In the last lesson we treated imperfections and how we need to be aware of the beam in our own eye before removing the speck in the other's. Today we want to impress how important it is for spouses to accept each other for the persons God made them. In other words, don't try to change them to your ways or the way you want them to act or look. Each person is unique. Each person has a God-given role He expects us to carry-out and to emulate. In this lesson we redefine the God-given roles of husband and wife for they have been greatly twisted and torn by society today.
If you have a sacred marriage then you know God chose your spouse from all time to share with you as your "Adam" or "Eve." Why let the serpent try to tell you otherwise? A wise, jolly priest Father Stephen Barham said so often about the Bible, "I cheated, I read the ending. We win!"
Indeed those who are obedient to God's will, all outlined in Sacred Scripture and enabled through His Holy Church, do win; yet for some reason, we refuse to believe it by our actions, by our allowance of satan's presence with little or no resistance.
When we permit satan to run amok in our marriage, then you can be assured the foundation is going to crumble if not reinforced with the solid rock of Church teaching and striving to fulfill God's Holy Will. That Will is to bear children together and raise them to love, honor, serve and obey God and their parents. It's Baltimore Catechism basics. Note we said bear children together. One of the problems in society today is the burden placed on women. Think about it, God created the woman as the only beautiful creature of all female species. In all the animal kingdom the beauty went to the male, but in the human species the opposite is true. Yet, at the same time God gave woman the frailty and sensitivity of the flower so she could better nourish the child and her husband, as well, with tender love. Saint Thomas Aquinas defines love as "willing the greatest good to the other." This takes total unselfishness, total giving. Contrary to public opinion, marriage is not a 50-50 proposition for that connotates giving only half of ourselves. It is a 100-100 proposition that entails giving ourselves entirely to each other body, heart, mind and soul. But this is impossible if we subscribe to the roles society has assigned in these modern times.
The great orator of the 20th Century Bishop Fulton J. Sheen said it best, "Our world is slow to learn that those who turn out the lights of Heaven, by that very act turn out the lights of earth." The modernists' creed where temporal has taken priority, has suffocated this world just as Bishop Sheen predicted. In that liberal mantra, man has become the victim of circumstances where God has been diminished and roles reversed. Consider how women have been exploited today and men as well. Yet the resistance is very weak. Why?
That is the million dollar question for the price exacted has been heavy. Some of the best reasons can be gleaned by reading the excellent treatise by Joe Varacalli, "Bright Promise, Failed Community - Catholics and the American Public Order." He shows how the Church in America failed to signal the warning when the freight train of secularism and exploitation began rustling down the tracks. He points out how a stronger discipline of its members could have derailed the locomotive of covetousness, lies, larceny, and lust. But how do you police your own when corruption has already seaped into the higher ranks of the episcopacy? He illustrates how the Church, in times of great adversity against her people and the downtrodden, the Church stood as the beacon of hope for justice and peace. Yet, today in America it is more aligned with the verbal engineered "peace and justice" which has become a slogan, a cover-up moniker if you will, of "compromise principles for the sake of political correctness."
Role Reversal Risks
It is in this concession and failure to be the vanguard that the Church and America, if not the rest of the world in domino effect, has allowed modernism, paganism and feminism to take over. The noble role of woman as the heart of the family has been greatly challenged by the women's liberation movement. The latter does not seek to ennoble women and their God-given roles, but empower women, and ultimately imprison them, with a role that was never intended by the Almighty. With this topsy-turvy revolution, nature has been thrown off kilter. The masculation of woman has led to the feminization of man, thus the barrell of homosexuality has spilled out over the globe, from the rotten apple of disobedience to the natural behavior God demands from His creatures the orchard is now gravely tainted, rotten to the core in many instances.
Woman has been deflowered by the very thing that made her such a beautiful flower - her femininity. Man has been stripped of his masculinity by intimidation and his failure to protect the flower. In the process, he has falsely taken on the characteristics of the flower that are not in accord with God's laws, nor the natural law. For the very same reason Sodom and Gomorrah fell, mankind is headed in the same direction. For those who don't learn from history, they are doomed to repeat it whether they know it or not. In today's instant medium of high tech communications, there are few who do not know that and yet so few who are willing to heed the lessons of history. Why is that so few realize that God is both Loving and Merciful. Too many refuse to acknowledge this, thinking that God is just all loving and therefore will forgive anything. In persisting with this heresy, they perpetuate the idea that they won't be punished for their wrongdoing. This fallacy has permeated society as well as many Catholics who have given life to "cafeteria Catholicism" which means they can pick and choose what laws and teachings they want to follow and reject the rest. This is what spawned Protestantism and today the anti-authority attitude is even worse than the times of the Reformation.
All this contributes to the confusion of the natural roles of man and woman, husband and wife. Today the stay at home mom, the mother who nourishes her young with love and time with them, is looked upon as the exception and even somewhat of an oddity, a person of weakness; whereas the woman who has been emasculated, who competes in a man's world, is looked upon as a liberated lady who has all the rights of manhood handed to her. The problem is, the way God made her, she cannot handle such pressures without paying a severe price of dignity and her petal power; that is the budding properties of her physiological makeup that makes her a woman. On the other side, the man who permits his wife to be the heart of the family, who shares the duties of parenthood with her, who is loyal to her in keeping his marriage vows, is looked upon as weak and somewhat of a dinosaur in this liberated, anything-goes society where vice is rewarded and virtue is diminished. The man, who, in truth, is weak is the one who cowtows to societal norms and, though he may not like it, conforms to what the world wants sacrificing his own principles and values. That man is not only weak but to be pitied, for he truly has no backbone. The family unit has been rent asunder and as this destruction continues its authors of this destruction pontificate about how important family is, as they promote the killing of millions of unborn babies, they preach that it's all about the children. Like satan, they're clever and crafty, couching half-truths with outright lies, piling one sin on top of another all camouflaged in political correctness. This undermining and twisting of values lessons ideals, but that's their modus operandi for they do not want to embarass themselves. It is the whole misery-loves-company syndrome. We saw how this played out during the scurrilous and scandalous events of the last eight years with the Clinton administration. Rather than being exposed as something wrong and sinful, it has been elevated to the status of "hey, as long as the economy's good, who cares what he does" attitude that has done far more damage to the children of today thanks to the media's pontification of the liberal left being blameless, and decent citizens not willing to stand up and say the "emperor has no clothes."
Because of this saturation in society, in government, in the media and yes, sadly, in our Church, we need to take back control of the family. While we can hope government and the bishops might effect change to stop the culture of death from totally engulfing mankind in its deadly vortex, we have to be realistic. The only way to restore the Sanctity of Life on solid footing is to begin small, one family at a time. It will take generations to right the wrongs, to put civilization back on the right track. But we can't afford not to for the price is too high, the cost of our eternal soul.
So how then do we do this through one family at a time? By going against the grain and taking back control. It begins with a rededication to our own marriage vows, to truly understand what we pledged before God. It takes a total reawakening of our love for our spouse to realize how important unity is. But this can't be done without God. Therefore, it takes a conversion of heart that only He can give. But He does this so generously that it will come if one only asks. "Ask and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you" (Matthew 7: 7). By asking know that God will empower you as parents to reestablish the important values that are not being taught in the schools, by taking the time to turn off the TV's and turning your attention to what is important, each other and your children. Whether your kids are 2 or 20, there is still time and nothing is impossible with God. That's why marriages work, because God is there. Without Him? Don't even try.
He established the roles when He created man and woman and though they have been refined, they were never meant to be altered. It was because of the first parents' disobedience that the stain of Original Sin raised its ugly head and no one - outside of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was deigned by God to be the perfect earthly tabernacle for the Son of God - would be conceived without Original Sin on our soul. In Genesis 2: 16, God shows how Eve chose, through her own fault, the role that woman was destined to endure through all generations - the pain of child labor, "I will make great your distress in childbearing; in pain shall you bring forth children; for your husband shall be your longing, though he have dominion over you." While this may seem harsh, God you can't blame it just on Eve, Adam had an equal part of guilt and for this man's role was equally defined in Genesis 2: 17-19 "Because you have listened to your wife, and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat: Cursed be the ground because of you; in toil shall you eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to you, and you shall eat the plants of the field. In the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, since out of it you were taken; for dust you are and unto dust you shall return."
Yet today we have tried to change the course of history. Too many are looking for paradise on earth and bypass the method God set in place. Christ, Himself reaffirmed that there is no easy way on earth, no easy way to Heaven when He asserted many times (Matthew 16: 24; Mark 8: 34-35; 10: 21, 38-39; Luke 9: 23-24; and 14: 27) most specifically in Matthew 10: 38-39, "And he who does not take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it." Those are powerful words - "is not worthy of Me." As we have seen throughout Sacred Scripture, Jesus didn't mince words, He didn't compromise or rationalize. In Luke 9: 23, Our Lord makes it even clearer when He says "...take up his cross daily, and follow Me." This doesn't mean once in a while, this doesn't mean pick and choose what we want to believe, but always - daily, and everything that He conveys through His Word and the Holy Church He established on earth. However, even His Church is not immune from this culture that demeans woman and weakens man. Pope Paul VI saw it, warned all when he said, "the smoke of satan has even entered the sanctuary."
Yet when couples weather the storms of life together, giving to each other fully of themselves, leaving themselves totally vulnerable to each other by sharing everything, then love begets love. This love is able then to overcome the wickedness and snares of the devil. Satan hates this, he shrivels in defiance. Children are welcomed into the family not as just an extension of their love, but as an integral part of their love. Great care must be taken to assure that they are nurtured in this love and that they understand the parameters and consequences if they, in some way, disrupt that love through their own selfishness or jealousies. Again, satan loves to put that wedge between couples through the children. The important thing to remember is that if the couple is one, how can the evil one or anyone else drive a wedge between one? It can't be done.
NEXT WEEK: Lesson Seven: The Dignity of Motherhood