The Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life

Matt and Mindy Dalton

We entered marriage in 1991 with our own ideas dominating our thoughts and actions of what marriage was all about, specifically the teaching on openness to life. What does the Church know about marriage, let alone being a father or mother? Does the Church realize how much money it takes to raise children? We only have limited resources and we have to use them well. Sadly, it was our own unknowns, fears and lack of trust that drove our questions: “Could Matt be a good husband and father; could Mindy be a good wife and mother? Could we trust God with every aspect of our lives or could we pick and choose where we needed him?”

Holy Mother Church proposes to married couples that conjugal love is to be a renewal of our wedding vows. Conjugal love is when the words of the wedding vows become flesh. Anything we do to render this act sterile—before, during or after—is a grave and serious rejection of God’s blueprint for mankind. “Why haven’t we heard any of this before?” was a question raised for us several years into our marriage.

Here’s the answer: “I love everything about you—except for your fertility” does not image the love of the Trinity. With our wedding vows, we profess that we come freely, that we will give ourselves away totally, that we will be faithful and fruitful; open to life. Rendering our intimate love unfruitful by utilizing birth control, sterilization, withdrawal or mutual masturbation deceives us into thinking we are in total control.

Our pregnancies have always been considered high risk, as Mindy has had Caesarean sections with all of our seven children. Our first two children, girls, were emergency C-sections; fetal distress with our first, then both Mindy and the baby were in grave danger with our second. Along came our third child, a boy, and some suggested, because of the high drama and risk, “Hey, you got your boy now, I hope you are done.” Only by the grace of God, with trepidation, we began to verbally speak up. We would respond, “It is up to God, not us,” even though we had not yet fully embraced what we were saying.

It wasn’t until 1999, when we heard and read St. Pope John Paul II’s “Love and Responsibility,” and his theology of the body, that our eyes were opened to the teachings of the Church in a whole new way. We longed to have more children and cooperate with God’s glorious plan for our union. Our seven children are ages 21 to 4.

When our words began to match what we were saying with our bodies, by the grace of God we have come to know that God is never outdone in generosity. The more we gave of ourselves, the more God filled us with his grace. Now when we go to Mass each weekend, and we pray the words in the creed, “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life,” we have tremendous peace knowing that we are cooperating, inviting and co-creating with God.

This topic can be difficult, personal and sometimes confusing in our world. We invite you to further discussion if this has invoked any thoughts, questions or concerns.

Matt and Mindy Dalton can be reached at matt@marriagemissionaries.org, 303-578-8287 or at www.marriagemissionaries.org.

COMING UP: On Divine Mercy Sunday faithful urged to trust in Christ’s mercy, pass it on

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On Divine Mercy Sunday faithful urged to trust in Christ’s mercy, pass it on

Maronite church’s event offers sacramental graces, highlights plight of persecuted Christians

Roxanne King

On April 23, Divine Mercy Sunday, hundreds of people turned out at St. Rafka Maronite Catholic Church for a celebration that offered the chance to earn a plenary indulgence and to be inspired by religious leaders to share Christ’s mercy with others.
The day included the opening and closing of a Holy Door at the Lakewood church, and a Divine Liturgy (Mass) celebrated by Maronite Bishop Elias Zaidan and concelebrated by St. Rafka pastor Maronite Father Andre Mahanna, who founded and heads an apostolate to aid persecuted Christians. Archbishop Samuel Aquila delivered a message on Divine Mercy.

Maronite Father Andre Mahanna addresses the congregation during Eucharistic benediction on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 23 at St. Rafka Maronite Catholic Church in Lakewood. CREDIT: Roxanne King

To help people earn the indulgence (remission of punishment due for sin), the sacrament of reconciliation, Eucharistic adoration, and veneration of the Divine Mercy image were available. The iconic image with the words “Jesus, I trust in you,” shows the risen Christ giving a blessing while rays of light (red for Eucharist, white for baptism and reconciliation) stream from his breast.
Other events included a brunch with ecumenical leaders that featured multicultural entertainment, including Jewish, Indian and Samoan dancing and music, and an inter-Christian dialogue that focused on helping persecuted Christians in the Middle East.

“The 2016 Open Doors report on persecution found that 215 million Christians experienced hostilities of some form over the past year,” Archbishop Aquila told the congregation. “Sadly, one only needs to look to the recent Palm Sunday bombings in Egypt that were claimed by ISIS to see the flesh and blood reality of the suffering Church: 49 dead and 78 injured.

“In the face of our afflictions, how should we respond as Christians?” he asked. “By immersing ourselves in Divine Mercy and carrying it to others.”
Christ’s passion, death and resurrection show that submission to and trust in God’s will and goodness yields eternal victory, the archbishop said.
“Divine Mercy,” he added, “… can transform our country and the world.”
In the year 2000 St. John Paul II designated the Sunday after Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday and canonized Sister Faustina Kowalska. The Polish nun had died in 1938 and is called the Apostle of God’s Mercy as it was through her writings the message and devotion to Jesus as “The Divine Mercy” came to be known.
“At the heart of Jesus’ message to St. Faustina is the necessity of complete trust in Jesus’ mercy for all who seek it,” Archbishop Aquila said, adding that Christ told Faustina: “’The graces of my mercy are drawn by means of one vessel only, and that is—trust. The more a soul trusts, the more it will receive.’”
St. John Paul II, the archbishop said, noted that Jesus’ message of mercy isn’t new, “’but can be considered a gift of special enlightenment that helps us to relive the Gospel of Easter more intensely, to offer it as a ray of light to the men and women of our time.’
“The work of building a culture of mercy, of building the Kingdom of God, is needed everywhere,” the archbishop said. “It must be done on the streets of Denver, in the highways and byways of every corner of our country; it must be done in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. And most importantly, it must be done in your homes and in your families.”
The inter-Christian dialogue, which in addition to the bishops and Father Mahanna, included representatives of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a Syriac Orthodox deacon, and evangelical laymen who work to educate and empower inner-city youths and families, discussed past and current collaborative works of charity and mercy to help victimized Christians in the Middle East and urban needy in the United States.

Inter-Christian dialogue participants: from left, Syriac Orthodox Deacon Elias Naoum, Maronite Bishop Elias Zaidan, Archbishop Samuel Aquila, Latter-Day Saint lay leader J. Craig McIlroy, Maronite Father Andre Mahanna CREDIT: Roxanne King

The Maronite Church is Eastern Catholic and in communion with the pope. It traces its roots to the Apostles’ visits to Antioch where followers of Christ were first called Christians (Acts 11:26). The Maronite patriarch (senior religious leader under the pope) is in Lebanon.
“As you know, the Middle East is where Christianity started. Unfortunately, waves and waves and waves of persecution over the centuries has pushed Christians out,” Bishop Zaidan told the group. “I hope the little tiny remnant still there will be respected. We hope their voice will become your voices … to make sure this country will do whatever it can to preserve Christianity in the Middle East.”
Father Mahanna wrapped up the discussion with a call to action.
“What are we trying to achieve?” he asked. “A network of common causes to enable (us all) to defend life from conception to natural death.”
Echoing Archbishop Aquila’s comments on building a culture of mercy, he added, “It will be a new movement—the new wind to flow all over.”