Spiritual Food for Thought
Authentic Married Love
“Authentic married love is caught up into divine love and is governed and enriched by Christ’s redeeming power and the saving activity of the Church, so that this love may lead the spouses to God with powerful effect and may aid and strengthen them in sublime office of being a father or a mother. By virtue of this sacrament, as spouses fulfill their conjugal and family obligation, they are penetrated with the spirit of Christ, which suffuses their whole lives with faith, hope and charity”(Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World 48).
“Marriage is the intimate, exclusive, indissoluble communion of life and love entered by man and woman at the design of the Creator for the purpose of their own good and the procreation and education of children; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament” ( Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World 48).
Marriage is the key to the control of the desires; it is the seal of unshakeable friendship; it is drink from a hidden spring; strangers cannot taste it; it bubbles up yet cannot be drawn from the outside. Those who are united in the flesh form one soul and purify their religion by their reciprocal love (Gregory of Nazianzus, First poem).
“Sacred Scripture begins with the creation of man and woman in the image and likeness of God and concludes with a vision of the ‘wedding feast of the lam.’ Scripture speaks throughout of marriage and its ‘mystery,’ its institution and the meaning God has given it, its origin and its end, ... the difficulties arising from sin, and its renewal ‘in the Lord’... (CCC, 1602). Marriage has a privileged place in the salvation history; God loved His people with the love of a husband for his bride throughout the Old Testament; Christ embodies this love in the New. Christ comes as a Bridegroom who gives Himself totally for the Church so that She will be indissolubly united to Him as a spotless and pure Bride.
“It was God who brought Eve to Adam and gave her to him as his wife, and it is God, my friends, who with his invisible hand bound the knot which united you and gave you to one another; therefore give good heed that you cherish a love which is holy, sacred and divine” (Francis de Sales, the Devout Life).
About Marital Love
"Since God created him man and woman, their mutual love becomes an image of the absolute and unfailing love with which God loves man. It is good, very good, in the Creator's eyes”(Catechism of the Catholic Church).
"The Catholic Church, in its official teaching, has always taken a positive view of sexuality in marriage. Marital intercourse, says the Catechism of the Catholic Church, is “noble and honorable,” established by God so that “spouses should experience pleasure and enjoyment of body and spirit” (#2362). The Church’s positive understanding of sexuality is rooted in the teachings of Jesus that were, in part, drawn from the wisdom of the Old Testament. Both the Book of Genesis and the Song of Songs describe the basic goodness of sexual love in marriage. In the New Testament, Jesus began his public ministry with his supportive presence at the wedding feast of Cana, a further indication of the goodness of marriage"(USCCB).
"The Church teaches that the sexual union of husband and wife is meant to express the full meaning of love, its power to bind a couple together and its openness to new life" (USCCB).
The free exchange of consent properly witnessed by the Church establishes the marriage bond. Sexual union consummates, seals, completes, and perfects it; sexual union is where the words of the wedding vows become flesh. The very language that God has inscribed in sexual intercourse if the ‘language’ of the marriage covenant: the free commitment to a union of love that is indissoluble, faithful and open to children. If spouses willfully contradict any of these goods of marriage in their sexual expressions, marital intimacy becomes less than God intended it to be. (Covenant of Love Diocese of Phoenix)
On Marriage Preparation
“The Church must therefore promote better and more intensive programs of marriage preparation, in order to eliminate as far as possible the difficulties that many married couples find themselves in, and even more in order to favor positively the establishing and maturing of successful marriages” (John Paul II).
Cultural influences today can work against personal development for healthy Christian marriage and a lifetime commitment. Society expects marriages to fail, but the Catholic Church wants you to succeed (Bishop Olmsted).
The Family is the fundamental cell of society and the Church (Vatican II).
The Family is the sanctuary of life (JPII).
The Family is the domestic church (Vatican II, JPII).
The Family is the first and indispensable teacher of peace (Benedict XVI, message for world day of Peace, 2008)
“Love is indeed ‘ecstasy,’ not in the sense of a moment of intoxication, but rather as a journey, and ongoing exodus out of the closed inward-looking self towards its liberation through self-giving, and thus towards authentic self-discovery and indeed the discovery of God” ( Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est 6).
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails” (1 Corinthian 13:4-8).
“By virtue of the sacramentality of their marriage, spouses are bound to one another in the most profoundly indissoluble manner. Their belong to each other is the real representation, by means of the sacramental sign, of the very relationship of Christ with the Church”(FC#13).
Sacramentality of Marriage
“For this reason Christian spouses have a special sacrament by which they are fortified and receive a kind of consecration in the duties and dignity of their state. By virtue of this sacrament, as spouses fulfill their conjugal and family obligation, they are penetrated with the spirit of Christ, which suffuse their whole lives with faith, hope an charity”(GS 48).
"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:32-32).
Christ Elevated Marriage into a Sacrament
“Indeed by means of baptism, man and woman are definitively placed within the new and eternal covenant, in the spousal covenant of Christ with the Church. And it is because of this indestructible insertion that the intimate community of conjugal life and love, founded by the creator, is elevated and assumed into the spousal charity of Christ, sustained and enriched by his redeeming power” (Familiaris Consortio #13).
Difficulties in Marriage
Universal experience reveals that marriage is wrought with difficulties. “According to the faith, the discord we notice so painfully does not stem from the nature of man and woman, nor from the nature of their relations, but from sin. As a break with God, the first sin had for its first consequence the rupture of the original communion between man and woman” (CCC 1606. 1607).
Turning to Christ
Because of sin, male and female differences, rather than complementing one another and bringing about communion, are often a cause of great tension and division, Sexual attraction given by God to be the power to love as God loves can be, because of sin, a desire for self-gratification at the expense of others: husbands, wives, and their children.
Conversion is the only way to recover the original God’s plan for marriage and family. Since it was man and woman’s turning away from God that distorted their relationship, restoring marriage requires a radical return to God. Only as a spouses renounce themselves and self-centered ways of living and thinking and take up their crosses to follow Christ can they experience the true joys of marriage that God yearns to shower upon them.
Christ has won a victory over sin
As they surrender their lives to the grace of redemption, it is possible for spouses to move away from the position of self-centeredness to that of mutual self-giving and living for the other. Thanks to of the Holy Spirit who has been poured into their hearts (Rom 5:5), spouses can experience healing, restoration of proper balance and mutual self-giving in their relationship. The Spirit of love makes the Cross of Christ fruitful in our lives enabling us to live the full truth about marriage.