I wrote about this before, and have put more thought into it since, but the idea was brought strongly before my mind last tuesday night at a talk I went to. Here in the Archdiocese of Seattle, the Office of Young Adult Ministries puts on a talk series called “Wine and Wisdom” several times a year. The premise is a lot like “Theology on Tap” except that it is specifically geared towards young adults. Last Tuesday’s speaker was Mark Miloscia, a former Representative in WA state legislature, and now a Catholic lobbyist. He hit on a number of themes, including the need for evangelization, the need for political activism, and the need for solidarity among Catholics in the political spere. However, one of his most pointed themes was on the need for Catholic marriages. He couched it in much the same language that is used of the dearth of vocations to the priesthood and religious life. He even asked how many of us were married and when only one person raised her hand (the mother of one of our college kids) the look on his face was one of bewilderment. I could almost hear him thinking, “Wow! Do I put them on the spot or just let it go?” He let it go, mostly.
I asked him more about it after the talk, and came up with three major points I want to examine more closely:
1) I was specifically interested in his ideas on underlying causes. He didn’t have much idea as to the why of it, not on the level of social dynamics, which is what I was interested in. He went straight to the underlying cause: “We live in a selfish and individualistic society. It’s all about sex, drugs and rock-n-roll.” He left me to fill in the blanks for myself.
2) I challenged his assumption we are all called either to the clergy/religious life or to the married life, and he acknowledged that there were exceptions to the general rule, but insisted that for most people marriage was the path to holiness. “That is the only way we learn how to love. I could have been more blunt about it. I could have gone around the room and asked every individual person, ‘Why aren’t you married? Why aren’t you married?’ But everyone needs to be if they are not called to the religious life.”
3) I asked him what he thought we should do about it. He looked at me as if I had asked a question to which the answer was obvious and said, “Get married.” I appreciate the simplicity and directness of that answer, but pressed him further. Given the fact that we live in a society that, for whatever reason, young men are not motivated to seek out marriage, I asked if he reccomended that we just get married out of a sense of duty. He answered unequivocally, “Yes.”
I want to take a bit of a closer look at each one of these in subsequent posts.