Wow, that’s hard!
Jesus just talked about divorce and remarriage
tougher than any bishop or priest wants to do.
This is why the Church cannot recognize
a second marriage, after a divorce,
unless it’s determined the first marriage
was not valid as a sacrament.
When folks in a second marriage
can’t receive the Eucharist, this is why.
Is this hard? Yes—it’s hard.
Last Sunday, Sister Joan Clare and I
met with the youth group, talking about vocations
to the religious life and the priesthood.
The question of celibacy—
remaining single for the sake of the Kingdom—came up.
"Is it hard?" someone asked;
don’t you miss not having a family?
My answer was, sure it’s hard.
And yes, I would have liked to have had my own children.
I told them, what I want is all the good parts
of being married and having a family—
but none of the hard parts.
That’s what we all want!
So, whether its marriage and family, or celibacy,
we can either say, "it’s too hard—I can’t do it"…
Or, we embrace the challenge—the Cross—and say,
"I don’t know why this is my path, but it is;
I don’t know why it’s so hard.
But—if I walk it with Jesus Christ,
it will lead to my salvation."
What we learn is that, in the end,
the hard parts are the good parts!
Now, may I just point, here, how all this
amplifies the old-fashioned wisdom
of postponing various levels of intimacy,
until we’re "old enough"?
Parents, I know how you have to struggle
against the tide of our culture.
It’s hard to be "Dr. No" day after day after day.
I realize you have to choose your battles.
But it is necessary that you do fight these battles,
and draw the line.
You say No to things for reasons
your children may not understand—but you do.
Even on questions of clothing and modesty,
as well as dating and relationships.
This is where just waiting makes so much sense:
Waiting just to begin dating,
waiting further, for exclusive dating—
and, of course, waiting till marriage
for sexual intimacy.
Boy, is that old-fashioned!
But it makes sense:
As I said,
we want all the fun parts, but none of the hard parts.
So, if we front-load the fun stuff—
the romance and the physical stuff—
when will we deal with the hard parts of intimacy?
What often happens is they show up, years later,
like unpaid bills. After marriage, after children.
And if we didn’t gain the maturity and depth
of painful self-denial when we were dating,
we’ll face it, even more painfully, later on.
And this is why, I think, the Church’s teaching
on openness to the gift of life, to children, seems hard.
Because it makes no sense
if we think self-denial makes no sense.
Natural Family Planning is only "too hard"
if we find several days a month
of abstinence, "too hard."
But please note this:
in addition to Natural Family Planning
being totally consistent with Church teaching,
being safe, healthy, natural, and effective…
Couples that embrace Natural Family Planning
get divorced far less often.
Why? I’m not sure.
It could be that frankly embracing self-denial
at the powerful core of our being,
where the drive for gratification seems so strong,
radiates out into the rest of our lives,
and helps us die to self in all the other ways.
Yes, it’s hard. But it’s good.
For those of us given the gift of children—
and not all are—nothing is more gratifying.
If we don’t, or can’t, have children,
or we’re beyond the age to have children,
it’s still true that what makes life meaningful
is not what we get for ourselves,
our financial security, our careers,
but how much we give ourselves away.
It’s hard—but it’s good.
The first reading from Genesis,
and the second, from Hebrews, make clear
that God believes we can do it!
God created us, not to be mere wild animals,
but something higher.
When God became a human being,
he became "lower than the angels"—but in doing so,
he lifted us up higher than the angels!
Did you know that?
You and I are higher than the angels,
because we call God—Jesus—our brother!
God became man to walk the path of the Cross.
He knew we already faced it;
he came to make it a path of salvation for us.
The Cross is not easy! Nothing is harder.
But it is the path of salvation—
it is the way that leads to true Life.
Yes, it’s hard—but it’s good.