Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Fidelity in Marriage Part I...

The Church teaches:

By its very nature conjugal love requires the inviolable fidelity of the spouses. This is the consequence of the gift of themselves which they make to each other. Love seeks to be definitive; it cannot be an arrangement "until further notice." the "intimate union of marriage, as a mutual giving of two persons, and the good of the children, demand total fidelity from the spouses and require an unbreakable union between them. (1646)*

All love comes from God. God is always faithful. He will always love us. Christ is ever faithful to His Church. The Grace of the Sacrament of Matrimony enables the husband and wife to live this faithful love. Marital love is exclusive to each of the spouses. It is contrary to the nature of marriage for conjugal love to be shared with anyone other than the proper spouse. This comes from the fact that marital love is unitive; it binds the couple deeply together. This is why adultery is a major sin and problem. It seriously violates the love of spouses which has the love of God as it's source. Adultery is not born of love. Moreover it violates justice; an injury is perpetrated upon one of the spouses. It is not surprising that adultery is considered a serious offense in all cultures.

Unfortunately, a spouse can find himself or herself in a difficult situation. When he or she remains faithful and work for the good of the marriage, they are bearing witness to the fidelity of God's love. "Spouses who with God's grace give this witness, often in very difficult conditions, deserve the gratitude and support of the ecclesial community." (1648)

Yet there are situations when it becomes practically impossible for the couple to remain living together. Then, they may need to live separately. They, however, are not free to contract a new marriage.

In this difficult situation, the best solution would be, if possible, reconciliation. the Christian community is called to help these persons live out their situation in a Christian manner and in fidelity to their marriage bond which remains indissoluble. Today there are numerous Catholics in many countries who have recourse to civil divorce and contract new civil unions. In fidelity to the words of Jesus Christ - "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery" The Church maintains that a new union cannot be recognized as valid, if the first marriage was. If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God's law. Consequently, they cannot receive Eucharistic communion as long as this situation persists. For the same reason, they cannot exercise certain ecclesial responsibilities. Reconciliation through the sacrament of Penance can be granted only to those who have repented for having violated the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, and who are committed to living in complete continence. (1648)

Continued next week....

*Note: Numbers in brackets refer to the numbers assigned to paragraphs of The Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Fr. Stanley