Thursday, June 27, 2013

Reaching for Reality

Statement of the Archdiocese of Washington
on the Supreme Court Rulings Regarding Marriage
Upon initial review, the Archdiocese of Washington finds very troubling that the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional and chose not to rule on the question of same-sex marriage in California. The apparent outcome of these decisions is that the federal government may not set parameters for the definition of marriage, but instead must leave that power to the states. The Court, in effect, has pointed out both the power of civil government and its limitations. We believe that although government might choose to use the word marriage to apply to a whole range of unions of people, it cannot change what marriage is in its very essence.
Marriage is not a creation of the state. While a number of states and the District of Columbia have changed the legal definition of marriage, government is ultimately powerless to redefine human nature and what describes the exclusive and lifelong union of one man and one woman with the possibility of generating and nurturing children. Governments have the power to create legal definitions. They do not have the ability or authority to change created human nature.
Despite the unsettling outcome of the Supreme Court’s ruling, the archdiocese is grateful for the ongoing efforts undertaken by those who uphold the authentic meaning of marriage and thankful that the Court’s rulings respect individual states’ right to recognize that true meaning. The archdiocese will continue to educate Catholics and the wider community about the truth of marriage as the union between one man and one woman.
Letter from the Pastor
Reality: What a concept!

I may be dating myself, but that was a catchphrase when I was younger – the late 1970’s or early 1980’s would be my guess.  I think it even was enshrined on a t-shirt.  Even if that is not its origin, it seems particularly suited to that time when I was in high school, and to the continually recurring lesson we teenagers all faced, that the reality of the world was more than the sum of our perceptions and wishes. 

Funny, then, that all these years later, I should find myself having gone into the reality business.  I call it that because I know I am calling people – not only their attention but every aspect of them – to what is real: what IS.  Because that being is true, it is therefore good, and thus beautiful.  I AM WHO AM is whom we worship, whose company we seek.

Last week I admitted to knowing I could be foolish sometimes – even often.  Suddenly it seems that speaking of reality rather than perception, what is versus what is preferred, is widely considered ridiculous. 

Jesus worked signs and wonders: healing the sick, feeding the multitude, raising the dead.  Some liken that to magic, a special power to contradict nature, and therefore reject it as untrue.  We know that what He did was not contrary to nature, but the perfection of nature, and thus more real than what had been the case before He came and touched and changed lives. 

Our encounter with reality will not change the reality, but will change us who encounter it.  Even a high school kid figures that out.  Christ Jesus is perfectly real.  We have been given the opportunity and the ability to recognize that reality, and respond to it.  Rejection is a response.  It is not the response that leads to truth, goodness, or beauty.  It is not the response that gives life. 
Fabrications and projections disappoint and disappear.  Reject them, and cling to reality.  He is more than a concept.

Monsignor Smith