I went to a pre-marriage retreat last weekend. While I learned many helpful techniques for dealing with conflict and communicating effectively, something was missing. We didn’t talk about sin. And even though the stats from the U.S. Bishops say that half of the couples showing up for these retreats are sexually active, no one wanted to touch that issue with a ten foot pole, let alone contraception.
What was the result? Well, Jesus certainly wasn’t presented like He was very important. There was one scant reference to Him having already forgiven our sins, but nothing about salvation, no reasons given for non-Catholic spouses to come to the Catholic Church other than making it easier on their future kids.
We should celebrate when people get married in the Church. But here’s the problem. When the scandal of sin is minimized, the scandal of grace is minimized. If sin does not separate us hopelessly from God, then the need for Jesus’ death on the cross hardly seems necessary–a kind gesture perhaps, but certainly nothing resembling salvation. And If people are not told explicitly about sin, whether it be venial or mortal, then two of our most precious sacraments given to us by Christ are diminished: no one needs to attend confession, and everyone takes the Eucharist.
Given that this is the day after Pope Benedict announced his resignation and the day before Ash Wednesday, I’ll conclude with a quote from the Holy Father, pleading for Catholics to turn from sin to Christ and follow Him.
“Are we not perhaps all afraid in some way? If we let Christ entire fully into our lives, if we open ourselves totally to him, are we not afraid that He might take something away from us? Are we not perhaps afraid to give up something significant, something unique, something that makes life so beautiful? Do we not then risk ending up diminished and deprived of our freedom? . . . No! If we let Christ into our lives, we losing nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful, and great.”
-Pope Benedict XVI