Difficult Marriage in a Modern Age.
As we begin the Synod on the Family, my thoughts are largely focused in that direction. We must pray for the work of the Synod, and to that end, I implore all Catholics serious about the faith to subscribe to the Voice of the Family website. They are soon to begin distributing news and information which you will find invaluable. Simply add you email address in the box provided on their website here.
Meanwhile, Thomas Joseph White, O.P., the director of the Thomistic Institute at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C, has written this excellent article published on First Things. In it, he explains how the Sacrament of marriage is grounded in the twin principles of nature and grace. He looks at the issues to be discussed at the Synod and Pope Benedict XVI's idea that many Catholic marriages may be invalid through lack of faith, suggesting that "a radically “anti-modern” theology that claims that “only intentional Christians can truly get married integrally” is some respect essentially post-modern, and even sociologically conformist". In an examination of the pericope of the application of both ideas in a theological context, he concludes:
One may rightly be concerned that what might really get lost in all this is the true care of persons, through the care of the honesty of each person in his or her pilgrimage toward the God of mercy. Human fragility is real and deserves great pastoral compassion and solicitude. But human healing also only takes place through an encounter with the truth about one’s self before God. To wish for less for the laity of the Catholic Church is to wish them something less than they deserve, and that they need, if they are to find peace with Christ.
...However, the solutions to the problems of modern human culture are not one-sided. Not everything is grace, and not everything is nature. Not everything is about truth, but love without truth is vacant. What is needed for genuine evangelization in every generation is not only solutions of divine grace or right teaching regarding human nature, but also solutions of pastoral compassion, apostolic zeal, and tender-hearted charity. Pope Francis has spoken powerfully about the “field hospital” of modern society, so deeply in need of new pastoral initiatives. This is especially the case with regard to the family.
There is no question that those who suffer the pain of divorce typically consider it the most serious failure of their life. The human anguish and pastoral difficulties of those who suffer the pain of divorce should be addressed in expeditious and humane ways. It is another matter to re-elaborate the very nature of marriage in its natural dimension, or reconceive radically the character of the marital union in its relationship to grace. For here we come up against the primal principles that come not from us, but from God and from Christ. They are beautiful principles, teaching us the truth and giving us hope. Christ himself has descended into the very fabric of human marriage. This too is a truth that saves us, and it is one we should joyfully be committed to, a truth both in nature and in grace.Please do read the full article here.