Sunday Sermon for October 4, 2015, The Twenty Seventh Sunday in Ordinary time, Year B

Readings: Gen 2: 18-24; Heb 2:9-11; Mk 10:2-16
In the readings today are brought into the very heart of the foundation of everything human: marriage and family. Needless to say, this is also the battleground where the most crucial fight in the history of the Church is taking place. I have found it interesting that our Lady, in some of her approved apparitions, has stated that the final battle will be over marriage and family. Sister Lucia, from Fatima, has also stated this same fact.

In God’s providence, He has allowed the most important battle in history to wait until our own day. The Church has survived many attacks over the centuries on a variety of issues: the Trinity, the Person of Jesus, the Eucharist, the dogmas regarding our Blessed Lady, the Schisms and heresies that have divided the Church and wounded her unity. But now, after all of the lessons learned over two millennia, the decisive battle is under way.

The greatest concern is not whether or not the Church will survive, because we have our Lord’s promise in that regard. I believe the greatest concern is the lack of preparation on the part of most married people to be able to fight this battle. So many parishes have failed to provide decent catechetical instruction leaving many without a knowledge of even the most basic of the Church’s teachings. Beyond that, there is the barrage of propaganda that is spewed through the media that is having a profound affect on the way people think about issues that no one, even a generation ago, would have ever thought could be questioned.

For instance, it is clear in the first reading that God made a man and a woman for one another. When He declared that it was not good for the man to be alone, the Lord certainly could have created another man just so Adam could have a friend. That was not the will of the Creator from the beginning. God called the first two persons He had created to be married. Our Lord, in the Gospel today, quotes the other account of creation, from the first chapter of Genesis, reminding us that God created them male and female and, for this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and cling to his wife.

It would be hard to make this too much more clear. But somehow we have managed to ignore all of this and we are now trying to justify a variety of situations that violate the very purpose of our creation. Beyond this, we have to acknowledge that as Catholics, we have allowed relativism and outright disobedience to enter into the realm of marriage. Polls have shown, for instance, that some 90% of Catholics of child bearing age are either sterilized or using contraceptives. At the same time, even though these things are mortal sins, most everyone continues to receive Holy Communion and to hear these things mentioned in confession is exceedingly rare.

Beyond the obvious, it is tragic to realize that many married people do not understand the very nature of married love. Very few couples really pray together, so the spiritual foundation of their marriage is not being built up. The physical union of the couple is the expression of the spiritual union, but it is also a microcosm of the entire relationship of the married couple. The selfishness in the marital embrace points to a deeper selfishness that will be pervasive throughout the relationship. It also shows that there is something gravely lacking in the relationship of the individuals with God. Considering that the two greatest commandments are to love God and to love neighbor, when we do not even know what it means to love, we are doomed to failure.

Sadly, today people equate love with sex. They have completely lost sight of the point St. Paul makes in the second reading about being made perfect through suffering. All we want is the pleasure and when the suffering seems to exceed the pleasure, we want out. Love is demonstrated in suffering, not in sex. Certainly, within marriage, the sexual union is to be an expression of love, but if there is contraception involved, it is a selfish act, not an act of love. It is two people using one another rather than two people loving one another.

We can know from past experience in dealing with the attacks of the devil that God will raise up Saints defend the area being attacked. We need not only good Catholic families, we need holy families. For those reading this article who are married, please research the Church’s teaching on marriage, evaluate your prayer life (your own, with your spouse, and as a family), and make the adjustments needed to protect your Sacrament and to grow in holiness.

Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit