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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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The Marriage Crisis: A Few Personal Suggestions

How might we handle the marriage crisis in the Church?  Here are a few of my suggestions:

1.  There should be a Pre-Cana preparation program that parallels RCIA instructions.  Couples can meet weekly in their parishes with a team that will help them to appreciate the sacrament, the moral obligations, and how this union fits into their Christian discipleship (openness to human life, avoidance of pornography, etc.).

2.  Couples without children that are cohabitating should be urged to separate during the time of preparation prior to the wedding.  If there are children or this is just not practical, then they should be urged to live as brother and sister until the marriage.

3.  Couples that continue to cohabitate and/or have attempted marriage before a civil magistrate or non-Catholic minister still have the natural right to marriage; however, the scandal they have caused should not be amplified by a full-blown church-wedding.  Convalidations or ceremonies for such couples might be very small, without rehearsal, with no less than two witnesses and no more than perhaps a dozen people.  There should be no flowers, no music, no fancy dresses and no reception on parish property.  There would be the reading of Scripture, a brief homily, the exchange of vows, the bidding prayers and the closing blessings.  The service should take no more than 30 minutes.

4.  The nuptial Mass is properly reserved to Catholic couples who are faithful to each other and to the Church, honestly struggling to be chaste and participating in the pre-marital preparation.  A wedding without the Mass can be celebrated for a faithful Catholic marrying a non-Catholic who respects the spouse’s faith and has agreed to have the children raised as Catholics.  These couples would also be eligible for parish receptions.

5.  The dress for the bridal party and the bride should be feminine and beautiful, but not skimpy and erotic.  Bosoms should have ample coverage and legs should not be excessively exposed.

6.  Music for the liturgical celebration must be exclusively religious.  Popular and/or romantic songs should be saved for the reception.  There should be an air of gravity, not flippancy at the wedding.  Exaggerated walking, dancing down the aisle and props like fake noses or full costumes are best avoided.

7.  Receptions for Catholic weddings should include nothing that is profane in language, music, dance or actions.  The practice of extracting the bride’s garter should be forbidden as lewd and undermining to the woman’s dignity.  Her body belongs to her husband and is not the object for leering and jokes from male guests.

8.  It should be understood that bachelor parties and parties for the bride with the girls must be sober and pure.  Strippers and pornographic videos are no way for couples to spiritually prepare for marriage.  Like the knights of old, the night before their great journey and life together should be spent in prayer and reflection.

I know, a few of you are shaking your heads, and mumbling, “That Father Jenkins is crazy!”