“The Difference of Faith & the Difference It Makes:
The Catholic ‘Vision’ of Marriage, Family, & Parenthood”
Dr. Mark S. Latkovic
April 7, 2014
~An Outline for a Talk
For the parents of the middle school children at Our Lady Star of the Sea (Grosse Pointe, MI) ~ April 3, 2014
ABSTRACT: This talk will provide a “survival guide” for Catholic parents as they seek to live lives of holiness amidst the challenges of a secular culture. Drawing on the “Theology of the Body,” it will provide a positive vision of marriage & family life. It will also offer specific tips to help parents protect & nurture the faith of their children.
*Thanks (Previous two times speaking at Star: March 1997 & February 2002)
I. A “Survival Guide”
~What Is It?
*It’s a strategy, a plan or program, or instructions for navigating the rocky waters of our modern culture
*It’s one rooted in & based on our Catholic faith (Scared Scripture, Tradition, Magisterium)
*But our faith is rooted in Jesus Christ, the God-man, our “wisest & best friend”
~Why Do We Need It?
*Our culture no longer supports the faith – it’s secular, i.e., it rejects God and puts its “faith” in science & technology
*But without the knowledge, grace, and joy that faith brings, we can’t live life like we’re supposed to live it – as disciples of Jesus Christ, future saints of his Kingdom
*It also makes living a Christian life difficult in the temptations it puts before us in the areas of money, sex, power, & so on
*Our secular culture is characterized primarily by pride, pleasure-seeking, & greed
*1 Jn 2:16 puts it this way: “For all that is in the world, sensual lust, enticement for the eyes, and a pretentious life, is not from the Father but is from the world.”
*But faith has an “answer”: “Yet the world and its enticement are passing away. But whoever does the will of God remains forever.” (1 Jn 2:17)
*Our culture makes lives of holiness hard to come by in our marriages & family lives; but faith has an “answer” here too
II. The Catholic “Vision” of Marriage, Family & Sex, Including the “Theology of the Body” (TOB)
~What Is It?
*This vision – & it’s a grand one – may best be described as an “integralist” understanding of marriage & sex
*What do I mean by this?
*Well, it’s “Love & Responsibility Week” at Star & Blessed JPII wrote a book by that very title published in 1960
*In this book & subsequent writings, primarily JPII’s “TOB,” but also Vatican II, the Catholic vision of marriage & sex, & the human person was given a “make-over”
*JPII & the Council affirmed that marriage was not only a sacrament, but it was also a covenant of love & life, as Scripture so beautifully portrays it
*Conjugal or married love & generating new human life: these are the precious & priceless “goods of marriage”
*JPII also showed how these two “goods” – love & life – belong together, always
*In other words, married love is a procreative love by its very nature, as are the sexual acts that take place w/in marriage
*This means that both contraception & artificial reproductive technologies violate that “inseparability” principle, i.e., that love & life always go together
~How Does It Help Us Be Holy?
*If anything, just as the name “TOB” suggests, JPII’s teaching is about the body: how we view it, how we act as a body, & w/ other bodies…We can’t escape the reality of the body!
*Our faith can be grasped only when we see that the Incarnation is about us being saved from Original Sin by God becoming a body – a human body-person just like us in all things but sin
*JPII argues that because of the Incarnation, the body takes on a whole new dignity: the body is a “sacrament,” an “icon,” that reveals the person
*Our bodies are not just containers or shells that hide the “real” me & that we can shed like a snake sheds his skin
*No, the body is an integral component of our dignity as human persons; it’s an aspect of what it means to be human (to be a body, not have a body)
*JPII can say in his TOB that not only are individuals created in God’s image, but that spouses in the communion of marriage/covenant “image” God!
*The Catholic faith teaches us that how we act with our bodies, sexual or otherwise, matters; it has a bearing on our eternal salvation
*The knowledge we receive from revelation & Church teaching and the grace that God gives us empowers us to live our faith and stay close to Jesus
*Staying close to Jesus is true happiness! That’s just what the Church wants for us!
III. Faith & the Challenges of Parenthood
~What Are These?
*Pope Francis reminded us the other day that married couples are “icons” of God’s love in the world
*We as individuals and as couples are God’s representatives, his ambassadors in the world
*But our first mission of evangelization is to our families, to our children
*There are many challenges today that we as parents face in trying to raise our kids in the ways of the Lord: social media; bullying; education; sexuality & dating; smoking, drinking, & drugs; driving; safety issues; friendships & peer pressure; passing on the faith to them; family relationships; & so many more
*So, to sum up, we have sex, study, health, safety, technology, faith, family, & friends
*We may even simply this further by saying we have the perennial problems associated w/ keeping the 10 Commandments & becoming more virtuous
~What Are Some Strategies for Dealing with Them?
*How are we to handle these challenges/opportunities?
*Is there a specifically Christian way of dealing w/ them? Yes!
*Key to this strategy is protecting & nurturing your child’s faith (& your own!)
*(I treat many “everyday” moral questions in my new book, What’s a Person to Do?)
*I have “10 Faith Tips” for helping us live the Catholic vision of marriage, family life, & childrearing:
1. First, the family must be grounded in the Christian faith
2. Second, the Catholic family must be rooted in prayer & the sacraments (esp. Eucharist & Penance, but also Marriage)
3. Third, there must be the effort in Catholic families to acquire the cardinal virtues (Prudence, Justice, Temperance, & Fortitude)
4. Fourth, Catholic families must practice daily acts of kindness, forgiveness, and charity (KFC for short) [See Gal 5:22-23 for a list of the fruits of the Spirit]
5. Fifth, Catholic families must have a plan of action for dealing with the secular culture
6. Sixth, a Catholic family should be good stewards of their resources
7. Seventh, the Catholic family should encourage members to be physically fit
8. Eighth, the Catholic family needs to cultivate a sense of humor & joy
9. Ninth, a Catholic family must listen to the Magisterium of the Church
10. Tenth, the Catholic family should strive to be a model of affectionate communion
Finally, a personal note to husbands and wives. You must rely on a conjugal love which has been transformed in the sacrament of marriage. I will give Bless John Paul II the final word on the matter: “Conjugal love reaches that fullness to which it is interiorly ordained, conjugal charity, which is the proper and specific way in which the spouses participate in and are called to live the very charity of Christ who gave Himself on the Cross.” (Familiaris Consortio, 13)
IV. Q & A