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As if in a bright cloud, deep in the Mind of God, lies the image of the first man and woman, with the child who is the fruit of their union. It is God's plan that each man and woman joined in marriage should treasure the children they conceive, each of whom is given life from God. It is horrible, in God's eyes, when anyone destroys babies, whether inside or outside the womb.
No theologian is right, who claims that it is all right for a man and woman to make their union sterile, not fertile, and who works to overturn the constant teaching of the Church on marriage, and the transmission of life. Christ looks on with gladness whenever a faithful Catholic speaks out to defend the truths taught by the Church.
Not speaking, here, of invincible ignorance, the Lord asks: Of what value is the praise of a woman who declares, "O God, I praise You, but I am determined to ignore your wishes, as I make myself sterile in marriage, or abort my baby, or sleep with a man who is not my husband".
Not speaking, here, of invincible ignorance, the Lord asks: Of what value is the praise of someone who declares: "Oh God, I love you, yet I am determined to ignore Your laws forbidding sexual relationships outside marriage."
What counts in a marriage is for each spouse to be willing to forgive the other, just as Christ has forgiven each of them - despite times when one is upset by the other's faults, or even outraged. By the grace of Christ, forgiveness is possible.
Many prominent Catholics encourage dissent and spread confusion by their public expression of their doubts about Church teaching. Priests should be honoured for their sacred office, whatever they say or do; but those who mislead the faithful by their stance, and cast doubt on Church teachings on marriage, giving the impression that contraceptive use is of no great significance, betray their calling and horrify their Saviour.
Wherever Catholics live out their faith with goodness and conviction, they have an effect upon their culture, as Catholics have since the earliest times. The Bishops hand on the truth from Jesus Christ, people are forgiven and transformed, freed from superstition, men and women are equal in marriage, the sick are cherished and not rejected, prisoners receive justice, little girls are educated, children are valued, even the unborn, the arts flourish - art, architecture, music and scholarship - and the Saints set an unparalleled example of goodness, in all sorts of ways.
Some people trust in their own opinions instead of the Church's teachings. In God's eyes, Pope Paul VI is a great hero of the Church who re-stated, in 'Humanae Vitae', long standing truths and principles about married love and sexuality. Catholics who oppose his teaching are opposing the teachings of generations of Popes - and, indeed, the Will of God, Who teaches us through those in authority in the Church.
When members of the Clergy, or theologians, or other people in the Church urge people to believe that behaviour once everywhere known as sinful is nowadays to be seen as reasonable or even good - such as contraceptive use, or sexual activity outside marriage - they endanger souls. To encourage people to sin is to help them on the way to Hell. The demons lie in wait for careless souls just as wild animals lie in wait for safari tourists who are foolish enough to leave the safety of the path.
Just as a man's pride can prevent him forgiving his wife her sins, if he asks: "Why should I forgive her when she has betrayed me?" - so a person's pride can prevent acceptance of the Pope's teaching on marriage, handed on since Christ and the Apostles, if she asks: "Why should I accept the Pope's teaching, when he has never been married?"
Catholics who make marriage vows or religious vows and live in love, and chastity, are on a straight road towards Heaven. But all who commit unchaste acts or develop unchaste relationships are causing a disaster for themselves and for any others involved, distressing all onlookers. They halt their progress to Heaven as surely as a lorry, crashed into the central barrier, has halted its delivery of goods.
A parent who, for selfish reasons, walks away from a spouse and children, is doing dreadful damage that can leave the children emotionally and spiritually crippled. God wants those sorts of parents to repent of their cruelty, and their new and immoral relationships.
Just as no driver is allowed to risk lives on the road, without having been prepared and instructed, so, no-one making vows in the Church, for marriage or Religious Life, which can affect other lives for a life-time and even for Eternity, should do so without first receiving preparation and instruction by the clergy or by loyal, practicing Catholics, authorised by the clergy.
People forget that the vows or promises they have made in church, in either marriage or religious life or Priesthood, are vows made to almighty God. To break those vows selfishly is to act against God. A special vocation cannot be treated as a merry-go-round, on which people enjoy themselves for a while, but leave when they are bored, or dislike the music or the same views at each turn.
When a man or woman selfishly deserts the vocation to which he or she had freely consented, that person turns away from Christ, Who had called that person, and Who was willing to help that person through every difficulty. It is a dreadful matter to desert a spouse or to abandon one's own children.
Many people today look upon a baby as a commodity: one to be ordered if wanted, or to be rejected if arriving unexpectedly, just as people might reject an unwanted parcel at the front door. They no longer accept the truth: that each child - even before birth - is a gift from God, through the union of the man and woman, and deserves to be loved, not killed.
Many people have a poor understanding of the purpose of the Priesthood. It's as if they peer at these men through a great cloud of incomprehension, and yet expect Baptism, marriage services and burial. If more of the Clergy did what the Lord has called them to do - asking sinners to repent and to avoid Hell, and to accept the grace that leads to Heaven, people would understand them more clearly, and some would respect them for their courage.
God looks down from Heaven, ready to distribute lavish gifts upon us, yet sees many dispirited priests who are too afraid to teach the Faith in its fullness; thus they are unwilling to imitate their Saviour and risk criticism from those they teach; and so they omit to mention the wrongness of adultery, contraceptive use, desertion of spouses, and neglect of children by mothers, and much more. In failing to rescue people from sin they fail in their duty, as if hiding away in a pit, hoping to be unnoticed.
Whether we are single or married, called to the lay state, or single and called to Priesthood or the Religious Life, we are invited by God to have firm faith in His power to help us. It's as if He has arms full of gifts such as courage, hope, greater faith, and love and humility. If we ask for them, He will lavish them upon us, so that we can be good and obedient like Christ.
There is no easy way of being a Christian. The Lord asks each of us to sacrifice whatever impedes our particular vocation. Traditionally, He has asked priests to sacrifice hopes of marriage and parenthood. Religious make sacrifices to live the evangelical counsels: poverty, chastity and obedience. Married people too must be chaste, and faithful to each other, open to life, and making sacrifices to care for their families.
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