Question: I have a friend who says she is leaving the Catholic Church because of…
Editorial: Are you all-in, or are you cohabitating with Jesus?
Another Pew Research survey was released recently, and this time, the topic was cohabitation. The news on this topic, unsurprisingly, continues to be dismal. More adults have cohabited than have been married. Most Americans say cohabitation is acceptable even if the couple doesn’t have plans to marry — and the younger their age, not surprisingly, the more likely they are to regard it as acceptable. While the majority of people who are married or living together cite love as the reason for their decision, others cite companionship, wanting to have children and even convenience.
Clearly, American adults are balking at the idea of commitment, and our families, the basic cells of society, are suffering as a result.
Could the same be true of American Catholics when it comes to our relationship with Christ? God the Father is there, waiting for us to be in a committed relationship. Are we all-in?
Do we desire or seek out that commitment? Or are we just cohabiting?
Perhaps it is helpful to look at what commitment means. The verb “to commit” (in Latin, committere) means “to unite, connect, combine; to bring together.” When a couple is united in marriage — by definition a committed relationship — it means that they will do whatever it takes to stay together. There is no “easy out,” no “irreconcilable differences” — no other option. It is, as the marriage rite says, “until death do you part.”
This is not to say that the relationship will always be easy going. A commitment in marriage does not mean nonstop joy. The way won’t always be smooth. It doesn’t even mean that couples may always feel like sticking it out. But it does mean that they will.
Even in times of struggle, committed relationships are those that persevere, no matter what. Committed couples show up, no matter what. They keep going, side by side, regardless of what it takes.
And while this can be challenging, there is also great comfort in knowing that neither spouse is going anywhere — that leaving is not an option. Cohabitating couples do not have this security. Those who are cohabiting must mentally have their bags packed and sitting by the front door. They have no assurance that their partner will stand by their side; the future is a question mark.
When it comes to being in a committed relationship with Jesus Christ, the same criteria could apply. There will be times when one will be on fire with the Holy Spirit and growing more deeply in relationship with Christ. And there will be times when it may feel like that fire has been extinguished. This is normal. But even in times of struggle, if one is in a committed relationship with the Lord, our task is to persevere, to show up, to keep going, side by side, in relationship with Jesus Christ. This means always persevering in prayer, which is our path to a relationship with the Lord.
During a talk to young people at the Superdome in New Orleans in 1987, Pope St. John Paul II addressed the importance of continued prayer, even when it is challenging.
“When it is difficult therefore to pray, the most important thing is not to stop praying, not to give up the effort,” he said. “At these times, turn to the Bible and to the Church’s liturgy. Meditate on the life and teachings of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels. Ponder the wisdom and counsel of the apostles and the challenging messages of the prophets. Try to make your own the beautiful prayers of the psalms. You will find in the inspired word of God the spiritual food you need. Above all, your soul will be refreshed when you take part wholeheartedly with the community in the celebration of the Eucharist, the Church’s greatest prayer.”
What heartening words for anyone looking for a way to stay strong in their committed relationship with Christ.
We also cannot stress enough the importance of relying on the Eucharist. From another recent Pew Research study, we know that only 30% of Catholics believe that the Eucharist is the actual body and blood of Christ. To that end, we have included in this Thanksgiving issue a full four-page In Focus dedicated to better understanding and appreciating the “source and summit” of the Church — the Real Presence. May God be with you all as you seek to walk the path of a committed relationship with his son, Jesus Christ.
Our Sunday Visitor Editorial Board: Gretchen R. Crowe, Scott P. Richert, Scott Warden, York Young