May is a month commonly associated with marriage. Many a celebration of marriage takes place in May since it is a month associated with the new life of springtime and the beauty that accompanies it. Marriage gives life both in regard to the spouses who enter into it as well as to the children which are the result of it. The month of May is a good time to reflect upon the beauty of marriage as a natural reflection of the life of God, who is a Trinity of love. We will celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity on Sunday, May 31, the last day of May.
Significant for us this Spring is the deliberation, which began on Tuesday, April 28, of our nation's Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the states' preserving the legal definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The anticipated decision of the Supreme Court positions itself to be a critical juridical ruling in our nation in regard to the very definition of marriage. The decision will not undo same-sex marriages, as already established in many states, but will determine if the state has the right to prohibit such unions as is the case in certain states. If the court proceeds to strike down all state bans, it will legalize same-sex marriages nationwide and further confuse the very understanding of marriage itself.
This is a time for all of us to join in prayer that our Supreme Court will be guided by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit in preventing same-sex marriages from becoming a national norm. Fervor in prayer, study, education and faith based persuasion are the true power of the believing Catholic in this regard. Prejudice, biased judgmental language and disrespectful presentation do not assist us in this important endeavor. Jesus promised that the truth will set us free (cf. Jn 8:32) and only by "speaking the truth in love" (Eph 4:15) will we be able to promote the truth regarding marriage according to the natural law of God Himself and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Truth and love go hand in hand and one cannot be present without the other.
Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has continually proclaimed in love the truth regarding marriage as a singular and lifelong union between a man and a woman. Most recently, during his Wednesday audiences in April, he has taught clearly and lovingly on the nature of marriage as established by God Himself from the very beginning. The Pope emphasized that the beginning of the book of Genesis states that God created man and woman in His own image. "In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them" (Gn 1:27).
The complementarity between man and woman is meant for a communion between the two in marriage, in which the partners grow in relationship to each other and are able to bring forth new life into the world. In this manner, they cooperate with God in His creation. Marriage and family life are a reflection of the very life of God Himself who is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit for all eternity. When God created us, He created us to reflect His life which is one of eternal giving. Marriage does this in a very concrete manner as planned by God Himself. Marriage is a sublime vocation to which God calls most men and women and this vocation requires a sacrifice of each partner for the other in a lifetime union. It is this sacrificial giving in marriage, similar to that of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, which brings the very joy of God Himself. This is the beautiful reality we will celebrate this month, on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity.
Pope Francis has spoken clearly on the dangers which accompany the misunderstanding of marriage as other than an exclusive relationship between a man and woman. He said, "God entrusted the earth to the alliance between men and women: its failure deprives the earth of warmth and darkens the sky of hope. The signs are already worrisome, and we see them." He also pointedly said, "Man and woman are created to live a life of reciprocity, to enter into a covenant together. Yet sin introduces discord into their relationship, lack of trust and suspicion. We see throughout history the fruit of this sin … . Most recently, this mistrust and skepticism has led our culture to disregard the marriage covenant between a man and a woman, that covenant which deepens communion and safeguards the dignity of their uniqueness. When the stable and fruitful covenant between a man and woman is devalued by society, it is a loss for everyone, especially the young."
During this month of May, as many marriages are celebrated in harmony with the life of spring and the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, let us all reflect upon the dignity of marriage as a permanent covenant which reflects the life of God Himself in the Trinity. We pray in a very special way that our Supreme Court will reflect properly the nature of marriage as established by God Himself. We pray that all men and women will be respected as unique gifts from God. As we proclaim the truth in love, we fully recognize that our commitment to preserving marriage as a union between a man and woman is not in any way a degradation of or a discrimination against anyone in regard to their sexual orientation. We realize the importance of Pope Francis’ words, "Our vocation is to care for the covenant of marriage. It is a vital and energizing vocation, through which we cooperate with our Heavenly Father, who Himself always cares for and protects this great gift."
Most Reverend Gerald M. Barbarito
May 8, 2015