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Expert Answer Forum

by Catherine Frakas 08 Feb 2002

Two Marriage Questions QUESTION from Deacon Larry Lottier March 8, 2000 Dear Bro. Ignatius:
In our Pastoral Council we are dealing with the sacraments. Most recently, in the discussion on the Sacrament of Marriage, we can across two questions:
1. When does marriage become matrimony? We had a lively discussion and resorted to Websters. It showed they are synonyms but that wasn't much help.
2. How is the changing role of women affecting the Sacrament of Matrimony? There can be a lot of political correctness here but how would a Catholic asnwer this in light of the sacrament?
Thus I turn to people wiser than I. Can you help shed some insights to these two inquiries?
Blessings on you and your work,
Deacon Larry Lottier
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, O.L.S.M. on March 17, 2000 Dear Deacon:
Concerning Question #1: Marriage and Matrimony have no relevant or meaningful distinction apart from one another. They are two words that mean essentially the same thing. I suppose one could say that marriage is the institution and matrimony is the ceremony, but that doesn't work since the one of the sense definitions of matrimony includes the state (institution) of marriage.
I can find no distinctions being made in Canon Law or in the Catechism. Canon Law uses the term interchangeably and in its usage the terms are pointing to the same phenomenon -- the Sacrament of Marriage, the Matrimonial consent between a woman and a man.
I think to argue over this is to violate the Scripture admonition about silly arguments over words. It does not appear, from my quick scan over canon law and the catechism that the Church make any distinction in these two words.
The issue is not marriage vs. matrimony, the issue is mere legal marriage vs. Sacramental marriage.
Concerning Question #2: The changing roles of women, a change spearheaded partially by the nature of an industrial culture, but more specifically influenced by the direct manipulation of feminist, has all but destroyed our culture and society.
God made man a creature that thrives in a paterfamilias environment. It is this paterfamilias style of culture that images God. It is how God made man. This image and style is modeled by the Church. The Church is a paterfamilias institution. Up until recent times so was the family.
The only way in which the Sacrament of Marriage may be protected is for both men and women to fulfill the natural and God-ordained purposes for which God created them.
To take only one example. The latch-key kid and the day care infant do violence to the family.
I just attended some medical seminars that discussed brain function and brain chemistry. When a baby is born, he does not have a fully developed brain. Portions of the brain actually grow AFTER birth and other parts do not fully develop until after birth.
There is one part of the brain, I don't remember which part at the moment, that grows when the baby is 3 months to 6 months old. If the child does not receive the proper bonding with his mother and care from his mother, this part of the brain in essence dies.
As it happens, when an infant is three months old is the time that working mothers typically go back to work. This is EXACTLY THE WRONG TIME to go back to work.
When the babies are placed with babysitters and especially day care centers the kind of bonding and stimulation that they need from their mothers for this particular part of the brain to grow is lacking.
Studies have shown that almost all day care infants develop some degree of Attention Deficit Disorder. ADD is the result of this particular part of the brain not developing the way it should.
Today we see hordes of kids with ADD. It seems like nearly all kids have this. You can't swing a dead cat, as the saying goes, without bumping up against a child with ADD in this day and age. I wonder why? We know know why. The babies have been deprived of the nurture and bonding of their mothers during the time of brain growth that involves functions such as the ability to hold attention and concentrate.
And that is only ONE example.
The fact is that a parent needs to be AT HOME during the ENTIRE childhood of their children (that means teen years too).
This is not opinion anymore, or religious tradition, science is proving this is to be true.
I say, dah. The Judeo-Christian world has known this for 6000 years.
To live a paterfamilias culture and family, the child gets what he needs when he needs it in terms of that nurture and bonding required for brain growth and development.
The paterfamilias style is also mandated by God. The husband is to be the spiritual head of the home. The wife is to be mother. In fact, a lot of people don't know it, but if a couple wishes to get married and has NO intention of having children, then marriage is invalid. Children, which means motherhood and fatherhood, are an essential and primary purpose of marriage.
In whatever ways men and women play their roles, those roles must be consistent with the roles that have been given to them by God.
Pope John Paul II has written several documents about the role of women. Look them up, they are good and definitive.
The health of the Sacrament of Marriage depends upon three things:
An understand of REAL love (which is NOT an emotion). The marriage must be based upon REAL love which is a decision of will and a decision of commitment.

The marriage must have God has its center and be understood as God understands marriage in terms of purpose and design.

Marriage must be lived as God intended it to be lived -- in a paterfamilias relationship of man and women with their children in a harmonious mutual self-giving and submission to one another, each according to God's design for the man and the woman respectively.

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