On Love, Life, and Christian Marriage

Author: Paul Likoudis

On Love, Life, and Christian Marriage

by Paul Likoudis

In early June, Eternal Life of Bardstown, Ky., released a 12-tape, comprehensive exposition, , by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J. Recorded live before a group of Catholic couples, the series provides a thorough instruction on Church teaching on love, marriage, and the family.

Since their initial release, the tapes have received high praise from both college and high school teachers who have used them in their classes, and from priests who have utilized them in parish family life programs. The presentation is both candid and compassionate, while unwaveringly faithful to the magisterial teaching of the Church.

While Fr. Hardon is addressing married couples in these lectures, and discussing some intimate matters pertaining to difficulties spouses have, the instruction is both sensitive and prudent, and suitable for adolescents—as well as for single people of whatever age or state of life.

During Fr. Hardon's recent visit to Louisville, Ky., for the Church Teaches Forum, interviewed him to discuss the reason he produced these tapes, as well as to ask his views on various difficulties and challenges that Catholic spouses face in their married life as they try to raise children and remain faithful to the Church and to each other in a neopagan culture.

The tapes, packaged in an attractive album, are available from Eternal Life (P.O. Box 787, Bardstown, KY 40004-0787) for $38.00 postpaid. Phone orders, with billing to American Express, VISA, or MasterCard, can be placed by calling 1-800-842-2871.

Eternal Life has just published a new catalog with a complete list of its booklets and pamphlets, books and tapes, which readers are invited to request:"

Also, Eternal Life has published two new question-and- answer catechisms written by Fr. Hardon, a and a . Fr. Hardon answers the common questions Christians raise on pro-life and conscience matters, with responses indexed to the two recent encyclicals written by Pope John Paul II.

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Q. You say in your tapes that the modern world and modern people are obsessed with sex, and yet you also say that the sex drive is man's strongest drive and has been from the beginning. What's different or new about contemporary attitudes about sex?

A. As the modern world understands sex, it does not look at it as a moral issue. The sex experience is something people have a "right" to, according to their own norms, and each person's conscience is his own guide to sexual pleasure. There is no objective moral norm by which people are bound. That's new.

Q. What are the consequences?

A. They are disastrous. For the individual, once sex is looked upon as amoral, then any sex experience may be had—enjoyed—either by oneself, or with others, with impunity.

The effect on the individual is to demoralize the individual conscience. Once that occurs, then there is no other satisfaction that a person may want or desire that he will not seek and try to fulfill, short of the civil authority which might try to inhibit him.

For those of the faith, the Sixth Commandment is the key. Once the Sixth Commandment goes, so go all the others, including the Fifth, which is the lesson of our times.

Without chastity, no human life is safe, either one's own or another person's. In other words, there would be no abortion in the world today except for sex indulgence. If sex is not moral, then human life is not safe. This runs much deeper than meets the eye.

The purpose of sexual pleasure is to inspire the procreation of human life, the preservation of human life, and the support of human life. Once sexual pleasure becomes independent of objective moral standards, then human life is not even assured of coming into being.

Q. Can you explain more fully the link between the Sixth and Fifth Commandments?

A. Let me tell how I became convinced of this link. When I was a student in Rome, I had a language professor, a Jesuit priest, who was a prisoner in Dachau for four and one-half years. He only survived for so long because he was a very skilled linguist, and the Nazis used him. His main job was moving bodies from the gas chambers to the furnace.

This professor told us that on many nights, the prisoners were so starved that they were unable to sleep, and so they would talk all night long. One of the subjects they probed was what made the Nazis so cruel. For months, he said, they discussed what could possibly make one human being SQ cruel to another, and finally they found the answer: Every single one of the guards was a sex pervert; there were no exceptions.

The relationship between chastity — whose foundation is charity — and justice toward others, is a relationship of cause and effect. Every sexually perverse society becomes a society of murderers. There is no doubt about it.

Q. What motivated you to produce these tapes? What is their purpose?

A. There are three reasons. First, the preservation of human life. Without the restoration of chastity, our nation will never stop the crime of abortion.

Second, we must alert all Christians, especially Catholics, that it is only the practice of chastity which can preserve innocent human life. If we do not restore chastity in this country, America will destroy itself.

Third, to bring out the fact that chastity begins in the mind. Therefore, all talk about chastity is just so much verbiage unless we master our thoughts.

I have formulated what I call "The Iron Law of Human Destiny." Sense leads to thought, that is: There can be no thought without sense experience. Thought leads to desire; we desire with the will, and the mind tells us what to desire. Desire leads to action; every action becomes a habit if we repeat it. Habit forms character, and character forms destiny. Therefore, I must control what I see, touch, and feel.

This explains why the modern media's bombardment of the senses is so pernicious; it leads us to the wrong thoughts, desires, actions, and habits.

Q. How would you sum up the message of these tapes?

A. Chastity requires the practice of charity, and the practice of charity produces happiness. Everyone wants to be happy, but people are not being told today that if you want to be happy, you have to "pay the price." Catholics are not being taught the truth about chastity and charity, but rather are being taught untruth, even under Catholic auspices and in so-called Catholic books, magazines, and newspapers.

Q. In counseling Catholic couples, what do you find are the major problems Catholic spouses are encountering?

A. The major problem is that Catholic couples who really do want to keep their faith and live according to the precepts of the Church are not getting any support. They are very alone.

Second, many Catholics do not realize how deep is the ravage in our society. I would say that many Catholics are practical atheists, and they do not see the Godlessness of modern society.

Third, most Catholics, even those who love the faith and try to live it, do not realize that just to survive, couples must have access to extraordinary grace through a life of prayer such as Catholics have not been required to practice since the Church was founded. Catholic couples must try to get to Mass and Communion every day.

Fourth, our entire society in which strongly believing Catholics are living is not just an alien culture, it is positively hostile. Therefore, the courage required to live according to the Gospel is heroic, but courage and the will are only as strong as the conviction of the mind.

Q. You stress over and over again how important it is for Catholics to have a "Catholic mentality." Isn't that nearly an impossible task for most people because of the bombardment of the senses with anti-Catholic messages?

A. Until Christ came into the world, there was no chastity. In the Roman Empire, contraception was universal, abortion and infanticide were legal, divorce was a given, polygamy was practiced by pagans and Jews. Since Christ, it is possible.

Consequently, if we are to restore a Catholic mentality, and establish any semblance of chastity before marriage, during marriage, and outside of marriage, we have to know and love Christ's teaching live it, and share it with others.

Q. In some of the lectures, you are surprisingly candid about the mutual duties of husbands and wives. Why?

A. Because there is a lot for spouses to learn. Over the years, I've seen once-happy marriages break down, especially as couples get older. Either both grow in selfless love, or their marriage is in deep trouble.

The husband is an occasion for his wife to practice charity toward him, and on the other hand, he is often an occasion for her to become angry, impatient, and discouraged because he can put pressure on her virtue.

The same applies to the wife. She can be very selfless, but she can also put great pressure on his patience.

Humanly speaking, it is impossible for Catholic spouses to remain faithful to each other unless there is grace, which comes from prayer and sacrifice.

Q. What are the major problems you see among Catholic spouses who have been married for some time?

A. The greatest difficulty, for husbands, is remaining chaste after the wife has children, and she's no longer interested in having relations—in "lowbrow sex," as if sex were something bad.

Q. What do you advise?

A. Both need help. The husband must be patient with his wife who is not providing him with the affection he is used to. He's thinking, "This is why I married her." He has to realize he is in competition with her for the affection she is giving to the children.

The hard part for the husband is that he must show extraordinary love for his wife, and extra love means he must be willing to pay for his love. True love is willing to suffer for the one it loves. True love is willing to suffer from the one it loves.

The wife, whose deepest desire as a woman is to love, to give herself, must learn to give and give and give. Even before marriage, a girl must learn to see herself as a giver and a giver—so she is prepared to give herself to her husband.

The deepest need of a woman is to love, and the deepest need of a man is to be loved. There is no substitute for man on this earth than to experience selfless love toward him. A woman must know how to encourage and support her husband, to help him over discouragement, worry, and anxiety.

Catholic spouses need to rediscover the practice of selfless charity, and to do this we need to recover our Christian mentality. That is the purpose of these lectures.

This article was taken from the July 11, 1996 issue of "The Wanderer," 201 Ohio Street, St. Paul, MN 55107, 612-224-5733. Subscription Price: $35.00 per year; six months $20.00.

Copyright (c) 1996 EWTN