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Following God's plan for marriage

August 1, 2012

Bishop LaValley’s homily at the Theology of Body Roundtable at Guggenheim Lodge July 20, 2012

There is a whole host of sociological, economic and personal reasons for the fracture of marriage and the family unit today. You know the troubling facts.  We need to bring Church and lived faith back to our marriages and to our families. But, is it too late?  Never! 

My sisters and brothers, we must whet our appetites for doing the will of God in a world that continues to try to distance itself from the Divine, or at least ignore, restrict, or usurp HIS reign.   In today’s consumer based society bent on immediate gratification, too often we suffer from an insatiable appetite to get what I want, as much as I want, on my terms, when I want it. Self-discipline, delayed gratification, sacrifice, and unconditional love seem like foreign words to our vocabulary and mode of operating.

That talented crooner, Frank Sinatra captured the spirit well:  “I did it my way.”  You know well the persuasive commercials and alluring ads with their seductively attractive and manipulating power over our decision-making.  “Have it your way.”  “Just do it.”  “You deserve a break today.” 

Beginning on Sunday, National NFP Awareness Week (July 22-28) provides us with the opportunity to celebrate and reverence God’s vision of human sexuality.  “Faithfully yours,” this year’s theme, highlights the beauty of how wives and husbands are called to live out their total dedication to and for one another. 

The practice of NFP leaves God’s sovereignty over marital life intact.  The married couple cooperates with God in planning to have or not have children, rather than leaving God out of the picture by using artificial barriers in their becoming one flesh.  NFP is about fidelity to God and making Him the center rather than making our plans for this world the center of married life. 

When we find ourselves doubting or struggling with a teaching of the Church, we should consider if the struggle exists because 1) I don’t fully understand it; 2) or perhaps because outside pressure, stress, or even ridicule from others sours me toward it; 3) or perhaps because it affects my personal pursuit of worldly goods; 4) or because my pride convinces me that the Church has got this wrong.  Struggle can be good and healthy, so can obedience to a higher Power.

As a Church, we must be willing to address all of these struggles:  We need to be more creative in educating the faithful about God’s plan for the human body and for marriage.  We must support one another in tangible ways so that outside forces do not hold sway over our faith response.

Our Church has been somewhat deficient through the years in providing fellowship, occasions where we can regularly share our faith and support one another in our struggles. The excesses of consumerism must be confronted for what it is:  selfish materialism.  Our desire to give or sacrifice sometimes pales in comparison to our insatiable appetite to receive.  It is only by taking the time to reflect on Scripture and on the life of Christ, by praying regularly and celebrating Eucharist, will I gain the humility to allow God to be God and not me.
As Catholics, we owe it to ourselves to understand Church teachings.  To help you in your faith journey, I encourage you to learn more about what the Church teaches about marital love by visiting our Natural Family Planning office at our diocesan webpage.  We are so fortunate to have Angelo and Suzanne Pietropaoli as directors as well as all those who help with its instruction in our marriage preparation classes.

Our faith tells us that a heart open to each other and to the Lord God is where our real happiness lies.   We pray for such generous hearts.  After all, we all want to be happy.

photos by Colleen Miner
The diocesan Family Life Office, along with the Natural Family Planning, Respect Life and Pre-Cana offices, sponsored a family enrichment weekend July 20-21 at the Guggenheim Lodge in Saranac Lake. John and Kathy Colligan from the Family Life Office of the Diocese of Syracuse were the featured presenters. A Theology of the Body roundtable was held July 20 and a program for those working in marriage preparation in parishes of the diocese was held July 21. Shown above, left, Bishop Terry R. LaValley celebrates Mass to conclude Friday’s program with Father Kris C. Lauzon, pastor in AuSable Forks and Black Brook, concelebrating.  At right, from left are Henry and Dayna Leader of Gouverneur, directors of the diocesan Pre-Cana program, Kathy and John Colligan and Suzanne and Angelo Pietropaoli of Malone, diocesan NFP directors.

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