Monday, May 26, 2014

MY FATHER WAS RIGHT!

My family in the 1950's in East Point, Georgia (Atlanta) (we lived in military housing outside the gate to Fort McPherson, GA which looked like a classic housing project for the poor). I'm the handsome one! The physical, spiritual and emotional position of my brother in this photo, a good study in psychology, says it all!

My father died in 1987 at the age of 77. He was born in 1910. Of course when his three children were growing up, he did not think that one of them would forgo marriage and become a priest. And that child growing up didn't think that he would forgo marriage and become a priest. That's another story.

But when his children were growing up, and I can remember my father's emphatic statement to us, he said, there would be no divorce in his family and we would marry a Catholic and get married in the Church. Of course this was prior to Vatican II and the ensuing confusion that would enter the Church which to this day we still experience.

My sister did not marry a Catholic but she did get married in the Church in 1966. She is still married to the same Baptist husband.

My brother, though, rebelled against his parental authority and their love (and to this day still, although in his last days, mid 60's, but that's another story) and he chose to marry outside the Catholic Church. My father refused to go to his son's wedding because it was a mortal sin for him to be married outside the Church, it would jeopardize his salvation. My father would not enable his son's mortal sin and in any way support it. He did not equate enablement as love.

Maybe my father took seriously that following Jesus sometimes brings division to the family, father against son, son against mother, etc (paraphrase). And my father would not compromise on his Catholic Faith by appeasing my brother's rejection of the Church and the laws that govern Catholics especially as it concerns marriage.

As a child of the 60's although a seminarian of the 1970's, a double whammy, I disagreed with my father's decision not to go to his son's wedding which took place in my sister's house. I flew from the seminary to be there. Why? To appease my brother and keep peace in the family at all costs even if that went against my father's wishes to uphold the teachings of Christ concerning marriage. I think I broke the 4th Commandment. Not sure I ever confessed it. I'll take care of that soon!

What is it about the 1960's and 70's and its free love mentality that bled into the Church like a bleeding heart that we who were formed by it thought love meant enabling sin and disregard for the Church and her teachings especially as it concerned sex and marriage? Why is it that my generation and older and some a bit younger think that enablement of a variety of lifestyles that are opposed to God's laws equals love? 

My father eventually reconciled with my brother but never apologized for not going to his wedding. He should not have had to do that. My brother was clearly wrong and my father clearly right. I was wrong in going to my brother's wedding not only because it went against my father's wishes, but it went against my Father in heaven wishes too. I was a seminarian in addition to that and I know now that what I do as a priest can impact in a positive or negative way even more so than if I were simply a member of the lay faithful.

If your are a parent would you enable your son and daughter to commit mortal sin and stand by them as they did it? Is that love or enablement?


16 comments:

Catholic Mission said...

Winter for the Catholic Faith in England

http://eucharistandmission.blogspot.it/2014/05/winter-for-catholic-faith-in-england.html#links

Anonymous said...

I don't think that there were any "mortal sins" involved in any of what you describe by anybody. Do you really think that your just and merciful God would send your brother to burn in hell for eternity for marrying the woman he loved?

The only one who screwed up was your dear old Dad. Too bad he never was able to realize or admit it.


Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

You are either ignorant or being silly or not Catholic or nominally so, mortal sin leads to hell as well as a corrupt life that spits at God's laws!

Desiree said...

Enabling is never helpful to anyone involved. I've told my children already that they are to marry a Catholic in a Catholic Church. I will not go to their "wedding" if they don't do this. I take Confession seriously and teach them to do the same. I believe taking Confession seriously is the root to living godly. The examination of conscience covers mortal sins and Church's teachings well, so a person knows them and is aware of their actions.

Sometimes a person can look mean or harsh to others by following God's rules, but His rules/plan make our lives easier. They are given to us out of love.

Anonymous said...

Being the child of a professional military man can be hard. I have known (well) a number of military dads and their children.

Has anybody seen "The Great Santini"?

I have also helped my wife raise (successfully) seven children. Sometimes the very thing that you tell them that they must do or not do is the thing that they don't do or do do.

Pater Ignotus said...

Desiree - If your child marries a Baptized non-Catholic in a non-Catholic church with the necessary permission, that is, then, a sacramental wedding recognized as such by the Catholic Church.

There is no sin whatsoever in marrying a non-Catholic in a non-Catholic setting.

Desiree said...

Hmmm. That's a new change I'm assuming. There is a problem when you marry outside the Catholic faith. There is confusion and disagreements. It is happening in my family.
Catholicism is the true faith, so why mess around? I'm fairly Traditional.

Catholic Mission said...

The person who marries a non Catholic and lives with him is living in adultery. It is a mortal sin.
Outside the Catholic Church there is no known salvation.
The non Catholic is oriented to Hell unless he enters the Church with 'faith and baptism' (Ad Gentes 7,Vatican Council II)

Desiree said...

Thank you, Catholic Mission!

WSquared said...

Excellent post, Fr. McDonald.

A man and a woman can be absolutely right for each other, and free to marry, and yet be absolutely wrong in the way in which they go about their marriage. The issue isn't that they "shouldn't love each other," but that what they are doing is actually unloving, being contrary to Love, Himself. What the Church wants to give any couple is a good, solid foundation. There is so much that can and will test any and all marriages, and God will not hold back His grace from those who trust in Him.

Maybe my father took seriously that following Jesus sometimes brings division to the family...

Good for your dad. A false peace is no peace at all.

Michael Coren wrote something along these lines and how well his own father handled it. His father was Jewish, while Coren is a convert to Catholicism. Coren married in the Catholic Church. His father said, "sorry, this is wrong, and I can't attend your wedding." It hurt Coren for his dad not to be there, but the latter did give the couple furniture to help them set up their home. So, one can hold firm on not enabling mortal sin, but still help the couple. And when this kind of situation arises, the operative word here isn't "won't," but "can't."

Also, I think we enable them to love, which means never enabling that which is contrary to love. As a hypothetical example, we would not condone a relative shouting at a couple marrying outside the Church and saying that they're going to Hell. But neither would we condone another relative telling them that what they're doing is okay. In a nutshell, we're looking at the extremes of despair and presumption.

My father eventually reconciled with my brother but never apologized for not going to his wedding. He should not have had to do that.

He had nothing to apologize for in terms of his position. If he was more impatient or insensitive than he should've been, then his approach could've used work, but that's all.

I was wrong in going to my brother's wedding not only because it went against my father's wishes, but it went against my Father in heaven wishes too.

Not to be disrespectful at all, but your father's wishes qua his wishes aren't the issue. It's what Our Father in Heaven commands, and what it means to be contrary to the good of all involved-- you, your father, your brother, and beyond. It's not who's right, but what's right-- important for moving beyond "what I want" versus "what Dad/Mom wants."

Also, given your very last paragraph, far more interesting is where any parent will lean either (too) strict or (too) lax and why, because it's all about priorities: a parent, for example, may consider themselves absolutely "liberal" and "cool" when it comes to what the Church teaches, but then be rigid in other highly destructive ways-- like insisting on achievement but not excellence.

I have already been in the position that your father was in, and I'm not yet a parent. What I took from it was this: I can accede to reasonable requests as charity demands and enables, but I am under no moral obligation to accede to unreasonable and sinful ones. I may have to be patient and forgiving with such requests, but I don't have to find them acceptable or right.

Never did I say that I was "shunning" those in mortal sin and that they were "going to Hell." But there were those who thought that I was indeed "shunning" them or being "unloving." Somebody dropped the usual "don't impose your religion on others" cliche, but the imposition in question most certainly wasn't mine: I didn't say, "marry in the Catholic Church, or I won't come to your wedding." Rather, I said that it was good of them to invite me and that I thought they are well matched. But that I can't celebrate mortal sin.

Anonymous said...

Catholic Mission:

I think you're a tad off the mark - there was a well-known Catholic woman who was married to an honest to to goodness pagan, but who turned out alright. Ever hear of St. Monica and her son, St. Augustine?

Also, two of my aunts were married to non-Catholics, in church and by a priest (though there was not a Mass). Both of my uncles eventually converted to Catholicism, so I'd say that worked out well all around.

Oh - and in case you think this was one of those unfortunate consequences of Vatican II, these marriages were in 1938 and 1939, respectively. Hardly the hey-day of hippy dippy Catholicism.

Anonymous 2 said...

Father McDonald and Readers: Please ignore or delete my comments on this thread. They were posted to the wrong thread by accident. It is late and I am tired!! My apologies.

Catholic Mission said...



Anonymous:
I think you're a tad off the mark - there was a well-known Catholic woman who was married to an honest to to goodness pagan, but who turned out alright. Ever hear of St. Monica and her son, St. Augustine?

Lionel:
I hope St.Monica's husband made it to Heaven.

Also, two of my aunts were married to non-Catholics, in church and by a priest (though there was not a Mass).

Lionel:Those non Catholics ( your uncles) were oriented to Hell according to the Catholic Church (AG 7, CCC 846, extra ecclesiam nulla salus etc).
Your aunts were living in adultery.

Both of my uncles eventually converted to Catholicism, so I'd say that worked out well all around.
Lionel: I hope they all went for Confession.

Oh - and in case you think this was one of those unfortunate consequences of Vatican II, these marriages were in 1938 and 1939, respectively. Hardly the hey-day of hippy dippy Catholicism.

Lionel:
Before and after Vatican Council II the Church has not changed its teaching on outside the Church there is no salvation.

Anonymous said...

Catholic Mission / Lionel:

I also hope St. Monica's husband was saved (though I believe he died unconverted so that's up in the air at best). The issue, of course, is St. Monica herself, who the African church (and later the whole Latin church) did not believe to be "living in adultery."

More to the point, here's what the
Catechism of the Catholic Faith
has to say
(note that my aunts' marriages were "mixed marriages;" both of my uncles were baptized Protestants. I excised "disparity of cult" text, but marked the locations by *doc* so you can look it up):

Mixed marriages and disparity of cult

1633 In many countries the situation of a mixed marriage (marriage between a Catholic and a baptized non-Catholic) often arises. It requires particular attention on the part of couples and their pastors. *doc*

1634 Difference of confession between the spouses does not constitute an insurmountable obstacle for marriage, when they succeed in placing in common what they have received from their respective communities, and learn from each other the way in which each lives in fidelity to Christ. But the difficulties of mixed marriages must not be underestimated. They arise from the fact that the separation of Christians has not yet been overcome. the spouses risk experiencing the tragedy of Christian disunity even in the heart of their own home. *doc*

1635 According to the law in force in the Latin Church, a mixed marriage needs for liceity the express permission of ecclesiastical authority.

(permission my aunts had)

So your charges of "adultery" on the part of my aunts (and by extension, St. Monica) are contradicted by the very Catechism you tried to use to buttress your case. For shame.

Catholic Mission said...

Anonymous:
I also hope St. Monica's husband was saved (though I believe he died unconverted so that's up in the air at best). The issue, of course, is St. Monica herself, who the African church (and later the whole Latin church) did not believe to be "living in adultery."

Lionel:
She was a Catholic.If her husband did not convert he is lost to Hell.
I am referring here to the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus supported by Vatican Council II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church (846).

Anonymous:
More to the point, here's what the Catechism of the Catholic Faith has to say (note that my aunts' marriages were "mixed marriages;" both of my uncles were baptized Protestants. I excised "disparity of cult" text, but marked the locations by *doc* so you can look it up):

Lionel:
According to the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus (Council of Florence 1441) Protestants need to convert into the Catholic Church for salvation. They need the spiritual help of the Sacraments and the faith and moral teachings of the Catholic Church to avoid mortal sin and live with Sanctificying Grace.

Anonymous:
Mixed marriages and disparity of cult

1633 In many countries the situation of a mixed marriage (marriage between a Catholic and a baptized non-Catholic) often arises. It requires particular attention on the part of couples and their pastors. *doc*

Lionel:
Often, or always, the couple and the pastors do not affirm the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus.

Anonymous:
1634 Difference of confession between the spouses does not constitute an insurmountable obstacle for marriage,
Lionel:
Not if the non Catholic decides to convert and have the children raised as Catholics.

Anonymous:
when they succeed in placing in common what they have received from their respective communities, and learn from each other the way in which each lives in fidelity to Christ.

Lionel:
They can only be faithful to Christ by converting into the Catholic Church.

Anonymous:
But the difficulties of mixed marriages must not be underestimated. They arise from the fact that the separation of Christians has not yet been overcome. the spouses risk experiencing the tragedy of Christian disunity even in the heart of their own home. *doc*

Lionel:
True. Also there is eternal damnation for both. They are living in adultery and without the Sacrament of marriage.

Anonymous:
1635 According to the law in force in the Latin Church, a mixed marriage needs for liceity the express permission of ecclesiastical authority.

Lionel:
True.
It would be sad if this permission is given for couples to live in adultery as it could be given for couples who have divorced and remarried or those who support sodomy and same sex marriages as in England.

Anonymous:
(permission my aunts had)
So your charges of "adultery" on the part of my aunts (and by extension, St. Monica) are contradicted by the very Catechism you tried to use to buttress your case. For shame.

Lionel:
Outside the Church there is no salvation is a defined dogma approved by three Councils and supported by Vatican Council II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Protestants are outside the Church. They are oriented to Hell unless they convert into the Catholic Church.
This is a de fide teaching.
It cannot be over ruled by any administrartion or disciplinary action in some part of the Church.
If your aunts were living with a Protestant,a Jew or Muslim it would be adultery for them and their husbands.Since their husbands were unbelievers, the marriage in whatever form it was conducted, could not be a Sacrament for them.

Anonymous said...

Mr. McDonald,
No. I have to 100% disagree with this foul, disgusting, ignorant, un-educated post. In your post, you explained that your brother "rebelled against his parental authority and their love," .....for what? Marrying someone he loved? You don't think that the Lord our God brought the two of them together for a reason?

I am happy to hear that your brother and father reconciled. But I will say your brother did not commit any type of mortal sin. It's ridiculous you would even say that and convinces me that you're a complete moron. So very "Christian" of you.

By the way, I know which one is your brother in the photo. You're definitely not the handsome one.

Have a blessed day!