Catechism of the Catholic Church - The sacrament of Matrimony
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They had three children: Allison who was 21 and in college, Sam who was 16, and Casey who was 9. The family lived in a neighborhood on the far southwest side of Chicago in what Michael described as modest, middle class, and mostly Catholic.
His two younger children attended Catholic school and his oldest was in college in central Illinois. Michael worked as a graphic designer and his wife was a manager at a downtown department store. I told my doctor all of this and he said I should see you and be in your group. He said he knew he was most likely gay from the time he was a little boy.
He met his wife when they were both in college and they became best friends. He shared with her that he thought he might be gay, but Virginia came to love Michael and believed if they loved each other enough, his past feelings for men would pass. And so they married and, according to Michael, had never spoken of his disclosure since.
For several years he reported he was monogamous. This behavior continued sporadically until the birth of his youngest child. I know Virginia knew about it, but she never said anything and I never explained. It was a horrible cycle. And then it happened. He shared he had been having unprotected sex and had been engaging in fairly high-risk sexual behaviors. His doctor suggested an HIV test. Michael agreed and learned that he was HIV-positive. He panicked and drove around aimlessly for hours.
He eventually returned home and remained silent. Despite his previous thoughts about telling Virginia everything, he said nothing and tried to continue with his life as usual. The pressure built and when Virginia asked about his most recent medical appointments, he disclosed everything to her. She cried, screamed, accused, and then returned to silence.
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Michael did not pursue communication with Virginia or she with him. He was in the same position he was in prior to seroconverting. His doctor referred him to my group. We have a general mental health practice, but specialize in work with LGBT individuals and families. Much of the work I do is with gay and bisexual men. I started doing groups for married and formerly married gay and bisexual men five years ago.
To date, over 50 men have gone through these groups. And while individual therapy is helpful, group therapy has had a greater impact reducing isolation and building confidence. Because they identify as gay or bisexual, they do not feel a full connection with friends and family who identify as heterosexual.
Fearing negative consequences, many do not disclose their non-heterosexual orientation.
There are a number of ways married gay or bisexual men choose to negotiate their lives. Three more common strategies are: No one way is suggested as better or worse than another, though sometimes one strategy serves as a springboard for another.
And though a husband may suspect that his wife suspects, he does not tell. This may even be the case with Michael and Virginia. Michael and Virginia, and other couples who adopt this strategy believe that as long as nothing is discussed or made overt, no one will be hurt, no changes will be necessary, and family life can remain status quo.
In some cases, couples are able to negotiate this arrangement with minimal negative impact. Family members know something is not being discussed. Relationships are more distant and superficial. Parents and children are more careful. And sadly, fathers tend to be less available to their children because on some level, they have removed themselves emotionally from the family. Slowly, he began to discuss his sexual attraction and sexual behaviors more overtly with me and with other men.
He continued to be sexual in the ways he had been before. Eventually though, he met men with whom his intention was to have anonymous sex, but these encounters evolved into on-going relationships.
Not all mixed orientation marriages are open. Some men and women acknowledge the difference in their orientations and continue to have sex only with each other. Others in mixed orientation marriages choose celibacy. Nevertheless, the law given to Moses aims at protecting the wife from arbitrary domination by the husband, even though according to the Lord's words it still carries traces of man's "hardness of heart" which was the reason Moses permitted men to divorce their wives.
Tradition has always seen in the Song of Solomon a unique expression of human love, insofar as it is a reflection of God's love - a love "strong as death" that "many waters cannot quench. She sees in it the confirmation of the goodness of marriage and the proclamation that thenceforth marriage will be an efficacious sign of Christ's presence. God himself has determined it "what therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder.
However, Jesus has not placed on spouses a burden impossible to bear, or too heavy - heavier than the Law of Moses. It is by following Christ, renouncing themselves, and taking up their crosses that spouses will be able to "receive" the original meaning of marriage and live it with the help of Christ.Love After Lockup - 'From Felon to Fiance' Series Premiere - Free Full Episode
This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the Church. Already Baptism, the entry into the People of God, is a nuptial mystery; it is so to speak the nuptial bath. Christian marriage in its turn becomes an efficacious sign, the sacrament of the covenant of Christ and the Church. Since it signifies and communicates grace, marriage between baptized persons is a true sacrament of the New Covenant.
The bond with him takes precedence over all other bonds, familial or social. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it. It is he who gives them meaning and grants them the grace which is indispensable for living them out in conformity with his will.
Whoever denigrates marriage also diminishes the glory of virginity. Whoever praises it makes virginity more admirable and resplendent. What appears good only in comparison with evil would not be truly good. The most excellent good is something even better than what is admitted to be good. In the tradition of the Eastern Churches, the priests bishops or presbyters are witnesses to the mutual consent given by the spouses, but for the validity of the sacrament their blessing is also necessary.
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In the epiclesis of this sacrament the spouses receive the Holy Spirit as the communion of love of Christ and the Church. The presence of the Church's minister and also of the witnesses visibly expresses the fact that marriage is an ecclesial reality.
Several reasons converge to explain this requirement: It is therefore appropriate that it should be celebrated in the public liturgy of the Church; - Marriage introduces one into an ecclesial order, and creates rights and duties in the Church between the spouses and towards their children; - Since marriage is a state of life in the Church, certainty about it is necessary hence the obligation to have witnesses ; - The public character of the consent protects the "I do" once given and helps the spouses remain faithful to it.
The example and teaching given by parents and families remain the special form of this preparation. The role of pastors and of the Christian community as the "family of God" is indispensable for the transmission of the human and Christian values of marriage and family, and much more so in our era when many young people experience broken homes which no longer sufficiently assure this initiation: It is imperative to give suitable and timely instruction to young people, above all in the heart of their own families, about the dignity of married love, its role and its exercise, so that, having learned the value of chastity, they will be able at a suitable age to engage in honorable courtship and enter upon a marriage of their own.
It requires particular attention on the part of couples and their pastors. A case of marriage with disparity of cult between a Catholic and a non-baptized person requires even greater circumspection.
But the difficulties of mixed marriages must not be underestimated. They arise from the fact that the separation of Christians has not yet been overcome. The spouses risk experiencing the tragedy of Christian disunity even in the heart of their own home. Disparity of cult can further aggravate these difficulties. Differences about faith and the very notion of marriage, but also different religious mentalities, can become sources of tension in marriage, especially as regards the education of children.
The temptation to religious indifference can then arise. Its task is to help such couples live out their particular situation in the light of faith, overcome the tensions between the couple's obligations to each other and towards their ecclesial communities, and encourage the flowering of what is common to them in faith and respect for what separates them. This bond, which results from the free human act of the spouses and their consummation of the marriage, is a reality, henceforth irrevocable, and gives rise to a covenant guaranteed by God's fidelity.
The Church does not have the power to contravene this disposition of divine wisdom. By this grace they "help one another to attain holiness in their married life and in welcoming and educating their children.
In the joys of their love and family life he gives them here on earth a foretaste of the wedding feast of the Lamb: How can I ever express the happiness of a marriage joined by the Church, strengthened by an offering, sealed by a blessing, announced by angels, and ratified by the Father? How wonderful the bond between two believers, now one in hope, one in desire, one in discipline, one in the same service! They are both children of one Father and servants of the same Master, undivided in spirit and flesh, truly two in one flesh.
Where the flesh is one, one also is the spirit. It aims at a deeply personal unity, a unity that, beyond union in one flesh, leads to forming one heart and soul; it demands indissolubility and faithfulness in definitive mutual giving; and it is open to fertility. In a word it is a question of the normal characteristics of all natural conjugal love, but with a new significance which not only purifies and strengthens them, but raises them to the extent of making them the expression of specifically Christian values.
It is deepened by lives of the common faith and by the Eucharist received together. This is the consequence of the gift of themselves which they make to each other.