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The Message
Evansville, Indiana
October 30, 1987     The Message
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October 30, 1987

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Faith Today Supplement, The Message, Catholic Diocese of Evansville, October 30, 1987 Page 2 * Faith Today All marriages are 'mixed' By David Thomas NC News Service l t came to pass, in God's brilliance, that marriage would involve the bridg- ing of the deepest creative differences of the human world. God created us male and female, and the differences bet- ween us are almost without measure. How funny, 1 sometimes muse. that God would challenge us" by arranging things so that the discovery of a deep love and the continuation of human life could be found along the same path. "And you two will become one flesh." Such divine comedy. Mix- ture is the mess and the creative mass of marriage. When the phrase "mixed mar- riage" comes to mind, most peo- ple think of religious differences as in Catholic-Methodist or Christian- Jewish 'couples. But I emphasize that there is an element of "dif- ference" in all marriages. Oppor- tunities for growth can be discovered in this if couples look for them. Here are some approaches to employing the creative possibilities in marriage, with a religious focus. *Begin by naming your differences. Many people waste lots of energy denying differences. Or they direct their conversations on- ly to safe areas where they agree an approach that in certain situations can have value. Raising differences ff)r discussion when you are physically exhausted or emotionally spent isn't a good idea. Instead, when comfort and security are needed, focus on what is common between you. When my wife and I face troubled times, we reflect on our shared goal of having a weedless lawn. We can spend long hours saying, "Yes. yes, yes" to that. On the other hand, constant recitation of similarities can become boring, lifeless. *Lay out on the table all your religious differences without assess- ment or judgment. This should take care of assumed differences which, in fact, may not exist. Thus it gives the partners an opportuni- ty to understand the faith within each of them on a deeper level. *Celebrate your similarities. I have found that where authentic love exists, there are an amazing number of common values, beliefs and habits. Finding these areas is important because otherwise couples may believe they have lit- tle to share in the religious sphere. It is tragic that some couples "factor out" of their marriage religious matters because they don't share the same religious tradition. If they dig beneath the surface, they may well find many shared religious treasures. After all, God is one. The religious life of two people focused on the same God is virtually certain to possess important common features. *After celebrating the similarities, honestly examine dif- ferences. Being different is not necessarily a barrier to love. I can love in my wife not only what we share but what is uniquely hers. This implies that my love is ff)r her in her own right *Finally, there are differences which may remain until the end. In this, I underline the importance of mutual respect. God chose to create each of us somewhat dif- ferent from all the rest. Even for two Catholic spouses, one's per- sonal spirituality may feature uni- que blessings and burdens. We walk the long journey to God along similar, though not the same, paths. There are marriages where peo- ple are different in some important religious ways. Do the differences mean God must be left out? I can guarantee that in the end, the attempt to find the mystery of God's workings in mixed marriages will be exciting and rewarding. (Thomas is director of adult Christian community development at Regis College in Denver.) Division made Paul see red By Father John Castelot NC News Service I f there was one thing that made Paul see red, it was any sort of division within the Christian community. Concern for fellowship col- ors most of the exhortations ad- dressed to his people. When the Christians in Corinth were breaking up into rival cliques based on allegiance to this or that preacher, Paul reminded them pointedly in 1 Corinthians 1:9 that "God is faithful and it was he who called you to fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord." This fellowship with Christ demands fellowship with each other. After mentioning the various factions in Corinth, Paul asks, "Has Christ, then, been divided in- to parts?" (1:13) For Pad the com- munity was, quite simply, "Christ." Its members were joined to each other much like the parts of the human body are unified. "The body is one and has many members, but all the members, many though they are, are one body .... You, then, are the body of Christ. Every one of you is a member of it" (1 Corinthians 12:12,27). In the first century of Christiani- ty, it was rather easy for misunderstanding and tension to arise between the Christian com- munities in various places. This was true especially of the relation- ship between the strongly Jewish- Christian church at Jerusalem and the churches founded by Paul. The Jerusalem community con- sidered itself the criterion by which all the churches should be measured and took a dim view of Paul's wholesale conversion of gentries quite independently of Judaism. But Paul had no intention of starting another church. He saw his communities and the Jerusalem group as basically one in what really counted: "One Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Ephesians 4:5). To emphasize this unity, Paul asked his churches to take up a collection for the Jerusalem mother church. It would be a tangible ex- pression of good will, of Christian love and harmony. On the prac. tical level, it would be a real help to a poor community. In the first century there was Christian unity amid diversity. Very interesting in this respect is the community of John, the belov- ed disciple. Judging by the fourth Gospel, this community was strik- ingly different from the com- munities which produced the first three Gospels, with an indepen- dent, though parallel, development of the common Christian tradition. It was not, however, a divergent sect. One of its weaknesses was a lack of organization and strong leader- ship. This led to disaster. Toward the end of the first cen- tury many members of the com- munity of the fourth Gospel drifted off into other paths. Some, for in- stance, denied that Jesus had really become human. The author of 1 John wrote in a frantic attempt to recall the secessionists, but ap- parendy without much success. Those who remained in the community then accepted the organizational structure of the other churches, while they, in turn, recognized the more highly advanced theology of the fourth Gospel. (Father Castelot is a professor of Scripture at St. John's Seminary, Plymouth, Mich.) By Katharine Bird NC News Service L ike the church, the family ought to be a place where the Gospel is transmitted and fror which the Gospel radiates to other families and to the whole of society," Pope John Paul II said during an ecumenical prayer service at the University of South Carolina Stadium in Columbia. Held in September in the heart of the Bible Belt, where less than 3 percent of the population is Catholic, the ecumenical service was attended by 60,000 Christians of many denominations. The pope asked all to reflect on the Christian family's role in the modern world. "This is a field in which there must be the max- imum collaboration among all who confess Jesus Christ," the pope noted. "To the extent that God grants us to grow in Christian unity, let us work together to offer strength and support to families, on whom the well-being of society depends and on whom our churches and ecclesial communities depends" he said. The family w chosen as the theme of the ecumenical prayer service to remind Christians of their common concerns and ex- periences, and to focus on what they can do together, said Father John Hotchkin, director of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs. The pope suggested in his homi- F ly r ol tt f ft