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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

  • The blog header depicts an important and yet mis-understood New Testament scene, Jesus flogging the money-changers out of the temple. I selected it because the faith that gives us consolation can also make us very uncomfortable. Both Divine Mercy and Divine Justice meet in Jesus. Priests are ministers of reconciliation, but never at the cost of truth. In or out of season, we must be courageous in preaching and living out the Gospel of Life. The title of my blog is a play on words, not Flogger Priest but Blogger Priest.

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Questions & Answers About Marriage

Does the Bible say that Christian marriage is a sacrament and more than a mere civil contract?

Yes, and we find the evidence from the mouth of Christ. The Lord tells us: “Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, `For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Matthew 19:4-6). St. Paul adds: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her . . . This mystery is a profound one [great sacrament], and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:25,32).

What is the special grace that comes to a couple in marriage?

They are given the divine grace to join their hearts into a more intimate, more lasting, and more holy love. They are enabled to raise their children in reverence or holy fear and love of God.

Does the Bible actually say that married people should not remarry while their spouse is alive?

Jesus made it quite clear: “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh . . . So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:5-6).

Does the Bible forbid divorce?

Yes, although many churches, which profess Christ, have permitted it on their own authority. It is evidence that the Catholic Church is the true biblical Church and the one steadfast in Christ and his truths. Difficult teachings are not eliminated or ignored simply because they are difficult or out of fashion. A proper reading of Matthew 19:6-9 shows Christ’s mind on the subject: “What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” Then they ask Jesus, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” Our Lord responded: “For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity [unlawful or lewd conduct, actually incest], and marries another, commits adultery.” Again, St. Paul adds upon the subject: “To the married I give charge, not I but the Lord, that the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, let her remain single or else be reconciled to her husband) – and that the husband should not divorce his wife” (1 Corinthians 7:10-11). “Thus a married woman is bound by law to her husband as long as he lives; but if her husband dies she is discharged from the law concerning the husband. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress” (Romans 7:2-3). Obviously the rights of the husband and the wife are here the same and the law holds for the husband, too.

Does the Catholic Church grant divorces?

No, although there is an annulment process which many Catholics pursue after a civil divorce. If it is determined that there was a serious impediment to a true marriage in the first instance, a marital union might be declared annulled. However, if the marriage were true, it is indissoluble. If the first marriage is a valid sacrament, it can only end at the death of one of the spouses.

Why does the Church forbid marriages among close relatives?

The prohibition in Matthew’s Gospel is certainly part of the answer. Besides violating the natural order, such bonds often prove wanting and the offspring deficient in mental and bodily development.

Why is there the custom of publishing banns?

Often made optional today, or dispensed by lawful authority, banns were published as a public announcement. Not only did this notify a parish community, but it also prevented perilous elopements, and invited general information about their freedom to marry. After such a publication, one would quickly discover if there were a prior promise from either of the parties to marry someone else of if there were a serious impediment to marriage.

What are the duties of husband and wife?

They are to live together in peace, love and fidelity. They are to raise their children as good Christians, sharing each other’s joys and sorrows.

How is this sacramental covenant enacted?

Taking each other’s right hand, they render their vows or consent before the priest or deacon. The priest blesses them and confirms their union. The priest witnesses marriages. Couples, themselves, are the actual ministers of the sacrament. The rings are blessed by the priest and they place them on each other’s fingers with the appropriate prayer. A Nuptial Blessing comes at the end of the service. If it takes place during Mass, and they are both Catholic, they will also receive Holy Communion. The marriage is fully consummated when they go home and share the marital act.