Consecrated to the Heart of the Redeemer under the patronage of the Theotokos and Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.

19 April 2013

Covenant or Convenience?

Same-sex marriage has gained vehement support in recent months.  Respect for the actual Sacrament has been diminishing for decades among the general population.  Some would argue the correlation of these two realities, while others would contend that there is no necessary connection.  In either case, Church and society alike have taken marriage for granted for too long, and it shows.

All of this has prompted a renewed reverence for the divine intention for human love.  The term covenant is an apt description for sacramental marriage.  It comes from the Latin convenire, "to come together."  This term has been preferred to contract, which ecclesiastical authors had been using from the days of Pius XI with his landmark encyclical Casti Connubii (1930).  In one form or another, the word contract appeared 22 times in translation.  It derives from contrahere, "to draw together," suggesting a sense of involuntariness foreign to contemporary practices and sensibilities.  The days of arranged marriage are past us, for the most part.  We don't "contract" marriage, we "contract" disease!

Social networks have been playing a major role in promoting ideas and causes in ways that catch the eye and get people thinking.   I offer this chart for your reflection.

Source: Facebook community "God is the author of marriage"  
While the word convenient also derives from convenire, let's not bicker and argue: we typically employ convenient in situations of practicality and ease, while covenant, its comelier cousin, is associated with deliberation (a staple in situations where practicality might suggest an easier, softer way).

Most of these categories are cut-and-dried, admitting of little wiggle room.  Individual spouses and marriages may tend to think and/or behave predominantly in one or another direction.  Thank God for opportunities to awaken to the need for change, which can occur before the breaking point.

God, the Author of marriage, is also the Author of Holy Orders, whereby men are privileged to participate in the Church's evangelical, sacramental, and pastoral ministry as "other Christs."  This, too, is a share in covenant love, in many respects; above all, because "God is faithful" (1 Cor 1:9).  The Church needs priests who are secure in their relationship with the Lord, and readily available for their people's spiritual needs.

We are at the threshold of "Good Shepherd Sunday," dedicated to prayer for vocations after the Chief Shepherd's own Heart.  May God bless all married couples, priests, and consecrated religious who strive to exemplify His covenant-love in their respective vocations.

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