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Catholics need a good spiritual foundation regarding marriage

Photo of Fr. Brankin. Go to Fr. Brankin's bio.Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Fr. Anthony Brankin

If you read anything in the newspapers or internet the last few weeks, you cannot help but to have read about the forthcoming Synod on the Family as well as changes that the Pope has made regarding the process of Catholic annulments. Now I do not wish to talk about the Synod or annulments—but I would think that Catholics need a good spiritual foundation regarding marriage. It is foolish to think that we can help families and help married people without knowing what we are talking about. In other words—how can the bishops talk about getting out of marriage when they have failed to teach effectively what it takes to get into it. And because of this failure to teach about marriage and family, then everyone gets the impression that somehow all the elements that make for a happy and successful marriage are somehow an insuperable burden. They give the impression that the things that make a marriage work and function happily and successfully—like faithfulness and no divorce and children—are somehow what make marriage too difficult and harsh. No. That’s what makes marriage a joy and family a delight. Ok.

So if the synod is only going to talk about non-marriage and non-family relationships, I guess it is up to us at the parish level to talk about the family. Let’s get to it. First off—family starts with marriage. Now the Church defines marriage as the agreement between a man and a woman which establishes a partnership ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of children—and that makes for a family. Two people having relations makes children—not a family. But when they bring the male-female relationship all under the commitment and love and responsibility of marriage—that makes it a family. So it is marriage that makes a family. This is marriage in general and it is for everyone. When two baptized people make this covenant, it is raised to the dignity of a sacrament. Continue reading Catholics need a good spiritual foundation regarding marriage

O purest Virgin Mary, there is no original stain in you

Saturday Salve in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy and Saint Peter Nolasco. Sung on March 28, 2009 at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Overbrook Farms, Philadelphia, PA.

Charity—in order to be a freely chosen act of love—cannot be binding under pain of sin

Photo of Fr. Brankin. Go to Fr. Brankin's bio.Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Fr. Anthony Brankin

One of the things we learned in the seminary as a point of moral theology is that charity is not binding. That does not mean that we do not need charity—or the virtue of charity—or the love of God in our souls—or the love of neighbor in our deeds to be saved. We do. Charity is the means of our Salvation. That is pretty binding and important. However we were given to understand that in this or that particular situation—a person may act charitably, but he or she is not obliged to act charitably—at least in a particular instance. (That does not mean we can act uncharitably. It only means that we are not obliged to do this or that particular good deed, as long as the omission of that good deed does not cause harm.)

Actually, when you think about it—it makes a lot of sense, at least if we understand that while charity may not be binding, justice is binding. In other words—if we owe something to someone—perhaps money—maybe a debt—perhaps the fulfillment of a promise—justice demands that we fulfill that obligation. And not to fulfill it—is a sin. It is a sin against justice—it is a sin against the person to whom we owe something. This is most obvious when we talk about violations of the Seventh commandment, which forbids us to steal—or cheat or defraud or destroy. But sins against justice can happen in many ways and against other commandments. Continue reading Charity—in order to be a freely chosen act of love—cannot be binding under pain of sin