Monday, May 19, 2014

The call to love

I missed this May 9 tweet on Pope Francis' Twitter account:

I love this tweet for three reasons:

1. It shows our Holy Father's gentle sense of humor.

2. It shows that our Holy Father recognizes something that some priests and bishops honestly don't seem to: that married life, with all its consolations, isn't somehow "the easy road" as compared to priesthood or religious life.  To be fair, I've known lay married people who think that priesthood or religious life is "the easy road" because it doesn't involve toddlers and 2 a.m. feedings or the sheer amount of recreational vomiting children seem to be capable of, and that's not the right way of looking at those vocations either.  The truth is that the path to sanctity--to holiness--is a sacrificial path no matter what one's vocation, as His Holiness points out.

3. It contains in a nutshell the Church's teaching that marriage involves a total gift of self to other.  One reason the Church will never accept gay marriage or adulterous marriage or any other perversion of marriage is because you can't be giving yourself as a free and total and sacrificial gift to someone while at the same time actively participating in gravely sinful conduct with that person that could well lead to that person's eternal damnation.  The definition of love, like the definition of marriage, presumes that you want only the best for the person you love--and eternal damnation isn't something anyone wants for his or her beloved.  Is this hard?  Yes, whether you are gay, whether you are a heterosexual adulterer, whether you really want to live with someone you can't marry in the Church, because love IS hard. Love IS sacrifice.  But it is also joy, which is something that gravely sinful conduct never, ever is.

Marriage, like every Christian vocation, calls us to empty ourselves of our selfish and sinful desires, to take up our Cross, and to follow Christ.  There are tremendous joys in marriage as there are in priesthood or religious life or even the call to remain single for the sake of the Kingdom.  This is contrary to what the world preaches, the empty false gospel of instant gratification and total selfishness. But the call to love and the call to sacrifice are always the same call.

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