mardi, juillet 28, 2009

Matrimony 1

This post and those that will follow are the framework of the Recollection on the Sacrament of Matrimony given at Cherokee Village in July 2009.
In 1930, Pope Pius XI gave the Church an encyclical letter on the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. This is an important text on this topic as it is a magisterial document that teaches the faithful on such an important subject. The Pope began by recalling the dignity of Matrimony, but right after he expressed his sorrow for “a great number of men, forgetful of that divine work of redemption, either entirely ignore or shamelessly deny the great sanctity of Christian wedlock, or relying on the false principles of a new and utterly perverse morality, too often trample it under foot. And since these most pernicious errors and depraved morals have begun to spread even amongst the faithful and are gradually gaining ground, in Our office as Christ's Vicar upon earth and Supreme Shepherd and Teacher We consider it Our duty to raise Our voice to keep the flock committed to Our care from poisoned pastures and, as far as in Us lies, to preserve it from harm.”(Casti Connubii)
In spite of the great renewal promised with the Council of the Vatican, we can notice that today the situation is certainly worst that in 1930. Religious ignorance is wildly spread among the people of God and is more devastating than ever. It is the greatest enemy of faith and consequently of life – the supernal and divine life of God in our souls and even natural life. The Sacrament of Matrimony establishes the spouse in a state of life that is the most common state of life in the Church. Yet, the truth about Matrimony is ignored by a great majority of the faithful who come to the church for their wedding with a vague notion of its nature, of its dignity and of the rights and obligations of the spouses. Many chose this state of life only because of a natural love for their spouse. It is certainly not a bad motive, but it cannot be sufficient in order to establish a stable state of life whose purpose is first to gain eternal life. According to the Principle and foundation given by Saint Ignatius of Loyola - Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul – one should carefully chose only what is most conducive for us to the end for which we are created. In other words, one should not chose the state of marriage only because he fell in love with someone but first because of a moral certitude that it is the way wanted by God for his eternal salvation.
The danger of founding a marriage only on a natural love is that if this natural love fades or vanishes – and this can happen with time – is that the temptation of divorcing is great. Unfortunately many Catholics couples come to a divorce. Imbued with the spirit of the world they come to this conclusion that the world considers as wise and good but that is in fact is totally opposed to the will of God: “Well, obviously we love each other no longer. It is better for each of us to separate and to continue our lives on our own separated ways.”
Another sign of the crisis of marriage is the great number of annulments that we can see nowadays. An annulment is a legal procedure of the Church for declaring a marriage null and void. It is a statement from a competent authority that states that a marriage has never existed. It was null and void from the very beginning. This can happen and the Church has always contemplated this possibility. But the Church can only make a statement and declare if this marriage is valid or not. In any case, she can make a valid marriage null. A famous and sad example is given by Henry VIII, king of England. If the Church could make a marriage null, she would have accepted the case of Henry VIII in order to avoid a schism. But this was impossible simply because “What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.” (Mc 10,9)

Annulments are possible, yet there is an abuse of this practice today. Pope Benedict XVI in an address to the Tribunal of the Roman Rota in January 2009, deplored and condemned this abuse. “One can still perceive the urgent need to which my venerable Predecessor pointed: that of preserving the ecclesial community "from the scandal of seeing the value of Christian marriage being destroyed in practice by the exaggerated and almost automatic multiplication of declarations of nullity, in cases of the failure of marriage, on the pretext of some immaturity or psychic weakness on the part of the contracting parties” (Quote from the Address to the Roman Rota, 5 February 1987 by John Paul II)
Benedict XVI, and already John Paul II before him, gave some remedies against this abuse.
"In this regard it is helpful to recall several clear-cut distinctions. First of all, the distinction between "the psychic maturity which is seen as the goal of human development" and, on the other hand, "the canonical maturity which is the basic minimum required for establishing the validity of marriage" (Address to the Roman Rota, 5 February 1987, n. 6). Second, the distinction between incapacity and difficulty, inasmuch as "incapacity alone, and not difficulty in giving consent and in realizing a true community of life and love, invalidates a marriage" (ibid., n. 7). Third, the distinction between the canonical approach to normality, which, based on an integral vision of the human person, "also includes moderate forms of psychological difficulty", and the clinical approach, which excludes from the concept of normality every limitation of maturity and "every form of psychic illness" (Address to the Roman Rota, 25 January 1988, n. 5). And finally, the distinction between the "minimum capacity sufficient for valid consent" and the ideal capacity "of full maturity in relation to happy married life"
Basically, what the Popes say is that difficulties in living the state or marriage do not make the marriage null. Difficulty does not mean incapacity and cases of incapacity are rare. Benedict XVI says: “there is a need for a new and positive appreciation of the capacity to marry belonging in principle to every human person by virtue of his or her very nature as a man or a woman. We tend in fact to risk falling into a kind of anthropological pessimism which, in the light of today’s cultural context, would consider marriage as practically impossible. Apart from the fact that this context is not uniform in the various parts of the world, genuine incapacity to consent cannot be confused with the real difficulties facing many people, especially the young, which lead them to conclude that marital union is, as a rule, inconceivable and impracticable. Rather, a reaffirmation of the innate human capacity for marriage is itself the starting point for enabling couples to discover the natural reality of marriage and its importance for salvation.”
Man and woman have a natural capacity to marry, because it is in our human nature. Sometimes there are exceptions, accidents, but they are rare. In order to understand well the nature of marriage, it is important to understand the human nature. Now, Matrimony is also for the baptized people a Sacrament. In order to understand it, we have to understand the plan of God for mankind, what we call the Economy of Salvation.

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