Fr. Frank “Rocky” Hoffman recently spoke to students in the Knights of Columbus building about Catholic teaching on marriage. The talk was hosted by Rodzinka, a student group that holds discussions and lectures to promote a positive vision on campus for building healthy relationships, stronger marriages, and stronger families.
The evening began with a dinner provided by Rodzinka, followed by a lecture presented by Fr. Rocky. Fr. Rocky is an Opus Dei priest and the executive director for Relevant Radio, which broadcasts from 33 stations in the US and reaches over 60,000 people in the Chicago area. He began the talk by stressing that marriage is vitally important to civilization as a whole and that children who grow up with their biological parents are happier, healthier, smarter, and better contributors to society.
He then stressed man’s natural need to love and that he had “no one to serve, no one to give himself to, no one to love, no one for whom to lay down his life” until Eve. Marriage is the principal conduit through which mankind moves from selfishness to selfless giving.
He then expanded this situation to everyone, not just married couples. No one should be alone; otherwise one inflates his ego and starts acting for himself and not for others. Fr. Rocky said this applies to children as well, and suggested that if a child has a big ego, a parent should put him on a sports team. Activities like these help show individuals the value of selflessly working for team goals, and help them to gain perspective on their abilities.
Fr. Rocky continued to talk about the role of marriage in the Bible by citing the marriage feast at Cana, Jesus’ first miracle. He pointed out that a rough estimate for the amount of wine Jesus created for the newlyweds was 180 gallons. This, he pointed out, is the sign of Jesus’ favor upon the institution of marriage.
Fr. Rocky also pointed out John the Baptist’s disapproval of King Herod’s marriage to his brother’s wife. The story illustrates that we must defend marriage as an institution but also disapprove of illegitimate ones.
Fr. Rocky discussed the question he receives most often: “Why does the Church discriminate against gay marriage?” He said that the fundamental purposes of marriage are procreation and loving and helping one’s spouse. Because these purposes cannot be separated, a real marriage cannot exist between two members of the same sex.
Although it is possible to love a member of the same sex as a friend, Fr. Rocky explained, a true marital love can only be achieved between a man and woman. He added that it is vital to love everyone and treat all with respect, just as Jesus did when he forgave the adulteress. In doing this we can love our neighbors while still defending marriage as a covenant between a man and woman.
Fr. Rocky then addressed more specific situations of marriage. He promoted marriage at a young age, saying that it helps people adjust to their spouses and have children. He did issue a warning about cohabitation before getting married, and cited that 75 percent of marriages in which couples cohabitated before marriage did not last. He said that if one’s attitude is to “do it my own way,” then that sort of selfishness and pride will affect your marriage as well.
According to Fr. Rocky, people should not be afraid to get married. He said, “You’re ready to get married when you’re ready to have kids.” If one person in the relationship is working and has health insurance, then the couple should not be afraid to get married.
Fr. Rocky also spoke about some of the modern problems caused by television and movies. While he said that 95 percent of print, TV, radio and movie media are owned by 5 companies, he also said that this in itself was not bad. He likened the media to a war in that whoever has the “high ground” wins the battle. Through apostolates like Relevant Radio, Catholics can work to spread the Gospel and recover the high ground in society.
Tom Nield is a junior economics and political science major. He likes dogs, philosophical discussions, and music. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org