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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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Reform & Failure of Cohabitation

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Challenge to Reform

We need to address a phenomenon which is rapidly becoming the norm in regards to those seeking marriage: premarital sexual relations and cohabitation. In reflecting upon this issue, the story comes to mind of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well. He challenges her to reform with the accusation that even the man she is living with now is not her husband. He offers living water which will never leave her thirsty. He is, of course, offering her a chance to reform, a new beginning. In response, she runs to the town and proclaims her witness to this figure Jesus who knows everything about her. Instead of avoiding her, as Hebrew men of that time are accustomed to do in reference to strange women, he speaks to her, a woman, a foreigner, and a sinner. Instead of condemning her, he allows her sins to speak for themselves and as a balm to the shame they precipitate, he offers forgiveness and healing. This incident is important for us. Couples need to discern that their personhood is intricately bound up in their sexuality and that its full expression can only adequately be within the covenant of marriage. Anything else falls into the category of sin. In addition, this story speaks to those who are the shepherds of the Church, who while not collapsing proper moral values under the weight of secular-materialism and post-Christian hedonism, need to exhibit compassion and understanding.

Failure of Living Together

The charge is sometimes made that living together prior to marriage gives a couple an insight as to how they shall interact as husband and wife. Many thus see these informal unions as trial marriages. However, the statistics show that the divorce rate among couples who live together before marriage is higher than among those who do not. Those who remove God from the equation are stumped for a logical rationale for this statistic. My answer is that God remembers those who remember him. A relationship, not approved by God and a matter of mortal sin, can neither claim comparison to Christian marriage nor act as a preparation for it. God grants his favor and pours actual graces into valid marriages; he offers no such helps to those in serious sin.

What happens when divine help and grace is withheld? During my ministry, I have been much taken aback by the number of individuals, both male and female, who have come to the rectory door in terrible grief over the estrangement of a partner. No sooner would they reach the parlor that they would burst into tears. One young man told me that just the night before, he and his girl had made love. Repeatedly, she confessed her love to him. Come that morning, after a two year relationship, she was gone, leaving only the pain of rejection and a note pinned to his pillow saying that she did not love him anymore. Did this make any sense? No, but he should not have expected permanence from a lifestyle engineered for transience.

 

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