I've always felt called to marriage and down through the years I received some marriage proposals. There were the good, decent Catholic men who I did not feel called to marry, also my temperament clashed with theirs which was one reason I would not have made a good wife to any of them. There were also a few non-Catholics who were kind men but resolute they would never convert. A successful man about London town said to me, “I' have no problem with you staying Catholic but I´d never convert.” It's hard enough for two parents who are Traditional Catholics to raise kids who are devout, but on my own I wouldn´t fancy my chances. There was also one who was adamant he didn´t want kids and for that precise reason, I broke it off.
Regrettably there were also a few bullies. Experience can be a pitiless teacher and in such relationships I learned that we brought out the worst in each other and were we man and wife we would have found it hard to keep the other in a state of grace and work towards saving our souls so as to spend an eternity in Heaven. I developed a thirst for understanding Our Lady´s haunting words at Fatima, “many marriages are not of God and they do not please Him”.
My next statement seems almost superfluous and almost as though I´m stating the obvious; Our Lady used the word “many” in 1917 but one hundred years later that number of marriages not “of God” may be greatly higher. My contention is that the reason such marriages happen is that ´the soul being in a state of grace´ has become a foreign, even forgotten concept and the importance of being in a state of grace when one is getting married is something that is laughable to the majority.
The influence of grave sin on hampering the will can be detrimental, especially if a young man or woman is making one of the biggest decisions of their lives, their will is not to marry in a state of grace and so to enter in a vocation where they strive to save each others´souls. If both man and woman go through a marriage ceremony and both are in a state of mortal sin where they have utterly compromised their access to sanctifying grace, meaning an ever greater degrees of separation from God, meaning their union is likely to be, in Our Lady´s words “not of God”.
For a marriage to be “of God”, I understand that both man and woman are to be in a state of grace while they are discerning a call to marriage, during their engagement and when they are joined in the sacramental bond of marriage when both their souls are joined by God and become two sides of the same cup, a fitting vessel for matrimonial grace.
One couple's matrimonial bond is as unique as they are, and the particular graces allotted to them can lend the couple the supernatural means to overcome challenges and live as man and wife in a way that pleases God. Of course a couple could always lose their way and sin by sin and a marriage could re-orientate from being directed towards Heaven to being en route to Hell, thereby falling into the category of those that, “do not please” God. If sinning against the other has cracked the cup holding their souls' share of matrimonial grace, then the only doctor to mend their souls' union is a Catholic priest.
So as the priest is in personal Christi, he may restore the marriage to being “of God” again. A good priest can have an immeasurably good influence on a couple. I remember hearing Fr Mocler of Human Life International give a talk at one of their conferences about a couple in Ireland who he was asked to visit, they were in prolonged injury and about to split up after a rough patch that could have been an Eastenders plot line about a marriage in jeopardy.
On coming into their home, Fr Mocler was shown into the sitting room and he saw that the shelves were lined, “with every filthy thing and books all about contraception.” Taking a blunt, no-nonsense approach, Fr Mocler told them plainly to stop using all forms of contraception, to just “throw it out”. The couple protested, but Fr Mocler insisted and they actually took his advice. Miraculously, their marriage was restored and Fr Mocler said of them, “now you can´t keep them apart!”
I wrote this column for the Spring 2017 edition of The Latin Mass Society Magazine, you may read the full edition here.