Because We Love God!

Saint Juliana School recently went to Feed My Starving Children to pack meals for the poor.

Letters from a Pastor to His People- November 10, 2019

Dear Parishioners,

Why would the seven brothers, along with their mother, undergo horrible tortures unto their death?  Because they love God.

Why would some people, as our Lord says in today's Gospel, "neither marry nor be given in marriage?"  Same answer.  Because they love God. 

Now, I know our Lord is describing the afterlife.  That is, he is saying we will not be married to our spouse anymore when we are in Heaven.  In Heaven we are all "married."  We are all swept up in love in the communion of saints, and that love is greater than any love we could ever experience on this earth. 

But I want to talk about marriage and celibacy.  For I also take our Lord's words in the Gospel as words of encouragement to those who forsake marriage on this earth and live a life completely consecrated to God, i.e., Catholic priests and religious. 

Why are priests celibate?  Not so we can have more time for ministry or any other practical reason.  We are celibate because we love God.  We love him with our whole heart and want to give our complete self away to him and only him.

This is relevant to you, parishioners who are not priests or nuns.  A priest's celibacy says something about God; a reality about God that can help your own relationship with God.  Let me quote from Romano Guardini, a theologian from the middle of the 20th Century.  He writes about Christian virginity:

Christ says that it is possible for the human being to concentrate all his powers of love honestly, purely on God, for he is such that he can be loved with all the plenitude of life; that he can become everything, beginning and end, of man's existence.  Not as an Ersatz, not as a cloak for something else, nor as the object of deflected human affection, but for his own sake. God is the sovereign Lover, he who loves and can be loved absolutely—indeed, in the last analysis, the only one who can be loved without reserve.

The ultimate goal of any vocation—religious, married, or single—is the love of God.  The "medium," if you will, of loving God is the context of the vocation: the other spouse, life in the Church, life in the job and in the world.  God gives us our spouse or our priesthood or our single-life in the world.  He hard-wires us to love him in this specific way.

Do you already begin to see the radical nature of this?  (Remember, Jesus was pretty radical.)  I think we often see our "first love" as our spouse or family, if you are married.  You might see my "first love" as my activity in the Church.  In other words, what I'm 'fundamentally about' is saying Mass, running the school and parish, etc.  The "love of God" is just this vague thing that follows along. 

No, sir, it is not.  And same with you who are married or single.  The love of God comes first.  You love God through your spouse and life in the world.  And only this because God and God's love is real, as Guardini was saying.

If you feel like you're betraying your spouse by subscribing to this, don't worry.  The beauty of God is that his love is a "high tide that raises all boats." Loving God first will enhance your marriage, just like loving God enhances my activity as pastor.  God is a burning bush that is never consumed.  I hope you experience him.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. James

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