Father James Farfaglia: Marriage Is Forever!

Even In Our Hedonistic Culture Which Continually Attacks The Foundations Of Traditional Marriage!

Father James Farfaglia-“You have heard that it was said,You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5: 27-28).  These words spoken by our Lord provide an excellent opportunity for us to reflect upon the Sacrament of Marriage.

The Sacrament of Marriage represents a lifelong commitment on the part of the spouses.  For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do you part; marriage is forever.

Increasingly the dominant American culture has intensified the barrage against marriage. Every day millions of living rooms are inundated with the lustful images depicted in soap operas, situation comedies, movies, talk shows and music videos. Magazines extol immoral lifestyles. Weekly tabloids play up the scandalous sexual proclivities of   film, sports and television celebrities.

This onslaught against marriage has been relentless, seemingly working toward discrediting the notion of Christian marriage as an institution and cornerstone of society.

It is very easy for married couples to become discouraged and overwhelmed.  For this reason I wrote a book for men which has helped thousands of men around the world to see the beauty of the Sacrament of Marriage and it has given them the practical tools to live a faithful, successful and joyful marriage.

Since there is so much confusion about marriage even among Catholics, it is important that we remember some basics facts about marriage as a sacrament.

What Circumstances Can Make A Marriage Invalid?

1) A man and a woman living together under the same roof, unmarried and engaging in sexual intimacy are committing fornication, a mortal sin.

2) Parents who tolerate this promiscuity in their homes also commit a mortal sin.

3) A civil marriage between two Catholics or between a Catholic and a Protestant is not a marriage.  This may be a sin of fornication or adultery depending on the circumstances.

4) A divorced Catholic spouse who enters into a new marriage civilly before receiving an annulment commits adultery.  He or she needs to wait for the annulment before entering into a new marriage.

5) When a divorced Catholic spouse seeking an annulment does not wait for the annulment process to be completed and enters into a new marriage in any Protestant church, this too is adultery.  The divorced spouse is still married.

6) A Catholic who marries in a Protestant church without the proper dispensation from the bishop of the diocese enters into an invalid marriage.

7) A marriage between homosexual partners is not a marriage.

A Guide To Handling The Above Cases

In all of the cases stated above, those living in any of these irregular situations cannot receive Holy Communion until they reconcile their lives with God.   Reconciliation can take place in the following manner:

Case #1 – The couple will first need to split up, confess their sin and receive absolution; and then marry in the Church. If they really love one another, they will be more concerned about the salvation of their souls.

Case #2 – The parents who have been tolerating this situation of sexual intimacy before marriage need to become more demanding and urge the couple to split up and marry in the Church.  The parents need to go to Confession.

Case #3 – If no previous marriage exists, couples in these circumstances must go to Confession and then contract a valid marriage in the Catholic Church.

Cases # 4 and #5 – Before these individuals can go to Confession and receive Communion, they will need to obtain an annulment.  If there are no dependent children living in the household, they should split up until they have obtained the annulment.  If there are dependent children in the home, the couple should avoid sexual intimacy by separating or by living in separate rooms until they have obtained the annulment.  By living in a state of celibacy, they can then approach the Sacraments of Confession and Eucharist.

Case #6 – Those having attempted marriage in this manner need to have the marriage validated and blessed by a Catholic priest.

Case #7 –Ceremonies of this sort can never be marriages. Catholics must never attend these ceremonies because they give rise to scandal.

Moral Relativism And Hedonism Has Contributed To Great Confusion Among Catholics

Aside from all of the confusion caused by moral relativism and hedonism, more Catholics in recent decades have become confused by the alarming number of annulments being granted to Catholics on what many regard as slender or insufficient grounds.

An annulment is not a Catholic divorce, as some mistakenly believe. A valid marriage signifies the full and free consent of a man and woman to live together in Holy Matrimony for the rest of their lives.  An annulment means that an impediment exists which has hindered the full and free consent of those contracting marriage.

Many Catholic priests agree with my experience, that in the majority of cases, the large number of failed marriages has resulted from the couples having  been insufficiently prepared for the Sacrament of Marriage in the first place. True, many couples do marry for the wrong reasons; however, parishes in many parts of the country have been negligent in providing thorough and caring marriage preparation for engaged couples.

Chastity Is The Best Preparation For Marriage

Still, the best preparation for marriage is Christian chastity.  It is this virtue of chastity that helps a married couple to remain faithful to one another. But, if young people are not being sufficiently challenged to cultivate this virtue, we may be marrying many who have developed profound sexual addictions through a promiscuous life style; and these addictions in and of themselves will not allow for the necessary full and free consent to take place.

Whether clergy or concerned lay people, we need to take the time to help young people live chastely in a very difficult world.  Encouraging them to develop a rich Eucharistic life, to use the Sacrament of Confession frequently, to practice devotion to Mary and to avail themselves of on-going spiritual direction, all these are the proven ways by which we can help strengthen young people to live out their relationship with Jesus and each other.

The Church must not capitulate to the clamors of the secular world.  By the holiness of their lives, both the clergy and married couples can be a wonderful help to those who are called to the Sacrament of Marriage.

Fidelity Is The Path In Which One Finds Personal Joy and Peace

For those who are already married, mutual fidelity is the path that provides personal joy and peace.  However, subject as we are to the effects of Original Sin, we are all fallen creatures of flesh and blood, and it is normal that fidelity can prove a struggle. For married couples a daily renewal of their personal commitment to their spouses, a well disciplined spiritual life and a realistic acceptance of their own personal limitations will provide the lasting strength to remain faithful until death.

As a priest, I have always delighted in the exuberant joy of young couples as they marry and then bring their first child to the parish to be baptized.  I have always admired those elderly couples, who after the many years of happiness and patience, still faithfully wear their wedding rings by now embedded in the worn and wrinkled fingers that have been tried by the adversities of life.

The Church Always Welcomes Those Who Suffer In Difficult Marital Situations

Finally, although the Catholic Church upholds the indissolubility of marriage, the Church always welcomes her children who are divorced and separated.  Those who suffer from difficult marital situations are always welcomed as living members of Christ’s Church.  Even in those situations where individuals may not be able to participate fully in the Eucharist, the doors of the Catholic Church remain open to all, welcoming all to be living members of the family of God.

No matter how difficult a personal history or situation may be, there is always a solution for those who are open to doing God’s will. And all those who are entrusted with the pastoral care of souls must be kind, patient, compassionate, understanding and willing to spend a lot of time ministering to all those who seek their loving care.

This weekend many will be celebrating Saint Valentine’s Day.  The annual celebration of this beautiful day provides married couples to renew their love for each other.  This feast day also provides young people who preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage to live a profoundly chaste love.  Again, as I explained in my book, chastity is the antidote to lust.  Lust is a distortion of love.  Chastity is true love.

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18 comments to Father James Farfaglia: Marriage Is Forever!

  • Andrew Chin

    Human marriage is not forever, Father; it’s “until death do us part.”

    The only marriage that’s forever is that of the Church to the Christ.

  • Bill,

    May I suggest you do a little reading on this topic? http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1510.htm This is a bit lengthy, but Chapter 29 addresses some of your concerns.

    This one is good as well http://www.catholicsource.net/Predestination.html

    Here are some good points to think about http://www.bringyou.to/apologetics/num21.htm

    There are more sites I could post here, but I think this is enough for now 🙂

    May Our Mother of Sorrows keep you
    Catherine

    Ps., Have you ever tried praying for an answer to your questions? I have found that sometimes the best way to understand God is to talk to Him directly as He alone can answer our questions in a way that we personally can understand them.
    God bless

  • Bill

    “He chooses not to over turn our free will.” It still sounds like he creating a person who is going to hell. Sounds a lot like predestination to me.

    _____________
    Hey Bill,

    May I ask, during what years did you learn the Catholic Faith? Could it possibly be that you were actually never taught the full beauty of the teachings of Jesus Christ, as revealed to the Holy Catholic Church, His bride?

    Bill, when I look at the history of your comments, and please take this as no offense, it looks like you were robbed of the true teachings of the Faith. To me, Bill, it appears you are at a crossroads.

    So far, you are revealing to us that God is limited to your own personal beliefs. Is this truly where you want to be?

    Bill, I ask you again, do you want God to conform to your will? Or are you willing to conform to the Truth as revealed by God to the Church He established?

    Bill, two roads are set before you. Will you take the wide road or the narrow one?

    We will be praying for your discernment, Bill. I, too, have been here. By God’s pure grace, I fell in love with His bride, the Catholic Church. I praise God every day for it!

    God bless you,
    John Quinn

    P.S. I would hate for you to make this decision without studying the actual teachings of the Catholic Church.

  • Bill

    “God can do all things, except over turn our free will”. I guess God isn’t all powerful then.

    _____________

    Really?

    Bill, is that what you want to choose to believe? An almost powerful God? Then why not eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die?

    Are you ready to accept the true God as revealed through scripture, tradition and the Magisterium?
    Or do you want an almost powerful God that fits your lifestyle and your beliefs?

    Just for further clarification, “God can do all things.” He chooses not to over turn our free will.

    Peace to you Bill,
    John Quinn

  • Bill,
    God created all things out of love, and He gave us the gift of free will so that we would respond to His love and choose to love Him too. God can do all things, except over turn our free will, because for Him to over turn our free will would be for God to act against His own nature, and His nature is to love. Love and control are not the same things. Bill, we freely choose hell, and God loves so much that he will honor our decision, no matter what decision we make. If there is no hell, then there was no need for Christ to be born, suffer, and die for us. If everyone goes to heaven, then nobody needs a savior.

    God Bless,
    Jeff

  • Bill

    John,

    I honestly don’t know. I had a Catholic education through college and the issue of an all-powerful-all-knowing God creating a person whom he knows is going to hell has been troubling all that time. How do you reconcile God’s omnipotence with a person going to hell? The free will thing doesn’t compute because God made the person and can make him/her do what he wants them to do. Many clergy will tell you they were called by God. Did God call those going to hell of was it Satan. Is Satan more powerful than God?

  • Hey, Bill.

    Again, thanks for the comments. Could you clarify for me… You’re not trying to say there’s no Hell are you? Because, even Jesus would disagree with you on this one.

    I’m looking forward to your response.

    God bless you,
    John Quinn

  • Bill

    Dort,

    You still get to the point where God is creating someone who He knows is going to hell. He has the power to stop it.

    • Savio

      Dear Bill,

      GOD has created man unto HIS OWN IMAGE & LIKENESS (all good) and blessed us with a free will. He has given us The TEN COMMANDMENTS (what we ought to do and ought not to do) and told us of the reward (for doing good) & the repercussion (of doing wrong).

      GOD knows man’s inherent weakness (hence HE has given us the SACRAMENTS) & HE also knows that man if he so desires (chooses) will rise from the ashes (the lives of the saints is a testimony to this)

      A case in point is during JESUS’S earthly life, HE chose Peter & Judas Iscariot to be HIS Apostles despite knowing that Peter would deny HIM & that Judas would betray HIM, yet HE chose them so that after being in HIS company, experiencing first hand HIS love, compassion & mercy, they would change.

      In Peter’s case, Peter accepted his fault, wept his sin, sought pardon & received it. In Judas’s case, realising his grave mistake and instead of repenting and seeking pardon, thought (rather unfortunately) that he would not be pardoned and in desperation hanged himself.

      It can never be concluded that a bad person will not change at all but die bad or a good person will continue to remain good and not become bad. It is a matter of one’s choosing. GOD regularly intervenes in the lives of people and calls them to repentance. History is replete with examples of great sinners becoming saints(after heeding GOD’S call).

  • Dorothy

    Dear Bill
    God created each and every one of us with the gift of free will. God knew with this gift, we may choose to deny Him and His love for us and consequently through our decisions opt for Hell. Christianity is a way of life, which the Son of God came to show us the way by becoming one of us. If Christians were faithfully living the Way, we become good examples to those who do not know this loving God and bring them to God. That is our purpose in life… God will not interfere with our free choices. He has already made known the consequences of sinful choices. The devil however does not respect our free will and instead lures through deception. We are not pawns in God’s world. He has made us in His image and likeness and He expects us to use the gifts He has freely given to overcome our weaknesses and He is around to help us. All we need to do is ask Him for help, for the grace to overcome our weakness. We are free to ask Him or not. If we do not ask in prayer… He will not violate our free will. Should others intercede for those who do not know God or pray for assistance… He will then intervene. We teach our children the ways to financial success… but we do not take any effort to teach them the ways to immortal riches. God is all powerful… all we need to do is ask Him. When we are young and vulnerable… God has bailed us out many a time… in our adulthood… if we haven’t learnt from our mistakes it is no brainer that we will continue making mistakes unless we make up our minds to make amends. Until we do.. we render God powerless to act in our lives because in our decision not to improve ourselves, we have chosen to remain in our mistakes and therefore shut God’s graces from our lives. He has already said there is no sin so great that He cannot forgive and make things new. We who ask for forgiveness and renewal must make firm amendments to change our ways so God’s grace can continue to work in us to bring the necessary healing and renewal required.

  • Bill

    I’ve always found the concept of mortal sin and eternal damnation to be an interesting concept. If one believes that God is the ultimate cause of everything, you have to get to the point where God has created people who He knows are going to hell, hardly something a entity with mercy would do. If you believe that the Devil in involved with evil, it would seem that God is powerless do prevent evil and that the Devil is more powerful than God. Think about it.

  • Holly

    I am referring to the portion of Cases # 4 and #5 – If there are dependent children in the home, the couple should avoid sexual intimacy by separating or by living in separate rooms until they have obtained the annulment. By living in a state of celibacy, they can then approach the Sacraments of Confession and Eucharist.

    Is this always the case? Is it really this simple? Or is my priest allowed to keep me from this because he is concerned that I might fall back into sin? (This priest is new to our parish and just met me). It is my sincere intent to remain celibate and do what is required of me. Or is the fact that I am in the middle of an annulment and currently married the impediment to my receiving the Sacraments?

    This is my current situation-not prettying it up any-it is a bit more convoluted than this because my current marriage is not great either. However-we are in separate rooms and although it didn’t start off as a voluntary state of celibacy-it is has turned into one for me. My reasons now are completely for Christ and my soul; although I understand from reading your article that it is also for my husbands soul as well.

    I am confused about what I can do; I only want to do the right thing-to stop living in mortal sin. I would appreciate any help you could offer. I know that I need absolution and the power of the most Holy Eucharist to nourish my soul. My children and I have been praying daily and attending Mass-although I can only watch and give reverence at Holy Communion.

    _____________
    Dear Holly,

    What an inspiration you are for your strong desire to live in a state of grace. In this case, I would highly encourage you to go back to your priest for further clarification. If your questions remain unanswered, you may come back and then maybe we can find further help for you.

    You and your family will be in our prayers.

    God bless you,
    John Quinn

  • Bill

    Joe,

    I’m a bit confused about your problem. Do you want your wife to come back to the Catholic Church with you and she won’t hear of it or do you want to come back yourself and leave her out as it were?

  • Joe Marse

    I did not recieve a email from you.I will check again in the filtered mail. Thanks for the prayers.

    __________
    I tried again.

  • Joe Marse

    I was baptised and loosely raised a Catholic but drifted away from the church as a young man. I married a very devout Protestant gal not knowing anything about Church rules on such things. Nearly 40 years and five children later I want to come back to the church but my wife whom I still love with all my heart won’t even talk about it; its been 5 years now. I attend mass but of course can not recieve any sacraments. I want to follow the rules but I am not willing to destroy a great 40 year marriage with a God fearing woman and my family over it. There seems to be zero wiggle room on this according to the church. God knows my heart and I guess thats the best I can know.

    ____________

    Hello Joe,

    I emailed you. We will be praying for your situation. If you don’t get the email, then leave another comment.

    God bless,
    John Quinn

    • Savio

      Dear Joe,

      GOD loves you and HE is waiting with Open Arms to welcome you once again into full communion with the Catholic Church. You have taken the first step in this direction by beginning to attend Mass. Please continue to do so.

      At Mass during the Consecration (when the bread & wine is transformed into the BODY & BLOOD of OUR LORD) pray fervently for the conversion of your love of 40 years and the fruits of that love, that they too may come into full communion with the Catholic Church.

      Have faith, and very soon everything will fall in place. Remember JESUS said “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed you can tell the mountain to move from its place and into the sea, and it will happen”.

      Jesus also said “Ask and you shall receive, Seek and you shall find, Knock and the door shall be opened unto you”

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