“Gradualness,” truth, and the woman at the well

“Gradualness,” truth, and the woman at the well

I don’t know about you, but I’m not really reading the post-mortems of the Synod on the Family. My fellow Truth & Charity contributor Fr. Scott Hastings wrote a wonderful piece on the synod, but unfortunately much coming out of Rome these days is not so thoughtful. On top of that, I couldn’t help feeling that this episcopal confab had the flavor of large family holiday gatherings—you know, the ones where you can count on some beloved relative to forget that we’re all on the same team and launch some strange, inappropriate outburst that threatens to bring Thanksgiving dinner to a screeching halt. However, I know that truth will prevail, and that somehow everyone will be together again for Christmas dinner. The one word that seemed to drive both fringes nuts was “gradualism,” or, as the official translation of Relatio post disceptationem rendered it, “gradualness.” I am no theologian, and I cannot claim to speak for what the bishops or their translators meant by this term. But I don’t believe that it is useful to regard “gradualness” as either a slippery slope to moral permissiveness or a stumbling block to enlightened progress. Reflecting on “gradualness,” morality, and conversion, I’m reminded of John 4 where Jesus encounters the Samaritan woman at the well. To me, this remarkable story illustrates how we should model “gradualness” in truth: Jesus makes the first move. Real love is unconditional. Jesus knows the Samaritan woman’s story—he knows that she is living a sinful life, that she’s lying to herself, that she’s probably a social outcast. He loves her anyway, and he reaches out to her first. But...
They incested, er, insisted there is no slippery slope.

They incested, er, insisted there is no slippery slope.

Supporters of traditional marriage occasionally suggest that, once the green light is/was given for same-sex marriage on the principle that marriage is for two consenting adults who love each other, then there is no reason why other types of relationships should be excluded or shunned. Polite, progressive society mocks these Chickens Little as posing a reductio ad absurdem that soon we will have state-sanctioned polyamory, pedophilia, bestiality, and let’s throw in necrophilia for good measure. Not only are traditional marriage supporters today’s version of the KKK, but they have such outlandish and unfounded fears! Exhibit A:  “Australian judge says incest may no longer be a taboo.” “[T]he only reason it is criminal is potential birth abnormalities, which can be solved by abortion.” Do they have a different definition of “solved” down under? Exhibit 2: “Incest a ‘fundamental right’, German committee says.” “Government-backed group said relationships between brothers and sisters should be legal.” I don’t know if it’s significant, but both stories are from the Telegraph; all the incestuous news that’s fit to print? It looks like they even used the same hand-holding couple in the pictures but just had them change outfits. So, let’s hope for some consistency. Supporters of “marriage equality” should be expected to support such Aussie and German trends, no? If the requirement is “consenting adults who love each other,” then incest can fit the bill. There is no logical reason to defend same-sex “marriage” but oppose incestuous marriages. The fact that the Australian judge even brought up children is moot since the same-sex debate discards any consideration of children or anything else besides the two consenting adults...
8 Ways to Build Unity in Marriage

8 Ways to Build Unity in Marriage

Summer happens to be anniversary season in our family. We just celebrated my parents’ 34th wedding anniversary last Friday and my husband’s and mine on Saturday, plus other anniversaries take place later this summer. I asked my parents about their thoughts on what helps one have a lasting marriage, and from the fruits of that discussion, I have been thinking a lot about the elements that make up a good and happy marriage. One summer, when my husband and I were dating, he spent break walking with the Crossroads Pro-Life walk from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. and I took summer courses in philosophy. We both read A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken, which left a deep impression on us. We admired the goals of Sheldon and his wife, Davy, to preserve their “inloveness” through the many years of their relationship, which they began planning from the very beginning. Inspired by them, Mark and I sought to create a similar foundation, in which we had shared interests, activities, and most of all our shared faith. We did not just share our faith. We went to Mass, adoration, and prayed from the office together daily. We did homework together, and made meals together. The only things we really did not do together were some of our classes and I lived in a house full of women while he lived in a house full of men. Our common activities transitioned easily into our marriage. Since we have had children, and he has been the one working and I have been the homemaker, we have had to work to keep the unity...
Terrible Day, Happy Life

Terrible Day, Happy Life

My husband and I were married nine years ago today.  It was a terrible, terrible day, with barely a good memory salvageable from sun up til sun down.  I thought about chucking it all and not showing up, but realized that was not the path to which God was calling me.  He was calling us to a marriage, not to a wedding.  If the wedding didn’t shape up perfectly, that was fine.  I wasn’t getting married for a wedding.  I was getting married to fulfill a vocation.  God doesn’t promise us sacramental grace for a beautiful wedding, but for a strong marriage.  When we make too much of the day itself, we often lose sight of the lifetime to follow. Many things went wrong that day.  I generally try not to think about it, or at least to focus only on the good bits.  There was a lovely moment when we placed a bouquet at the foot of the statue of Our Lady, and were able to silently pray together.  At one point, my sister and my nephew contributed to a stifled giggle, as she pointed out that he, the altar boy, was almost asleep, leaning on the cross, about to fall off of his chair.  A few moments from the reception even force their way to the forefront of my mind, like dancing with my nieces to Hanson’s “MmmBop.”  Other than that though, most of the day itself I keep back, out of sight, out of mind.  But there are other things that I don’t ever want to forget from that day, and those are the moments that...
Love Is Not an Accident, It’s a Decision

Love Is Not an Accident, It’s a Decision

While watching old episodes of The Office the other night on Netflix (don’t judge, on either count), I was struck by something that Ryan (you know, the weasely little man-boy in hipster glasses) said:  “I am in love with Kelly Kapoor!  And I don’t know how I’m going to feel tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after that, but I do know that right here and right now all I can think about is spending the rest of my life with her.  Again, that could change.”  I laughed at it, but also thought what a sad commentary it is on our society’s misunderstanding of a word as fundamental as love.  Love is not an accident.  It’s a decision. Love is all the things St. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians, 13.  It is kind, patient, forgiving.  It finds joy in truth.  It is also unending.  For some reason, a great many people who use this very popular verse at their weddings forget this line.  Love never ends.  If it does then it isn’t love.  It may be affection or liking, but it is not love.  Why then do we make this mistake constantly, of claiming love where love is not?  I think it’s easier than actually loving, because to love requires decision and action. When a man and a woman marry each other, they are not proclaiming their love but are rather proclaiming their decision to love each other and binding that decision with a solemn vow.  Each has decided to love each other.  It is a decision and not a feeling that will keep them together when...