A Catholic Family Column by Deacon Tom Fox
There is a saying that has found a home in my memory cells to use when it’s appropriate. I believe it originated on the Seinfeld TV show many years ago. It goes: “Men don’t want to know what’s on TV; men want to know what else is on TV.” I have a friend — Deacon Don who is the epitome of that statement. Don is always in control of the TV’s remote — and this family has the ‘picture in a picture’ feature on their TV. Don is forever… I mean endlessly switching pictures on the main screen while commanding other images into the smaller display screen, and then bringing one of the small images up onto the main display. His dear wife is used to it and doesn’t say anything — but it seems endlessly impatient and restless.
When I’ve used that joke about men and TV — I’ve often thought to myself that that well could be a saying about men who have frequent attention and diversion towards other women. And in certain parts of our culture, it seems that many change wives with an ease that threatens even the notion of marriage vows or lifetime unions.
I was in the midwest recently — in an area that might be considered the middle of the Bible belt. It could be anywhere out there — but my attention and the thrust of my observations has to do with Missouri. There are more Biblically-based mega-churches and Christian faith walks in this part of the country. And it must be a certain truth now that the idea of permanent marriage in most of these Christian churches is an illusion.
There are so many divorces and remarriages in these parts — and so many people live together before they are married — I just don’t know what their preachers are teaching or saying to them. I just don’t know how Biblically-based faiths can disregard the historic understandings of marriage. And of course, we could extend this topic area to same sex unions, to contraception and to abortion.
I’m in a (real, sacramental, permanent) marriage sort of mood as I write this column. I have come to value my DW so much in recent years — a gift resulting from the strong marriage rebuilding and repair work they did with us deacon candidates during the four year formation period for deacons in the Archdiocese of Denver. I know — I think both Dee and I know of a time when we were not blessed with a happy and sound marriage. It must have been… must have been a Grace-moment that had us both saying ‘yes’ again to marriage the way it should be. It didn’t happen over-night. It wasn’t always pretty. It wasn’t easy. And it isn’t perfection — but we are in love.
Last weekend — I traveled from Arizona to Colorado. I had been invited by a beautiful woman to come to our old parish in Estes Park and to do the homily and the vows for Elizabeth’s marriage to Michael. I had been delegated (given permission) to do these tasks during a Mass. It was a special honor — and one that doesn’t happen often because the priest is most normally the presider over the liturgy and to be the official witness of the Church for the couple being married. The tender thing to share with you about this invitation was this. Elizabeth said to me many times during our planning that they wanted a holy, sacramental marriage. She said that the reception was simply an opportunity to give people a meal. There were no brides maids — no best man or other men involved in the ceremony. Many non-Catholics attended — and the continuing comment that people shared with me or with the bride and groom was how beautiful — how intimate and holy the marriage ceremony (and Mass) were.
Most of us know of Scott Hahn, the former Protestant Minister and now a prolific Catholic author, professor at Franciscan University — and a happily married family man. I love the way he talks about his beautiful wife, Kimberley. I met Dr. Hahn in Ohio a few years ago as I asked him to autograph a book he had written. I’ve listened to his lectures — but have never had the opportunity to attend a talk by his wife. I did find a quote from Mrs. Hahn in a book she wrote about marriage:
“If you want a successful marriage – and if you want your children to have successful marriages – it is important to live marriage God’s way. He is the one who made us, after all, and he is the one who designed marriage. This is why the queen mother of Proverbs 31 says to her son, ‘Do you know how to recognize a good woman for a wife? Listen carefully to know what to value in a wife; then choose wisely.’” Kimberly Hahn
Chosen And Cherished: Biblical Wisdom For Your Marriage, Servant Books
And I would add only this — intend to choose a spouse for life.