Fr Ken Clark is a priest of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross. The Ordinariate was established by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012 to enable former Anglicans to maintain Anglican traditions within the Catholic Church.
This was the third Personal Ordinariate to be erected for former Anglicans (after the United Kingdom and the United States of America / Canada).
Ten parishes constitute the Ordinariate and are located in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.
What a time to be a Catholic in the world. It is a time of change, and a time of decision, Let us be clear, I stand for God, His Church, and the Magisterium – the eternal truths as codified in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
One of the things that the world is changing is the definition, and the sanctity of marriage, redefining family and family values.
And yet, people coming for a Catholic Church wedding in the Ordinariate witness the creation of a new order of being, the joining of a man and woman in Holy Matrimony:
Dearly beloved, we are gathered here in the sight of God and in the presence of this congregation, to witness the joining together of this man and this woman in Holy Matrimony; which is an honourable estate, instituted of God himself, signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church; which holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with his presence, and first miracle that he wrought, in Cana of Galilee, and is commended in Holy Writ to be honourable among all men; and therefore is not by any to be enterprised, nor taken in hand, unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly; but reverently, discreetly, soberly, and in the fear of God, duly considering the causes for which Matrimony was ordained.
How can this be twisted to include other forms of "marriage"? The world has turned its back on families and family values.
Of course, everyone is aware that the referendum for gay marriage passed in Ireland, and yet there seems to be a deafening silence from the Church on this.
There have been calls from prelates who are afraid to uphold Church teaching, the German bishops conference, the Swiss bishops conference, and some other bishops, priests and nuns. As Jesus said, "They have their reward".
We must uphold Church teaching, and be prepared to be witnesses to the truth of Christ. One of these truths is eternal, that is that, "Man was made for woman, as woman was made for man, we fit – biologically, socially, spiritually. God made us to be one."
One of the interesting things that seems to be happening is that some Catholics are assuming that Pope Francis has gone silent on what has, and is, occurring in the world. And yet, we have the following:
• At the beginning of his Gospel, the Evangelist John recounts the episode of the Wedding at Cana, in which the Virgin Mary and Jesus, with his first disciples, were present (cf. John 2:1-11).
Not only did Jesus participate in that marriage, but he "saved the celebration" with his miracle of the wine! Therefore, the first of his prodigious signs, with which he revealed his glory, he carried out in the context of a marriage, and it was a lovely gesture for that nascent family, solicited by Mary's maternal concern.
This makes us recall the Book of Genesis, when God finishes the work of creation and makes his masterpiece; the masterpiece is man and woman.
And here, in fact, with this masterpiece is where Jesus begins his miracles, in a marriage, in a wedding feast: a man and a woman.
Thus Jesus teaches us that the masterpiece of society is the family: man and woman who love one another! This is the masterpiece!
(Pope Francis, April 29 2015 see http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/general-audience-on-marriage)
• Just as the gift of the Holy Family was entrusted to Saint Joseph, so the gift of the family and its place in God's plan is entrusted to us.
Like Saint Joseph. The gift of the Holy Family was entrusted to Saint Joseph so that he could care for it.
Each of you, each of us – for I too am part of a family – is charged with caring for God's plan.
The angel of the Lord revealed to Joseph the dangers which threatened Jesus and Mary, forcing them to flee to Egypt and then to settle in Nazareth.
So too, in our time, God calls upon us to recognise the dangers threatening our own families and to protect them from harm. Let us be on guard against colonisation by new ideologies.
There are forms of ideological colonisation which are out to destroy the family.
They are not born of dreams, of prayers, of closeness to God or the mission which God gave us; they come from without, and for that reason I am saying that they are forms of colonisation.
Let's not lose the freedom of the mission which God has given us, the mission of the family.
Just as our peoples, at a certain moment of their history, were mature enough to say "no" to all forms of political colonisation, so too in our families we need to be very wise, very shrewd, very strong, in order to say "no" to all attempts at an ideological colonisation of our families.
We need to ask Saint Joseph, the friend of the angel, to send us the inspiration to know when we can say "yes" and when we have to say "no".
Pope Francis, Meeting with Families, 16 January 2015. See Vatican – http://tinyurl.com/me4owpl)
• Pope Francis called to mind how Saint Paul introduced the analogy between the couple, husband and wife, and Christ and the Church.
"It's clear that this is an imperfect analogy, but we have to grasp the spiritual meaning that is very high and revolutionary," Francis said, noting Paul says the love between husband and wife is the image of the love between Christ and the Church. "Unthinkable dignity!" he said.
"But in reality, it is inscribed in God's creative design, and with the grace of Christ, innumerable Christian couples, despite their sins and limitations, have achieved this!"
(Pope Francis, May 6 2015 – http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-at-general-audience-marriage-is-not-the-ceremony-dress-flowers)
• He said that the "good news" of the family is a key element in evangelisation and that Christians participate in this proclamation by their witness to life.
"The truly Christian families are recognised by their fidelity, patience, openness to life, respect of the elderly ... The secret of all this is Jesus' presence in the family," Francis said.
"Therefore, let us propose to all, with respect and courage, the beauty of matrimony and of the family illumined by the Gospel! And because of this, we come close with care and affection to families in difficulty, to those who are constrained to leave their land, who are broken, who have no home or work, or who are suffering for so many reasons; to spouses in crisis and to those now separated. We want to be close to them all."
Pope Francis, 26 October 2013 – http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/francis-defends-rights-of-family)
• ... man recognises woman, and only that one, which is part of him: "Bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh." Finally, there is a reflection of himself, a reciprocity ...
Woman is not a "replica" of man; she comes directly from the creative gesture of God.
The image of the "rib" does not express inferiority or subordination but, on the contrary, that man and woman are of the same substance and are complementary.
And the fact that – still in the parable – God moulded woman while man slept, stresses in fact that she is in no way creature of man, but of God.
And it also suggests something else: To find woman, and we can say to find love in woman, to find woman, man must first dream about her and then he finds her.
(Pope Francis, April 22 – http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/general-audience-on-man-and-woman-as-companions)
• Jesus, Mary and Joseph to you, Holy Family of Nazareth,
today we turn our gaze
with admiration and confidence;
in you we contemplate
the beauty of communion in true love;
to you we commend our families,
so that in them marvels of grace be renewed.
Holy Family of Nazareth,
alluring school of the Gospel:
teach us to imitate your virtues
with a wise spiritual discipline,
grant us a clear vision
that recognises the work of Providence
in the daily realities of life.
(Pope Francis, 28 October 2014 – http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-francis-prayer-for-the-families-of-the-world)
There are many instances where Pope Francis sums up "family" as man and woman together.
Just because some of the hierarchy are bowing to the wishes of the world, and are falling away from Church teaching, does not mean that the Pope does not know what is occurring.
We should look to the example of the Pope, and our sermons should be on family, husband, wife, and children – that which is called Holy Matrimony – what Pope Francis called, a "masterpiece of society ... the family: man and woman who love one another! This is the masterpiece!"
Perhaps we need to return to being the Church marrying only those who are believers, those who seek "Holy Matrimony".
If that means handing back our licences from the State to marry, then so be it. We can follow France, people get married in a civil union, and then come to the Church for 'convalidation', putting the 'Holy' back into marriage and keeping wedlock for what God intended, unity and sanctity.
I will leave the last word to Pope Francis, and it is one that all Catholics should take to heart:
The social devaluation of the stable and generative alliance of man and woman is certainly a loss for all. We must reassess marriage and the family! And the Bible says a beautiful thing: man finds woman, they find one another, and man must leave something to find her fully. And for this, man will leave his father and his mother to go with her. It is beautiful! This means to begin a journey. Man is all for woman and woman is all for man.