that means at 18 or 20, so be it. If it means at 35 or 40, so be it. When Gods time is fulfilled, then and only then is it perfect. Then the person will be there who will fulfill you, and the person will be there who is going to help to make you a saint.
In the meantime, if you are married, that person is there to make you a saint (as you already know). That could be by trials and difficulties; it could be by the charity that you show to one another. Regardless, the vows that have been made must be lived. God, from the beginning, created us male and female, and in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony He unites the two so that the fullness of humanity is there to help one another to grow in holiness, to learn how to love perfectly, and to prepare you for eternal life, where what begins in marriage will find its fulfillment, that is, there is a unity of all the members of the Mystical Body with one another and with Christ. In that union, there is perfect love, exactly what is expected in marriage today.
That is not an easy thing. It was not easy two thousand years ago; it is not easy today. But the grace is there if we will call upon it, and, by living it out, you will become saints.
*This text was transcribed from the audio recording with minimal editing.