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from fathers desk

Dear friends in Christ,

Weddings are a wonderful time to see covenantal love given and received. Man and woman come together before God, family and friends, to profess a life-long commitment to each other. Marriage is a sacrament, meaning Christ bestows special graces on the married couple in order that they may keep the covenant they profess. For Catholics the ritual form matters. The way couples profess that forever-love is important. Rituals are important. It worries me that more and more couples are choosing to be married outside our Church’s norms, depriving themselves of the graces needed to be faithful to their commitment. Marriages will struggle more when couples choose not to avail themselves of the grace of the Sacrament, and of living a Sacramental life.

We meditate on marriage and its ritual form because it is the enduring institution that speaks most clearly to covenant for modern humanity. During the ritual couples profess a solemn vow: “I, Joseph, take you, Mary, to be my wife. I promise to be true to you, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.” These words show us that the covenant of marriage is not temporary and that it involves an exchange of persons. “I am yours and you are mine.” The grace of the sacrament assists the couple to remain true in hard times and to flourish in good times. But as every couple knows, marriage must be kept and nourished daily, lest it stagnate or ossify.

Today, the Church places us at the heart of the action. Moses is up the mountain and God speaks to him as representative for the people. ““I, the LORD, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. You shall not have other gods besides me….” I have rescued you from the slavery now follow these commandments.

In the journey from Egypt to the Promised Land, our Lord seeks to raise up a nation, to carry out a dramatic maturation process. Slavery hobbles the spirit of humanity. The people need a recipe for freedom. The commandments are guideposts on the path to true human flourishing.

One of the secrets of the commandments is to see them, not as impositions or restrictions, but as the pathway to freedom. Saint John Paul taught that marvelously . He wrote, “The moral life presents itself as the response due to the many gratuitous initiatives taken by God out of love for man.” In other words, as Christians, living a moral life is our covenantal response to God’s merciful love. And JPII went on to explain, “Particularly in the "ten words", the commandments of Sinai, whereby he [God] brought into existence the people of the Covenant (cf. Ex 24) and called them to be his "own possession among all peoples", "a holy nation" (Ex 19:5-6), which would radiate his holiness to all peoples (cf. Wis 18:4; Ez 20:41).” That radiant holiness is the sign of true human flourishing, of humanity shining with the beauty of being created in the image and likeness of our Creator.

For now it is sufficient to remember that the divine law is the path to freedom, while the woundedness of the human heart leads to sin. And the one who commits sin becomes a slave of sin (Jn 8:34). Lent is a beautiful time for seeking to be free from anything that does not attach us to God, affix us to our true good and the path of human flourishing. Let’s make it a great Lent!

Fr. Wilson