On Love, Life, and Christian Marriage
by Paul Likoudis
In early June, Eternal Life of Bardstown, Ky., released
a 12-tape, comprehensive exposition, , by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J. Recorded live
before a group of Catholic couples, the series
provides a thorough instruction on Church teaching on
love, marriage, and the family.
Since their initial release, the tapes have received
high praise from both college and high school teachers
who have used them in their classes, and from priests
who have utilized them in parish family life programs.
The presentation is both candid and compassionate,
while unwaveringly faithful to the magisterial
teaching of the Church.
While Fr. Hardon is addressing married couples in these
lectures, and discussing some intimate matters
pertaining to difficulties spouses have, the
instruction is both sensitive and prudent, and
suitable for adolescentsas well as for single people
of whatever age or state of life.
During Fr. Hardon's recent visit to Louisville, Ky.,
for the Church Teaches Forum,
interviewed him to discuss the reason he produced these
tapes, as well as to ask his views on various
difficulties and challenges that Catholic spouses face
in their married life as they try to raise children
and remain faithful to the Church and to each other in
a neopagan culture.
The tapes, packaged in an attractive album, are
available from Eternal Life (P.O. Box 787, Bardstown,
KY 40004-0787) for $38.00 postpaid. Phone orders, with
billing to American Express, VISA, or MasterCard, can
be placed by calling 1-800-842-2871.
Eternal Life has just published a new catalog with a
complete list of its booklets and pamphlets, books and
tapes, which readers are invited to
Also, Eternal Life has published two new question-and-
answer catechisms written by Fr. Hardon, a and a . Fr. Hardon answers the common
questions Christians raise on pro-life and conscience
matters, with responses indexed to the two recent
encyclicals written by Pope John Paul II.
+ + +
Q. You say in your tapes that the modern world and
modern people are obsessed with sex, and yet you also
say that the sex drive is man's strongest drive and has
been from the beginning. What's different or new about
contemporary attitudes about sex?
A. As the modern world understands sex, it does not
look at it as a moral issue. The sex experience is
something people have a "right" to, according to their
own norms, and each person's conscience is his own
guide to sexual pleasure. There is no objective moral
norm by which people are bound. That's new.
Q. What are the consequences?
A. They are disastrous. For the individual, once sex is
looked upon as amoral, then any sex experience may be
hadenjoyedeither by oneself, or with others, with
The effect on the individual is to demoralize the
individual conscience. Once that occurs, then there is
no other satisfaction that a person may want or desire
that he will not seek and try to fulfill, short of the
civil authority which might try to inhibit him.
For those of the faith, the Sixth Commandment is the
key. Once the Sixth Commandment goes, so go all the
others, including the Fifth, which is the lesson of our
Without chastity, no human life is safe, either one's
own or another person's. In other words, there would be
no abortion in the world today except for sex
indulgence. If sex is not moral, then human life is not
safe. This runs much deeper than meets the eye.
The purpose of sexual pleasure is to inspire the
procreation of human life, the preservation of human
life, and the support of human life. Once sexual
pleasure becomes independent of objective moral
standards, then human life is not even assured of
coming into being.
Q. Can you explain more fully the link between the
Sixth and Fifth Commandments?
A. Let me tell how I became convinced of this link.
When I was a student in Rome, I had a language
professor, a Jesuit priest, who was a prisoner in
Dachau for four and one-half years. He only survived
for so long because he was a very skilled linguist,
and the Nazis used him. His main job was moving bodies
from the gas chambers to the furnace.
This professor told us that on many nights, the
prisoners were so starved that they were unable to
sleep, and so they would talk all night long. One of
the subjects they probed was what made the Nazis so
cruel. For months, he said, they discussed what could
possibly make one human being SQ cruel to another, and
finally they found the answer: Every single one of the
guards was a sex pervert; there were no exceptions.
The relationship between chastity whose foundation
is charity and justice toward others, is a
relationship of cause and effect. Every sexually
perverse society becomes a society of murderers. There
is no doubt about it.
Q. What motivated you to produce these tapes? What is
A. There are three reasons. First, the preservation of
human life. Without the restoration of chastity, our
nation will never stop the crime of abortion.
Second, we must alert all Christians, especially
Catholics, that it is only the practice of chastity
which can preserve innocent human life. If we do not
restore chastity in this country, America will destroy
Third, to bring out the fact that chastity begins in
the mind. Therefore, all talk about chastity is just
so much verbiage unless we master our thoughts.
I have formulated what I call "The Iron Law of Human
Destiny." Sense leads to thought, that is: There can
be no thought without sense experience. Thought leads
to desire; we desire with the will, and the mind tells
us what to desire. Desire leads to action; every action
becomes a habit if we repeat it. Habit forms
character, and character forms destiny. Therefore, I
must control what I see, touch, and feel.
This explains why the modern media's bombardment of the
senses is so pernicious; it leads us to the wrong
thoughts, desires, actions, and habits.
Q. How would you sum up the message of these tapes?
A. Chastity requires the practice of charity, and the
practice of charity produces happiness. Everyone wants
to be happy, but people are not being told today that
if you want to be happy, you have to "pay the price."
Catholics are not being taught the truth about chastity
and charity, but rather are being taught untruth, even
under Catholic auspices and in so-called Catholic
books, magazines, and newspapers.
Q. In counseling Catholic couples, what do you find are
the major problems Catholic spouses are encountering?
A. The major problem is that Catholic couples who
really do want to keep their faith and live according
to the precepts of the Church are not getting any
support. They are very alone.
Second, many Catholics do not realize how deep is the
ravage in our society. I would say that many Catholics
are practical atheists, and they do not see the
Godlessness of modern society.
Third, most Catholics, even those who love the faith
and try to live it, do not realize that just to
survive, couples must have access to extraordinary
grace through a life of prayer such as Catholics have
not been required to practice since the Church was
founded. Catholic couples must try to get to Mass and
Communion every day.
Fourth, our entire society in which strongly believing
Catholics are living is not just an alien culture, it
is positively hostile. Therefore, the courage required
to live according to the Gospel is heroic, but courage
and the will are only as strong as the conviction of
Q. You stress over and over again how important it is
for Catholics to have a "Catholic mentality." Isn't
that nearly an impossible task for most people because
of the bombardment of the senses with anti-Catholic
A. Until Christ came into the world, there was no
chastity. In the Roman Empire, contraception was
universal, abortion and infanticide were legal, divorce
was a given, polygamy was practiced by pagans and
Jews. Since Christ, it is possible.
Consequently, if we are to restore a Catholic
mentality, and establish any semblance of chastity
before marriage, during marriage, and outside of
marriage, we have to know and love Christ's teaching
live it, and share it with others.
Q. In some of the lectures, you are surprisingly candid
about the mutual duties of husbands and wives. Why?
A. Because there is a lot for spouses to learn. Over
the years, I've seen once-happy marriages break down,
especially as couples get older. Either both grow in
selfless love, or their marriage is in deep trouble.
The husband is an occasion for his wife to practice
charity toward him, and on the other hand, he is often
an occasion for her to become angry, impatient, and
discouraged because he can put pressure on her virtue.
The same applies to the wife. She can be very selfless,
but she can also put great pressure on his patience.
Humanly speaking, it is impossible for Catholic spouses
to remain faithful to each other unless there is
grace, which comes from prayer and sacrifice.
Q. What are the major problems you see among Catholic
spouses who have been married for some time?
A. The greatest difficulty, for husbands, is remaining
chaste after the wife has children, and she's no
longer interested in having relationsin "lowbrow
sex," as if sex were something bad.
Q. What do you advise?
A. Both need help. The husband must be patient with his
wife who is not providing him with the affection he is
used to. He's thinking, "This is why I married her." He
has to realize he is in competition with her for the
affection she is giving to the children.
The hard part for the husband is that he must show
extraordinary love for his wife, and extra love means
he must be willing to pay for his love. True love is
willing to suffer for the one it loves. True love is
willing to suffer from the one it loves.
The wife, whose deepest desire as a woman is to love,
to give herself, must learn to give and give and give.
Even before marriage, a girl must learn to see herself
as a giver and a giverso she is prepared to give
herself to her husband.
The deepest need of a woman is to love, and the deepest
need of a man is to be loved. There is no substitute
for man on this earth than to experience selfless love
toward him. A woman must know how to encourage and
support her husband, to help him over discouragement,
worry, and anxiety.
Catholic spouses need to rediscover the practice of
selfless charity, and to do this we need to recover our
Christian mentality. That is the purpose of these
This article was taken from the July 11, 1996 issue of
"The Wanderer," 201 Ohio Street, St. Paul, MN 55107,
612-224-5733. Subscription Price: $35.00 per year; six
Copyright (c) 1996 EWTN