May. 9, 2016

Holy Spirit and marriage 1.

THE HOLY SPIRIT IN MARRIAGE AND FAMILY

I received an invitation card from my friend for their 25th wedding anniversary. This is what the invitation read, “You are cordially invited to our twenty five years of voluntary imprisonment with hard labor”. I called him to find out exactly what the heck he meant. Then he told me it was their wedding anniversary. Why describe your marriage as “Voluntary imprisonment with hard labor?” He explained that their marriage had been like a self-imposed prison, that he and his wife had been voluntarily imprisoned in each other for the past twenty five years. According to him, training the children was their hard labor.

I once visited a family on appointment. I rang the door-bell about three times but no one answered. But voices were clattering inside. As I made to leave, the man came and opened the door for me. He apologized for keeping me that long anyway. We all sat down, then their six years old child rushed at me and said, “Father, did you know that dad and mom had been quarreling? Dad was yelling at mom and mom was yelling back”. The couple looked away for a while asI tried to dismiss the innocent kid. He persisted, “Mom and dad always yell at each other. Sometimes, I get scared”. At that point I became curious and asked the parents sitting there whether that was true. The man was quick to say, “Father, never mind, we were doing our home-work, just a little exercise”. I have no doubt it’s registered in the child's little brains.

St. Paul says,But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other” (Gal.5:22-26).

Saint Paul invites us to live by the Spirit and to keep in step with the Spirit. Let’s think about this, do you know why some couples yell at each other for every little thing? Everything they do is like competition between them. Everything causes conflict- television remote control, car keys, washing the dishes, dressing kids up or taking them to school, going to church, paying mortgage or bills, etc. They can’t understand the reason, but they feel constant tension in their homes.  

First, we must acknowledge that families and marriages today are in crises due to pressures from society. But in reality, some families have distanced themselves from the Holy Spirit, and so become vulnerable. How do we identify the presence of the Holy Spirit? The Church us the gifts of the Holy Spirit-Wisdom (making choices motivated by God not by societal pressure), Understanding (penetrating the very core of revealed truths), Counsel (sound judgment), Knowledge (discernment of the will of God in our faith journey), Fortitude (spiritual boldness), Piety (filial relationship with God), and Fear of the Lord (wonder or profound reverence for God and for holy things). The gifts of the Spirit in turn produce the fruits of the Spirit. “For where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2Cor. 3:17). That doesn’t rule out the fact that such families encounter challenges. But the Spirit helps them to handle and overcome.

Can you take your mind back to the first moments of your marriage, when you got wedded in the church? I guess a lot of things have changed in your relationship with God. It is either an upward growth (progression) or downward slope (retrogression). Has your spouse contributed to this development? Were you a better Christian as a bachelor/spinster than now, or worse? Did marriage play a significant role in your spirituality? Was it more of a social event? How about your role on your husband/wife? Did you make your spouse a better person spiritually or worse? Did you notice any growth in him/her because of you? Any serious influence? Did you grow together or slack together? Was he pulling you always or were you pulling him?

Let's think about these in at the moment. I'll proceed to talk about the fruits of the Holy Spirit in relation to marriage and family in Part 2 of this write up.