Posted by: fvbcdm | March 10, 2014

Feast of Saint John Ogilvie (10 March 2014)

We are now in the holy season of Lent in this year which has been proclaimed by our Holy Father as the Year of the Eucharist. It is certainly appropriate that the Pope designate this year as the Year of the Eucharist, because of the tragic deemphasis of the Holy Eucharist in the Christian world. And as the Eucharist is deemphasized, so is Our Lord Jesus Christ himself, since the Eucharist is the principal means by which we make contact with Him in our holy religion.

Let me give you one single by very significant example of what I mean. Not long ago, a young mother called me to make arrangements for the baptism of her third child. I began to fill out the usual questionnaire concerning baptism, and discovered that she and the baby’s father are not married, but have been living together for about 5 years. When I asked why they aren’t married, she explained that they really would like to get married, but it is easier to buy a house when you’re single than when you’re married, and right now, they can’t afford the house that they need. I don’t know anything about buying houses and whether she is correct in what she tells me. But this I do know: many young people, victims of the terrible religious education that has been given in many schools in the past 45 years or so, see the Eucharist only in legal terms. They know that if they are living together without being married, they should not receive the Eucharist. Why? Well, because it’s a Church regulation. Sort of like not being able to vote if you aren’t a citizen, or not being able to drive if your driver’s license has expired.

And the truth of the matter is that it really isn’t like those examples at all. The great mistaken notion here is that the concept of love is being totally left out of the picture. Our Blessed Lord gave and gives us Himself in the Holy Eucharist because He loves us, and wants us to love Him in return. And one very essential element if love is the desire for union. If two people love each other, they want to be together. And if they can’t be together physically, they telephone to one another, or write letters, or somehow communicate across the distance that separates them. Those who don’t communicate don’t really love each other. That is why prayer is so important in our relationship with God. To receive Holy Communion, that is, Jesus in the Eucharist, is the most powerful means we have to communicate with Our Lord. He willed it so; He established it so. He tells us, if you love Me, keep My commandments. And His commandments forbid adultery and fornication, which means sex between two unmarried people. For a couple to live together without being married is fornication; it is gravely sinful. It is an offense against God and His Divine Son, Jesus. And the Church rightly says that if people want to live in that sinful situation, they may not receive Holy Communion, because they are offending Christ by their lifestyle, and would be receiving Him unworthily and sacrilegiously if they received Holy Communion in that condition.

The cohabiting couple do not love God enough to keep His commandments. To live in serious sin is to turn one’s back upon God and to live outside His grace. It’s not just a dry, impersonal legal matter like not voting if you aren’t a citizen. It’s all about love: the love that God has for us, and asks us to reciprocate with Him. The law can require that a husband support his wife and children. But it can’t require that he love them. Love cannot be legislated; it must be freely and wholeheartedly given. When a couple decide to live together without being married, they choose one another over God. They violate the first commandment of our Christian religion: Love the Lord your God with your whole mind, soul, heart, and strength. And of course, they violate the law of chastity by committing fornication. And in the case of the couple of whom I speak, they do their children the immense injustice of bringing them into a non-family – the illicit union of a father and mother who are not married, not committed to one another, not legally joined in wedlock, not doing God’s will, and certainly not suited to raise children in the kingdom of God. It is only when we bring love into the picture—love of God and love for one another—does the reality of human love, sexuality, and child-bearing begin to make any sense and the value of Christian morality appears logical and life-giving. Thank you for seeking God’s truth.  God bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  This message was composed some years ago.

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