Sunday, June 19, 2011

Character and character

My wife Karen has begun to date other guys. I said, "What is this? You can't date other guys! You're my wife!"

And she said, "No, as of today, Father's Day, I'm not your wife. I'm not MRS. O'Brien, you see, I'm MISS O'Brien, and as MISS O'Brien I can date whomever I choose!"

Then she said, "I'm the Female Dog Sheep! Woof woof! Howwwwllll!"

Mid-life crisis, I guess.

Anyway, it's obvious my wife can't renounce our marriage, for marriage is a sacrament that confers an ontological change (as my friend Deacon John Wainscott says), a change that lasts as long as you live on earth. The sacrament of marriage changes a person's very being, so that a married man or woman is in nature and essence different from a non-married person. It is more than just a change of status, it is a change of identity, which is why it can't be undone.

Two other sacraments produce an even more profound change in identity, in one's being, in one's nature - for the change these sacraments effect is a change that lasts beyond life on earth through all eternity. Both Baptism and Holy Orders produce an indelible mark, or character, on a person. Baptism kills us; it destroys the old man and creates a new man, as it participates in the passion, death and resurrection of Christ. Holy Orders likewise changes a person's nature, making a man a priest (or deacon) forever in the order of Melchizedek. Thus these sacraments can never be repeated, for their effect is permanent.

Father Corapi, therefore (God bless him in his struggles and confusion) can no more renounce his priesthood than my wife can renounce our marriage, or than I can renounce my masculine gender. Sure, Fr. Corapi can call himself "Mr. Corapi", Mrs. O'Brien can call herself "Miss O'Brien" and I can get a sex change operation and call myself "Tiffany", but Corapi is still a priest, Karen is still my wife, and I am still a man even if I get circumcised past the point of recognition.

It is a great modern error to think that we can deny Nature. Yes, we talk about how we love nature, but we don't really, for we ignore and deny our own Natures all the time, either if we want to date guys (by claiming we're not a wife and thus our husband has no authority over us); or if we want to preach as a rogue-televangelist-for-hire when our bishop has forbidden us - temporarily - to preach (by claiming we're not a priest and thus our bishop has no authority over us); or if again we want to date guys (by claiming we're really Tiffany).

A Character (big C) is an indelible stamp, a stamp on one's being that cannot be erased. Our characters, however, (little c) can be changed, and by God's grace, can be sanctified.

And so much of what God sends us in life is a way to test our characters. When the chips are down, do we acknowledge and live up to the Character He has impressed on our souls, or do we mis-characterize it and do what we want to do anyway?

Please pray for Fr. Corapi, for Bishop Mulvane, whom he is unjustly maligning, and for the accuser, who whether victim or victimizer, is surely suffering through all of this.

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