Friday, December 7, 2018

Marriage - Jesus Has a New Paradigm for Life and He Went to a Lot of Trouble to Bring It to Humanity - the old paradigms don't work... look around you....

In the "New Covenant" made by our Creator God with humanity (Jeremiah 31:31-34) every person can know God from within - because the Holy Spirit is revealing our Creator to all who are willing to know the Lord and trust in Him. We can still help each other along the way; so may you be pleased to find here a variety of helps to the life of faith in God through Jesus Christ. G.S.


 PDF version of this file    

Marriage, Family Life, and the Sunday Mass – Jesus’ New Paradigm for Life by Fr Gilles A. Surprenant (scroll down to the middle of this post for Jesus' New Paradigm)

Family Life was once enough preparation for Life, Work, Vocation, Marriage, and Family

Life, marriage, and family as we approach the middle of the 21st century is far less stable than it was a century ago. The social upheaval brought about by World War II, scientific, technological, and manufacturing upheavals, and the speeding up of society due to the "digital age" and omnipresent means of social communication have made society much more mobile. We won't understand for a while how radically life will be different because of the Covid-19 worldwide Pandemic. 

The so-called "sexual revolution" - it is beginning to be clear by now - has disturbed much of what had been known and expected about life, marriage, family, and religious life and priesthood. As a result, increasing differences continue to generate misunderstanding and confusion, greater disparity in women’s and men’s expectations of marriage, religious life, and priesthood, and greater fear and anxiety about what can be experienced by people in these vocations or walks of life.

It is clear to us today that the Church is composed of human beings; so it stands to reason that criticism is often warranted and the Church as an institution is ever in need of reform. Still she continues to mirror Jesus who is the Good Shepherd. Concerned for young people who had to endure all these destabilizing influences, the Church in her bishops began in the 1940’s to offer better preparation to help young adults cope with their new challenges in the hope that they would be able to succeed in their projects of marriage or religious life.

Formation houses for religious and for candidates for priesthood are constantly being renewed

Some religious orders and communities actually reach a point of “exhaustion” as they get farther away from their founder or foundress. They usually don’t wait until it becomes urgent to put into motion reforms and ongoing formation in order to help their candidates and members to “fan into burning flames” the desire of love that brought them to join. Seminaries must also constantly assess, review, and renew their formation program. In Montreal, 2020-2021 have been two years for a major “makeover” for the Grand Seminary which initiated a move to a new location, where the staff and candidates can be more directly involved in the life of local parishes.


 “From This Day Forward” - Marriage Preparation Course 

Similarly, there have been several attempts in the Diocese of Montreal to develop Marriage preparation that would meet the needs and expectations of engaged couples. But, since human life and society never stand still, a course that satisfies for some years may no longer do so as time passes. A previous course on behalf of the Diocese used to be offered at St Patrick Basilica, and it seemed to work well enough for a few decades, but feedback gave witness to changing times, conditions, and people; making necessary a complete revision.

“From This Day Forward” has been the result of that process. The course you are now taking is not the same as the very first version offered some 20 years ago in 1998, but all the essential elements continue to be addressed. What has mostly changed are the people composing the team of presenters, and of course each person brings his or her own personality, experience, formation, faith, enthusiasm for married and family life and parenting, and love for engaged couples. In addition, in recent years – not only because of the Covid-19 Pandemic – we have undergone a “digital revolution” which will probably continue well into the future.

From your point of view and life experience as engaged couples

Most people acknowledge that society and culture are ever changing, but what stands out these days is the rapid acceleration in some of those changes. Our Marriage Preparation Course Team is constantly taking into account the evaluations and feedback given by engaged couples who take the course, as well as the data we receive from the couples who register and plan to join in one of the scheduled courses.

For a time, course participants asked for Mass on Sunday as part of the course and we offered it for about four years. The wheel of change turned again and engaged couples now want coaching in their desire to connect with God for help they feel they need in understanding and overcoming the obstacles, difficulties, and struggles they have in their lives, and further, in trying to develop a personal relationship with God. Then with the worldwide Covid-19 Pandemic which began here in Québec in March 2020; our Team agreed to offer our first “Workshop / Seminar on God and Prayer” in September 2020 and the participation of each set of engaged couples helps us to “hone” this very dynamic “Open Forum” for andragogical learning.

Sunday Worship and “Living the Lord’s Day Well”

We no longer include the Sunday in our course offerings; so there is no need to offer the Sunday Mass during the course. However, it remains valuable – even essential – for the Christian individual and couple to participate in the Sunday Liturgy. God is our Creator; so He knows under what conditions we will function the most “optimally”. To put it in other terms, God loves us so much He wants us to have “abundant life” in love. So God calls us to “live the Lord’s Day well” in order to have the rest we need and enjoy our life and family.


Of what relevance is the practice of faith to married and family Life?

From our point of view as the Team, we hope to share with course participants our conviction about the richness of weaving together the human secular perspective with the spiritual religious perspective. The human sciences dovetail very well with the Christian faith in general and the Roman Catholic tradition in particular.

For example, today humanity is increasingly aware and alarmed about the accelerating damage to our environment and the accelerating threats to the survival of our common home on Earth. All the sciences and technology propose solutions which are difficult to implement because of the diversity of opinion and practice among human societies and governments. Faith brings the added perspective that the Creator loves our Earth even more than we do and offers us the inspiration and moral courage we need to take action.

While we get busy “greening” our home life, schools, and work places, we are only now beginning to get the picture that from the very beginning the Creator designed “green” into our very DNA and even into our human sexuality. When we try to follow the Creator’s plan, we enjoy deeper respect for our own body as well as ourselves as people, and by extension, a deeper respect for our beloved, both in their body and their person. This is called “chastity” in both the married and celibate versions in accord with each Christian vocation.

Of what relevance is the Sunday Mass to married and family life?

Faith in God shows us that Jesus Christ wasn’t just a great human being, or extraordinary preacher, or miracle worker. Jesus is the divine Son of God who, out of love for us and out of concern for our challenges and unhappiness, became one of us by the Holy Spirit through the Virgin Mary of Nazareth. In Mary the mother and in Jesus her son, God the Father provides a female and a male model of a human life lived with trust in God.

God wants us to have the satisfaction of giving meaning and purpose to our existence; so He doesn’t offer magical solutions to remove our troubles and challenges. Instead, God gives us the opportunity to do our best with the “cards which life deals to us”. Life is often very unfair, but it does provide opportunities for us to rise to the occasion and go beyond our comfort zones in order to make of our lives a gift of love for others. In this we have inspiring examples in Mary and Jesus, as well as in Joseph and all the saints.

Jesus was born a helpless baby, totally dependent on the love and care of Mary and Joseph. The son of God trusted in his Father and accepted to become helpless. Now Jesus trusts us to accept his words and to treat his gifts with respect. When we celebrate the Holy Mass, we hear God speak to us and once again Jesus trusts us to receive Him with love by coming to us in the helpless form of bread and wine as food for our souls.


Jesus offers us a new paradigm for human life, Marriage, parenting, and family life

People who engage in any of the professions know how easy it is to produce reports, but how very difficult it is to go on to implement the recommendations made in those reports. Why is that? The obvious reason is that we human beings don’t like to change. We prefer what is familiar and what we know. We are reluctant to trust something or someone we don’t yet know. It takes time and effort for us to accumulate all the information and motivation we need in order to effect productive change.

            Perhaps that is why Jesus taught primarily by using parables, analogies, images, and stories. He wanted to respect people’s freedom and to give them the time they needed to become convinced and to make whatever decisions they needed to make. The Lord continues to treat us with the same respect in every generation as He did when He walked the Earth two millennia ago. From God’s perspective, Jesus never really left the Earth.

Yes, He ascended into Heaven – that mysterious realm of God which existed before the universe came into being, before the “Big Bang” – but because He is God in three persons: Father, the Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, and is a “divine being”, God continues to “be present” to us at every moment of our lives.

The more you read, study, pray with, and assimilate all that is contained in the Gospels about Jesus and all that He taught, as well as all the reflections on all of this in the letters and Acts of the Apostles; the more you finally realize that Jesus is making all of us an offer that is so amazing and yet which we can refuse. Unlike the “Godfather” who made offers people “could not refuse” or they would be killed; Jesus makes us an offer that we can refuse, but do we really want not to accept the new life in God that He offers?

Jesus offers us a new paradigm for human life which, if we buy into it, will begin to bring order back to the Earth in our human relations and also in the environment which, in Pope Francis’ words, “is our common home.” What is Jesus’ new paradigm, his amazing offer? In Matthew 11:29-30 Jesus offers each of us a “yoke”, a piece of wood that joins two oxen to a load that the pair then pulls together. Jesus offers us to no longer feel like we have to carry the weight of the whole world on our own shoulders, alone and by ourselves, because He loves us and doesn’t want us to be crushed by the burden. Jesus offers to “team up” with each of us.

To put it in commercial terms, Jesus is offering to become our “business partner” to be our inspiration and guide as we conduct our affairs in life, family, work, and play. Jesus wants to be our “life coach”. This is at the heart of the meaning of the word religion, which points to “re-linking” or “re-joining” our lives to God our Creator from whom we come and to whom we are all returning at the end of our life on Earth.

Jesus said He came so that we might have life in abundance, to share with us his joy; so that our joy might be full. Jesus as our Lord and God is not a “spoil sport”; on the contrary, Jesus loved being with people so much that He gives us an image of eternal life as a “wedding banquet”. We human beings become most clearly living images of God who is the source of love when we live our lives most freely and generously in marriage, parenting, and family life. As parents, we are the first experience of “god” that our children have. To them we are “god” or all powerful, until the day they begin to discover that we are only human and that God is someone else, someone really amazing. We don’t have to be perfect as their parents, because God is already perfect, and we can find all that we need in Him to satisfy our deep, burning desire for perfect love and wisdom.

When people are in love – either a woman and man or a parent and child – love has us use language that at first sounds illogical or irrational. We commonly hear someone in love, or ourselves may say, “I love you so much I could eat you up.” Of course, this is not to be taken literally, because it is a language of love, and love is so deep that it cannot be perfectly put into words, but we have to try anyway to express it. We want the one we love to be “inside of us” and we ourselves want to be “inside them” for a perfect union that will last.

The Holy Mass is full of love language spoken by God to us and by us in reply. Jesus is not only human and risen from the dead, but also the Son of God and divine. He can give us something of his own substance, of his own divine life, which He does in Holy Communion. We know how meaningful it is for a mother to nourish her baby at the breast, giving nurture from her own life. This beautiful reality of maternity helps us to see how Jesus feeds us spiritually his “Body and Blood” in Holy Communion. We need this “food from heaven” to meet the challenge of living as children of God on this Earth and like Him to make of our life a gift of love for others.


Are we “just getting married” or… “Is God calling us?”

Statistical studies show the divorce rate for arranged marriages around 35%, and for love marriages between 40 and 50%. Divorce is what happens to people who weren’t really serious about their marriage, right? Actually, studies over the past 4 decades consistently show that when a husband and wife attend Sunday worship every week and also pray together every day; they are most certain to live a lively Marriage that thrives. That is because they are making room for God, who is the source of life and of love, in their intimate union of friendship and love. They remain connected to the fountain.

What is a Family Life Chaplain? What does a FLC do? To whom is this service offered?

Actually, "Family Life Chaplain" is in fact a "modern" term or title for the parish priest sent by Jesus to each parish through the supervisory authority of the local bishop or archbishop (in the case of an archdiocese). As Jesus received all those who came to Him with any ailment, complaint, need, or request while He walked this Earth in the Holy Land of Palestine / Israel; so now Jesus continues to receive all those who seek Him today all over this Earth through the pastoral presence and kindly services of the local parish priest. Priests don't necessarily have a charism of healer; so we continue to employ health services.

The priest continues to be a simple human being like all of us, a sinner; he isn't perfect yet. This means that we need to love him as we are called to love one another in our family and close personal circles; as well as our enemies and all those we don't necessarily like or enjoy.... Those we don't like give us an opportunity to practice perfect, unselfish love; since we don't expect anything good from such people. At such times God blesses us through the love we give rather than receive.

When the priest offers the Holy Mass, the Holy Eucharist, it is Jesus Himself who is there, offering Himself anew to his Father for us. The Holy Spirit gathers all our prayers, adoration, supplications, praise, contrition, and thanksgiving - the whole offering of our self and our life since the last time - and places our offering on the altar with the bread and wine. Through the priest, Jesus offers us, our offering, along with his own of himself, to the Father. Then, at Holy Communion, the Father answers our prayers by accepting our offering and in response, He gives us the best that He has to give, which is his only-begotten Son, Jesus, in Holy Communion. Jesus gives us a "transfusion" of the divine life and love He has with the Father and the Holy Spirit in the Most Holy Trinity. With each Holy Communion we become more and more able to live, love, forgive, and serve as children of God, living images of Jesus in our world today; in this way He shines his divine light for the world.

It is the same with all of the sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Reconciliation (Penance or Confession), the Anointing of the Sick, and Marriage. We see and hear the parish priest, but always it is Jesus who receives us, listens to us, speaks to us, prays with us, offers us words of instruction and encouragement, extends his hands over us in blessing, anoints us with holy oil, offers us forgiveness and absolution of our sins, challenges us to make better efforts to approach God, get to know Him and his ways, and give Him a return of love for all of the love He constantly pours into us in the Holy Spirit.... No matter how "distressing" we may find the "wrapping" - the human limits and failings of the priest - we can be assured that it is Jesus who is there, before us, serving and blessing us. Jesus promised He would be with us all days until the end of time, and He is faithful. Jesus, in union with his Eternal Father and the Holy Spirit, is faithful and ALWAYS keeps his promises.

What is on Fr. Gilles’ Web Pages - ?

On these web pages powered by Blogger you will find audio recordings of homilies given by Fr. Gilles since August 2020 and much more! On his original website you will find archived homilies sorted seasonally with links on the Home Page: HOMILIES – Summer – Fall – Advent & Christmas – Winter – Lent & Easter.



In the "New Covenant" made by our Creator God with humanity (Jeremiah 31:31-34) every person can know God from within - because the Holy Spirit is revealing our Creator to all who are willing to know the Lord and trust in Him. We can still help each other along the way; so may you be pleased to find here a variety of helps to the life of faith in God through Jesus Christ. G.S.


© 2006-2021 All rights reserved Fr. Gilles Surprenant, Associate Priest of Madonna House Apostolate & Poustinik, Montreal  QC
© 2006-2021 Tous droits réservés Abbé Gilles Surprenant, Prêtre Associé de Madonna House Apostolate & Poustinik, Montréal QC

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In the "New Covenant" made by our Creator God with humanity, as reported in Jeremiah 31:31-34, every human being can know God from...