Why so few married saints?

Today’s issue of The Wall Street Journal, of all places, has a few answers. (Right: Louis and Zelie Martin, who will be beatified this Sunday in Lisieux, and their children.  Presumably the smallest--and most pious--one is St. Therese of Lisieux.) 


James Martin, SJ

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9 years 1 month ago
The Vatican's present position about sex seems to want to retain the most rigid moralism in the sexual field, relaxing nothing of the rules, with the result that people with 'irregular' sexual lives are supposed to be automatically denied the sacraments...As long as this monolithic image dominates the scene, the Christian message as expressed and embodied by the Catholic Church will not be easy to hear in wide zones of the contemporary world. ~ Charles Taylor
9 years 1 month ago
Fr. Martin refers in the article to what he believes to be 'the outmoded belief, almost as old as the church, that the celibate life was ‘better’ than married life.' However, the belief is not 'almost' as old as the Church, it is at least as old, as the founder of the Church taught that those who can should make themselves eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven. And St. Paul not only ranks celibacy over marriage but adds: 'For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.' So in a world that values legalized abortion and gay marriage, yes these are 'outmoded beliefs,' but in the Church, as St. Paul would say, 'by no means!'
9 years 1 month ago
Mr. Miller, Your quote from Charles Taylor could not be farther from the truth. The Church has a responsible to be true to its prophetic voice, which requires her to speak the truth about human sexuality, among other things. The Church's teaching on sexuality is nothing short of beautiful, particularly as her understanding has grown in the decades since Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body. The Church also does not teach that falling into grave sin keeps us from the sacraments - just the opposite, in fact. It is because we are human and we do sin that the sacraments are there for us, specifically the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I have struggled with living a sinful sex life throughout my life, but the point is I continue to struggle, I continue to fight, I continue to strive towards the holiness which is our universal vocation as Christians. And in my struggle, and in my striving towards holiness, I find myself increasingly grateful that God has blessed us with the profound encounters with His grace that is found in the sacraments, so that in Reconciliation I find forgiveness for my sins, and in the Eucharist I find the grace to become more like Christ.
9 years 1 month ago
As for why there are not more married saints, I have not yet read the article posted here, but I believe it was actually you, Fr. Martin, though perhaps it was someone else, who once pointed out that the primary reason for this simply has to do with the process of beatification. In order for someone to be beatified their cause must be introduced to the Church. It is much more likely that a religious order is going to introduce one of their members, or a diocese on of their priests, for canonization, and it is less common for a family member to introduce the cause of one of their family. This results in a disproportionate number of recognized saints from the religious and the priesthood. Fortunately we do have some wonderful models of married saints, including the Blessed Virgin and Saint Joseph, as well as Sts. Monica, Rita of Cascia, and others. It is lovely that we will now have a more modern pair of married saints upon whose intercession we may rely and whose virtues we may imitate. Thank you for pointing out the article, Father. Speaking of saints' causes being brought up by their religious order, I do hope your own order eventually makes the strong and necessary case for Oscar Romero. I imagine it will take some time for this to happen, because the Church is wary of certain aspects of liberation theology, but there can be no doubt, at least in my mind, that this is a man whose holiness and virtue were truly heroic, and I pray this will one day be recognized by all. Grace and Peace, Michael Hallman
9 years 1 month ago
"The generations that have been formed in the cultural revolution of the 1960s are in some respects deeply alienated from a strong traditional model of Christian faith in the West. They are refractory to the sexual disciplines which were part of the good Christian life as understood, for instance, in the nineteenth-century Evangelical revivals in English-speaking countries. Indeed, the contemporary swing goes beyond just repudiating these very high standards..." ~ Charles Taylor http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/article.php3?id_article=2016
9 years 1 month ago
The opinion of Mr. Taylor seems in fact rigid! I think the position of the Church is very serious: sexuality is very good but also very serious. The pastors receive men and women with comprehension and charity. In our time, many consider sexuality as fun only. I HOPE THAT THE BEATIFICATION OF THE MARTINS WILL ENCOURAGE MANY COUPLES TO DO WHAT IS BEST FOR THEIR SPIRITUAL LIFE.
9 years 1 month ago
Hello from Australia and thanks all for your comments. It is interesting how the comments end up talking about sexuality. But, then again, I have heard it said that the average male thinks about sex every seven minutes! So, some of you must have been in your seventh minute! Boys will be boys! To introduce a point from another angle it has only been in recent decades that vocations ministry in the Churches has begun to seriously promote vocation in terms of marriage, single life, religious life and priesthood. As each of these states in living Christian life begin to be more deeply encouraged I believe that a broader spectrum of role models and saints will follow. Mr Hallman mentioned about Pope John Paul II's theology of the body. As it and other writings continue to be produced, a fuller appreciation of being human is deepened. This will challenge some lives of the saints where mortifications and bodily punishments seemed to be the order of the day. It would seem that sanctity needs to give glory to God with the whole person whether they be married or celibate. Fr Simon Falk
9 years 1 month ago
Irritation is the quickest path to hell.
9 years 1 month ago
Do not forget St Gianna Beretta Molla (whose husband is living). Read the letters to her husband (Gianna Beretta Molla. Il tuo grande amore mi aiuterà a essere forte. Lettere al marito, a cura di Elio Guerriero, Edizioni San Paolo, Milano 1999), and you will see that the sacrifice of her life was not the only reason for her being canonized. She is, by the way, a fine example for the sound personalist concept of marriage propagated by Pius XI and Pius XII; Vatican II had only to synthesize those great teachings.


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