William Hess, a renowned American educator and political scientist once explained how, just like any other labor union, teachers’ unions are not primarily concerned with protecting the interests of students (customers) but that of teachers (the membership).  Sad reality!  This is not the way that God thinks when instituting a public association.  Imagine!!  The moment that the clergy organize themselves to take care of the interests of their own membership and not that of the faithful, the moment that we as the Church are doomed.

Two sacraments were instituted by Christ for the good of society:  Holy Orders and Matrimony.  Just like the Holy Orders is provided primarily for the good of the faithful and only secondarily for the good of the priests and bishops; just so, the sacrament of matrimony is provided for the good of the children and only secondarily for the good of the spouses.  In order to understand this logic, we have to consider children’s emotional and spiritual needs.

I will argue that the ideal conditions for child development require a strong and permanent loving relationship between both biological parents.  Gabor Mate is a renowned physician who has studied the effect of trauma on childhood development.  He will argue that even adopted children already have a predisposition to ADD.  These kids, even when adopted as babies already bring some trauma with them.  Already in the womb they were perceiving the anxiety of their mother.  Imagine the stress of the mother who had to decide to give up her baby.  It is not a slight thing…

The healthy development of a child requires a solid commitment of the parents for each other.  This is what the Sacrament of Matrimony entails.  It requires a personal responsibility for the spouse.  The bond created by the sacrament represents the bond between Christ who offered himself for his bride, the Church.  He died for her to make her holy and blameless.  (Ephesians 5,25)   An expert on marriage counseling paraphrased the crude reality of wedding vows in these terms: “I take you as my pain in the rear with all your history and baggage, and I take responsibility for all prior injustices you endured at the hands of those I never knew, because you are now in my care”.  Are we willing to live this vow?  It is this wedding vow that will create a holy bond from which constant grace will emanate.  This is the grace which will in turn support that commitment.

In some of her documents, the Church compares a religious community to a family.  As a consecrated man, I have made vows to live in a community of consecrated men.  We have vowed to support each other as we seek to grow in holiness.  This is not always easy.  The more people start living together, the more they eventually become an emotional unit.  The possibility for frictions increase.  And yet, we realize vibrant communities are essential to our mission.  Our mission flows from our community.  And so, healthy community, strong sense of mission.  Weak community leads to weak sense of mission.  We are fundamentally ordered to the good of the faithful entrusted to us.  By living our common life in charity and love we will have a better impact in the souls entrusted to us.  Likewise, by becoming experts of each other husband and wife will master the craft of love, forgiveness, assertiveness and patience.  These are the qualities of the family that the children need to grow healthy and strong.

Questions for pondering:

1. Would I be willing to pronounce that vow paraphrased by that marriage counselor cited above?

2. Do I think I am already an expert on my partner or can I learn something new?  Do I know how he/she perceives me?  Have I asked?

Fr Lino Otero, LC:  Originally from Nicaragua, my family moved to Miami, Florida when I was a teenager. Soon afterwards I experienced the call to serve God without reservations. Since then, I have had experience in hospital ministry, working as a middle school teacher, leading a parish school, organizing soccer tournaments for kids, starting a radio station, training priests in leadership formation, organizing a parish community from maintenance to mission, and much more. I love spiritual direction and preaching. Years of philosophy, psychology and theological training have enriched my personal life and have shaped my message of hope. For more go to linootero.me