Bulletin (February 8, 2004)

All of us have been asked unfair questions. The question is slanted in such a way that no matter how you answer, you are in trouble. The classic example is: Have you stopped beating your wife? If you say “yes,” you are admitting that you are a slime ball. But if you say “no,” well, it’s time to call the police.

The CNN website had a similar unfair question: Do you support the legalization of same sex marriages? No matter which way you answer, you have given away the shop. “Yes,” means that you favor the recent Massachusetts court ruling that “only full, equal marriage rights for homosexual couples are constitutional.” But if you answer “no,” you have admitted that there is such a thing as “homosexual marriage.” That, of course, is something no Christian can agree to.

When the Pharisees asked Jesus if a man could divorce his wife, he gave a very clear teaching: “From the beginning God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Mark 10:6, cf. Gen. 2:24)

This is such a crucial teaching that I will put more about it in next week’s bulletin, but I want to make the following clarification: From earliest centuries, Christian teachers have recognized marriage as given to the human race when God created us male and female. Because of that, the Catholic Church presumes the validity of the marriage, whether between two Catholics, a Catholic and Protestant, two Protestants or even an unbaptized man and woman.

There is sometimes a misunderstanding here. The fact that we have some special requirements for those who are Catholic (that they be married in the presence of a validly designated minister) is sometimes taken to mean that we do not recognize the validity of marriage outside the Catholic Church. That is not the case. If two Protestants get married before their minister, the Church presumes the validity of that marriage. If two non-Catholics get married before a justice of the peace, we likewise presume the validity of such a marriage. Marriage belongs not just to Catholics and not just to Christians, but, by the fact that God created us male and female, marriage belongs to all human beings.

Speaking of marriage, I ask you to pray for the engaged couples who are in our current marriage preparation program. We have three couples in the Sunday afternoon classes and five in the Tuesday evening (Spanish) classes. Last year we had fifty-eight marriages here at Holy Family Parish. This includes those who had been civilly married who desired to have their marriage blessed in the Catholic Church. Although fifty-eight marriages in a year is something of a record for us, still, I know that there are many couples who should be coming forward for the sacrament. Do not be afraid. If you are a Catholic, you have the right to be married in the Church (assuming, of course, there is no impediment such as a previous valid marriage).

We currently have over fifty young people preparing for another beautiful sacrament – Confirmation. As part of their preparation, we are asking them to experience another sacrament, for example, to accompany a priest, deacon, or extraordinary minister of the Eucharist in bringing Communion to the sick. We have a very enthusiastic group of young people who are looking forward to receiving Confirmation on April 28.

In the RCIA class, one of the candidates asked what a person could do to experience perfect contrition for his sins. It was a very good question. My response is to contemplate the cross. We will have a unique opportunity this year. On Ash Wednesday (February 25), Mel Gibson will release his much awaited film The Passion of the Christ. I am hoping to see it together with the RCIA candidates.

Lent will be special here at Holy Family. On March 5-6, Fr. Corapi will give a Lenten retreat. It begins on Friday evening and continues all day Saturday until the 5 p.m. Mass. Please make every effort to attend this life-changing event. Also, on April 3, local lay evangelist Mark Shea will give an all day conference addressing the question, “Why Be a Catholic?” Mark himself is a two-stage convert to Catholicism. Raised with no religion, he became an evangelical Christian during his studies at the University of Washington and then, about fifteen years later, joined the Catholic Church.

As someone who believes that we should work for physical as well as spiritual fitness, I have an event of my own planned for Lent. On March 13, Samwise and I will be walking to St. James Cathedral. I know Samwise is in shape, but I will have to do some work to get ready for the seven mile walk. I welcome anyone who wishes to join me. I will be leaving at 7 a.m. on that Saturday morning.

This coming week, from Monday through Friday, I will be at the Brigittine Monastery in Oregon for my annual retreat. I am looking forward to the quiet time for prayer – and for some long walks. Also, I look forward to seeing Brother Simon (formerly Roger Thibodeau). During the week, the parish will be in the competent hands of Fr. Ramon Velasco.

A veces, cuando ciertas personas hacen preguntas, meten una trampa. Por ejemplo, una encuesta preguntó al público: ¿Apoya Ud la legalización de matrimonios del mismo sexo? Si uno dice “Sí” está a favor de la decisión judicial de Massachussets que “solamente matrimonio pleno e igual de parejas homosexuales es constitucional.” Pero aun si uno responde “no,” está admitiendo que hay tal cosa como “matrimonio homosexual.” Obviamente ningun cristiano puede estar de acuerdo con tal concepto.

Cuando los fariseos le preguntaron a Jesus si un hombre pudiera divorciar a su esposa, dio una enseñanza clara, “Desde el principio Dios los hizo hombre y mujer. Por eso, un hombre dejará a su padre y a su madre para unirse con su mujer y los dos formarán una sola carne. Lo que Dios une, que ningun hombre separe.” (Marcos 10:6, Gen 2:24)

Hablando de matrimonio, pido sus oraciones por los novios que están preparándose para recibir el sacramento. Hay cinco parejas en la clase de español y tres en el de inglés. El año pasado hubo 58 matrimonios celebrados aquí en Holy Family. Algunos eran convalidaciones o sea bendiciones de matrimonios civiles. Hay otras parejas que deben acercarse para recibir el sacramento. Como dice Jesús, “No tengan miedo.”

Hay más de cincuenta jóvenes preparándose para otro sacramento – confirmación. Como parte de su preparación les estamos invitar experimentar otro sacramento, por ejemplo acompañar a un sacerdote, diácono o ministro extraordinario de Eucaristía en llevar Comunión a un enfermo. Tenemos un grupo entusiasmado de jóvenes preparando para recibir la Confirmación el 28 de abril.

Para las personas que quieren mejor no solamente su estado espiritual, sino físico, tengo planeado otra caminada a la Catedral. El 13 de marzo Samwise y yo lo haremos. Sé que mi perrito está en buenas condiciones para caminar siete millas, pero yo tendré que trabajar un poco para poder hacerlo. Si alguien quiere ir con nosotros, vamos a salir a las 7 a.m. aquel sábado.

La próxima semana, desde lunes hasta viernes, estaré en el monasterio de Oregon para ejercicios espirituales. Será un tiempo para oración y unas caminatas largas. Durante la semana la parroquia estará en las manos competentes del Padre Ramón.