Back in October, I wrote on “the union of hearts” as the first of three qualities that Francis de Sales called for in marriage. The second quality is fidelity. Obviously such fidelity excludes romantic, sexual attachments to anyone outside the marriage. And frankly, that is the aspect that Francis treats in the Introduction. It is a reality that is present in every age, including our own, as too many in politics and the entertainment industry have reminded us.
But there is another aspect to fidelity that we might reflect upon. Just as we might violate the first commandment, not by worshiping idols of stone or wood, but by making money or career our god, so too, it is possible and all too common for married people today to violate the sixth commandment, not by sexual intercourse with another person, but taking as a lover their jobs, their positions, or their life style.
One example: I once had a student who was acting out in typical adolescent fashion. He certainly was not the worst behaved kid, but he had gotten into some problematic behavior, both in and out of school. I met with his parents; his father was a high ranking officer in one of the armed services. The family lived on base, and some of the acting out had taken place there. I remember the father pointing angrily to the boy and saying, “That kid is not going to ruin my career.” It was clear that for that man, his career was more important than his family and, I have a sneaking suspicion, than his marriage. Fidelity in marriage is not simply the same as not having an affair; it means maintaining the priority of marriage and family, in a world that makes incredible demands on our time.
Fr. Donald Heet OSFS