Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Sermon given by Father Pancras Raja, Oct. 27, 2019

“The kingdom of heaven is likened to a king, who made a marriage to his son” (Mt. 22: 2)

In this parable Our Lord refers to the celebration of the marriage festival. Marriage is called Matrimony; the one means founded by God Himself of establishing the human family and of perpetuating human society. It is therefore of highest importance to reflect upon the nature and qualities of this “sacred bond” of human family – Holy Matrimony.

  1. The nature of Matrimony (Marriage Contract)

Matrimony is defined as the conjugal union of two properly qualified man and woman obliging them to live together throughout life.

Marriage contract is not a mere promise, but a transfer of right on each other, and it binds the husband and wife by a tie which can never be dissolved, but by the death of one of the parties.

It can be considered either as a natural union or as a Sacrament.

In the old law it was not more than a natural contract – but instituted by God: “A man shall leave father and mother and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall be two in one flesh.” (Gen. 2:24)  

But it has been raised by Jesus Christ to the dignity of a Sacrament (a sensible sign capable of producing grace and holiness). Among Christians therefore every valid contract of marriage is a Sacrament. As the council of Trent declares: “God instituted marriage and rendered it perpetual and indissoluble” (Sess. 24).

The Sacramental character (Formula) “Ego conjugo vos in matrimonium in nomine Patris ….” indeed elevates marriage to its highest perfection. And its indissolubility aims at the temporal and spiritual education of the children and the other ends of marriage. 

2.The ends of Marriage:

1 The Principal end of marriage is to beget and rear children in the service of God. The Angel said to Tobias: “Thou shalt take the virgin with the fear of the Lord, moved rather for the love of children than for lust, that, in the seed of Abraham thou mayest obtain a blessing of children” (Tob. 6: 16 – 22)

2 The secondary ends of marriage are:

  1. A remedy against incontinence (lust).
  2. Mutual helpfulness in bearing the burdens of life

With these aims of marriage let us elevate our minds on the higher state of human dignity. When God created our first parents, He had in his mind His own INCARNATION and the Mystical Body of Christ – the Church.

The state of marriage therefore is seen to have a higher function of multiplying the human cells of the mystical body of Christ – procreating saints on earth and preparing inhabitants of heaven. 

Married persons should keep in mind the principal end of their state and should avoid everything unlawful and anything opposed to its ends. (Marriage is not a license to indulge in sexuality) On the other hand, it is a state of mutual help to sanctify each other.

In the Holy Family: When the High priests espoused the Most Blessed Virgin Mary to the Most Chaste and Holy of Man, Saint Joseph, She betook Herself with Her Spouse, and having arrived at their home in Nazareth, the two Most Holy Spouses, St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary, were left at leisure and to their own counsel in their house. She spoke to her spouse Saint Joseph and said to him: “At a tender age, I consecrated myself to God by a perpetual vow of chastity in body and soul; His I am and Him I acknowledge as my Spouse and Lord, with fixed resolve to preserve for Him my chastity. I beseech thee, my Master, to help me in fulfilling this vow.”

The Most Chaste Spouse Joseph, full of interior joy at the words of his heavenly Spouse, answered Her: “My Mistress, in making known to me thy chaste and welcome sentiments, thou hast penetrated and dilated my heart. I have not opened my thoughts to Thee before knowing thy own. I also acknowledge myself under greater obligation to the Lord of creation; for very early He has called me by his true enlightenment to love Him with an upright heart; and I desire Thee to know, Lady, that at the age of twelve years I also made a promise to serve the Most High in perpetual chastity. On this account I now gladly ratify this vow in order not to impede thy own; in the presence of his Majesty I promise to aid Thee, as far as in me lies, in serving Him and loving Him according to thy full desires. I will be, with the divine grace, thy most faithful servant and companion, and I pray Thee accept my chaste love and hold me as thy brother.”

By divine operation the two Most Holy and Chaste Spouses felt an incomparable joy and consolation.

According to the story of St. Cecilia, despite her vow of virginity, she was forced by her parents to marry a pagan nobleman named Valerian. During the wedding, Cecilia sat apart singing to God in her heart, and for that she was later declared the patron saint of musicians. When the time came for her marriage to be consummated, Cecilia told Valerian that there was an Angel of the Lord watching over her, who would punish him if he sexually violated her, but would love him if he respected her virginity. When Valerian asked to see the Angel, Cecilia replied that he could see the Angel if he would go and be baptized by Pope Urban I. After following Cecilia’s advice, he saw the Angel standing beside her.

Cecilia’s Angel lover gave both Cecilia and Valerian crowns of “shimmering roses and gleaming lilies” as a sign of their sexless marriage to each other. The Angel lover also promised to fulfill whatever Valerian wished. Valerian asked that he and his brother Tiburtius be made perfect Christians. They were made perfect Christians, and holy martyrs.

The Holy family of Jesus Mary and Joseph is the model for practicing genuine love of god. Love of god is a way of life – a lifestyle – a vocation – a call, planned and well prepared by God. Family life, therefore, is the wedding feast of God’s riches!

Practice of divine love consists in accepting this call of God for the wedding feast. This acceptance of God’s invitation demands two dispositions. (1) Detachment, and (2) Innocence. These dispositions are the wedding garments necessary to be worthy of part taking in the marriage feast of God.

These two important dispositions are acquired by the spirit of poverty and simplicity of the Holy family. Poverty was practiced by detachment from their own selection of lifestyle, and accepting the lifestyle planned by God. Simplicity was practiced by innocence – which means sincerity in serving God alone. There was no duplicity of serving God and Mammon.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph gave up their dignity of selecting their own lifestyle for the service of God: Jesus, “being in the form of God …. emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, …. he humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death.” (Philip. 2: 6-8)

The Virgin Mary, having consecrated her virginity to God with a perpetual vow of Chastity, surrendered herself to the call of Angel Gabriel to become mother of a Child! St. Joseph, had gone into the forest to be a hermit with a perpetual vow of chastity, was called by an Angel to return home to enter into marriage with a Woman!

Hence, the contemplation of the “Joyful Mysteries” of the Most Holy Rosary produces in us these two dispositions of detachment and innocence.    

3 Celibacy is a better and more perfect state than marriage, if it is embraced to please God and to arrive at higher perfection, thus, to devote oneself more entirely to God’s service. “He that marries does well, and he that does not marry, does better” (I Cor. VII: 38)

Exhortation: (1) Young people who do not enter the religious or priestly state do well to marry. (2) In choosing a companion for marriage young persons should seek the advice of their parents and their confessor. Among other things, children should be exhorted earnestly that they owe as a tribute of respect to their parents, or to those under whose guardianship and authority they are placed, not to contract marriage without their knowledge, still less in defiance of their express wishes. It should be observed that in the Old Law children were always given in marriage by their fathers; and that the will of the parent is always to have very great influence on the choice of the child, is clear from these words of the Apostle (Paul) “He that giveth his virgin in marriage doth well; and he that giveth her not, doth better.” (I Cor. 7: 38) (3) The qualities chiefly to be desired are that the person be a practical traditional catholic. (4) Marrying without the intention of begetting children and using contraceptive methods are gravely sinful.

(5) The devotion of “Family Rosary” will bring down heavenly blessings and the unfailing protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Lesion: “In marriages that are truly Christian,” as Fulton Sheen says: “the love of God increases through the years, not in the sense that husband and wife love one another less, but that they love God more than they love each other.”

Catechism: The Duties of Married People

The more easily to preserve the holy state (of marriage) from dissensions, the duties of husband and wife as inculcated by St. Paul and by the Prince of the Apostles must be explained.

Duties Of A Husband

It is the duty of the husband to treat his wife generously and honourably. It should not be forgotten that Eve was called by Adam his companion. The woman, he says, whom thou gavest me as a companion. Hence it was, according to the opinion of some of the holy Fathers, that she was formed not from the feet (to be a slave) but from the side of man; as, on the other hand, she was not formed from his head, in order to give her to understand that it was not hers to command but to obey her husband.

The husband should also be constantly occupied in some honest pursuit with a view to provide necessaries for the support of his family and to avoid idleness, the root of almost every vice.

He is also to keep all his family in order, to correct their morals, and see that they faithfully discharge their duties.

Duties Of A Wife

On the other hand, the duties of a wife are thus summed up by the Prince of the Apostles: “Let wives be subject to their husbands. that if any believe not the word, they may be won without the word by the conversation of the wives, considering your chaste conversation with fear. Let not their adorning be the outward plaiting of the hair, or the wearing of gold, or the putting on of apparel: but the hidden man of the heart in the incorruptibility of a quiet and meek spirit, which is rich in the sight of God. For after this manner heretofore the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.” (I Peter: 1 – 6)

To train their children in the practice of virtue and to pay particular attention to their domestic concerns should also be especial objects of their attention. The wife should love to remain at home, unless compelled by necessity to go out; and she should never presume to leave home without her husband’s consent.

Again, and in this the conjugal union chiefly consists, let wives never forget that next to God they are to love their husbands, to esteem them above all others, yielding to them in all things not inconsistent with Christian piety, a willing and ready obedience.