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Ever needed some motivation to be holy? Here’s a parody of redproduction’s “Welcome to the Grind”. We hope it gives you what you need to make the commitment to sacrifice and holiness.
Special thanks to Daniel Bernal Jr. of Modern Teen Ministries.
Happy Catholic Relationships That Lead To Happy Catholic Marriages
by Marcus and Dianne Guevara
Protecting Your Future Marriage From Divorce
Imagine one day God took you by the hand and said “I want to show you something”. He proceeds to show you a glimpse of your future five years from now. You find out that you have been married for three years. In the present time you and your significant other are engaged.
But there’s something wrong…She (or he) is handing you divorce papers.
Your throat sinks in to your chest. Divorce? What happened? We’ve only been married a few years and already we are getting a divorce? Do we have children? What’s going to happen to them? You try to search through the divorce papers for answers but before you can find anything you are brought back to the present moment.
Imagine you were given this glimpse. How would it change your current behavior? If you were determined to change that future – where would you start?
I’m not trying to scare you and we shouldn’t make our decisions based on the fear that something bad might come from them. However, we also need to pay attention to the direction we are driving and be aware of where we might end up if we continue on that road. We’re going to approach this topic from the perspective that choosing the right road (and staying on that road) is how we ensure we end up at the destination we are going for. In this case we are talking about ending up in happy marriages that last forever.
I’m a firm believer that dreaming is one of the most important things anyone can do. Dreams are the conception of a great story and everyone wants to have a great story. We want to have a story that is interesting, exciting, emotional, inspirational and if you’re like me you want some comedy in there as well.
We want a story that people would want to read. Lucky for us we were created for just that.
The first step to have a happy marriage is to dream big.
Dreaming is like setting the destination for where you want to be but we still need to choose the right roads that will eventually get us to our desired destination. We call choosing those roads “setting standards and goals”.
Set Standards and Goals
So many people end up in bad relationships simply because they fail to look ahead and plan for the future. I believe that everyone who dates should be dating with the intention of working toward a potential marriage. Randomly dating – just for fun – is like taking random college courses for fun. If you aren’t working toward something, like a degree to build a career, you’re just wasting time and money. If you aren’t trying to find a good marriage partner than you are wasting valuable time and effort. You don’t get those weeks, months, or years, back.
Dating without thinking about marriage is a recipe for disaster. Think about it. A person who says “I want to date you but I don’t want to even think about marriage right now” is saying “I just want to have some fun” or “I’m just attracted to you right now”. What happens when that person stops having fun or starts becoming attracted to someone else?
I’m not saying that two people who are attracted to each other should say “I want to date you but you have to be willing to marry me first”. What I am saying is from the very beginning two dating persons should be open to the idea of marriage and should be working to answer two questions: 1) Is this person someone I would want to spend the rest of my life with? 2) Is God calling me to marriage?
These questions will not be answered easily but they will be impossible to answer confidently unless the couple sets standards and goals for their relationship. Setting standards helps to reveal true intentions. My wife set very high standards for me before we could start dating. I had to ask her dad’s permission to date her, read a book and respect a promise that she made to God to not kiss until marriage! Talk about setting the bar high. That standard kept me in check and forced me to respect her dignity.
A lot of guys walked away from her after hearing about her promise but I stuck around and now she’s forever my bride.
I talked earlier about our desire to have a great story. In this case our idea of a great story is a strong, Catholic, marriage that lasts forever. So what does it take to make your story great?
It starts with a willingness to sacrifice. You see, another word for sacrifice is love. Sacrifice is loving another more than yourself. Self-sacrificial love inspires us to want to be better and it is the ultimate witness of real and authentic love. Everyone wants that great story but how many of us are willing to make the decision to sacrifice everything for the good of another?
Many of us say we are willing to do anything for the person(s) we love but how do we know we will be strong enough to do so when we are faced with the decision? That’s the power of Chastity. Chastity is exercise of the will. It’s sacrificing little things everyday in preparation for the big sacrifice. If you exercise your self-sacrificial muscles enough than your will be strong enough when the time comes to make that decision.
Here is a short video of how Chastity and high standards helped make our story great
Happy, Catholic relationships that lead to Happy, Catholic Marriages may be a misleading goal. We don’t simply want to be “happy”. We want an authentically Catholic marriage. That means we want more than just a temporary happiness. We want marriages that fulfill the very purpose for which marriage was designed. For those of you who have heard of the Theology of the Body you know that through marriage we can image the eternal loving God who is family.
Marriage is not just for our own happiness. It is a vocation, a calling, to spread the Kingdom of God. It is how we witness to the world that there truly is a loving God.
Jesus said “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Think about that. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Flip that, reverse it, and you have “The impure of heart will be unable to see God”. In a society where pornography is prevalant Atheism is common. In a society where children grow up without Fathers the evangelistic phrase “God is your Father” carries a negative connotation.
That’s why it is so important that we strive for more than just happy marriages. We want happy, Catholic, marriages because it is the Catholic part – the Christian part – of that equation that makes for a powerful story. That is the story that God had in mind for you when in Matthew 5 he said “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven”.
Now, here is your opportunity. What are you willing to do to make your story great and build a happy, Catholic, marriage that lasts forever? Are you willing to sacrifice your first, or your next kiss for the altar?
Tell us what you think in the comments section below.
The below article was written by a non-Catholic and originally featured on the site ExploreGod.com. I re-posted it on my site because I thought it was an awesome attempt at dialogue and a fair assessment of the Catholic faith from the perspective of a non-Catholic Christian. For more information on my views make sure to read my article 7 Things Every Protestant Should Know About Catholicism.
The Difference Between Protestantism and Catholicism
As Christians, Protestants and Catholics share different beliefs. Learn 5 key differences.
Often you hear people say, “Christians believe X,” or “Christianity says Y.” Or maybe you’ve heard something more specific, like, “Catholics believe X, but Baptists believe Y, and Methodists believe Z.”
What does all that mean? Are there different kinds of Christians?
There are many forms of Christianity, and though there are similarities between them, there are also significant differences. Of the three main divisions—Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant—Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, and the relationship between the two seem to get the most attention in the West.
Cultural and geographical elements have played significant roles in the development of Christianity, and as such, we should not discount ethnic and cultural identities when comparing a Peruvian Catholic to an American Protestant.1 But setting cultural factors aside for a moment, let’s consider some of the fundamental differences between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism.
In the centuries that followed Jesus’ death, most Christians promoted what was called “Catholic Christianity”—what the ancient Apostles’ Creed (circa 150 CE) professed as the “one holy, catholic church.”2
The term “catholic” comes from the Greek word katholikē, which means literally “according to the whole” or “universal.”The term came to designate the most accepted form of faith passed down from the first followers of Jesus. It was not about an institution: “it was a spiritual vision, a conviction that all Christians should be in one body.”3
At that time, Roman culture and the Latin language dominated the West, so Christianity in that region took on a decidedly Roman flavor. Consequently, the term “Roman Catholicism” became synonymous with western Christianity.4 From the early centuries CE through the Middle Ages, Roman Catholic beliefs, traditions, practices, and institutions were the normative form of Christianity.
In the sixteenth century, the Protestant Reformation began. Church leaders Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, and others protested against some of the practices and abuses of the Catholic Church.
Though the protestors wanted to reform the church from within, eventually it became clear that their movement was incompatible with the mother church in Rome. So they broke away and set up their own church structures and organizations—ushering in the birth of Protestantism.
Today, many different denominations and groups make up Protestantism throughout the world. Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Evangelical Free, Pentecostal, and many nondenominational churches now fall under the umbrella category of Protestantism.
Though individuals can, of course, have their own specific beliefs, there are five key differences between Protestants and Catholics.
The Authority of the Pope
Roman Catholics believe that the pope is the head of the worldwide Church. As the “vicar of Christ,” the pope stands as the earthly representative of Christ in the world and acts in his place to lead the Church in determining what is true, right, and proper for all Catholics. According to church teaching, the pope is preserved from any possibility of error when speaking on matters of faith and morals to be held by the entire Church.5
According to this tradition, the apostle Peter was ordained the first “pope”6 when Jesus declared, “And I tell you that you are Peter,and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hadeswill not overcome it.”7 Tradition says that Peter went on to become the bishop of Rome. Catholics believe that this office of authority continues today.
Protestants, on the other hand, do not believe in a hierarchical structure that culminates in one individual who could speak definitively and proclaim truth without error.8
Mary, the Mother of Jesus
Mary plays a different role for Catholics than for most Protestants. Because Mary was the instrument through whom God brought his Son into the world, Catholics honor Mary with the titles “Mother of God” and “Mother of the Church.”
Catholics regard her as an example of faith and holiness. According to tradition, Mary was conceived and born without the stain of original sin and remained sinless throughout her life.
Though Catholics have a special devotion to Mary, they do not adore or worship her as they do God and the Incarnate Word (a common misperception). They pray to Mary—as they pray to other saints—asking her to intercede or mediate for them with her Son with whom she is in perfect communion. Put another way, they ask Mary to pray for them in much the same way as all Christians ask each other for prayer.9
For various reasons, though Protestants may have a high view of Mary, they do not hold her in the same regard. As such, they typically do not pray to Mary or make her a focal point of artwork or iconography in the same way Roman Catholics do.10
The Doctrine of Justification
Both Protestants and Catholics agree that one is justified—made righteous or put in right relationship with God—through grace. The differences in their beliefs are a matter of degree.
Roman Catholics believe that a person’s actions play a significant role in one’s standing with God because actions are external expressions of one’s inner faith. For Catholics, good deeds can achieve penance for sins or limit one’s time in Purgatory after death.
Protestants believe that justification by grace through faith is the only way for a person to enjoy a righteous standing before God. In this view, good works are done out of gratitude and are seen as a result of faith, but alone can earn no merit with God.11 Catholics believe this as well but continue to emphasize works as demonstrations of faith.
Roman Catholics embrace mystery, hierarchy, rituals, liturgy, structure, and more symbolic actions in worship. Protestants, on the other hand, developed worship services that are plain and straightforward, focusing on Scripture.
For Catholics, the focus of the Mass is the Eucharist or Holy Communion. For Protestants, the central moment of worship comes with the sermon—when the minister stands to preach from the Bible.12
Admittedly, the above is a generalization for the sake of clarity and simplicity. Nevertheless, a typical evangelical Protestant worship service today could consist almost entirely of singing modern songs with modern instruments in an auditorium with few religious symbols. But a Catholic service will likely contain numerous elements that are complex, elaborate, and deeply meaningful to participants.
The Role of Church Tradition
Most variations between Protestants and Roman Catholics are grounded in a more foundational difference: the role of church tradition.
Protestants believe that the central authority for faith and practice is found in the Scriptures.13 While tradition, reason, and experience are important, Protestants tend to think they should all be measured against—and are ultimately superseded by—the teachings of the Bible.
On the other hand, Roman Catholics adhere to many beliefs and practices that are not explicitly stated in the Scriptures. These traditions—along with the Scriptures—constitute a deposit of faith that has been passed down from the first apostles through the Magisterium of the Church—that is, the Pope, the bishops, and the Church Councils.14 Authority is found in the Bible, reason, and church tradition together—these three are seen as complementary, not in tension.15
Thus, Roman Catholics regard certain practices and beliefs—such as papal infallibility, Mary’s Immaculate Conception, the doctrine of Purgatory, the celibacy of priests, and the distinction between mortal and venial sins—as important to their faith, while Protestants do not necessarily agree.
Many Denominations, One God
These differences are extremely important. They continue to be the source of fruitful—and sometimes not-so-fruitful—discussions between Protestants and Roman Catholics. However, one should not neglect the central beliefs upon which virtually all Protestants and Catholics agree.
There is one God, the Creator, who sent his only Son, Jesus, into the world to live as an example, to teach about the coming reign of God, to die on the cross, and to rise from the dead. Through faith in Jesus, anyone can find hope, peace, and restoration with God.16
- Roman Catholicism is more prevalent in places like Europe and Latin America, while Protestantism is more common in North America, parts of Africa, and other regions. For more details on religious demographics, see the Association of Religion Data Archives at http://thearda.com.
- Justo L. Gonzalez, The Apostles’ Creed for Today (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2007), 2–3.
- Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language, 3rd ed., (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008), 27.
- However, Christians in the eastern part of the empire still spoke Greek. In light of their cultural and theological differences, they practiced what has become known as Eastern Orthodoxy.
- In 1869–1870, the doctrine of papal infallibility was defined at the First Vatican Council. As mentioned in the full text above, the doctrine of papal infallibility is this: when the pope speaks on matters of doctrine and morals ex cathedra (Latin: “from the chair” of official doctrinal proclamation), his pronouncements are without error. For more background, see Paul Johnson, A History of Christianity (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1976), 391–395.
- The title “pope” did not come into use until later.
- The Holy Bible, New International Version © 2011, Matthew 16:18.
- Individual Protestants have differing views on the pope himself; some hold him in high regard as a spiritual leader while others have a negative view or even disdain for the pope and that aspect of Catholicism in general.
- To understand the full honor given to Mary by the Roman Catholic Church, consult The Catechism of the Catholic Church (New York: Doubleday, 1995), paragraphs 484–511.
- For a description of the Immaculate Conception and its theological reasoning, see Catechism, paragraphs 490–495. To understand why most Protestants reject this doctrine, see Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), 529–531.
- For a comprehensive treatment of the doctrine of justification in Christian theology and history, see Alister E. McGrath, Iustitia Dei: A History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification, 3rd ed., (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005).
- However, Protestants, too, practice Holy Communion. Some churches may have Communion at each worship service, while some may have it on only the first service of the month.
- In fact, one of the key slogans of the Protestant Reformation was sola Scripture, which means “Scripture alone.”
- Catechism, paragraphs 74–100.
- See Alister E. McGrath, Christian Theology: An Introduction, 2nd ed., (Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 1997), 219–222.
- The Apostles’ Creed is a good example of the common beliefs held by all Christians. The full text, including the traditional and more modern English translations can be found at “The Apostles’ Creed,” Creeds.net, http://www.creeds.net/ancient/apostles.htm, accessed February 2, 2013.
- Photo Credit: PLRANG / Shutterstock.com.