Like a bit of broken pottery,

edges turned up toward heaven,

holding drops of dew,

I can only offer a taste of water from the sky.

Yet such water may be called blessed

by one thirsty enough.

It may be salvation

to the outcast and the dying.


William E. Rushman, September, 2000

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Media Resources for Christians

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of media, but it lists a few things that we feel can contribute to the care and feeding of Christians… Books not included here…


The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – A Wonderworks movie, and its sequels.

A Man for All Seasons – There are two, we recommend both. (The newer version)

The Music Box – A short film, check your local Christian bookstore.


Even though we love music and enjoy listening to these performers/bands, our musical brothers and sisters do not always stay on the straight road when they aren’t singing. Sometimes their music may even have doctrinal errors. Anyway, here are some of the musicians that we enjoy. When time permits, we might list albums… There are links to their sites, and like we said, they may sometimes espouse some very weird, even cultish things… Nobody’s perfect… except the Lord. – Vatican MP3!!

And here is some more on-line music

CrossWalk (the band) – Orange County – MP3 on the site. Sounds great. It’s pretty cool to have even met people that sing and play like this.

New King Hawley – Orange County – Ditto here, but music is samples only, RealAudio format. Words fail to express my admiration.

Bob Bennett (another site, too)– Check out “”The Best””, “”Co-dependent Love””, serious and funny songs. Good for prayer.

John Michael Talbot – Beautiful harmonies, used to be in Mason Proffit. Prayer and meditation.

Randy Stonehill – I hope you have a sense of humour!

Larry Norman – ditto, and you had better like garage bands, too!

Keith Green – Some good music for prayer… or repentance.

Phil Keaggy – Righteous guitar playing!

Benny Hester – Great words and feeling. “”Nobody loves me like You do.””

The Ziggens – Like a Christian version of Weird Al, but some serious songs…

Newsboys – My eldest daughter likes them.

Geoff Moore and the Distance – “”Home Run”” – Cool title song.

The Christian Music Exchange – Haven’t tried it, but it keeps showing up on searches…

My daughters are working on more (contemporary) recommendations, too. Until they finish, I’ll list a few of their favorites: Jars of Clay, Newsboys, Third Day, Point of Grace, Jaci Velasquez, Twila Paris, and they always get the latest “”WoW”” CD’s…

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By the path

I saw a flower

with petals

white, violet and red.

As my business was pressing

I could not gaze on it

as long as I wished

but plucked it

to cheer my way.

Forgetfully, I crushed

it as I walked

and left it behind.

Much later

I found another

as beautiful.

I pulled it from the soil

roots and all

and took it with me.

I shared this wonder

with others who journeyed

on the same road.

Many touched it,

the roots and petals

until it was broken

and bruised

and not lovely at all.

I left it behind.

Another flower,

the same as the others,

held my gaze.

Learning my lesson,

I enjoyed the sight

and the fragrance.

I kissed it lightly

with my hand


kept its dim memory

in my heart,

turned away and

walked on.

With empty hands

I greeted strangers

and suggested they watch for flowers.

William E. Rushman, February 2000

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Nuclear Fusion and Community Building

How Can I Liven Up My Parish?

Physics can be a great help in ministry. For example, consider the requirements for a sustained fusion reaction; one that will produce more than enough energy to keep it going.



Fusion is the combining of two or more atomic nuclei into a single nucleus (atom). The following three things are required:

1) Proximity: There must be some nuclei, very close together.
2) Time: They must be this way for some time.
3) Energy: Lots of heat is required.

If all three conditions are met, you will get fusion.


In the Church, it is the same. We want a lively Church, one that is an exciting presence in the world, just as Jesus was an exciting presence everywhere he went. The Gospel says crowds accompanied him everywhere he went. This requires the same three things as fusion:

Proximity – Every Sunday, large numbers of people are jammed into churches. There is great potential in this, but there is also the danger of an illusion that this means the Church is healthy. Numbers, in themselves, mean nothing but opportunity. Anything that brings people together has potential.

Time – Life is so frenzied now that we seldom take the time to enjoy each other. The lie of “”quality time”” gives the illusion that good time can be scheduled: it can’t. It takes lots of time, lots of opportunities, for wonderful things to happen. Some of the best family time can be while waiting in line, given the right attitude. More good has probably been done on church patios after Mass than in homilies, not because the homilies weren’t good, but because there were so many conversations. Time spent in preparation for parish festivals, open houses, or special rites is always an opportunity for the Holy Spirit to work.

Energy – Every parish has a few people that love God intensely. This fiery zeal comes from the Holy Spirit and can spread throughout a parish provided enough people get together often enough and for long enough. It is contagious because people love to be around lively people, and lovers of God may be quiet, but they aren’t dull. God provides the energy for this “”reaction,”” and all we have to do is get out of the way. At the beginning, the priest, bishop or other minister may have to be the primary channel for this energy, but once the blaze gets going, they just have to tend it and create more opportunities (see Proximity and Time, above).

A Special Note for Priests

It seems to be the fashion to avoid much contact with people (beyond the superficial handshakes and coffee). Perhaps there is a fear of temptation involved in this, and indeed, I’ve known several priests that got close to people and ended up in scandal. I can only say that all lay people who evangelize or become involved with others run the same risk. A married man has a vow of chastity within marriage, but can’t hide from an opportunity to share the Gospel with a woman willing to listen. Those who work with the homeless risk becoming lost in an ideology and forgetting the rest of the Gospel (Mother Teresa wrote about this; it is very common). We all take risks.

Burnout is a serious problem. It occurs when a priest or other laborer’s prayer life is less than is required for the work attempted. Mother Teresa and St. Thomas Aquinas remind us that we are all called to be contemplatives, and any “”excess”” from our prayer life spills out into action. We do not pray to support our lives; our lives should pour forth from the overflowing Grace of God being poured into us. It is a shocking fact that so many priests do no spiritual reading (or similar activities) at all.

Last updated December 7, 1999

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Seven Deadly Sins FAQ

What People Ask About the Seven Deadly Sins

Are the Seven Deadly Sins considered Catholic dogma?

The list (as it is) originated in the Catholic Church, with Pope St. Gregory the Great, but it is really more of a help for spiritual progress than a doctrine. The Gospel already covers them all very well, and so does the whole Bible, and countless books. The Seven Deadly Sins is just a very short list that is easy to understand and apply. That doesn’t mean we worship Greed if we want to, only that the Gospel already says it is bad, and this was revealed long before this list was made. That is another way of looking at it, too: this list is not a new revelation, only a condensed version of what had already been said very clearly.

Why are the Seven Deadly Sins considered “”deadly””?

They are called “”deadly”” because they wound love, and therefore do great harm to our relationship with God and others. Eventually, they can kill the soul, in a sense. And they aren’t much fun to live with, either.

What colors are associated with the Seven Deadly Sins?


Although some artists have used specific colors, there does not appear to be an artistic rule for this. We often associate green with Envy, but colors are such wonderful things that it seems a shame to associate them with sins. All the sins should probably get the dingy colors, though, because they are pretty boring.

What animals are associated with the Seven Deadly Sins?

Sorry, same answer. There doesn’t seem to be any sort of consistent pattern here. Maybe a pig for Gluttony, a peacock for Pride? Maybe a Pride of Lions.

Too much virtue is bad and not enough vice is bad. Please tell everyone this.

(Not really a question.) Early Christians and Greek philosophers would disagree. If you can have too much, it isn’t an instrinsic good. When people talk about “”too much love,”” they really mean the “”wrong kind of love,”” which isn’t love at all. Obsessive self destruction, maybe, but not love. In the same way, some people claim a certain amount of Pride is good. Again, there is no basis for this in the Scriptures or Church teaching. Pride was the downfall of Lucifer, the first humans and their children. Oedipus’ overweaning Pride destroyed him and those around him. Over and over again, Pride causes grief. Why would we want to defend it? Then again, some people keep dangerous pets that eventually eat their child (or their neighbor’s) so it must be (fallen) human nature to “”sow the seeds of our own destruction.”” The same for Gluttony or Anger. In what way are these ever positives? Righteous anger may appear to be an exception, but the vice of Anger is common, self-centered and destructive, while righteous anger is rare, centers on justice and others’ rights, and is cleansing. Jesus clearing the Temple is an example of righteous anger. Most of us will never experience it.

I think that you would have to be completely unhuman to keep within the boundaries of the seven deadly sins. If you know anyone tell them i admire them.

Actually, almost everyone is within the bounds of the Seven Deadly Sins. The hard part is escaping them, and being free, even for a moment. Lots of people think virtue is being bound and sin is liberating. Captives don’t really understand freedom until they have a taste of it; they will never be content with slavery after tasting freedom. In the same way, I’ve had enough freedom now to know I can never go back to my former way of life. I admire Jesus partly because it is great to see someone that is totally free. I love him because he shares his freedom with me.

I know I have seen the seven deadly sins listed together in one sentence in the bible. Do you know where in the bible?

They never occur as in this list.


Hi….i’m doing research for our school Christian Club, KFC (Kids For Christ), and, during a group discussion, it came up that God said “”For I, the Lordyour Fod, am a jealous God..”” which was responded to by “”but what about the Seven Deadly Sins? Isn’t one of them jelousy”” which was answered by “”i thought the Seven Deadly Sins were written by Catholics?”” What I’m asking is did the Catholics write the Seven Deadly Sins? And if they are written in the bible, can you tell me where? This will solve much confusion if you can please answer this question, and if there’s any proof, could you also send that? Thank you!!! God Bless You!!! Sincerely, one of His children

Hi, thanks for writing! Yes, the Seven Deadlies were originated by Pope St. Gregory the Great. You can read about him at: He was familiar with an early list made by St. John Cassian, and both men (and many others) had been thinking about the basic attitudes behind sin for some time. They used their own experience in the light of Scripture, coupled with a great deal of prayer and meditation. The seven deadlies were used as a framework for self examination. The list does not exist in Scripture as such, but all seven are proscribed throughout, especially in the Epistles of St. Paul and James. You can verify this by searching in As you’ve noticed, jealousy is not on the list. Perhaps this is because “”romantic”” love as practiced today (i.e. dating) didn’t exist at that time. In any case, God can be “”jealous”” because He alone has the right, as the Creator. When people are jealous, they are claiming to own someone, and are upset that someone else “”owns”” them. The best documentation for the origin would be to check the Catholic Catechism, or read “”Moralia in Job”” by Pope St. Gregory the Great. (31, 45: PL 76, 621A) Feel free to write anytime, especially about what Catholics believe. I can answer just about anything, give reference materials, and I’m never offended by any question!

hey!! thanx so much, all that info helped a lot, and i loved the way you left websites so i could do further research and proof. It all helped a lot!! Thanx again!!! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Ashlie


I wanted to right and thank you for your work on the Seven Deadly Sins pages. I am not of the Catholic faith, but I have been curious for some time about the basis for these explicit seven, which I have been told are not Biblical. The explications that I have seen on your pages are more than satisfactory, and I have been pondering your writing, and referred texts, a good deal over these past few days. I have a couple of Protestant friends who I know will be very interested in perusing your site as well, and I will refer them shortly. I pray for your continued ministry.

Hi, thanks for writing! I’m grateful that you found something useful, and please let me know if I can be of service again. Questions are always welcome, as are your prayers.

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Questions About Lent

What is the deal with Lent? When did it start?

Early on, Lent was a time of preparation for those about to be baptized at Easter. The whole Church was invited to prepare with them for the greatest of all feasts, and this preparation included acts of mortification, such as fasting, a very old way of reaching out to God. Later, those who had sinned seriously and were doing public penance would observe Lent in this way and be reconciled on Holy Thursday (rejoining the table at Mass). Lent has been observed in different ways at different times, so it is hard to say when it started. St. Cyril of Jerusalem seems to point to some kind of Lenten observance in some of his homilies to catechumen (those preparing for baptism) around 360 or so, but doesn’t address it directly. Quasten’s Patrology says there was a tradition in his time of the bishops of major cities writing to the smaller ones about Lent. St. Athanasius writes (in 332): “”The beginning of the fast of forty days is on the fifth of Phamenoth [March 1]; and when, as I have said, we have first been purified and prepared by these days, we begin the holy week of the great Easter on the tenth of Pharmuthi [April 1]…”” He goes on to set the date of Easter for that year at April 11. This was apparently a custom of long standing, so we would have to put the observance as starting before this. The earliest reference I can find is in writings of Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria from 248 – 265. His letter to Basilides answers the latter’s questions about the duration of Lent. It used to be available on the web, but it is gone now. You should be able to find it in the library, but let me know if you don’t. By the way, there is more than one Basilides, so make sure it is the letter of Dionysius to Basilides. Other ancient writers on Lent are: St. Basil the Great (d. 379), St. John Chrysostom (d. 407), Severian of Gabala (d. 408).

Where is this Lent in the Bible?

It’s not there. The practice didn’t start until a few centuries later. Fasting and abstinence are very old spiritual disciplines, but they aren’t really doctrines (teachings). We use them because they seem to help. Of course, the prophets said that they are only useful after everything else is in its proper place: sacrifice without obedience is useless. So, it’s a practice in some religions, including many Christian denominations, but it isn’t the same as the Ten Commandments or the Beatitudes. Theoretically, it could be dropped at any time. I should mention that abstaining from meat on Fridays is just one form of penance. For American Catholics, we only abstain from meat on Fridays in Lent (and Ash Wednesday), but we are all supposed to remember the sacrifice of Jesus in a special way on the other Fridays, too, in whatever way is most meaningful to us (helps us pray, etc…).

What do Catholics abstain from? What scriptures support this?

This has changed over the centuries: in the past, people abstained from foods prepared with fat, or they fasted in a more strict way throughout Lent. Some people still observe Lent in this way. Meat is (or at least was) the food of the wealthy, and to give it up was to eat the food of the poor, and so to remember one’s poverty before God. It is a devotional practice of ancient (Jewish) origin, and not really based in Scripture, except for the ideas in Isaiah 22:13, Daniel 10, etc… Abstaining from meat was a sign of penance or sorrow for sin, but eating it a sign of merriment. The current practices regarding meat in Lent (or any time of year) could change (and they have), because they are not a part of Christian doctrine, but only practices that help us in our faith.

Why abstain from meat?

I’ve heard two things that sound right, I’ll put the stronger one first: 1) Abstaining from meat is a way of practicing self denial and taking on a kind of voluntary, temporary poverty as a kind of “”gift”” to God. The idea of penance, which is the larger idea here, is thousands of years old, reaching back to the early Hebrews, at least. Some people wore sackcloth and ashes, others fasted and wept. It is a way of stripping away the tokens of wealth and power for a short time so we can remember who we are. We do this on the day Jesus allowed everything to be taken from him so we could see who he is and be saved. As part of this, meat (except fish) tended to be the food of the wealthy, and still does. Red meat especially isn’t practical for the poor, because of the expense, space, equipment (freezers, for example), and such. In wealthy countries, the “”poor”” can still afford it in some form, but poor people in other countries (without electricity and refrigerators) might never eat red meat at all. 2) The idea is we avoid bloody (red meat) food out of respect for the Crucifixion, because Jesus gave his blood for us. Fish are okay, because they are “”bloodless.”” (To the ancients, fish didn’t appear to have much blood.)

Where can I find out more about Lent?

Here are some links that might be helpful:
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops – Lenten Resources
(Each of these has multiple links for further searching)

Hello. I’m doing a report for conformation and I need to know what colors are represented with Lent. If you could get back to me I would greatly appreciate it. My e-mail address is Thank-you.

Purple is the color, in this case representing penance and contrition, rather than royalty. I don’t know of any other colors associated with Lent.

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Prayer Against the Seven Deadly Sins

“”If I find Him, I will find myself.””

Thomas Merton, “”New Seeds of Contemplation,”” 1961

Thomas Merton, Trappist Monk, 20th Century

The following prayer is from his book, “”New Seeds of Contemplation.”” It is widely available. For Merton, the word illusion could be substituted freely for sin. This makes sense in many ways: we often lament our past sins and say, “”How could I have not seen how horrible this was?”” or “”What was I thinking of?”” Here is a prayer from his book:

Let me use all things for one sole reason: to find my joy in giving You glory.

Therefore, keep me, above all things, from sin. Keep me from the death of deadly sin which puts hell in my soul. Keep me from the murder of lust that blinds and poisons my heart. Keep me from the sins that eat a man’s flesh with irresistible fire until he is devoured. Keep me from loving money in which is hatred, from avarice [greed] and ambition that suffocate my life. Keep me from the dead works of vanity and the thankless labor in which artists destroy themselves for pride and money and reputation, and saints are smothered under the avalanche of their own importunate zeal. Staunch in me the rank wound of covetousness and the hungers that exhaust my nature with their bleeding. Stamp out the serpent envy that stings love with poison and kills all joy.

Untie my hands and deliver my heart from sloth. Set me free from the laziness that goes about disguised as activity when activity is not required of me, and from the cowardice that does what is not demanded, in order to escape sacrifice.

But give me the strength that waits upon You in silence and peace. Give me humility in which alone is rest, and deliver me from pride which is the heaviest of burdens. And possess my whole heart and soul with the simplicity of love. Occupy my whole life with the one thought and the one desire of love, that I may love not for the sake of merit, not for the sake of perfection, not for the sake of virtue, not for the sake of sanctity, but for You alone.

Thomas Merton, 1961, Gethsemani. Imprimatur Francis Cardinal Spellman, Archbishop of New York

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Questions From Marriage Talk – February 23, 1999 – Confirmation Class

These are very short responses to the questions. Please e-mail us with other questions or your comments. As we said, our responses reflect the teaching of the Church. We are not promoting some new view of marriage that we invented. If you don’t agree, pray about it, read the Catechism and Scripture, and consider talking to a priest. But don’t just go your own way and call yourself a Catholic: that has caused a lot of suffering in the world already, from the Inquisition to slavery. –Notes from the talkHome

If the husband represents Christ and the wife represents the Church (Ephesians 5), what do the children represent?

The love of Christ and the Church is fruitful: new spiritual life springs from it. In a similar way, the love of the husband and wife becomes visible in the children. The Church has compared this to the life of the Trinity: The Holy Spirit is the love between the Father and the Son. Jesus and the Father love each other so perfectly that their love is another person of the Holy Trinity. This is just our way of trying to understand. But the simple answer is that the children represent the love of the mother and father.

Have you ever had trouble in your marriage or in raising your kids? How often do you and your children practice your faith?

We’ve had the usual problems with the children getting sick, not cleaning their rooms, or whining, just like everybody. Sometimes we feel irritable or tired, and we may not show the love of Jesus very well at all. But as far as door-slamming, dish-breaking, I’m-leaving-you types of trouble, no. It just isn’t appropriate for us in a Catholic marriage. This is not to condemn anyone else. We have been very blessed.

We practice our faith all day, every day, in a sense. But perhaps you were asking how often we do explicitly religious acts together. It all depends on what is a religious act to you. For us, eating dinner together every night (and other meals on weekends) is part of our faith. We discuss our day, the Scriptures, Church teaching, history, books we are reading, school, our feelings about things or how salty the potatoes are. Real faith cannot be separated from real life. But to answer your question, we say Grace before meals, pray together nightly, go to Mass, and and a few small things we do less often. It is important to understand, however, that we are called to constant prayer and a life in union with God. We are supposed to practice our faith in everything we do, not in isolated little pieces.

Is it a sin to believe you love someone?

No. If you are asking about romantic love it depends on whether you are already married and what you do about it.

Is it a sin to force your wife to have sex with you?

Yes, it is called rape, assuming that “”force”” means against her will. In the Catholic view of marriage, it is a Sacrament which symbolizes the love of Christ for the Church. Jesus never forces the Church to do anything, and the Church never forces Christ to love it. The husband and wife must give themselves to each other freely or they are not good symbols of God’s love.

Is it a sin to get married just for interest?

Again, it depends on what you mean. If it means getting married to someone that you find interesting or attractive, that is just part of the way God made men and women. If it means getting married because you want something from the person, like money or sex, that would not be reflecting the love of Christ and the Church.

I really love someone and do not know how to tell them. I would like to marry this person, but she is not Christian. What should I do?

While a Catholic can marry a non-Christian (or non-Catholic), you need to think about a few of the problems with this. If your spouse does not agree with you that your marriage is a Sacrament (a sign of the love between Christ and the Church), you will not be able to do it alone. Marriage takes cooperation and it is “”broken”” when one of the spouses refuses to do their part. As you grow in faith, you will not be able to share a part of yourself because the unbelieving spouse will not understand and may not even want to hear it. It is important to desire Jesus more than anyone else. You may be put in a position of choosing between this person and God. You will have to live with your choice, so you must decide.

Why does marriage have to be permanent?

Jesus became man and committed himself to the Church for eternity. The Church will never have another Savior. The love of Jesus for his Church is permanent. To be a Sacrament, marriage must be a sign of this permanence.

If either the husband or wife is never home because of a job for helping out the family, are they not considered as showing the love of Christ? (because one is not really there for the other)

It is so hard to make a living today that it is sometimes necessary for married couples to be apart more than is good. If it is truly necessary, and is a sacrifice made out of love, it is Christlike. Sometimes, couples work more hours than is needed so they can buy more expensive cars or homes. Sacrificing time together for the sake of unnecessary material goods is not the same thing.

It is important to remember that we are called to consider our own actions. Think about what you want to do in your life. If you get engaged, discuss this with your future spouse. Talk about it with friends. It is important not to look too much at others, and look instead at Jesus and the Saints.

If separating after marriage and never getting back is a sin why do so many people do it?

Actually, the Church does not consider this a sin, but people should listen to their consciences. Many people marry for the wrong reasons or no reasons at all. When they are uncomfortable enough, they separate. It is safe to say most people don’t do what is right, that is why the world is such a mess.

The Church says not to use condoms because it’s against God, but when I have sex I always use one, because of STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases). Do I have to go to confession after?

If you are married to the person, yes, discuss your situation with a priest in Confession (Reconciliation). If you are not married, what are you doing having sex without marriage? Confess that, and change your life, with God’s help. Then you won’t have to worry about STDs.

My � (relatives) � are getting married. They both committed adultery. They are not getting married in the Church but at the beach. After they get married can they go to confession and receive communion?

They should go to a priest and discuss their situation very honestly, and do what he suggests. This is a complicated situation. It is best for us to let them work it out with the Church and we must be careful not to pass judgment on them.

You probably have witnessed a lot of pain and you may have suffered with this directly. Try to live in a way that will not put you in this position. Many of us repeat the errors of our family. Only God can give us the Grace to live a happy life.

Is it a sin to think of having sex with someone else besides your husband or wife?

If it is just a thought passing through your head, maybe not, but consider why that would happen.

The marriage act (having sex) is reserved to marriage. Thinking about doing what is wrong is a problem, and may lead to actually doing the wrong thing.

Is it a sin to fantasize about your wife or husband?

It depends. If you are not married and this is a sexual fantasy, it isn’t going to help you stay pure for marriage. If you are married, it depends on how this affects your life. If the fantasies are things that would be wrong to act out with your spouse, then they are probably a bad idea, at the least.

Will I ever get friends?God has put a desire for friendship in us. If we follow God’s way, participating in the life of the Church and living the Gospel, we will have friends. It takes time. Get to know God better, pray, and be of service to others. You will get friends.

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Guestbook Question About Psalm 51

guestbook message: hello! i have a question regarding psalm 51. i very much like this psalm, very much so, but i am a bit curious about verse 20­21. “”Be bountiful, O Lord, to Zion in your kindness by rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem; Then you shall be pleased with due sacrifices, burnt offerings and holocausts; then shall they offer up bullocks on your altar.”” why? [maybe it’s an obvious answer, but i ain’t getting it.] okay, back to my reading.

By why, I presume you wonder why King David, to whom this Psalm is attributed, would pray for the walls of Jerusalem to be rebuilt before they had been torn down for the first time (by the Babylonians).This is an anachronism, or what appears to be a mistake of timing (although it isn’t).

By the way, different translations of the Bible assign verses and chapters a bit differently. Don’t be surprised to find these as 18 and 19 in the KJV.

The King James Version has “”build the walls of Jerusalem,”” rather than “”rebuild.”” The Revised Standard Version and the New American (Catholic) Bible have “”rebuild.”” It could be an error in translation, but notice that these verses don’t really fit very well with the theme of the psalm (at first). It appears to be a gloss, or added text, but it is apparently quite old since it is in several Bible translations. The notes in my NAB say these verses were probably added after the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 52, 587 B.C.). This would make sense.

We believe that the Scriptures are the inspired Word of God, but we are not required to believe that David wrote all of Psalm 51. At least this is not a Catholic teaching (that David wrote it). We do believe all of Psalm 51 is the Word of God, regardless of when or by whom it was written.

Anyway, picture the person that added these verses during or after the Babylonian captivity. They may have seen the parallel between the sin of David (adultery) and the sin of Israel (idolatry). In fact, these two sins were often mentioned together, with adultery as a metaphor for idolatry. In this case, it appears that the writer/editor/redactor saw the sin of David and his repentance as an allegory for the sin and repentance of Israel.

Sometimes, Scripture has its own commentary attached. This is a little like the meditations we get where there is a reading and then a short meditation based on our current situation.

I’m not a Scripture scholar, but that is how it looks to me. This is one of my favorites, too.

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The Sacrament of Matrimony – Part 1

Catholic Marriages in the Context of Abundant Life


The Catholic Church considers matrimony a sacrament: an outward sign instituted by Christ to give Grace. Some Protestants have the same view of matrimony while others believe Jesus did not especially bless it, and some believe it is not limited to the union of a man and woman. Some Hindu sects define a sacrament differently, but consider marriage a sacrament. For this article, we will only consider the Catholic sacrament.

Here are some important characteristics for a Catholic Marriage:

  • Entered into freely, with the intention of living the sacrament.
  • It is permanent, enduring until one of the spouses dies.
  • Catholic husbands and wives are to be faithful unto death. This is not merely sexual fidelity, but also a dedication to seeking the good of the spouse over all others. There can be no competition between God and the spouse. Honoring and serving the spouse is done out of love and dedication to God.
  • There is a complementarity involved. The husband and wife are different, yet one, as the Church and Christ are different and yet one. This requires a man and woman to express, who are as different physically, and yet become one.
  • It is open to life. Even in cases where the marriage act cannot produce children, the couple is obligated to be open to children. This may result in adoption, missionary work, other charitable work, or teaching. Later, this may be expressed through the love and acceptance of grandchildren.
  • The husband and wife give their bodies to each other, not just in the marriage act, but also through their presence at meals and the other ordinary events of life. Unnecessary absence should be avoided. This part varies according to the nature of the persons in the marriage. (1 Corinthians 7:3-7)
  • The marriage reflects the love of Jesus for his Church. (Ephesians 5). In this way, the marriage is a sign to the world and points to God.
  • It is evangelical, because it witnesses to the love of God. Their children and those seeing this sacrament are constantly reminded of the Holy Trinity and invited to participate in the life of God.

The Vows

First of all, the marriage ceremony (or rite) marks the public declaration of the marriage. The couple make promises to one another in keeping with the Church’s teachings on the obligations of husband and wife. Many couples use vows approved by the Church, but some write their own, with the approval of the officiating priest. These are real promises made to each other. They are to be kept. Failing to keep them is failing to be a sign of God’s love.

Headship of the Husband

The husband is the head of the marriage because he symbolizes Christ, just as the wife symbolizes the Church. If the husband is not respected as such, the marriage is not a sign of Christ’s love for the Church (Ephesians 5:22-24). This does not mean the husband orders the wife around anymore than Jesus “”orders”” us around. In all things, the Church considers the intention of Christ, and in an ideal Catholic marriage, the husband and wife are so completely one with Jesus that serious conflicts do not occur. This certainly prohibits any abuses by the husband since he is called to imitate Jesus. This teaching should worry husbands more than wives, since an abuse of this teaching is tantamount to blasphemy.

Defer to One Another

Ephesians 5:21 sets the overall tone of the sacrament by stating that the husband and wife must defer to one another. While the husband is the head, he will anticipate the needs and preferences of the wife often and do what he can to bless her life. Each spouse is to seek the good of the other, and the mutual good above all. In a Catholic marriage with children, there will be many times when this scripture is extended to the children and other relatives as well. It should be true for the whole Church.

Role of Children in the Sacrament

Children are called to respect and obedience. One view of the sacrament of matrimony is that it reflects the Trinity. Just as the Holy Spirit proceeds from the love of the Father and the Son, the children of a Catholic marriage are an embodiment of the sacrament. They are a sign, too, and the whole family should be a sign of the Trinity, as well as a loving Christian community. As the children grow, their parents gradually relinquish authority so the children can follow Jesus on their own. In a Catholic family, there is no room for abuse, rudeness or domination. The family should be marked by love, with courtesy, truthfulness, and gentleness. Children should be invited into the prayer life of the parents (of course there should be one!). The parents have the primary responsibility for the Catholic education of their children (Ephesians 6:4). No one else has a better opportunity. 1 Timothy 3:4-5 provides a good view of raising children.

One good illustration of the relationship of children to the parents is that of planets. The parents “”orbit”” God, and the children “”orbit”” the parents. Children should not be at the center of the family. It takes children a very long time to learn how to love and live as disciples of Jesus. Parents have to be able to give and guide with great patience while their children develop. It is wrong to have children so the parents can fulfill their desires to be great pianists or doctors through their children.

An Outward Witness

The sacrament of matrimony is public and invites hypocrisy. There is a tendency on the part of some families to “”put on a show.”” This is, of course, not a sign of Christ’s love, which is real and consistent. While everyone tends to behave better in public, the motivation should be the love of God, not how we look to others. The outward appearance must flow from the inward Grace given by God and nutured in the family. Children especially know the real state of affairs, and will grow according to what they have witnessed in private moments.

Choice of Spouse

Dating provides ample opportunities to find out whether the other person could ever live out the fullness of Catholic marriage. A potential spouse must follow Catholic teaching and resemble Jesus Christ. They must not desire premarital sex, and should have a rich faith life, filled with prayer and the good deeds that accompany great faith. Bad temper, greediness, or coldness may indicate a person that will not be a good spouse. For women, they should consider whether they would be comfortable being “”submissive”” to the man they are considering. For men, can they trust the woman to provide her part of the marriage. For both, they should be sure the other person would be a fit parent for their children. Above all else, is the other person very much like Christ?

It is good to remember that St. Paul counseled us to not seek marriage. We will know if we are called, but we should not put the desire for a spouse above God. Many Christians have been limited by bad marriages because they didn’t wait or have their priorities straight.

Copyright 1998 William E. Rushman – Permission to copy granted provided this notice is retained.

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