Oh, Saint Paul, you crack me up. Always truthful, never one to mince words. I like to imagine him patting a distraught young wife on the hand as she tearfully confesses her marriage struggles, and saying to her, “Well, I did try to warn you.”
This is one of those passages in the Bible that can feel almost insulting to read, especially if we are fighting to champion the truth and goodness of marriage in a culture that has lost respect for the institution.
At the same time, most of us just flat out DON’T BUY IT. Sure, we are happy that some folks choose to pursue their celibate vocations as priests, sisters, religious, or consecrated single people. But don’t we quietly figure it’s just terrible for them, and wonder if anyone could be reasonably expected to suffer it?
But it is clear from not only Saint Paul, but also Jesus himself, that a faithful single life is for "those to whom that it is granted" (Matthew 19:11). Not that one can endure it, not that it is a worthy sacrifice, but because they have done it for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.
So, to those of us who are unmarried, we’d do well to heed Saint Paul’s advice and prayerfully consider if God is calling us to the gift of remaining that way.
But what about those of us for whom that ship has sailed? Those of us who, like the beautiful woman of today’s psalm, find ourselves married? Well, we are on the hard road through life to salvation. But hard is not the same as bad. And if God has called us to this life, it must be because He knew we needed to do it the hard way.
We can expect that in marriage and family life there will be sorrow and tribulation. There will be hunger. There will be weeping. There will be hatred, and exclusion, and insults. Jesus says. It’s right there in the beatitudes. (Luke 6:20-23) But He also tells us that, faced with these trials, we should “rejoice and leap for joy” (Luke 6:23) because it is THROUGH those trials that we will find salvation, and Heaven.
Let us pray for each other's vocations.
Kendra Tierney is a forty year old mother of nine and wife of one living in and working on a big old fixer-upper house in Los Angeles. She's a homeschooler and a regular schooler and is counting down the days until her oldest turns sixteen and can take over some of the driving! Her new book, the Catholic All Year Compendium: Liturgical Living for Real Life, will be published on October 7th. You can find that here, her first book, A Little Book About Confession, here, her blog here, and her word art here.