Daily Reflection

From a Creighton Student's Perspective

December 18, 2010

Justin McCarthy

Junior, Medical Anthropology Major

Jer 23:5-8
Ps 72:1-2, 12-13, 18-19
Mt 1:18-25

There are two key elements that stand out in today’s Gospel to me, chastity and Joseph’s preservation of Mary’s honor and dignity. Contrary to what many believe, C.S. Lewis argues the center of Christian morality doesn’t lie in sexual morality. While the sins of the flesh are bad they are the least bad of all sins. The worst pleasures are spiritual: pride, putting others in the wrong, patronizing and hating, to list a few. How often are divorced couples guilty of conceit, blaspheme, and self-actualization?  While Mary’s chaste conception of Jesus is miraculous, to me it pales in comparison to Joseph’s act of devotion. While all things are possible with God, Joseph is merely man. Too seldom do the American marital take such care with their spouse.

We live in a day where fifty percent of American marriages end in divorce and, while unfaithfulness carries its representation amongst that statistic, many still result from simply falling out of love. In my group of three best friends from high school, two have witnessed their parents' divorce. While one of them continued his life as he would have otherwise, still attending college and continuing his career aspirations, his view of marriage is tattered and has carried over into his dating life. The other had his foundation ripped out from under him. He fell away from his faith entirely and began using marijuana to escape from his painful reality. This quickly gave way to abuse of harder substances and sexual relations; one partner was a married, middle-aged woman. He struggles to make rent and has considered pornography as a viable option for income. His younger siblings have been affected similarly, and one has filed a restraining order against her father. Hearing my friend talk about his mother is perhaps the greatest indicator of this stark transformation. Words that used to be filled with admiration and love have since given way to sarcasm and contempt. While he is making amends and turning things back around, the past couple years have irrevocably scarred him.

During an intervention, one of the things that stood out most vibrantly was the placement of blame. Not surprisingly he blamed his parents, not for the divorce but for the venomous slandering they did of one another. Marriage is the fusing of two souls; not merely a transaction or pact (Gen 2:24). While marital annulment is possible within the Catholic Church, it is reserved for dire circumstances, when such a severing of one body is scrutinized as favorable to the toxicity of such a marriage. I’m not of the opinion that women (or men, for that matter) in an abusive marriage should not leave the other, but this is a marginal cause to the ramped divorce rate in America. Christianity teaches that marriage is for life. Love, an emotion, cannot exist for life as it was initially awakened. It seems that too few appreciate the gravity of this Sacrament’s promises.

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