The Most Intimate Act in Marriage

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Prayer_Mother Teresa

A cord of three strands is not easily broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12

Last week, we highlighted several date night ideas to help you grow closer together as a couple. This week, we strongly urge you to take advantage of a unique online opportunity to strengthen your marriage. It is a three-part webinar series on couple prayer. And the best part, there is no charge to participate!

It has been said that prayer is the most intimate act in marriage. It is more intimate than the marital embrace. In prayer, we bear our inner most feelings to God and our spouse. There is nothing more powerful in binding a couple together in a life-long marital bond. Find that hard to believe? Let’s look at a couple of research studies on the efficacy of praying together as a couple.

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There’s No Place Like Home

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shutterstock_Online Date Night

“There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.” In the classic movie, The Wizard of OZ, these magical words transported Dorothy back to her home in Kansas.

If you are like us, sheltering in place for the past several weeks may have left you muttering something like “Any place but home. Any place but home!”

So, if you are feeling stressed, anxious, worried, short on patience or frustrated with your spouse and children, we recommend going on a date with your spouse! That’s right going on a date with your spouse can actually help you de-stress and strengthen your marriage.

A report entitled The Date Night Opportunity[1], concluded that there are at least five ways date nights may foster stronger marriages: communication, novelty, eros, commitment, and de-stress. Here is a quick summary of those benefits:

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An Ocean of Mercy

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Divine Mercy mosaic

You expired, Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls, and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world. O Fount of Life, unfathomable Divine Mercy, envelop the whole world and empty Yourself out upon us.[1]

We are living in unprecedented times. We are faced with a global pandemic the likes of which the world has not experienced in a century. Stay-in-place orders are common in most areas of the United States. Schools and businesses are closed. Parents are struggling with schooling children while working from home themselves. Tensions are rising and patience is wearing thin. Despair and hopelessness are at all-time highs. And with churches unable to celebrate Mass, the domestic church has become the norm for families.

In the midst of all this, today the Church celebrates Divine Mercy Sunday. St. Maria Faustina Kowalska was a Polish nun who experienced apparitions of Jesus. She recorded these apparitions and messages from Jesus in a detailed diary. Her diary records 14 occasions when Jesus requested that a Feast of Mercy (Divine Mercy Sunday) be observed. Here is one of those messages…

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Confronting Gluttony

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Blessed are the Persecuted

Praised be Jesus Christ! He is risen! Jesus has conquered sin and death so that we may have abundant life with Him in heaven for all eternity. Thanks be to God for this most wonderful gift!

This Lent we have taken a journey through the Cardinal Virtues, the Seven Deadly Sins, and the Seven Beatitudes. Today we will look at the last Deadly Sin of gluttony.

Gluttony consumes an excessive amount of worldly goods, be it food or alcohol. Contrast this with being persecuted which is being deprived of even basic necessities to sustain life. While gluttony is certainly not the greatest of the deadly sins, when combined with avarice and lust, it perpetuates the illusion that our emptiness can be filled with things of the world.[1]

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Confronting Lust

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Pure in Heart

On this Good Friday, we are nearing the end of our journey through The Seven Deadly Sins and the Seven Beatitudes. On this day, Jesus bore excruciating pain and death on the Cross to free us from slavery to sin. Thank Him today for the free gift of salvation. Isaiah prophesied about the Suffering Servant, Jesus, whose mission was to free us from sin and death…

But He was wounded for our transgressions,

He was bruised for our iniquities;

The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,

And by His stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

We have discussed the Deadly Sins of pride, avarice, envy, anger, and sloth. Today we will look at the Deadly Sin of lust and on Easter Sunday, we will conclude this study with the Deadly Sin of gluttony.

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Confronting Sloth

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Righteousness

Previously, we have addressed the Deadly Sins of pride, avarice, envy, and anger. This week, we will look at the antidote to the Deadly Sin of sloth. We are not talking about the slow-moving mammals which spend their days hanging upside down in the trees of the tropical rain forests of South and Central America. Sloth is defined by St. Thomas Aquinas as “‘sorrow about spiritual good’, or joylessness when faced with God as our supreme joy.”[1]

Sloth is a sin against charity, one of the three theological virtues, which directs our hearts toward God. “Faith, hope, and charity are our spiritual glue,” says Peter Kreeft. “Whatever dissolves this glue is mortally sinful; whatever can remove faith, hope, and charity can kill God’s life in our soul. And sloth does just that.”[2] Sloth robs us of our thirst for God, our desire for Him as our ultimate good. A slothful person stops seeking God, complacent in the matters of the faith. In response to God’s offer of eternal salvation and friendship with Him, sloth says, “I’m good. Thanks, but no thanks.”

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Confronting Anger

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Blessed are the Peacemakers

He that is angry without cause, shall be in danger; but he that is angry with cause, shall not be in danger.[1] St. John Chrysostom

Anger is one of the Seven Deadly Sins but not all anger is a sin. Anger is an emotion and emotions by themselves are not sinful or virtuous. An emotion will cease or flourish only at the discretion of the will. Peter Kreeft in his book Growing in Virtue offers this distinction between the two…

The commonest way in which the will comes in to make an emotion sinful or virtuous is by consent, which is basically the will’s approval or go-ahead to an emotion…What makes the emotion of anger into the sin of anger are two things. First, as we have seen, there must be the involvement of the will. Second, the anger must be inordinate, this is, wrong, irrational, too strong for the occasion or the person we are angry at.[2]

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Confronting Envy

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Ulm-Muenster-BessererKapelleFenster-BruderMord_Cain killing Abel

Cain killing Abel, Hans Acker, c. 1430, Ulm Münster Cathedral

For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, and not be like Cain who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. 1 John 3:11-12

Abel’s sacrifice was acceptable to God, Cain’s was not. It was the interior disposition of Cain’s heart toward his brother that led him to sin. It was the sin of envy that festered in Cain’s heart, leading to anger, and ultimately the murder of his brother.

St. Thomas Aquinas defines envy as sorrow for another’s good.[1] Envy is not the greatest sin but “it is the only one that gives the sinner no pleasure at all,” says Peter Kreeft in his book Back to Virtue. “It causes nothing but pain and sorrow. Thus it shows more clearly than other sins two profound truths about the nature of sin: that it removes our joy and that it is deceptive,” he adds. “Envy removes joy because envy is the opposite of gratitude, and gratitude is the seedbed of joy.” [2]

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Confronting Avarice

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avarice_stained_glass

For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs. 1 Timothy 6:10

This week, we will take a look at the vice of avarice and its opposing virtue mercy. Avarice is the immoderate desire for extreme wealth and material goods. In ancient times, it was known as “covetousness;” today it is known as “greed.” It is natural for man to desire material goods as a means to the basic necessities of life, but avarice turns these goods into gods. “Christian tradition ranks…[avarice]…ahead of lust and second only to pride in the list of all-time spiritual villains,”[1] says Peter Kreeft in his book Back to Virtue.

“Avarice has two parts,” says Kreeft, “greed to get what we don’t have and greed to keep what we have.” “The two opposites of avarice are 1) contentment, voluntary poverty and 2) liberality, generosity, having mercy on others.”[2]

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Confronting Pride

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Young Nun in her Cell_Cesare Laurenti_19 cent

Young Nun in her Cell, Cesare Laurenti, 19th Century

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3

This week, we will take a look at the deadly sin or the vice of pride and its antidote, poverty of spirit.

Pride is the greatest sin. It was the first sin in all of creation, causing Satan to rebel against God. Satan fell because he could not accept God’s plan to divinize human beings. Satan could not attack God, so he retaliated against that which God loves most, us.

Pride is the also the first sin of Adam and Eve. Desiring to be like God, they fell for Satan’s deception that God did not have their best interests at heart. This is Satan’s game plan. Time and time again, he tries to convince us that God cannot be trusted with our happiness; and we must follow our own path to achieve happiness.

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