Christ versus Satan

Sister Lucia dos Santos, one of the three children who witnessed the Marian apparitions at Fatima, died in 2005. But before her death, she predicted that the final battle between Christ and Satan would be over marriage and the family. We may very well think that this battle is in full swing as I write.

Without attempting a detailed sociological review, we may remember that the breakdown of marriage in the UK is above 40%. In addition there is a large number of long term cohabitations: unmarried cohabiting parents account for one fifth of couples but half of all family breakdown. The overall result is that one in four toddlers and nearly one in two teenagers are not living with both natural parents. Since lone parents often live in near poverty, there is a national welfare bill approaching 50 billion pounds. And on top there is the huge emotional cost. – which is almost bound to be reflected in the marriages, or otherwise, of the next generation.

No one can doubt that this is a tragedy which might rightly be called a battle between Christ and Satan. And we would see at the heart of this a separation between sexual activity as an expression of the unconditional commitment of marriage and sexual activity as an expression of temporary relationship, and indeed just for entertainment.

Our immediate response to this might well be that the curse lies in the widespread usage of artificial contraception. After all, given the power of the sexual instinct and the ready availability of methods to avoid conception, what else would we expect? It would seem that Paul VI was right in confirming the Church’s prohibition.

Before we settle for this, however, there are some considerations. The most obvious one is that, with or without, Humanae Vitae, and, even if the general Catholic population had fully accepted the ruling, the outcome would have been much the same.

The HV ruling was not concerned with preventing a couple from avoiding conception, but only with the method being used. Indeed the champions of natural family planning make much of their brave successes in devising better and more accurate ways of avoiding conception. It was argued in the Papal Commission, which preceded HV, that many couples using NFP spent so much time and emotional energy on avoiding conception that it could damage the marriage.

But as we know the papal teaching was broadly rejected, and we understand that upwards of 90% of Catholic couples do not follow the ruling. And such evidence as we have suggests that the parish clergy, for the most part, are doubtful about it. Nor, given the proportion of bishops who supported the Commission’s conclusions, are the bishops seen to be fully aboard. We are in the awkward position of having a definitive teaching which the body of the faithful ignore.

The consequences are alarming. Despite the clemency of the Church in this matter, a large body of the laity feel themselves to be marginalised. We might see evidence of this in the severe reduction in the use of Confession. Another effect may be the dramatic fall in Catholic marriages. Today, measured by size of Catholic population, Catholic marriages in England and Wales are less than a quarter today of those in 1968. There is a similar decline in other major headings. Is it coincidence that these declines started with the arrival of HV? (Figures taken from the Catholic Directory)

Perhaps worst of all, the Church has no effective voice in championing the importance of marriage. In this great battle to which Sister Lucia witnessed, the Church hampered in playing an active part. Even on this Blog we have heard contributors lamenting the rarity of sermons on marriage, In the battle between Christ and Satan the Church has found itself in the sidelines. And, rightly or wrongly, it is held there by HV. In the ordinary world of battles it is unwise to continue following the tactics which are leading to defeat. But, if we were to develop new tactics to uphold marriage and the family, what would they be?

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About Quentin

Science Editor, Catholic Herald. Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
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69 Responses to Christ versus Satan

  1. Brendan says:

    First knee-jerk reaction ? These figures are truly jaw-dropping ; the ripple effect sociologically speaking…. horrifying. And Spiritually ?.. a real tragedy , comparable to ” Rome burning while Nero [ The West ] fiddles. ” This must be now the new ‘ elephant in the room .’

    ” Come Holy Spirit fill the hearts of your faithful , enkindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created . And You shall renew the face of the earth.”

  2. Hock says:

    I do not have the statistics to hand but I understand that the failure rate in marriage for couples who marry after a period of cohabitation are even higher that the failure rate in cohabiting couples who never marry.
    If this is true then the problem is perhaps even harder to define, and what to do about it is even harder.
    Marriage in Church has no greater chance of success than civil marriages although marriages between committed Christians in Church have a very low failure rate.
    For Catholics I do not personally subscribe ( but who knows for sure?) that this has anything to do with the teaching on contraception. Was it not Cardinal Heenan who at the time that this was promulgated ( or re-confirmed) said something similar to ‘The Pope can say what he likes because it is too late as the genie is out of the bottle and can never be put back. ‘ ( I hope this is not a total mis-quote.)
    Sadly there appears to be a general decline in any kind of commitment in life in general. If we look inwards this is reflected in the shortage of vocations to religious life but you only have to look at the stats for Church cleaners, gardeners and flower arrangers to see a decline in nos. of those ministries.

    • Quentin says:

      Hock, I am not aware of the statistic you quote in your first paragraph. But there are figures which show that a couple who have cohabited, had children and then decided to marry are more vulnerable than couples who married in the first place. This, I suppose, would be because the couple had some reason to avoid full commitment over a long period. It may also be that one member eventually agreed to marry under some degree of (concealed?) pressure.

  3. ignatius says:

    Quentin,
    I don’t agree with your last paragraph at all. The effective “weapon” of the Church in this battle is you and me, our marriages that work, if indeed they do.Nearly 30 years ago I began to go to church, attended a house group where I met, for probably the first time in my life, married couples who seemed to function well. It was a profound shock to me and one which began to orientate me towards correct goals, more to the point I began to desire that state for myself.

    As to contraception, I don’t know if I would have practised NFP or not in my earlier life, I think we would have just acted according to our consciences, which is the way I assume others act.
    The big obstacle as far as I can see to teaching on marriage is not, in the main, the lack of teaching from the pulpit but the simple lack of ‘horizontal’ communication in the church at all.

    Maybe its because my wife and I have horns or something but neither of us in our catholic lives have ever been invited into the homes of another catholic family unless we previously knew them outside church life as friends or work colleagues. This is despite the fact we have, for one reason or another, been newcomers to three parishes by now. I mentioned this once in a post on here a couple of years ago now and was barraged by clever suggestions that perhaps I should practise what I preached and take the lead. But the point seemed to go adrift that, compared with churches well schooled in the practice of hospitality, we are nowhere on the scale at all.

    I think the effectiveness of the marriage preparation courses you discussed would be partly down to the shared nature of their being. For some reason or another the simple fact that families need other families to be with and the lonely too need placement within them does not appear to have been well grasped in English Catholicism; this in my view is a great shame.

    • Brendan says:

      It’s all a great shame Ignatius ; let’s work with what we have in our sights.
      I get so frustrated with some ‘ pat ‘ comments of bishops who appearing to ‘ paper over the cracks ‘ that you’ve mentioned , shy away from correcting error by instilling the practical sense of ‘ community ‘ and ‘sharing ‘ of believers that you ( and your wife ) envisage. I too have always felt this great omission in The Church……part cultural , part lack of self-assurance by all……. I’ve been there myself .
      For example the phrase .. ” coming out of the ghetto [ of history ] ” which has weighed down British Catholicism for centuries . I’ve heard ONE Bishop in my life-time express this sentiment . But has it been taken up by the Church and fully explained and acted on ? – no.
      Too often we’ve been content to hang onto ( hidden under ) the apron strings of The Established Church. Need I say we can’t rely on that any more ? We need to be seen, visibly’ in ‘ and ‘ out ‘ of ourselves…….” in season and out of season .” 2Tim.4:2 . Drastic times call for drastic but timeless measures that work.
      The time-honoured Catholic practise of Adoration available to all , particularly in times of crisis ( ‘ if and when ‘ throughout every day ) , of The Eucharist and national prayer underlined by a Rosary Crusade – beseeching the help of those who already have Gods favour and who will work on the Worlds behalf – now the weapon of choice against Satans mischief , ultimately doomed to fail ( Fatima ) through our prayers.
      Yes, I can hear half the ‘ worldly-wise ‘ laughing sneer now….. sadly some of them will be our co-religionists ….. eager to uphold the dead-hand of ‘ political correctness .
      ” …anyone who loses his life [ rejecting the old ] for my sake , will find it.” Matt. 10:39 (NJB)

  4. Quentin says:

    Nothing to do with the present discussion, but I recommend ‘The search for the lost manuscript: Julian of Norwich’ on BBC4. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07l6bd0) . I found this a fascinating and moving programme. (60 minutes) I am now reading the Revelations from the beginning, which I have never done before.

  5. Brendan says:

    I saw the programme Quentin. It is indeed a revelation about a ‘ person out of time. ‘…let alone a woman. One slight criticism which I found irksome ; Dr. Janina Ramirez presented a little too much of herself rather than Julian…..perhaps a female version of Professor Brian Cox ? The Radio Times had it about right…..” a riveting tale – which makes the slightly breathy solipsism of presenter……disappointing. ” Nevertheless a fascinating story.

    • Quentin says:

      It’s a fair comment. But I interpreted it as her response to finding something that was bigger than her.

  6. Vincent says:

    It seems to me that we are either going through a period of great danger in our defence of an important, if unwelcome, truth or one day our descendants will have to explain away an unfortunate mistake — much as we have to defend papal encouragement of slavery and the Inquisition today.
    Once upon a time the accepted teaching was that sexual intercourse between the married had to be with the intention to procreate in order to avoid sin. (cf. Augustine).

  7. ignatius says:

    Vincent,
    The latter I think. Can’t help but think we are barking up completely the wrong tree.

    • twr57 says:

      The former I think (tempted however to agree – partially – that we are indeed barking).
      Maybe we could have the discussion about the church’s – alleged – defence of slavery and the evils of the Inquisition on some other occasion. It distracts from the present topic.

      • ignatius says:

        Yes, I agree, it could be either. Certainly Quentin’s second paragraph points towards a story of utter woe and one is daily confronted by the rudderlessness of peoples lives.

      • Vincent says:

        Yes, my mention of other fixed positions which have since been unfixed only tells us about the Church’s eventual acceptance of change. In the question we are discussing we have moved forward from sex only being somewhat reluctantly ‘excused’ for the sake of generation to the use of NFP to allow couples to use it generally in the responsible planning of their family. So we may have further to go. Though as the journey so far has taken nearly two millennia, it may take time! The present ruling will be more and more neglected and in, say, 500 years it will be no more than an historical curiosity.

  8. St.Joseph says:

    I thank everyone for your continued prayers.
    This morning I had the results of my scan and the tumour has not grown since the last scan. Also the cancer spots on my liver were not there. A great relief. Considering a while back I had Jaundice , blood poisoning and infected stents and 6 hours of blood Tranfusions caused by a line they put into my chest to get the chemo in to me that gave me blood clots, so no more chemo.
    So I thank you for your continued prayers, also Our Lord, His Blessed Mother and St Joseph.

  9. John Nolan says:

    Vincent, I would be interested to know how you can be so certain of the Church’s position in 500 years’ time on an issue concerning the Natural Law. I suppose that one advantage of such astonishing clairvoyance is that you can think and do as you please, confident in the knowledge that the Church will inevitably come round to endorsing your position.

    One hears the same argument trotted out by those who promote women’s ordination – it’s bound to happen in the long run, so why not do it now? It is a peculiarly liberal conceit, made worse by the fact that they did manage to destroy the time-honoured Roman Rite and replace it with something markedly different – or did they? Their much-vaunted achievement is coming under increasing scrutiny and may well turn out to be a house built on sand.

    The Church has never had a ‘fixed’ position on slavery or on the legitimacy of sanctioning force to combat heresy. These, like the prohibition of usury, are convenient red herrings.

    • Vincent says:

      Thank you, John. The changes in moral teaching over the centuries are a feature of the Church. The gross refusal of the rights of individual conscience – which underlies the Inquisition – and was sustained until the mid 20th century – is now history.

      We are horrified in retrospect at the popes who encouraged the use of slavery for the natives in the New World. We had to wait for John Paul II before the overall condemnation of slavery was unconditionally stated.

      The condemnation of usury was correct in terms of the time, but the times changed and it was rightly abandoned.

      Female ordination is not a moral question; it turns on whether women are capable of receiving sacrificial orders. Only the Church can decide that.

      Of course I cannot prophesy for the future, but when I see an arrow in the air traveling in a certain direction,I find it reasonable to predict where and when it is likely to land. And I am conservative here for HV is already in its death throes. It might be better to put it out of its misery, and not leave it to the Church’s passive, but scandalous, method of change without denial: desuetude.

      • St.Joseph says:

        The problem with HV is not its teaching but the priests who do not implement it’
        The Church will never implement woman’s ordination , this is the misunderstanding of Co-Redemptrix. Our Blessed Mother shared in Jesus’s sufferings, however not in the Sacrificial way that Jesus did. God would not allow Her to be Crucified.
        That is how I see the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I probably would accept female Deacons, up to a point. We have married priests now- so women ought to be satisfied with that. Then make the road clear for couples to plan a family the way HV teaches.

  10. Iona says:

    That’s wonderful news, St. Joseph! – Thank you for the Mass for those praying for you; what a lovely idea.
    Despite the fact that many children are being raised by a single parent, or by people who are not their own natural mother and father, and despite the fact that it is “politically correct” to accept all such families as being of equal validity, it still seems to me that most children (and many adults) regard enduring marriage as being the “gold standard” for family life.

  11. ignatius says:

    Iona,
    Certainly my daughter does! You are right about this I think. But I wouldn’t go as far as to say that most young people (or adults) have the same view regarding chastity. As far as I can ‘read’ the mindset of say a 20-30 year old I would guess that it runs along the lines of :
    “Well I hope I know the right person when they come along, but in the meantime this person seems nice and you never know they might be ‘the one’
    From what I see there is definitely a hope in the heart that gold might be struck, but unfortunately also a wealth of evidence leading towards a cynical view that the ‘gold’ might turn out to be the fools variety.

    • ignatius says:

      PS I should add I’m not speaking specifically of Catholics here.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Ignatius.
        What do we believe with regards to the Anglican Church when a couple marry, is that considered to be Sacramental in the eyes of the Catholic Church.
        If a Catholic married a non-Catholic in an Anglican Church would the Catholic be living in sin.
        Would Anglicans not have the same duties toward God in second marriage.
        I am just too tired to look it up, maybe you know. If you don’t mind. Many thanks.

  12. overload says:

    Firstly Quentin, was this a “prediction” by Sister Lucia, or a prophesy?
    Secondly, was she specific in her meaning? For instance, was she speaking of domestic family & marriage, and/or of the Christian family & our marriage to Christ?
    (I have not read the other comments so apologise if these questions have already been addressed)

    • Quentin says:

      I don’t know the detail, I fear. The information came to me from St Joseph, writing in a different context. It struck me as a good way of attracting our attention to a big problem.

      • Martha says:

        I too would be very interested to know more about this. Sin is an offence against God, a failure to live as He has commanded, which we can do in many different ways and in many areas of life, which all have serious effects on others and on ourselves. Committing any serious sin without repenting afterwards, means that we do not truly love the God Who made us and redeemed us.

        Can there be a hierarchy of sin? If an adult child, divorced but marriage not yet annulled (and of course this cannot be assumed), visits with a new partner, do we accept that they will sleep together? Others, sadly, will visit at a weekend, and may not come to Mass on Sunday, which we have to accept. Objectively, is one sin worse than the other? Subjectively, of course, only God can know what is in their hearts, and judge them.

        This may seem rather trivial to some, and is a matter of personal responsibility, but it is a dilemma which previous generations did not usually have to face, and it would be helpful to read any thoughts and opinions.

  13. Brendan says:

    We are strange creatures. We are daily presented by an eternal merry-go-round of perplexing combinations of worldly difficulties punctuated/driven by forces largely beyond our control which ultimately and paradoxically end up alienating ourselves from each other and the World : and through it given no alternative than to be thrown back onto the merry-go-round. The answer ?…
    ” ….We are radically incapable of this [ fallen nature ], but united with Jesus and with the power of his Holy Spirit , we can surrender our will to him ….. ‘ and His plan of salvation for the life of the world ‘………and decide to choose what his Son has always chosen: to do what is pleasing to the Father.” CCC.2825
    In today’s Gospel of Luke ( more expansive in Matthew ) we have Our Lord teaching us the fundamental prayer of Christianity …. The Our Father . From this we each expand our different ways of praying ; but it is important to form an habitual prayer life ( ultimately to the Father , as requested by Christ …” He who sees me ,..” etc. ) however poorly exhibited at times . Sacramental marriage ( as is marriage in general ) has become such a sign of contradiction to the values of the Western culture we now live in : that to become radically capable of its survival – in anything but name only – a daily life of prayer ( joint if possible with ones spouse ) is now essential… I would go as far as it to be a ‘ sine qua non.’
    We are still strange ( obstinate ) creatures after all; for the importance of Gods grace cannot be dispute in mitigation in this respect…… ” And really, I know of nothing good living in me – in my natural self, that is – for though the will to do what is good is in me , the power to do it is not…..So it is that I myself with my mind [ reason ] , obey the law of God , but in my disordered nature obey the law of sin.” Rom.7:18..25.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Brendan.
      I like your post, but I must say without being presumptuous- we could be considered as ‘earthly saints’ comparing it with the awful things that are going on in the world today,

    • St.Joseph says:

      Martha.
      That is a very difficult question to answer.
      The nearest thoughts on that subject to my mind at the moment is that Jesus ate with prostitutes.
      Whether we entertain those who we do not agree with their life style-with regards to family-that does not mean that we agree with them, they will know that-it does not prevent us from loving them., and showing them that we do! Because The Lord loves everyone even sinners,

  14. Iona says:

    Brendan – possibly “a daily life of prayer, if possible with one’s spouse” always was essential. Probably the practice used to be much more widespread than it is now, among protestants as well as Catholics. And among practising Jews.

  15. ignatius says:

    St Joseph,

    Yes, the Catholic Church recognises marriages contracted before conversion. If for example two Presbyterians got married and one or both of them converted to Catholicism, their marriage would be considered valid. Same for two Buddhists or two pagans or the civil ceremony of two atheists or anyone else, for that matter. If their faith or philosophy or the state recognises it, it’s valid….thats things as far as I understand them.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Ignatius.
      Thank you.however if a Catholic married an Anglican in an Anglican Church without the presence or blessing of a RC priest would their marriage be valid. Would they be considered to be living in sin by the RC Church.if they were keeping to their faith and not using artificial contraception..
      .

  16. Brendan says:

    Ignatius – Your understanding of a ‘valid’ marriage from the Catholic point of view is not quite correct , and being not so straightforward needs clarifiction. You are right in saying that two baptised married non- Catholics would have a valid marriage ( sacramental marriage ) in the eyes of The Catholic Church – example being a Protestant to an Orthodox – Why? Because of shared baptism-in -Christ common to most Christians ( perhaps not Unitarians ? ) as well as their giving of their marriage vows to God . Other forms of married states , Christian to no-Christian , atheist to atheist although being married by law ( natural ) , perhaps in another Christian ceremony or in a legal marriage register office – would not be recognised as having that ‘ Catholic ‘ requirement. My understanding is they would have to undergo a ‘ second ‘ definitive valid marriage in the eyes of The Church.
    There may be other requirements ( of which I am not entirely clear myself through Canon Law ) to Catholic recognition of a which may only require a ‘ dispensation ‘ from a Catholic Bishop…. I’m open to further views or possible correction.

  17. Brendan says:

    St Joseph. 6.52am .The question of ‘ contraception ‘ would not come into it regarding initial ‘ mixed marriage ‘. Providing the Catholic Bishop is willing ( dispensation ) , a marriage between a baptised Catholic and Anglican in the Anglican Communion would be valid as sacramental in the eyes of The Catholic Church.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Brendan thank you, However I don’t get that. I asked Ignatius would they be living in sin.
      The Catholic partner would not be responsible for their actions if married to an Anglican by using contraception or abortafacients, and being obedient to their marriage vows, would that be grounds for an annulment, or could the Catholic partner still receive the Blessed Sacrament in the RC Church. Giving the ban on a Sacramental marriage through innocence or ignorant or immaturity!!

  18. St.Joseph says:

    PS.
    Does anyone understand what The Holy Father is getting at!

  19. Geordie says:

    The marriage of an unbaptised person to a baptised person or the marriage of two unbaptised persons, are considered to be valid marriages but not sacramental marriages; according to the Pauline Privilege their marriages can be dissolved and they can remarry.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Geordie.
      There were doubts with regards to my late husbands Baptism as I was told by his mother that his auntie took him out as he was crying so he did not have the water over his head, at the time of his Methodist Baptism, so If I had an affair would I not be committing adultery? What would my sin be?

  20. Brendan says:

    St.Joseph 8.26am – I’m not quite sure what your getting at here. Whether or not the ‘ mixed marriage ‘ partnership is valid or not does not matter : I would say that the use of contraception or abortifacients approved , even if not used by the Catholic spouse precludes him/her from receiving The Catholic Eucharist , unless their is some forced unwillingness or ignorance on his/her part. That’s the best I can do …apart from definitive answers from a Church theologian / canon lawyer.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Brendan.
      Roughly what I am asking and that is if a Catholic married an Anglican or any other faith acceptable to the RC in either Church with the blessing of a priest
      After taking their vows whether it be a RC or other denomination, and the Catholic partner ‘insisted’ that contraception including abortifacients were used, would that be grounds for an annulment.!
      I don’t know myself just interested.
      I had no problem marrying a Methodist, he knew what he was marrying into before hand-I keep my vows- he keeps his, As I posted earlier ‘Not as I say but as I do’.
      Then everyone knows where they stand, especially the Church ,as that will be the instruction given to the non-Catholic ,(or ought to be) then they have the choice to say No.
      Perhaps that is what Pope Francis is in some way is not implemented.
      In other words ‘To close the gate before the horse has bolted’.

      • Brendan says:

        Straight answer. I don’t know …..but it could be a possibility from the Catholic Church’s point of view ; possibly on grounds of immaturity/deception.
        Pope Francis , may have had this kind of scenario in mind when he ‘ suggested ‘ that local Bishops could decide on such an issue without recourse to Rome. However, as we know ‘ AmoriS Laetitia ‘ is causing much anxiety because of his ambiguity in respect of family/ marriage pronouncements. What is dogma in relation to marriage is now being disseminated/ interpreted in different ways following the ‘ exhortation ‘. Only this week . 45 eminent Catholic theologians/ clergy ( among’st them a very eminent English theologian ) wrote to all the Cardinals respectfully imploring them to ask for further clarification from Pope Francis that Amoris Laetitia does not contradict Church Teaching on marriage ; particularly some passages that could mislead some readers.
        To my thinking this puts ‘ making of a marriage ‘ and Christ versus Satan ‘ in sharp focus. The church must be seen to be presenting truly , Gods blessing on marriage when it is sanctioned by its minister and its people ; where its whole credibility in the eyes of the World is at stake.
        It would seem propelling/orchestrating this anxious state of affairs are forces at work in the highest offices of the Church out to sabotage/ bring down Catholic Teaching as it is being taught. This week I read that an advisor to Pope St. John Paul and close confidante of his successor Pope Benedict – the retired eminent Belgian theologian Monsg. Michel Schooyans. – had warned them of a homosexual cabal within the Vatican with links to an organised group whose aim was to liberalise Church Teaching in line with worldly values.
        It maybe that some idea of where this ‘ orchestration ‘ is coming from is given by Archbishop Georg Ganswein ( personal secretary to Pope Benedict and who worked previously for the CDF ) , when he concludes that he is a……’ ” mark of Cain ” in the eyes of much of the Church in Germany – a mark that makes it unlikely he would return to his native land as a diocesan bishop .’
        Both of theses highly disturbing revelations can be found in articles in ” Catholic Voices ” paper, week 24th July – 6th August. Thank God for honest Catholic journalism !

  21. St.Joseph says:

    Brendan.
    Thank you for your comment.
    I believe, Church Teaching on Marriage has been neglected long before Pope Francis sat on the Chair of St Peter.
    It is sad that the 45 Bishops had not raised their ‘voices’ when HV was written by Pope Paul V1-
    who my son was named after in 1964! When the doctors told me that his heart had stopped and was dead from a placenta rupture, I was at risk too. Thank God all was well He will be 52 on Aug 6th the Feast day of the Transfiguration- and transfigured he was!!
    I thought Pope Francis was controversial at first, perhaps he needed to be We all need to wake up to Truth! That’s how we overcome Satan.
    60 years ago my Uncle was told in Confession ‘Not to come back until you have committed a mortal sin’. The problem nowadays- does one know when a sin is mortal?

    • Quentin says:

      St Joseph, you might like to put ‘marriage workaround’. into the search box (without the inverted commas). This post from 2013 may help some of your questions. Incidentally, a Catholic partner can still have sexual intercourse if the other partner insists on using contraception, e.g., condom. However, if every act of intercourse from the beginning of marriage was condomistic, the marriage — though valid — could be nullified because it has not been consummated. Ironically the marriage between Our Lady and St Joseph would have been in a similar situation.

      • Brendan says:

        Quentin – Interesting , reasonable , logical , justifying … and sounds very faith-fulfilling, should the occasion arise in ones faith journey.

  22. Geordie says:

    St Joseph,
    I can’t answer your question of July 25th because I don’t know. I can only presume that the priest who officiated at your wedding knew your circumstances and proceeded with the marriage; in which case it is valid.

    With regard to “Christ versus Satan”, I would say that Satan is active in every sphere of human activity; in marriage, in our youth, in the Church, in Islam, in business, in the EU etc. etc. We should go back to the prayer to St Michael, which we used to say at the end of every Mass but has long been forgotten since the 60s. It is a powerful prayer and if anyone needs a reminder it goes:-
    O Blessed Michael the Archangel
    Defend us on the day of battle.
    Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
    May God rebuke him we humbly pray;
    And do thou, Prince of the heavenly host,
    By the power of God,
    Thrust down to hell Satan and all wicked spirits,
    Who wander through the world for the ruin of souls.

    • pnyikos says:

      A bit of trivia: if you have a prayer group of people who learned the St. Michael prayer in diverse places, it is good to provide them with printed copies, because there are innumerable variations in the translations from the Latin. If everyone wings it, the result could be cacophony. I’ve heard the following variations on the last two lines alone:

      Thrust/Cast/Drive down to/into hell Satan and all [the other] evil/wicked spirits
      Who wander/roam through/about the world for/seeking the ruin/ruination of souls.

  23. Brendan says:

    St.Joseph – As a man I feel great respect for a woman such as yourself who plainly glories in doing Gods will no matter what the cost ; something perhaps the male sex from its natural perspective cannot fully appreciate . It feels somehow humbling to the man who will go about things in a different way by virtue of his gender. Perhaps that is why for one reason the male gender is so attracted to the Mother of God in her trusting simplicity , so contrary sometimes to his own – where and in whom , Christs’ work never fails to become manifest to all.
    Pope Francis is but one of a line of Gods anointed ( particularly Pope St.John Paul ) who has displayed the kind of trust that Our Lady is wont to show to us through the saving grace-filled merits emanating from her Divine Son. You are right to say … ” Pope Francis is controversial ; perhaps he needed to be, we all need to wake up to the Truth ! That’s how we overcome Satan.”…
    He followed on from two great theologian Popes ( thanks to Geordie’s intervention; whom I see as warriors of St. Michael in halting the destructive tide of ‘ modernism ‘ with all its errors in the Church , and lessening its effects on us and the World ) – what would the Church be like if we had no John Paul and Benedict ? – who plainly , finally suffered ‘ graciously’ in their own way for The Kingdom.
    My Belief is that the scene was inscrutably set then , by God to confuse the Devil and his ‘co-workers’ by flushing them out from the shadows into the clear full glare of scrutiny by His Church ; through the office of the personality of Pope Francis ( controversial, different, sometimes confusing ) I see the whole Church aS now being awakened to the dangers ahead . The battleground ?….. saving marriage and by it saving the world. It won’t be a pretty sight !
    But under The Holy Fathers watch given to us by God , we gain great strength and comfort in Christs affirmation of the truth of Himself…….” And look , I am with you always ; yes, to the end of time .” Matt. 28:20 (NJB).

  24. St.Joseph says:

    Brendan.
    Thank you for your reply , I do think Pope Francis is wakening people up!
    When I studied Natural Family Planning, it was not my will at the time, I was looking after pregnant girls in a Guest house when my husband and I organised an SPUC Branch, also quite a busy Public House, we had the opportunity and the finances, which people don’t always have, we were fortunate ,One in that environment will obviously have the whereabouts to do it.
    I did not want to study Natural Family Planning , when asked by our Bishop, I was far too busy, in our local Parish also not having enough education even to spell the word ‘physiology’ never mind what it was, leaving school at 14 and a half . leaving Ireland to come to the UK, and did not want to go to a Convent school in London so hid until I was 15 as that was the law. No Way I said ask the doctors and nurses in the Parish, However Our Blessed Mother ‘got around me’ and I gave in.
    It was not easy learning all I had to know to ‘teach’- I did not preach!
    So it must have been God’s Will and not mine -I can not take the credit for it. I had two wonderful teachers Dr John Kelly FRCS FRCCG and Dr Anna Flynn both now deceased. Which I needed over 18 months being so uneducated at the time!! Also I have a lot to thank St Joseph for! Maybe being good at Maths helped! But thank you for your compliment,

    Geordie.
    Thank you for the prayer to St Michael. I have a beautiful iron statue of St Michael sent to me from the USA from Donna Steichen a friend and writer, I say the prayer each night when I put the TV off also it is often said after the Rosary.

    Quentin.
    Thank you for reminding me about the ‘marriageworkaround’. It was interesting
    to read again. It reminded me of the time I had a knock on my door at 11pm one night and there was a Grandmother.a Mother and her 10 month old baby their Counsellor had sent them to me as some places were not suitable for a baby!!! They were in quite a state,.
    Years ago some husbands treated their wives very badly, beating, sexual abuse etc. treating them like slaves.It would not happen today at least I hope not.
    They stayed with me ‘along with the other pregnant mothers’ they stayed for 3 years, a few years later they became Catholic’s and the little girl went to the junior Catholic School St Joseph’s where my grandchildren went to. The grandmother and the mother are both deceased now RIP I am saying this just to say I can understand and sympathise with the breaking up of marriages, I have been involved in plenty, and if they find love later I am pleased-even if their marriage was sacramental!! I will probably get scourged for saying that from ‘good Catholics’.

  25. ignatius says:

    PS I say the prayer to St Michael each day too. Good idea about adding it on to the rosary – I’ll get my prison prayer group on that!!

  26. John Nolan says:

    The St Michael prayer should be taught in Catholic schools; it’s such a contrast to the wishy-washy sentimental prayers which make up the usual fare. There is a Novus Ordo parish about five miles from where I live which recites it after every Mass, after the priest has left the altar.

    I once attended a 1962 Mass where the Leonine prayers were said in Latin. I don’t remember ever encountering this ‘back in the day’ . Extra-liturgical prayers were usually in the vernacular. In my childhood parish the prayer for the Queen after Sung Mass was said in English, not sung in Latin as it invariably is nowadays.

    • ignatius says:

      Hello everybody,
      It does seem to me that, this week, given the sad events in France and the fact that it is world youth week in Krakow, then the St Michael prayer is very apt for the moment.Pray for our young people and the Pope, I guess too for the hearts of those who would commit such crimes and for the souls of those who have already done so.

    • St.Joseph says:

      The prayer to St Michael is also recited after Mass every day on EWTN, when the priest has left the Altar
      For those who do not know Holy Mass is 3 times a day on Sky 589 EWTN.The first at 1pm live. the others a repeat.
      Also the Rosary is recited every Sunday morning from the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. I think it is live as people are moving in and out of the Shrine and it shows pictures of Lourdes.
      Also the Priest recites the Rosary after Mass on the First Saturday of the month to The Immaculate Heart of Mary.

  27. Brendan says:

    St.Joseph, 7.54 pm ( 26th ) – Who but the hardest of puritanical hearts wold not rejoice , at particularly a woman , previously in ‘ chains ‘ finding consolation and self-fulfillment in love through an ‘ irregular ‘ relationship.
    Our lives are generally messy to the point that even Pope Francis in his startling idiosyncratic way has hinted recently ; that it is possible that an unsuspecting number of Catholic marriages may not in fact turn out to be as valid as one thinks. I know , this Jesuit Pope never ceases to surprise ( confuse ? ) …. but that’s his genius !
    It is only through repentance and experiencing the ‘ mercy of God ‘ that we find our true selves and that we can give true mercy……..’ Misericordes sicut Pater. ‘
    I am reminded of Rousseau’s universal dictum…” Everywhere man is free ; everywhere he is in chains .” I believe that God through this Pope , in this Year of Mercy is calling The Church/World to the realisation of the infinite Mercy of God knowing no bounds in the way of breaking such ” chains “.
    In light of this, it seems no coincidence that The Church is looking more deeply at the true significance of ‘ marriage ‘ in our Salvation history linked to the course of humankind in general. To this end now , initiatives like that of Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth are most welcome…..and I hope , a blue -print everywhere for future marriage preparation.
    I am drawn back inevitably to vigilance ; in The Church preserving the treasury of Faith intact … particularly as it applies to sacramental marriage. Satan knows all the tricks ; he will use the deepest of ‘ traps ‘ to wreck the jewel in the crown of Catholic Teaching – Catholic Marriage.
    We have much in common with our Lutheran brethren, and are told that theological much that divides us since the Reformation has been resolved , including the thorny issue of ‘ justification ‘. The Holy Father quite rightly will ask us to make much of this next year marking the quincentennial of the Protestant break with Rome.
    It is well for us all to remind ourselves that Catholic doctrine on marriage still differs in respect of Lutheran Teaching. While there is agreement of the ‘ covenantal ‘ aspect of marriage as a union between a man and a woman ; the ‘ sacramental ‘ sign is not acceptable to Lutherans in accordance with Protestant Faith. In reading the ‘ sign of the times ‘ we must be aware of the dangers to the integrity of Catholic Teaching in this area……..Satan never sleeps !

  28. ignatius says:

    Martha,
    “..This may seem rather trivial to some, and is a matter of personal responsibility, but it is a dilemma which previous generations did not usually have to face, and it would be helpful to read any thoughts and opinions…”

    I have read your post and it is interesting. But you have not clarified your question sufficiently well for it to be answered.
    “Can there be a hierarchy of sin? If an adult child, divorced but marriage not yet annulled (and of course this cannot be assumed), visits with a new partner, do we accept that they will sleep together? Others, sadly, will visit at a weekend, and may not come to Mass on Sunday, which we have to accept. Objectively, is one sin worse than the other?”

    What is it you want to know Martha? Are you asking about whether you should allow your son/daughter to sleep with their partner when they stay? Is this your question? Which sin are you trying to compare with which? It seems to me that there is your conscience and the conscience of your offspring to consider. Are you asking for yourself or for them?

  29. Martha says:

    St. Joseph, thank you for your reply. Yes, indeed, it is important to show our continuing love, but also to bear in mind that Our Lord said very clearly to one such sinner that she must go and sin no more.

    Ignatius, thank you also. I am asking if indeed some sins are worse than others which seems to be implied by the quotation from Sr. Lucia, depending on its context. Is sexual sin worse than failing to worship God on Sundays?
    It seems easier to accept the latter under the parental roof, but is that justified? And yes, also, I would welcome advice about what we ‘allow’, or accept here, thinking of our own consciences. We have to take responsibility for how we taught our children while they were growing up, and God knows the effect it has had, and all the other influences they have encountered, but their decisions now are certainly their own.

    • ignatius says:

      Hi Martha,
      I would not allow my daughter (21)to sleep with her boyfriend under my roof. Fortunately they are both practicing Catholics and the question does not arise. But if it did arise I would direct them to the nearest Travel lodge.
      Sometime my daughter, when she is at home, doesn’t get to Mass at the weekend; that’s her business, beyond asking her if she wants to come then I don’t try to legislate and nor would I. If she began to slip away from church then I would probably ask her to come with me ‘ just for dad’s sake’ a few times, but beyond that I would pray for her, talk through any issues she had then leave it.

      • Martha says:

        It does sound as if you consider the sexual sin worse then, as you wouldn’t accept it, but Sunday Mass is your daughter’s own business.
        We had the same policy with teens and twenties, but thirties, forties, with a “failed” marriage history has an extra dimension.
        I hope ‘just for Dad’s sake” won’t be construed later, in retrospect, as unacceptable pressure, and not being truly free to make her own decisions.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Ignatius.
      Perhaps you will know the answer to this ,
      Jesus said ‘except for fornication! The Dictionary says ‘fornication is voluntary sexual intercourse between an unmarried man and an unmarried woman.
      How can someone get a divorce if they are not married?

  30. St.Joseph says:

    Ignatius.
    Apparently the grounds for an annulment is that the marriage is not a valid marriage or Sacramental.
    Do you think that perhaps we are not asking the right questions’
    A second civil ‘marriage’ maybe more holy than the first and more likened to what a marriage ought to be. Who are we to judge? God will do that in the end, Love comes in to it (of God) more than the fright of going to Hell! It does not always mean when a marriage breaks down. and they do’ that the innocent party breaks their relationship with God.

  31. ignatius says:

    Martha,

    I don’t look at it that way.

    My daughter would know that it would be very difficult for my wife and I to accept ‘unlawful’ sexual activity under our own roof. For her and her partner then to violate our hospitality would then to be a deliberate and purposeful abuse of both their sexuality and our family bond. It would not be just the sexual sin alone which would be offensive since , were my daughter to be ‘living in sin’ with someone, then I would still visit her; the issue is of dignity and respect for one another.
    As to missing Mass on Sunday and ‘for dads sake’ then of course it would depend entirely on the nature of the family relationship. We don’t do coercion in my household so ‘for dads sake’ would not be of that nature.
    As to comparisons of severity between the two states, well if I reflect on it I’d rather see my daughter ‘living in sin’ and freely attending Mass than not practicing her faith at all. If she truly loved , and maybe was married, to an unbeliever, living with them, but still practiced her faith I don’t think I would worry about that too much. When all this is said and done what would be important would be for me would be to be a father and not a judge; this would probably imply the occasional frank conversation but beyond that, freedom is freedom given. I’m not in your situation Martha so my thoughts really only apply to my own family life and not anyone else’s.

  32. St.Joseph says:

    Quentin.
    I have looked up on the web and I read that according to the Greek and Hebrew in Matthew 19.1.10
    ‘Divorce and remarriage for the case of fornication was granted by Jesus.
    Am I reading that right?

    • Quentin says:

      Trust you, St Joseph, to pick out a really tricky bit! The same saying in Mark and Luke omits reference to fornication, and so causes no problem. The classic Catholic position here reads the text as: The man who separates his wife for any reason other than adultery, and any man at all who marries a second wife is an adulterer.

      Not everyone agrees, of course. But the Church is quite clear that the passage does not contradict the firm teaching on the indissolubility of marriage,

      • St.Joseph says:

        Quentin.
        Thank you.
        I am going to Devon near Salcombe with my daughter and family and my son and granddaughter for 8 days in the morning,I will take my Kindle, but wont be too much on the blog ,out in the Sun please God, I am safe enough now with no chemo, as it doesn’t like the Sun apparently!

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