Dear Fr. Joe: Why should I go to a celibate priest for help when my marriage is in trouble? I am going to answer your question in a roundabout way, but it all goes back to one word: commitment. This morning my alarm went off at 5 a.m. Like every day, I rolled over, turned the alarm off, grabbed a good, stinky, nasty cup of coffee and started slugging it down. (My motto on coffee: if it doesn’t make my eyes bleed, it’s not strong enough). Then I took a shower and sat down to pray. At that moment, whether I felt like it or not, I was a priest. Then I went down to my office to look at my day. I dedicated it to God and promised him I would work hard at being a good priest. I knew that no matter what I had to do, whether I felt like doing it or not, today, I was a priest. I met with some people, got called to the hospital, sat through meetings, and took communion to someone who was very ill at home. Through it all, I was a priest – whether I felt like it or not. So there it is: COMMITMENT! I know from watching my parents who have been married 41 years that it is all about commitment. The joy of marriage is not found in maintaining a feeling of love, but in living out a commitment to be who and where God calls us to be – whether we feel like it or not. Priests know a lot about commitment. Their wisdom can be of help.
My daughter is bringing her boyfriend home for the holidays and insists on sleeping in the same room with him. I’m opposed to that. What should I do? Insists? It’s your house. She should insist on nothing but respect for your household and the rules you have. You are right to be opposed to what your daughter wants. Too many people fall easily into serious sexual sins with no thought of the spiritual or physical consequences of their actions. By forbidding her from sleeping with her boyfriend in your house, you are protecting her dignity, your house and the sacrament of marriage. If they want to live as married people, they should get married. I know, I know! You are thinking, “Yeah, Father, I figured that part out. But how do I handle the conflict?” I would have to say that, in this situation, conflict is unavoidable. So, what are the rules here? Above and beyond what will be written in this magazine, I believe that the key is to hold fast to what you know to be true. You can sit her down and gently explain to her why what she is doing is wrong and that you can’t support it. You don’t do this for any other reason than love for her. I know this can feel like you are being too harsh or even unloving. However, I assure you that as long as you do this in love, you are doing what is right. Enjoy another day in God’s presence!