Some people are blind to what is going on around them. They fall in love with some person, get married without too much thought behind it, and then when asked isn't your husband drinking too much, they say, no not all the time. But in reality, he drinks every day to excess. Or, people remark that your wife seems a little bossy, and the husband says, no she is very kind, but each evening World War III ensues in the living room.
When have you last prayed for your spouse? For your mother, and for your mother-in-law? When did you ask Our Lord to forgive that battle you refer to as a 'good marriage?' "Original sin has so disturbed the control that reason should exert over the biological urge, so perhaps it is not too surprising that many young men and women walk blindly into a marriage foredoomed to unhappiness; walk into it in spite of the danger signals that were flying full mast for any intelligent person to see.†"
In general, original sin has blinded us to what sin is, and how much temptation we fall into. Sin is always our cessation of our love for God. We simply cannot love God if we continue to sin. We all need to work on that. Do not use the excuse, everyone is a sinner... if you mean that this excuses you from becoming a saint, you are dead wrong.
See sin as it is. It is evil, it is bad for us, and we need to do something about it. Pray for forgiveness, regularly avail yourself of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, before you receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, not always afterwards! Keep trying to please God. If you keep trying, you will succeed one day!
There is no question that some marriages are bad. Men marry women for all the wrong intentions, sometimes. If these intentions are selfishness, or self-interest, the union will fail. Most of our character was formed when we were very little, and by the time we get married it is already too late. Is that our fault? No, not usually, but when we recognize that some things are wrong, we can perhaps do something about it. One's spouse isn't a target on whom to foist all our wrong ideas. Unfortunately, some marriages seem that way.
On the other hand, many marriages are beautiful unions of men and women who get along admirably because they really love each other, and they also love God. And, there are some people who just do not have a vocation to get married. For example, I never fell seriously in love nor ever had the urge to seek a partner for life. I am happy as I am, single and celibate. There are many plusses to that, in my case, I have the time to spend hours on the computer evangelizing our Faith, and the Franciscan Order, and the household is 2nd place. Yes, it is overdue for vacuuming, but we'll get to that, too. I guess I need a lesson in seeing things as they are - the place is often very messy. See, no one is perfect, but we keep trying to catch up!
Years ago, when I still lived in New York (City), there were the Chinese laundry establishments that did washing, ironing, folding, etc. They were relatively inexpensive, and saved a lot of time. No Chinese laundry where I live now... they were very handy services to a bachelor. I cannot invest in a washer & dryer because where I live there are drain fields (not regular sewers), and thus washers are verboten. So doing a wash is time consuming, I have to trudge it over to a public laundry facility. Somehow it always becomes an emergency... I run out of things. I'm over 70 - I no longer feel like messing around with household chores. It is probably an unreasonable notion as all of us are faced with chores we are fed up with. I need to see things as they are. Chores need to be done. Life goes on.
"The single life does present exceptional problems, and for that reason it can be a dangerous choice for a person who embraces celibacy for selfish reasons. God does not still by a miracle the surging of sexual passion in a man or woman who follows the single vocation, nor does God eliminate in them the parental instinct. What God does do is to give needed extra graces to those of good will, to those who make full use of prayer and the sacraments. With God's grace they are able to control the sexual urge, redirecting and utilizing this elemental force as a powerful drive in the selfless service to which the single person so often is dedicated. This process of rechanneling the procreative power into fields of service other than the family is termed "sublimation" by the psychologists.†" My vocation to the single life began in monastic life, a life-long urge to please God as a religious. Although that was not to be, the lifestyle I live is still very much the same. I find this life abundant in grace and I believe it is what Our Lord's path is for me.
To people who are married, you have chosen a vocation, just as the single person has, and just as one who is a religious sister or brother has. We hope that your vocation is fulfilling and that you can see it as it is - a Gift from God. And if it isn't, then talk to someone, share your difficulties with people who can help, and pray what Our Lord really wants you to do.
People who, as many of you, are Secular Franciscans have the best of both worlds. You are not a religious per se, but the Order (OFS) is a religious order for lay people. You may be single or married, or even a (diocesan) priest, and if you take the Rule of St. Francis seriously, do the best you can, keep close to Jesus and to St. Francis and his ideals, then life can be very fulfilling, single or married. I ask God's blessings on all of you, that you may see things as they are, and that you keep Jesus in the picture. He is part of us. He knew us before we were born, and had a plan for us, for our souls. We are living this plan now (I hope), and hope to be with Him in paradise forever. Amen.
Peace and all Good!
Fred Schaeffer, OFS
November 11, 2010
† "More than many Sparrows" by Fr. Leo J. Trese, 1958 Fides Publishers.