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Sacramental Grace is the Difference
CatholicExchange.com ^ | 07-11-06 | Theresa A. Thomas

Posted on 07/11/2006 5:22:16 PM PDT by Salvation

by Theresa A. Thomas

Other Articles by Theresa A. Thomas
Sacramental Grace is the Difference
07/11/06


At 10:00AM on a warm August day in 1962, Irvin and Bonnie Kloska, both 21 and full of hope, married in St. Adalbert’s Church, in their home town Grand Rapids, Michigan. “I believe it was the first time I ever wore a tux,” says Irv, who currently lives in Elkhart, Indiana. “I know it was the first time I ever wore a bow tie.”

In This Article...
Wired to Mate?
When Marriage Is a Covenant
How to Have a Grace-Filled Marriage

Wired to Mate?

After their Polish dinner reception complete with polkas, kielbasa and sweet and sour cabbage, Bonnie and Irv drove off, in a decorated car, to embark on their new life together.

Some scientists say that the love that drove Bonnie and Irv to the altar was not something sublime, but a simple preconditioned wiring of the human species to mate. A recent article in National Geographic even suggests that falling in love may merely be a chemical reaction to various stimuli. Apparently novelty, among other things, triggers dopamine in the brain, which stimulates feelings of attraction. Oxytocin — a hormone which promotes a feeling of connection and relatedness — is released during hugging and repeated positive exposure to another. According to research, prairie voles, which have high levels of oxytocin, mate for life. The article suggests that oxytocin is a major reason that humans mate for life as well. Despite the trappings of romance, is that all that was going on with Bonnie and Irv 43 years ago when they said, “I do”? Are humans basically just like all animals?

The Catholic Church responds with a vehement no. There is an incomparable difference between the simple “pair bonding” of animals such as prairie voles and the marital union between two human beings. We know this instinctively, according to natural law, and Catholics are explicitly taught this. The Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly states that humans possess unique dignity because they are made in the image and likeness of God (#1700). While humans may share certain bodily characteristics and physical responses with mammals (oxytocin very well may affect feelings and emotions in humans, for example) men and women have free will, can choose to love, and have immortal souls that will live forever, qualities that animals do not share. The dignity of the marriage of two human beings far surpasses anything in the mere animal world.

When Marriage Is a Covenant

A sacramental marriage like that of Bonnie and Irv is elevated still further from a mere civil union or from a marriage between non-Christians. It gives the couple special graces that are not present in non-sacramental marriages. Father James Seculoff, pastor at St. John’s Church in South Bend, Indiana, who has been a priest for 43 years and has counseled many married couples explains, “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.”

No wonder the bond between Bonnie and Irv has strengthened over the years. They are buoyed by the graces which were poured forth as early as their first evening together. “We started driving to our honeymoon destination — Niagara Falls — at 11:00 at night,” says Irv, “On our way to the hotel, we said our first family rosary together. We prayed the Glorious mysteries.” Since then, the Kloskas have prayed many family rosaries as their family grew, and they began attending daily Mass. “Bonnie and I both have a great devotion to the rosary,” says Irv. "There is great power in that prayer."

Irv states that he was very aware of what he was undertaking in marrying Bonnie. However, he says, “I was not aware of all we would be experiencing over the next 43 years.” “All” included, according to Irv, many joyous moments, but also sacrifices, disagreements, concessions, and financial stress. Bonnie and Irv were to experience the births of 12 children, the adoption of one, a miscarriage, life-threatening illnesses of two children, the death of another, and a chronic illness — severe asthma — which still challenges Irv today. “Those concerns were the farthest things from my mind,” says Irv, “as I climbed the marble steps of the altar to marry Bonnie. Remember, I’m 21, in love, going to school and, after all, I was earning a whole $2.75 an hour at the post office.”

Irv credits the graces in the Sacrament of Matrimony with helping him cope, over the years, with stressful work situations and various family crises. “It was also sacramental grace that supported me every time I had to pay tuition to Catholic grade schools and high schools and colleges," says Irv. "I added it up once. We have given our children 200 years of Catholic education. You can’t do that without grace.” Indeed.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church plainly addresses the topic of grace in a sacramental marriage. “This grace…is intended to perfect the couple’s love and to strengthen their indissoluble unity. By this grace they ‘help one another to attain holiness in their married life and in welcoming and educating their children….' Christ gives [couples]
the strength to take up their crosses and to follow him…” (#1642).

How to Have a Grace-Filled Marriage

Here are some ways that married couples can tap into these graces that are present in a sacramental union.

Pray together. “It takes three to make love,” stated Fulton Sheen, one of the best-known Catholic apologists, referring to God, “What binds lover and beloved together on earth is an ideal outside both. As it is impossible to have rain without the clouds, so it is impossible to understand love without God.” Attend Mass and receive Holy Communion together. Go to confession. In the sacraments, graces are received.


Give 100% effort. Marriage is not a 50-50 proposition. Don’t keep track of what your spouse is giving, just give your all. Make his favorite dinner. Help her fold the laundry. Clean out the other’s car as a surprise some Saturday morning. Mother Teresa advised “Love until it hurts.” Give yourself totally and you will find true happiness.

Follow the Church’s teachings and reject artificial birth control. Artificial birth control is antithetical to the dignity of the human person. According to the Couple to Couple League, Natural Family Planning (NFP) is 99% effective when practiced properly. The divorce rates for couples who follow NFP are extremely low, and couples report that marital satisfaction increases when NFP is followed. God’s laws are meant to bring us to personal fulfillment. Their seeming restrictions actually bring freedom and happiness.

Read the writings of the Church regarding marriage and the family. Casti Cannubi (On Christian Marriage), Humanae Vitae (On the Regulation of Human Births), and Familiaris Consortio (The Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World) are all available at most Catholic book stores or online. They are beautiful documents which can help couples grow in love for one another.

Make up any disagreements before the day is over. Do not mention the "d-word" (divorce), even in jest.

Listen to one another. Show your attentiveness with your body language. Sitting up straight, leaning forward and making eye contact all say, non-verbally, “What you are saying is important to me.” Restate your spouse’s thoughts when he/she is finished speaking to indicate that you understand or to allow him/her to clarify, and let your spouse finish his/her thoughts before you respond.

Trust and be trustworthy.

Look out together. True love does not simply look inward, but reaches outward towards others. When couples raise children they give of themselves and work for a common goal. Some married couples choose to continue reaching out to others after their children are grown through volunteer or charity work. Many childless couples do the same.

Laugh and have fun together. God wants His children to be happy in pure things. “Gladness of the heart is the very life of man, cheerfulness prolongs his days” (Sir 30:22).

Take care of yourselves. Remember your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. A wife’s body is probably not going to look the way it did before she had children. Nevertheless, she should care for it by eating right and exercising. This is in keeping with the dignity of the human person. Likewise, a husband should strive to be in good physical and mental condition. In the same vein, beware of excesses. Do not mistake caring for the body with becoming obsessed with exercise to the point of neglecting daily duties.

Lastly, recognize that there is tribulation in life. Not every moment of marriage is going to be divine. Love is a choice, and one that must be made over and over. But precisely because we are not mere animals, we can — with the help of grace — make that choice.


Theresa A. Thomas, wife of David, is a homeschooling mother of nine children, as well as a freelance writer and newspaper columnist for Today’s Catholic. Look for her contribution in Amazing Grace: Stories for Fathers, due out from Ascension Press later this year. This article originally appeared in
Today’s Catholic.



TOPICS: Activism; Apologetics; Catholic; Charismatic Christian; Current Events; Eastern Religions; Ecumenism; Evangelical Christian; General Discusssion; History; Islam; Judaism; Mainline Protestant; Ministry/Outreach; Moral Issues; Orthodox Christian; Other Christian; Other non-Christian; Prayer; Religion & Culture; Religion & Politics; Religion & Science; Skeptics/Seekers; Theology; Worship
KEYWORDS: body; children; commitment; consecrated; grace; marriage; sacrament; theology
Enjoy!
1 posted on 07/11/2006 5:22:21 PM PDT by Salvation
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To: Salvation
Keepers by the Dozen
2 posted on 07/11/2006 5:24:42 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: nickcarraway; sandyeggo; Lady In Blue; NYer; american colleen; ELS; Pyro7480; livius; ...
Discussion Ping!

Please notify me via FReepmail if you would like to be added to or taken off the Discussion Ping List.

3 posted on 07/11/2006 5:26:16 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: klossg

An obvious Theology of the Body and Pope John Paul II ping.

Please post any links if you can too.


4 posted on 07/11/2006 5:32:07 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All
Genesis 2:18 The LORD God said: "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him."
 
Genesis 2:23-25
5 the man said: "This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; This one shall be called 'woman,' for out of 'her man' this one has been taken."
24
6 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.
25
The man and his wife were both naked, yet they felt no shame.
 
Ephesians 5:21-33
21
5 Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ. 6
22
Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord.
23
For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body.
24
As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything.
25
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her
26
to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word,
27
that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
28
So (also) husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
29
For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church,
30
because we are members of his body.
31
"For this reason a man shall leave (his) father and (his) mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh."
32
This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church.
33
In any case, each one of you should love his wife as himself, and the wife should respect her husband.

5 posted on 07/11/2006 6:00:25 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation

Nice post Salvation. My late uncle (who was a RC priest) told my husband and I on our wedding day that there must always be three persons in our marriage (meaning God as the third).


6 posted on 07/11/2006 6:05:02 PM PDT by Gerish (Feed your faith and your doubts will starve to death.)
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To: Gerish

Absolutely, and the holy marriage is the closet we can come to understand the Trinity.

The man and woman love each other and through them children are born.

The Father and Son love one another and through them we have the Holy Spirit.


7 posted on 07/11/2006 6:08:03 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Gerish

*8My late uncle (who was a RC priest)

Did he marry you?

My cousin who is a priest in Pennsylvania traveled to Nebraska to marry us.


8 posted on 07/11/2006 6:09:07 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation
• Take care of yourselves. Remember your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. A wife’s body is probably not going to look the way it did before she had children. Nevertheless, she should care for it by eating right and exercising. This is in keeping with the dignity of the human person. Likewise, a husband should strive to be in good physical and mental condition. In the same vein, beware of excesses. Do not mistake caring for the body with becoming obsessed with exercise to the point of neglecting daily duties.

So fat guys and people with depression are evil?

9 posted on 07/11/2006 6:12:15 PM PDT by Dont Mention the War (This tagline is false.)
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To: Salvation; onyx; kstewskis; ELS

Wonderful ... wonderful. Thank you.


10 posted on 07/11/2006 6:15:04 PM PDT by STARWISE (They (Rats) think of this WOT as Bush's war, not America's war-RichardMiniter, respected OBL author)
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To: STARWISE

BTTT! (Wondering why a post I just typed out didn't post.) Hmmmm.

Thanks for your kind words.


11 posted on 07/11/2006 6:24:08 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Dont Mention the War
So fat guys and people with depression are evil?

I believe that sounds like a strawman argument written to get a bunch of posters upset with you.

12 posted on 07/11/2006 6:35:38 PM PDT by technochick99 ( Firearm of choice: Sig Sauer....)
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To: Salvation
This is a great article. Wonderful take on marriage and how to make it last.

BUT...

It raises a huge question in my mind which I've wanted to ask for years.

For background, my dear wife and I recently celebrated
thirty years together. Although we are now Orthodox, we
were married in an Evangelical Protestant church. We
decided before marriage that divorce just was not an option
for the future. God was at the center of our marriage.

1. Does the Roman Catholic church view Christian but non-catholic as sacramental?

2. If our marriage being committed and covenantal is not sacramental, what is the difference?

Paul (aka Newberger)
13 posted on 07/11/2006 6:54:11 PM PDT by newberger (Christ s risen from the dead, trampling down death by death!)
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To: newberger

Your Evangelical Protestant wedding is considered Sacramental just like Protestant baptisms are considered Sacramental.

*(as long as you both were free to marry, no prior Marriages, neither not forced into Marriage, free consent, neither of you were Catholic at the time, etc.)

congrats on your anniversary.


14 posted on 07/11/2006 7:04:24 PM PDT by Nihil Obstat
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To: Salvation

Wonderful article!


15 posted on 07/11/2006 7:18:45 PM PDT by NYer (Discover the beauty of the Eastern Catholic Churches - freepmail me for more information.)
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To: technochick99

Good point. Thanks.


16 posted on 07/11/2006 8:00:13 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: newberger

Your marriage is just as holy. Just have it blessed in the orthodox church.

The graces that come from God are the difference........and I'm not saying that only Catholics receive them.

Catholics celebrate a Sacrament. That is the difference.

BTW, just to emphasize this, where did Christ perform his first miracle? Yes, at a covenant wedding!


17 posted on 07/11/2006 8:02:57 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: NYer

The article you posted was likewise fantastic. That's why I linked both of them to one another.


18 posted on 07/11/2006 8:03:53 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Nihil Obstat

You said it better than I. Thanks.


19 posted on 07/11/2006 8:04:18 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation

Does this mean that for non-catholic Christians who enter
marriage with the right intent (covenant, etc), the marriage
is sacramental even if they don't think of it that way or
even use the term (e.g. Baptists)?


20 posted on 07/11/2006 10:11:27 PM PDT by newberger (Christ s risen from the dead, trampling down death by death!)
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To: newberger
You didn't ask me, but when has THAT been known to keep me quiet.

I would venture to say, without any color of authority, that a marriage entered into with the intention that it be lifelong and all the rest of it, (love, cherish, inconditional, forsaking all others -- which isn't as much about old girl-friends as it is about this relationship taking priority over all other) AND understood as being a covenant within the covenantal framework of the work of Christ and so forth would be a valid or real marriage and would be part of the stream of Grace - both receiving and conveying grace.

However, there's a sort of plene esse (fullness of being?) which is promised (or the avaialability/accessability is promised) to couples in the Church which is not necessarily guaranteed to those outside the Church. (And I mean no offense but I think the Catholic Church also has a unique plene esse of "Churchness")

God showers grace where He will, He doesn't consult me, and He's "not a tame Lion", so I am uncertain about saying where He does NOT shed grace. But He is faithful and true and has promised certain graces in certain contexts under certain conditions.

I trust I make myself obscure.

21 posted on 07/12/2006 5:47:28 AM PDT by Mad Dawg (Reality is not optional.)
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To: Salvation

BTTT


22 posted on 07/12/2006 7:32:51 AM PDT by Pyro7480 ("Love is the fusion of two souls in one in order to bring about mutual perfection." -S. Terese Andes)
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To: Salvation

Yes, he married us. Baptized our first two children, then unfortunately passed away in 1994 of cancer at age 54. God rest his soul. Wonderful priest and uncle.


23 posted on 07/12/2006 7:46:02 AM PDT by Gerish (Feed your faith and your doubts will starve to death.)
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To: Dont Mention the War
Reading for comprehension is a good thing.

Try it.

24 posted on 07/12/2006 8:24:21 AM PDT by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilisation is aborting, buggering, and contracepting itself out of existence.)
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To: newberger

Dear newberger,

The Catholic Church assumes that marriage between two non-Catholic baptized persons is sacramental, unless shown otherwise.

For non-Catholic Christians who are received into the Catholic Church after having been divorced from another non-Catholic Christian, the Church requires a declaration of nullity of the previous marriage(s) before permitting the convert to marry in the Church. This is precisely because the Church recognizes the validity of non-Catholic Christian marriage.


sitetest


25 posted on 07/12/2006 8:31:07 AM PDT by sitetest (If Roe is not overturned, no unborn child will ever be protected in law.)
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To: technochick99
I believe that sounds like a strawman argument written to get a bunch of posters upset with you.

And I believe the question hasn't been answered.

26 posted on 07/12/2006 8:43:40 AM PDT by Dont Mention the War (This tagline is false.)
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To: Dont Mention the War
And I believe the question hasn't been answered.

I would have to ask how you came up with that question in the first place based on what was said. You are making illogical jumps, which appears to be just an intro to Catholic bashing.

27 posted on 07/12/2006 9:26:54 AM PDT by technochick99 ( Firearm of choice: Sig Sauer....)
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To: technochick99

Discuss the issues, but do NOT make it personal. Attributing motives to another poster is making it personal.


28 posted on 07/12/2006 9:31:07 AM PDT by Religion Moderator
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To: Dont Mention the War
I would have to ask how you came up with that question in the first place based on what was said. I can't follow the reasoning using basic logic and reading comp.

That said, no, fat people and depressed people are not evil. Please let me know how you got to that conclusion, and I would love to point out any areas in which I perceive errors.

29 posted on 07/12/2006 9:57:59 AM PDT by technochick99 ( Firearm of choice: Sig Sauer....)
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To: Dont Mention the War
So fat guys and people with depression are evil?

I've been fat and I am depressed, and as a matter of fact, I am if not evil certainly fallen and beset with sins. But, as was said in another connection, Thanks be to God who gives us the victory in our Lord IHS XP. According to authorities I trust, God loves me and would love me if fat old grumpy me were the only person in the world. And God's love does wonderful things.

For example. I can now benchpress my weight in pizza.

Okay, maybe that's not such a good example.

30 posted on 07/14/2006 8:13:38 AM PDT by Mad Dawg (If the gates of Hell prevail against it, it probably never was a church anyway.)
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