[11:11–12] These parenthetical remarks relativize the argument from Gn 2–3. In the Lord: in the Christian economy the relation between the sexes is characterized by a mutual dependence, which is not further specified. And even in the natural order conditions have changed: the mode of origin described in Gn 2 has been reversed (1 Cor 11:12a). But the ultimately significant fact is the origin that all things have in common (1 Cor 11:12b).
This blog, if it is your first visit here, is sponsored by Catholic Men Chicago Southland apostolate (CMCS). Some people have the idea that CMCS is all about men. In reality CMCS is about relationships, and placing women in their rightful place of honor, because without women none of us men would even be born into this world. Just like how we wouldn’t have Jesus without Mary.
As our mission reads: “CMCS has a practical way of evangelizing Catholic men young and old, and their families, of helping them to understand what the culture often rejects – how men and women should relate to one another in complementary ways and how important husbands and fathers are to children.”
This element of personal relationships and communications between men and woman can easily get lost today and with the online world, especially social media which has become flawed from its original purpose. And this is why CMCS hosts an annual Men’s Forum, so that us guys can share our thoughts with each other on important topics. The results most often being that we come to realize how hard we are on ourselves, and how our own concerns and struggles are very similar to other Catholic men, more than we ever thought. You would most likely never learn this with an online discussion forum.
And we see from 1 Corinthians how men and women have more things in common than we may think or realize, or our culture would want us to believe, and all of this is God’s plan. This relation between the sexes is made to compliment each other, if we’d just allow ourselves to see it this way and through God’s eyes. Sometimes we need a mentor, counselor, priest, or a book to help us better relate to each other, but it is possible with effort and intention.
Once we discover that differences between the sexes, or husband and wife, are meant to be a blessing, we try to learn from each other and thank God for them and each other.
“There are no irreconcilable differences, only people who refuse to reconcile. It all begins by accepting our differences as an asset rather than a liability.”
If you go looking for a friend, you’re going to find they’re very scarce…. If you go out to be a friend, you’ll find them everywhere.
I love this quote, because I find it to be so true. What do you think?
So the story goes, there were two teen-age friends who passed each other on a Sunday morning. One friend said to the other, “I’m going fishing, would you like to go with me?” The other friend replied, “No, I’m on my way to Sunday Mass.” This same thing happened for a month of Sunday’s until the one friend said to the other, “You know, I’ve invited you for several Sunday’s to go fishing with me, but never once have you invited me to go to Mass with you.”
The Catholic word for invitation can be evangelization.
So the question here is, what is a true friend? The Lord Jesus Christ gave us the definition of a true friend: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:13-15). Jesus is the pure example of a true friend, for He laid down His life for His “friends.” What is more, anyone may become His friend by trusting in Him as their personal savior, being born (again) into new life in Him.
Proverbs is another good source of wisdom regarding friends. “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17). “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). The issue here is that in order have a friend, one must be a friend. “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses” (Proverbs 27:6). “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).
So to have a true friend means that you have to be one. I first learned how to be a true friend by the example of my father with his friendships. I consider myself fortunate. I learned too that sometimes to have true friendship is easier said than done. I stopped counting the number of times that I’ve been honest with a friend – someone I cared much about – who gave me the (trust or) permission to speak to them about their life …. as others have done with me … only to find the person doesn’t want to hear it or talk about it, or becomes hurt or offended by what I said – but this also taught me how to say things better.
I’ve learned the hard way that either few people today know what a true friend is, or we are fortunate to have one person in our lives that we consider a true friend – someone that we trust to be matter of fact with us, loyal, and to share our deepest secrets with. And often (sadly) this is someone other than a sibling or our wife, rather than in addition to.
As I’ve said before in other blog posts, Jesus confronted people because he loved them. However, you don’t have to look real hard to see in our self-gratification culture today that many friendships are on the basis of “if you don’t tell me what I want to hear, then you’re not my friend”. It’s common today to work at giving others their own space and not offending them. Even spouses are to be the best of friends – a gift to each other – yet many marriages I find have too many stressors and distractions to even think about working at friendship, much less marriage. This can be one reason many couples today live together without marriage vows.
With marriage especially, the important thing about friendships, and relationships, is to be embracing differences. In marriage there really is not irreconcilable differences, only people who refuse to reconcile. It all begins by accepting our differences as an asset to each other in the marriage, rather than a liability.
Said another way, reconciliation and forgiveness is the most important action in maintaining a true friendship …. and marriage. It happens when we care about others and their feelings before our own, when we have to put our pride and our personal agenda on the back burner, so to speak. I have discovered that unless it hurts it’s not true friendship, for God gives us true friends not only to inspire each other, but to help us to grow and to strengthen our trust and faith in Him and the power of prayer.
Sometimes this process of God “pruning” our lives can take years. It means going through – as many times as it takes – the process of working through misconceptions, barriers, etc. when society says walk away and move on to another relationship.
In the Gospels (Mark 12:41), the poor widow gave two small coins worth a few cents, and Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.”
True friendship gives from it’s poverty, from what we don’t have. Not financially, but from our ‘unfamiliar territory’ – when our conscience and our will tell us to do what the Lord commands us, despite our own human understanding.
The way to know you have a true friendship is that, a true friend keeps coming back. It’s usually a person whom you’ve never known anyone like them … And you know that you never will again. That you are both better persons for knowing each other. Someone you can thank God for bringing into each others lives. And this can also be several people, each, throughout the seasons of life.
All of this reminds me of the old James Taylor song, “You’ve Got A Friend”. The lyrics go something like:
” You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I’ll come running, to see you again
…. You’ve Got A Friend”.
How many of us have a friend like that? Or even, how many of us ARE a friend like this?
Today, ask your wife, your kids, and your friends, “How can I be a better friend to you?”
I know that I’ve only scratched the surface here about true friendship. So, I would like to learn what true friendship means to you? Make a comment below, or send a private email on the Contact Us page. I will share (anonymous if you say so) response to this question in an future blog post.
Life, and the persons we share it with, is too short.
12We ask you, brothers, to respect those who are laboring among you and who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you, 13and to show esteem for them with special love on account of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14We urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, cheer the fainthearted, support the weak, be patient with all. 15See that no one returns evil for evil; rather, always seek what is good [both] for each other and for all. 16Rejoice always. 17Pray without ceasing. 18In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.
I have a confession to make. I have lived through at least seven car accidents while I was the driver. None of them have I caused, just my being in the wrong place at the ‘right’ time. However, all of them caused me to reflect on me asking “why did that happen”?!!
But that’s not the real confession ….
The confession is that all of those accidents revealed my unfinished business in that moment had I died, and how I needed to work on each day to correct things that went wrong ‘yesterday’ … and (do that) for the rest of my life. As a Catholic man, it is my responsibility, as it is yours, to be a spiritual leader for our family and an example of our relationship with Christ!
Our first ministry is to get our faimily to Heaven.
I’m sure if you ask your priest or deacon they will tell you the number of people they see at funerals who’ve gone up to bodies and weeping over unsettled issues. The closer you get to people, the more you have disagreements.
It seems that everywhere you look people want to fight you. And today both online and offline. Conflict resolution involves making right towards others to be at peace with all people – and we can’t change others until we can change ourself first.
Every day you and I need to work toward living and being “The Goodness of a Catholic Man”, and a servant leader after God’s own heart. Many times we have good intentions but hide behind, or allow, things that distract us to never take action on our responsibilities: prayers or the Cross, the TV clicker, your fears, gossip, sports, money, pornography, work …. the list goes on.
What do you hide behind ?
If you are married, are you and your wife a “gift” to each other, or do you repay evil for evil? Do either or both of you withdraw from the other to make them “pay the price”? Do you threaten divorce instead of work on better communication, no matter what it takes? If so, what is it going to take for you to look at each other in the eyes and say ” YOU ARE NOT MY ENEMY!!! “
Men – how do you talk to your wife? You may have issues, but she is the ONE (that you married and thus God gave to you), and so treat her like the queen of your household. Because she is!! I have learned, when our wives are unhappy, more often than not it’s because of our selfishness (just saying), by not filling her with our love and affection in the way God that made her.
What about your family members: children, siblings, parents, cousins, uncles and aunts … and even close friends … to name a few? As Father Larry Richards says, “the best way to set people free is with your love, not your judgement”. Yes, sometimes we need to tolerate family or friends, and other times we need to remove persons from our lives because they cause a threat to our health or to our life. But, otherwise, Christ calls us in all things to respect each other as a person, as a man or as a woman, no matter how we feel about them.
The reality is that God doesn’t need you or me to do His work! He needs us to love people and let them experience an example of what it is to be Catholic! To be contagious with our Faith!! Spiritual poverty is very common because of our hard hearts. To become the body of Christ we all need to be renewed in prayer.
Let us bring our questions to Jesus. Let Him show us through this renewal how to witness the way in His love.
…. So, going forward, I challenge you to take the steps needed to take care of unfinished business! You know what it is.
Instead of tolerating those persons or issues, this time tackle them like a football superstar … even if it means to make a stop at confession as a first step. Reconciliation and Forgiveness is not a bad thing. Pride and dictating is. In your position of spiritual leadership in the home, responsibility and integrity matters!
Pray is the best way. God, through our action, will then show us how to do the rest.
Life, and the persons we share it with, is too short. You never know what tomorrow will bring.
Like too many Catholic husbands and marriages today, I have been faced with the possibility of divorce in my almost 30 year marriage. Fortunately, my wife and I worked through this devistating period of our lives – truly by the grace and mercy of God! But not without the feelings, anger, emotions, and all the ‘stuff’ that comes with it. It is always a constant work in progress, for a lifetime.
As I talk with other Catholic men about marriage and divorce in our time, it is evident to me that marriage is under attack in our culture, if not our world – especially with people of Faith!
The number of weddings – between a man and a woman – is down, people are cohabitating more often than not, and Satan is using every means possible to confuse our thinking and distract what we truly believe. And the holidays – Thanksgiving through New Year’s – is widely known as a time when divorce has most impact on our lives and relationships, direct or indirect.
While divorce removes some pressures, it creates a host of others, says Dr. Gary Chapman in his book‘The One Year Love Language Minute Devotional’. If you are considering divorce, only a small percentage of divorced individuals claim to have found greater happiness in a second or third marriage. “The grass being greener on the other side of the fence is a myth”, he says.
Divorce should be the last possible alternative, because far too many couples opt for divorce too soon and at too great a price. It should first be preceded by every effort at reconciling differences, dealing with issues, and solving problems. When couples seek and find proper help, many have reconciled.
Guys have Hope!
With the right information and proper support, you can be a positive change agent in your relationship. Follow God’s advice and guard your heart, remain faithful to your spouse and seek help. The path towards divorce is filled with more pain and difficulty, believe it or not. Healing takes time. God’s time.
One thing I decided to do in my experience with divorce is to change my perspective and change myself first. I didn’t know about it at the time, but this too is what Dr. Ray Guarendi says “You can’t change your spouse’s behavior and attitude. But you can change yours.” in his book‘Marriage: Small Steps, Big Rewards’. So I will share more on this in another blog post.
A Resource for Men
When I went through my divorce experience I found there was very little online about men and divorce, as much as there was for women. So I decided then to do something about it by writing more articles – and this is one of them. It just has been taking some time in listening to the Holy Spirit about how to go about it. So now, in due time, you can use the keyword ‘divorce’ in the search bar on this blog and have yourself a resource. God bless you!
This collection of Catholic marriage quotes and resources from a variety of Church documents and Saints, and authors of marriage books, can be read, shared, and reflected upon by married couples and couples preparing for marriage, as well as the parishioners who support them on their journey.
When Jesus finished these words, he left Galilee and went to the district of Judea across the Jordan.
Great crowds followed him, and he cured them there.
Some Pharisees approached him, and tested him, saying, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?”
He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’
and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?
So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.”
They said to him, “Then why did Moses command that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss [her]?”
He said to them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.
I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.”
[His] disciples said to him, “If that is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.”
He answered, “Not all can accept [this] word, but only those to whom that is granted.
Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it.” — Matthew 19:1
Marriage is not only a sacrament, but a very serious commitment as well. We only should enter into this relationship when we can accept all that it brings. In our present day more people seem to divorce, for example, but in the ‘old days’ people stuck with their marriage no matter what. For this reason it is important for us men to consistently be a Man of God, and to surround ourselves with people who are solid pro-marriage. Below are some scriptures and quotes to support love and the marriage covenant:
Love that leads to marriage is a gift from God and a great act of faith toward other human beings.
St. Pope John Paul II
Just as God’s love is stable and lasts forever, we want the love on which a family is based to be stable and to last forever. We must not allow ourselves to be conquered by a ‘throwaway culture.’
Pope Francis Meeting with Engaged Couples at the Vatican, St. Valentine’s Day 2014.
I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love
Saint Mother Teresa
The saints did not all begin well, but they ended well.
St. John Vianney
Often a matter of focus: Why is it when we are dating, we focus time and attention on each other. But after a few years of marriage we focus on everything else. Fact is, we desperately need each other.
The divorced and remarried can receive absolution like any other member of the faithful, the Vatican’s doctrinal office has affirmed: when they repent, in their case taking a firm resolution to abstain from sex with their new partner.