The homily from last Sunday's Mass is in the Library->
Special Note: I will not be preaching on the weekends of 2/13 or 2/20. Stay in the ring!
On this World Marriage Day we celebrate the gift of marriage in our community. Our parish priests have prayerfully decided to use this occasion to speak about the gift of Holy Matrimony and to focus upon one of the greatest opponents of marriage in our culture: co-habitation. Co-habitation is a prevalent "social arrangement or choice" that brings together all of the major vices that our world promotes: instability rather than fidelity, relativism rather than truth, radical independence rather than community, practical materialism rather than virtuous spirituality, absolute freedom of choice rather than obedience to the will of God, lack of discipline, and right to privacy rather than the sacredness of life every life. That's what encourages co-habitation.
Co-habitation is "sold" to our young people as "trial marriage". As a matter of fact, we are often told that only a fool would get stuck in "a relationship" that they haven't tested. This sounds so reasonable that often innocent couples can falsely believe that if they "like" living together or if it "works" they will be good at being married. An even more corrupt message is at the root of this and that is that our "sexual compatibility" is something that smart people test prior to marriage. These fundamental tenents of co-habitation are bits of wisdom from the world and they are all mistaken,half-truths, and intentional deceptions (lies), The fact is that co-habitating couples who go on to legally marry get divorced at a rate of 87%!
The truth that we proclaim and believe is that matrimony is a sacred calling that is BEGUN by the GIVING OF SELF completely in the sacrament and the SEALING OF LOVE in the marriage bed. One cannot practice or prepare for such a graced state in life by living the "lie of co-habitation." Co-habitation is essentially a falsehood lived everyday in the body. It is a conscious choice NOT to make a permanent commitment, it is an open refusal to live the virtue of chastity, it is a sinful decision NOT to live in communion with Christ and the Church. THAT is what co-habition is. It is not a help to the engaged but a toxic choice for the married. The effect of this practice on marital success is obvious.
As Catholics we ought not be persuaded by the salesmanship of our co-habitating culture. "Living together" or "co-habiting" is not a substitute for marriage, a help to or practice for marriage. It is marriage's enemy. And we are not seeing it. Let's celebrate God's gift to humankind: commitment, communion, self-sacrifice, life,and love. Matrimony!
This week our local Catholic community is beginning in earnest the 2011 Catholic Charities appeal. As the bulletin has noted over the past few weeks, the "in pew" portion of this annual appeal will take place on the weekend of February 27th (next week). I don't think anyone really likes the "in pew" process that we have been using now for four years but it is a proven method for gaining the needed support for the important work of Catholic Charities. I am especially uncomfortable taking time out of the Mass to perform the rudimentary tasks of filling out pledge envelopes. But we have to do it in obedience to our bishop trusting that it is worth it. But why do the appeal at all?
This year's appeal is focusing upon the individual lives that are changed, not just helped, by the good works of Catholic Charities in our Diocese. The Cleveland Catholic Charities operation is the largest such diocesan catholic charity in the world. We assist over 600,000 individuals throughout our eight counties each year with head start, end-of-life and nursing care, youth and mentally disabled residential care and services, ministry to families, youth, job training, hunger centers and so much more. Those are not just great numbers, they are individual lives being changed for the better. This is God's work and we are sharing in it by our support of Catholic Charities.
Thank you for what you did in last year's appeal. We surpassed our goal and broke our record. Thank you again for what you are able to do this year. We at St. Albert do many good things for the poor; we serve meals downtown, offer medical care in Latin America, provide food and assistance to North Royalton families in need, visit the sick, bury the dead, console the bereaved, etc. We also contribute to national and international collections throughout the year, especially the annual missionary appeal (remember Fr. Don's African Orphans?). But there is even greater work to be done in our own local community that we cannot do on our own. The Bishop of Cleveland and the good services of Catholic Charities can do it on our behalf - if they have our support.
Get into the ring! How this works...
This is easy! Each week on Thursday I post my homily idea...my main focus for preaching this coming Sunday. What I am hoping for is a reaction from people in the pews. Does my "focus" connect with your daily life, faith, and experience? Or not? Either affirm the direction I am going in (by giving me an example from your life) or challenge me, ask for clarification! Questions are the best! Reaction rather than reflection is what I'm looking for here. Don't be afraid, get in the ring. Ole!