Thursday, April 2, 2009


A friend of mine was married not too long ago. “The worst part of the whole experience,” it was reported, “was all the negative talk leading up to the wedding.” Rarely was an encouraging work given about the institution of marriage. “You’re freedom is almost over!” “You think you’re happy now but just wait until the knot is tied!” “Don’t worry, this one is only practice.” “They look cute in the window but wait till you get them home!”

As some meditation was done it became apparent that disparaging images of marriage is de rigour in our day. (For a society that thinks it is more progressed than any before it, we sure do not know how to live together.) Movies and television are usually filled with broken families, ruined relationships, and damaged people trying to get over the last jerk that dumped them. That, or the family portrayed is very, very messed up. Mothers-in-law have become one of the last remaining subjects of jokes not socially unacceptable to malign. The only people really putting forward a positive spin on marriage (besides the Church) are dating services and tuxedo rental companies. Perhaps it is that the field of breaking up marriages is a larger market. This would be from lawyers to therapists to apartment rentals. There was recently a commercial for a “Sell Us Your Old Gold” company in which a lady proclaimed, “I sent them my wedding ring from my first marriage and received more for it than I ever imagined possible!” “Star A and Star B Are SPLITSVILLE” sells many more rags than, “See, They Are in Love and Still Happy.”

Yes there are some very funny things about marriage – but there is also a lot of good that we should promote to our young and to-be-married. It’s not all a bed of roses – then again – a bed of roses is not all a bed of roses – it’s also bugs and thorns. But if you learn to live with bugs and thorns rose gardens are one of the best things going in this life. You will always have bugs and thorns, but at least with the rose garden you also have roses.

It is not just the priesthood being disparaged. It was not a far stretch to see that right after celibacy was decried as unnatural so would marriage. Nothings seems to be “good” for us (according to “experts”) except following our nether regions around like a divining rod. Yet it is exactly in the challenges of marriage, in the challenges of celibacy that we grow as human being – that we are called to radically break out of ourselves and grow in love. The alternative is to focus inward and become more expert in satisfying ourselves. Who really wants to live in a world of billions of people focused in their own needs? Now that sounds a little like hell.

So if you get the opportunity, put in a good word for marriage. Somebody has to before we talk ourselves out of it altogether.


Anonymous said...

"Nothings seems to be “good” for us (according to “experts”) except following our nether regions around like a divining rod."

How right you are, Father. A recent women's magazine cover advised as follows: "HOW TO LIVE NOW: The Rules--More Sex, More Fitness, More Sleep, No Salt."

And all of this advice is focused on "the self."

Warren said...

You are so right, Anon Y. Mouse.

The head of a religious congregation that oversees Notre Dame university, writing a letter to Obama, about the visit controversy wrote, in a side-bar comment, about how the media has acquired a kind of a culturally implied magisterium.

People listen, when media sources report what "studies show will make you happy". Scientists are bishops and priests, and journalists are deacons, in a kind of new secular pseudo-ecclesial rank and file.

They tell you what will make you happy. Just listen to John Tesh, with his radio show filled with studies-show-this and studies-show-that, he dubs it "intelligence for your life".

Gimme a break, peoples.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for saying this.

I am glad you mentioned therapists too being guilty of causing or at least helping divorces. I once went to our priest and complained that a certain Catholic therapist had counseled three couples that I knew of to file for a divorce. Now, I realize I don't know all the details but I sure wasn't going to her if I had any problems.

Talia said...

I had a lovely wedding with a beautiful groom who still loves me, and a gorgeous, memorable day that was funny and perfect at once. Everything was fairytale perfect (thanks to the lovely planner I got from and while we might not sell tabloids on our story, it's still a happy example. Love doesn't have to be serious or somber to be perfect.