Tag Archives: marriage

Spouses are to help each other follow a path of sanctity, Pope Benedict teaches

St Bridget of Sweden.JPGOn Wednesday, October 27, Pope Benedict XVI noted that in
the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, the Venerable Servant of God John Paul II
proclaimed Saint Bridget of Sweden (1303-1373), co-patroness of the whole of
Europe. It’s the hope of all of us, as Benedict indicated, that Saint Bridget
“…can intercede effectively before God, to obtain the much-awaited grace of the
full unity of all Christians. We want to pray … for this same intention, which
we consider so important, so that Europe will be able to be nourished from its
own Christian roots, invoking the powerful intercession of St. Bridget of
Sweden, faithful disciple of God, co-patroness of Europe.”

In his address the
Pope noted something that I think is quite interesting, perhaps quite bold to
say, even if it is the teaching of the Church, that married couples are to help
each other get to heaven: “to advance in the Christian life.” Our Catholic
teaching on marriage is that man and woman are to form a “conjugal
” that is “follow a path of sanctity.”
 The two pertinent paragraphs
of a longer address are here:

“Bridget, spiritually guided by a learned
religious who initiated her in the study of the Scriptures, exercised a very
positive influence on her own family that, thanks to her presence, became a
true “domestic church.” Together with her husband, she adopted the
Rule of the Franciscan Tertiaries. She practiced works of charity towards the
indigent with generosity; she also founded a hospital. Together with his wife,
Ulf learned to improve his character and to advance in the Christian life
. On
returning from a long pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, taken in 1341 with
other members of the family, the spouses matured the plan to live in
continence, but shortly after, in the peace of a monastery to which he had
retired, Ulf concluded his earthly life.

Cristina & Renzo Oct 24 2010.jpg

The first period of Bridget’s life
helps us to appreciate what today we could define an authentic “conjugal
spirituality”: Together, Christian spouses can follow a path of sanctity,
supported by the grace of the sacrament of Marriage
. Not infrequently, as
happened in the lives of St. Bridget and Ulf, it is the wife who with her
religious sensibility, with delicacy and gentleness, is able to make the
husband follow a path of faith. I am thinking, with recognition, of so many
women who, day in day out, still today illumine their families with their
testimony of Christian life
. May the Spirit of the Lord fuel the sanctity of
Christian spouses, to show the world the beauty of marriage lived according to
the values of the Gospel: love, tenderness, mutual help, fecundity in
generating and educating children, openness and solidarity to the world,
participation in the life of the Church

When was the last time you heard a priest speak of marriage in such a beautiful way? That husband and wife not only love each other, raise children, and are active members of the Church but also see to it that the other spouse intimately know the person of Jesus Christ. How important it is to realize that we have to help each other see God face-to-face!!! When we learn the lesson that indeed heart to speaks to heart in marriage in Christ, then will the renewal of the Church happen.

Marriage and being in the state of sin

Father Z has a key blog post addressing the fruitfulness of the sacrament of Marriage, if received in a state of mortal sin. How often do we seriously think about the fruitfulness of the sacraments we receive and how that fruitfulness spills over into our everyday lives? Is it old fashion for a priest (anyone else) to insist that the couple entering into marriage make a good confession prior to marriage ceremony? No, I don’t think it’s quaint. Actually, I think it is not only an essential part of the “marriage event” but a sacramental moment in following more closely Christ and building a culture of love among the spouses, plus it contributes to engaging our freedom. Ask yourself, why wouldn’t you want to be in “good graces” with God, self and your spouse-to-be? God’s mercy is open to all and it is a wonderful thing to live in…

Getting married at the Vatican

Yes, it is possible to be wed at the Basilica of Saint Peter’s –the Vatican– but there’s a lot of paperwork and advanced planning. I am sure it is a beautiful experience. Watch the video clip.

Collaborating with God the Father

Today marks the 40th anniversary of Humanae Vitae (Of Human Life), the remarkable encyclical of the Servant of God Pope Paul VI. In the 1968 encyclical, the Pope reminds us that “Married love particularly reveals its true nature and nobility when we realize that it takes its origin from God, who “is love,” the Father “from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.” This timeless work is not merely about regulating birth, conception and abortion. It is about the Divine Plan for us, about the beauty of human love between a husband and wife, about loving children and about growing in holiness so that one day we will be united with God in heaven. To think otherwise is selfish and narcissistic. The greatness of the teaching found in Humanae Vitae is there is unequivocally a dignity in collaborating with the Divine Plan on the part of every person. What has become clear to me is that all of what is taught by Pope Paul remains true today: the contraceptive mentality has watered down, even destroyed an integral notion of love in married life, sex, holiness & sacrifice, spiritual fatherhood & motherhood, priesthood, etc.


The acceptance of the Pill as a “normal” way to deal with a pregancy (i.e., a real human life) has encouraged Catholics (and other Christians) to reduce their salvation to something they manage rather accept as a gift from God. Since when does one manage God’s gift of salvation? Isn’t salvation freely given? Isn’t faith a supernatural gift? Faith has consequences, just look at the saints and countless others who would not capitulate to society’s demands for insidious compromise. Pope Paul’s teaching stands against the constant degradation of marriage, family life and holiness. In so many ways Humanae Vitae  is “sign of contradiction” in the face of those who denigrate marriage by not seeing marriage as based on authentic love with its origins in the Blessed Trinity that is faithful, exclusive and eternal. If you want to know why our human existence is often “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short,” to quote Thomas Hobbes, then you have you examine the attitudes about love, sexuality, responsibility and holiness. Taking a Pill will not exempt you from reality, at least not true reality. 


The Pope writes:

Paul VI.jpg
…one is not the master of the sources of life but rather the minister of the design established by the Creator. Just as man does not have unlimited dominion over his body in general, so also, and with more particular reason, he has no such dominion over his specifically sexual faculties, for these are concerned by their very nature with the generation of life, of which God is the source. “Human life is sacred–all men must recognize that fact,” Our predecessor Pope John XXIII recalled. ‘From its very inception it reveals the creating hand of God.”


Through the intercession of Saint James, Mary, Mother of God, and Saint Joseph, may married couples and those considering the vocation of married life remain close to the Lord.


Mary Eberstadt’s article “The Vindication of Humanae Vitae” in the August/September 2008 issue of First Things  is worth reading and studying. Eberstadt does a terriffic job in relating the reality of the contraceptive culture and shows how Pope Paul was right all along. Also worth the time is Karol Wojytla’s 1960 book, Love and Responsibility. Later as Pope John Paul II he delivered to the Church what is known as the Theology of the Body.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT, follows the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, and is an Oblate of Saint Benedict, works as a monastery farmer and a keeper of honey bees. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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