Tag Archives: fidelity

Truth vs. Emotion

10 Nov

ocean-waves-hitting-rocks

We live in a society that has become obsessed with emotion and feelings. This has resulted in lasting damage, not only to the Institution of Marriage, but to the faithful as well. Before you can combat an enemy, you must first recognize it. This means you must recognize when you are being driven by emotions and feelings instead of by Moral Truth. This can be harder than it sounds when you are immersed in a wicked society that insists moral truth is determined by feelings, instead of a set marks determined by God, the Church, and the Natural Law.

Marriage is about Moral Truth. The vow you make when accepting the sacrament of matrimony stands alone. Let us be honest – whatever feeling you that you thought was “love” that caused you to get married is gone by the end of the honeymoon phase or rapidly fading. If you do not refill the emptying cup of emotion, with the endless cup of truth then you will be unhappy and estranged in no time. Your “feelings” are transient and thus irrelevant. Whether the other person keeps their vows is also irrelevant so long as the marriage is valid and sacramental. This means that the proper intent existed at the time of the marriage itself. I know, you think I’m being harsh. I’ve been married about 25 years and I’m speaking from experience when I tell you that if you think marriage is about romantic love, your happiness, sex, marital bliss, convenience, the mother or father you never had, or the parent that failed you.

Now I will move to the most uncomfortable truth of all – marriage is not about your happiness, it is not about your sense of satisfaction, and it has nothing to do with making your burden lighter in this world. Matrimony is a sacrament – and like all sacraments, it is based on solid truth regarding faith and morals. It’s not based on, nor is it dependent on your emotions or feelings. It is dependent only on your commitment and obedience. Let that sink in while you head shakes side to side so fast that your eyeballs spin.

You do know that if your head is going side to side right now and your eyes are wide with disbelief, that you have work to do. You need to start defining your emotions and feelings, and stop letting your emotions and feelings define you. You need to make the choice to love your wife each morning, make the choice to avoid conflict, make the choice to speak well of her, make the choice to smile, and make the choice to obey your holy vows at the bestowal of the sacrament of Matrimony. Moral truth will then dictate your actions and emotions, you will do what is required of you, accepting that you are bound whether or not your spouse keeps her vows. You will now waggle you head and say – “No way – that’s not fair!”. Neither was Jesus dying on the cross to save your bacon. Your human sense of justice is rather infantile – in marriage we are called to something higher. You might think of it as “Duty”, but it is a mandate from God that you freely accepted.

Now I’ll tell you the good news. Most of the time – and I do mean “most”, and not all of the time – because we live in a wicked world. Doing this will change everything in your marriage for the better in ways you cannot possibly imagine. No, it will not happen overnight. It will not happen in just 1 week, or 30 days. It will be a process. A process in which you will change your life, and the lives of you and your spouse in the process. Things will improve over time, To be truthful, after about 25 years things are still improving. I don’t even know where it stops. When you base you marriage on truth – things start changing for the better. When you base your marriage on emotion then everything becomes a drama laden and stressful mess. I also know that when you live a marriage based on truth, then your own emotions and feelings are much more balanced, pleasant, and satisfying. In doing so you will have a distinct positive effect on those around you, especially on your spouse. You will feel a growing sense of contentment and happiness in your service. Romantic love will still come and go in an ebb and flow over the years – sometimes like a gentle breeze, and sometimes like a hurricane. However, if you base your marriage on Truth then your “love” in the “agape” and “storge” senses of the Greek words for love will never waver. It is then only “eros” that bandies about, rising and falling. When everything else is in balance with truth, then even “Eros” spends far more time up than down.

Imagine what might happen if you lived other aspects of your faith in Truth, instead of feelings or emotions?

Pax Christi,

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40 Days of Fidelity

6 Mar


Fidelity

Now, I know you’re probably expecting a spiel about marital fidelity. That would be both admirable and in keeping with my modus operandi. However, today I think we need to take a moment to think deeply about fidelity in terms of our obedience to the Catholic Church. I want to offer you a challenge for Lent – and instead of asking you to give anything specific up, I’m going to ask you to do something positive that you may find unequalled in it’s therapeutic penitence.

fi·del·i·ty
fəˈdelətē/
noun
noun: fidelity

1. faithfulness to a person, cause, or belief, demonstrated by continuing loyalty and support.
“he sought only the strictest fidelity to justice”

I challenge you to Live the Catholic Faith in total obedience for just 40 days. For if you cannot be faithful to God – why should your spouse trust that you can be faithful to her? If you can rationalize away the doctrine of the faith – can you not also rationalize away the sin of marital infidelity? Not just sexual infidelity but emotional, financial, intellectual, and every other way.

It’s only 40 days – you’ll do best to arm yourself with a Catechism and the location of a nearby Adoration Chapel. You will need the first look up all the rules and their basis in scripture and tradition, the second to pray for the grace to joyfully submit to them when you find yourself faltering.

This means you abstain from meat on fridays or offer the alternative penance, that mass becomes more important than a soccer game. It applies to all the rules on how to treat your spouse, how you treat your work, your coworkers, your job, following the 10 commandments, and yes – even the teachings on social justice.

** Disclaimer – you should discuss this with your spouse ahead of time since an amazing benefit can be had if you work through this together, and it will take cooperation for you to fully embrace the teachings on the marital embrace and birth control. You might find this challenge does wonders for your marriage. Check out my post on the Expectations of a Catholic Husband for a primer of the changes you might need to make in that regard. My article on NFP might also provide some insight to help you accept the churches teachings on artificial contraception.

Call it a learning moment that is 40 days long. Don’t rationalize, quit arguing and struggling with your yourself via senseless attempts at human rationalization. Just submit to God’s will for your life as spelled out in the Catechism. Stop trying to be your own pope for a short time, and quiet your mind so you can hear God speaking to you in everyday things. If you falter or fall, get back up and persevere – see it through until the end. You’ll learn a great deal about yourself and your faith during the process.

By all means leave comments on this blog about accepting this challenge, how you are doing with it, and any issues you are having trouble dealing with. I will respond personally to every one I can. Living the faith for 40 days in all that you do will be an amazing experience full of trials and rewards – I hope at the end of it you find that you have gained so much more than you ever anticipated loosing, that you never look back and continue on the path.

God Bless and Keep You,

-Colin

Whats in a Ring?

6 Jan

Hand with wedding ring clearly visible

My Wedding Band

What is your wedding ring to you? Is it simply a symbol of your marital status? Do you feel like it binds you? does it comfort you or is a source of discomfort to you? What memories or emotions does it evoke?

Since everyone will have completely different answers to all those questions (feel free to expound in the comments section), I am going to shortcut things by explaining what I have come to understand about this rather ancient symbol of marital union. Historically they were only given to the women and the tradition is documented all the way back to early Rome – and crosses almost all cultures in various forms (such as the Hindu use of Bichhiya or toe rings for an inestimable period of time) to represent that a woman was joined to a man. However, as our society has grown and evolved it has become a generally accepted tradition in much of the world to exchange rings in recognition that both husband and wife have claim on the other. In the Catholic Church, the priest blesses the rings themselves making the sacramental objects – ordained by the Holy Church, through the power of God, to bless and defend the marriage. This action takes the rings from the realms of symbolism and moves them to a very special place in our lives, our marriages, and our hearts.

I find my ring to be a great comfort, even when I was in the military and wearing it on my finger was a serious hazard to myself shipboard – it was moved to my “Dog Tags” where it was close to my heart and still on my person at all times. It serves as a reminder not only that I belong to someone, but that they belong to me and believe in me and value me enough to entrust their heart and future to my care. My ring has come to remind me of the joyful responsibility I undertook on my wedding day, and of the one person in this world who loves me more than anything or anyone else except God.

When one partner or the other removes their rings from their person, they are separating themselves from that sacred covenant. Distancing themselves from their commitment and promises, and in doing so turning away from the God who witnessed those vows. After all, if we cannot keep promises to each other – then how can we expect God to think we can keep our promises to him? If life were an ass-kicking contest then removing our wedding band is like competing after cutting off one of your legs – you have no support and both parties end up hurt and prostrate on the ground.

Did you ever think about the symbolism, each ring is free from the other yet inextricably bound – they are linked by love – a sort of quantum entanglement on a macro level (much like Einstein’s “Spooky Action at a distance”). The perfect circle symbolizing Eternity, the precious metal symbolizing the value of the bond, and the obvious placement a sign to all others that both you and your spouse are bound to each other and therefore off limits. It reminds me of the last words before we were pronounced husband and wife, “What God as joined together, let NO MAN put asunder”. It wasn’t until much later in my life that I realized that “No Man” included myself. My ring shines as a reminder to me not just of the commitment I have made, but of the commitment my wife also keeps. It reminds me that I am an integral part of another persons heart and soul, of their very existence, and that anything I do to damage that bond inevitably hurts myself, while anything I do to build or enrich it also has the same effect on me.

In the end, my wedding band is not a symbol. It is a physical manifestation of a joyful symbiotic relationship that transcends the limits of human understanding or reason. God created us for each other, not to be independent of each other. One is incomplete without the other, unstable – like a rudderless ship in heavy seas. My ring is that rudder, something I can touch to feel that connection in a physical way even when we are apart – and a reminder of the joy, contentment, and fulfillment that we continue to exchange every moment of every day – because whether in each others presence or separated by unimaginable distance, we are always together.

Please send Suggestion, reflections, questions, or comments to cc70458@gmail.com. I especially am interested in how other people view the rings on their fingers.

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