Defending the Domestic Church

Two writings recently emanated from officials very high in the Holy See concerning marriage and the family. The statements are frank and blunt, especially by today’s standards. The first was penned by Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Originally an article in L’Osservatore Romano, it is on the Vatican’s web site as “Testimony To The Power Of Grace: On the Indissolubility of Marriage and the Debate Concerning the Civilly Remarried and the Sacraments.” In it, His Grace wrote:

“Today’s mentality is largely opposed to the Christian understanding of marriage, with regard to its indissolubility and its openness to children. Because many Christians are influenced by this, marriages nowadays are probably invalid more often than they were previously, because there is a lack of desire for marriage in accordance with Catholic teaching, and there is too little socialization within an environment of faith.”

To be sure, we are removed here from the language of Saint Pius X, who saw around him “a great movement of apostasy being organized in every country for the establishment of a One-World Church which shall have neither dogmas, nor hierarchy, neither discipline for the mind, nor curb for the passions” (Notre Charge Apostolique), but it is obvious that the observations of Archbishop Müller are a fulfillment of those of Saint Pius. Minds not disciplined by Catholic faith and passions not curbed by Catholic morals make for ill-fated and invalid marriages conceived in selfishness and productive of unhappy families. In other words, they give us the status quo. The Archbishop’s comment may be understated, but the ramifications are as far-reaching as they are disastrous.

The second piece I mentioned is the Preparatory Document for next year’s extraordinary Synod of Bishops that will meet to discuss “Pastoral Challenges to the Family in the Context of Evangelization.” The document acknowledges that, “The social and spiritual crisis, so evident in today’s world, is becoming a pastoral challenge in the Church’s evangelizing mission concerning the family, the vital building-block of society and the ecclesial community.”

Again, the words are written without colorful adjectives that might show a tone of magisterial indignation, but the bare facts are there. The second paragraph of this document enumerates a sad laundry list of problems that afflict the family across the globe, without any specificity of location or religious affiliation. Then it concludes with a sentence on the status of things inside the Ark of Salvation: “Within the Church, faith in the sacramentality of marriage and the healing power of the Sacrament of Penance show signs of weakness or total abandonment.”

(Let those words echo for a bit… .) Houston, we have a problem. In fact, we have many and grave problems.

Long before the monstrosity of “same-sex marriage” came to be, the way was paved by various moral and juridical capitulations in the realm of heterosexual marriage. One of these, believe it or not, is marriage licenses. This is a problem: to get married in the Catholic Church (in most places, including the United States), a civil marriage license is required. In some places, Catholic bishops fought this as a usurpation of authority by the state, for, as Popes Pius VI and Pius IX taught, “matrimony… is not subject to any civil power,” and “cannot therefore be dissolved by any civil law” (Casti Connubii). This is true, these popes note, even of the non-sacramental marriages of unbelievers, as they are part of the “law of nature.”

The family is antecedent to the State, which must protect it. If we concede to the state authority over marriage, it just might abuse that authority, as it is now doing by redefining it in the name of a depraved ideology.

A significant heterosexual moral capitulation in the area of marriage is the widespread acceptance of contraception. As Patrick Fagan argues in “A ‘Culture’ of Inverted Sexuality,” it was the general acceptance of the sin of contraception — once generally execrated, even here in Protestant Anglo-America — that led to a massive inversion of the purposes of the sexual act. Homosexuality is a logical extension of that inversion.

All of these unwholesome novelties on the subject of marriage have led us to the dystopic state in which we find ourselves. We need not watch zombie movies anymore, for we are living in one; all around us is a zombified culture, a “culture of death,” that is, whose “living dead” are out to recruit your children.

Children raised without love in the home are in serious jeopardy. They are prone to a variety of disorders, from violent psychopathologies to sexual deviancy in all its forms. This bit of common sense is confirmed by psychologists (see here and here). Of course, as the inmates have gradually taken over the asylum, sexual perversions are coming to be known under any number euphemistic pseudonyms, such as “same-sex partnership” and “minor-attracted persons” (you would know these latter as “pedophiles”).

Citing one more Roman document, I would like to bring to your attention the admonition of another Holy Father on the subject of family life. May these words of Pope Leo XIII, in Arcanum, resonate in all our families:

“By the command of Christ, it [marriage] not only looks to the propagation of the human race, but to the bringing forth of children for the Church, ‘fellow citizens with the saints, and the domestics of God’; so that ‘a people might be born and brought up for the worship and religion of the true God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.’

“Secondly, the mutual duties of husband and wife have been defined, and their several rights accurately established. They are bound, namely, to have such feelings for one another as to cherish always very great mutual love, to be ever faithful to their marriage vow, and to give one another an unfailing and unselfish help. The husband is the chief of the family and the head of the wife. The woman, because she is flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone, must be subject to her husband and obey him; not, indeed, as a servant, but as a companion, so that her obedience shall be wanting in neither honor nor dignity. Since the husband represents Christ, and since the wife represents the Church, let there always be, both in him who commands and in her who obeys, a heaven-born love guiding both in their respective duties. For ‘the husband is the head of the wife; as Christ is the head of the Church. . . Therefore, as the Church is subject to Christ, so also let wives be to their husbands in all things.’

“As regards children, they ought to submit to the parents and obey them, and give them honor for conscience’ sake; while, on the other hand, parents are bound to give all care and watchful thought to the education of their offspring and their virtuous bringing up: ‘Fathers,… bring them up’ [that is, your children] ‘in the discipline and correction of the Lord.’ From this we see clearly that the duties of husbands and wives are neither few nor light; although to married people who are good these burdens become not only bearable but agreeable, owing to the strength which they gain through the sacrament.”

Personal ambition and all selfishness must be sacrificed on the altar of the domestic Church. In a sense, this is the battle of our day. Let me explain: In the domain of faith, the Church’s necessity for salvation is the crusade of our time; in the realm of morals, the combat is for the restoration and sanctification of the family. If Christ does not reign there, His Kingship will not be realized in society at large. And He is a King and must reign in society: “I am a king. For this was I born, and for this came I into the world; that I should give testimony to the truth. Every one that is of the truth, heareth my voice” (John 18:37).