For the sake of the Kingdom

Posted by James Hahn on

Friday August 18th – Saint Jane de Chantal, religious
Saint Jane de Chantal - The Incorruptibles
Matthew 19:3-12

When teaching Pre-cana classes I always make sure that I tell couples that they have no idea what they are getting themselves in to. This always gets an uncomfortable chuckle until they see I am serious. I guess I take a little pleasure in taking them out of their dream world for just a few moments. It may seem harsh to them at the time but reality is harsh and I know someone will come back years later and thank me.

I usually tell the couples that they may think they know what they are agreeing to but they have no idea. No one does. No one who ever professed marriage vows ever knew what was going to take place during the course of their marriage. That is why the vows include things like – for richer or poor, sickness and health, etc. The Church tries to remind engaged couples that they are promising to stay together come what may. However, most of the couples that I have had the privilege of working with have never given this much thought. Understandably their thoughts are on where to live, how many kids to have, or what it will be like to sit on the front porch in rocking chairs and watching the grandkids play.

I thought many of these same thoughts when I was engaged and I still think about them and talk about them with my wife. Yet we have come to realize that in order to reach those rocking chairs we must stay committed to each other no matter what happens. And this is what I try to convey to those starry-eyed couples in the marriage prep classes. I usually begin by pointing to the Crucifix and telling them that they should all have at least one Crucifix in their house and that they should look at it daily because it is the perfect image of marriage. Simply put, sometimes you are Christ to your spouse and sometimes you are the Cross.

In today’s Gospel Jesus says as much to those who were questioning Him. He tells them that marriage is permanent, period. There is no out so you better be sure that this is what you are being called to. You had also better be sure that you are as good as your word. Unfortunately, today, a man’s word often doesn’t mean much even when making vows to others and God.
Marriage and the single life are two vocations that need lots of grace and there is a lot of grace available. However, it can only be received if the recipient(s) are open to it. God help us all to be open to your grace. Bless those who have devoted their lives to bringing about the Kingdom of God by way of marriage and the family. Give them the strength to withstand the pressures of the world and all the temptations of the devil. Bless those who have devoted themselves to You as a single person either lay or religious. Help them to remember that celibacy, for the sake of the Kingdom, is a grace and “he who is able to receive this, let him receive it.”

- Celibacy is a gift of the Spirit. A similar though different gift is contained in the vocation to true and faithful married love, directed towards procreation according to the flesh, in the very lofty context of the sacrament of Matrimony. It is obvious that this gift is fundamental for the building up of the great community of the Church, the people of God. But if this community wishes to respond fully to its vocation in Jesus Christ, there will also have to be realized in it, in the correct proportion, that other gift, the gift of celibacy ‘for the sake of the kingdom of heaven’”
John Paul II, Letter to all priests, 8 April 1979

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