Reflecting on 21 Centuries of Faith

Tag Archives: Marriage

Fathers and Marriage

12140619_10153577503400498_145819986366434379_nToday in Rome, the XIV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops begins and it will be convened from October 4 to October 25, 2015. Many are concerned with the outcome of the Synod and how it will shape the future of the Church. To be honest, I agree with one writer who stated that we are approaching another Humanae Vitae moment. I believe, that it is so important that the Synod opens with our Gospel from Mark 10:2-16 concerning divorce and remarriage. As the Holy Father opened the Synod, he preached in his opening Mass,

“This is God’s dream for his beloved creation: to see it fulfilled in the loving union between a man and a woman, rejoicing in their shared journey, fruitful in their mutual gift of self.”

A great start to the Synod.

And, I have to be honest, I have never understood how a Synod is convened and the process that takes place. So, I thought I would share what I have learned and, during the Synod, maybe provide some information that might be helpful. Let us continue to prayer for the Synodal Fathers to be guided by the Holy Spirit in a spirit of truth and peaceful fraternity…«Continue Reading»

Encourage & Teach: The Service of Permanent Deacons

ordinationBy: Deacon Marques Silva

From a young age, my parents taught us that service is the duty of every Christian. It was not merely words, but lived out in their daily experience. In fact, I cannot say that we only served on certain holy days or for particular events for the reason that it was a way of life for our family. This love to assist behind the scenes stayed with me as I went off to college, married, and started our family.

Then I was invited by my wife and kids (I did not see it coming) to apply for the permanent diaconate here in the Diocese of Arlington. My question was, “Why?” when I could serve just as well as a lay person. (Read more…)

Thursday Levity

There is so much truth here…


Encourage & Teach: The Holy Trinity and the Sacrament of Marriage

holy-trinityFor those of us who remember the Baltimore Catechism, you likely have those fond memories of Sr. Mary Margaret asking:

  • “Who made us?”
  • “Why did God make us?”
  • “What must we do to gain the happiness of heaven?”

We quickly answered with the appropriate memorized formula and saved our souls from parochial perdition. These are important questions because they address the most fundamental questions of what it means to be a human being.

As a married man, and for those who will have or will follow in this noble vocation, one of the most intriguing statements our Lord spoke is this: (Read more…)

Gambling for Love

card of loveToday, the world is celebrating Valentine’s day. In a world longing to be seen and loved, we have set aside a day in which we generally hope and grasp for anyone’s attention. Don’t get me wrong, today seems to be a day in which chivalry is remembered – even if only for a twenty-four hour period. But I have watched too many young adults cry and enter into depression because they received nothing today.

For Catholics though, we do not to look towards Valentine’s Day as the example courting and love but Good Friday. We are not satisfied with just a day. We understand that relationships and marriage point beyond themselves and our response is not a yearly fix, but an anticipation for something more. My wife and I will be married for twenty years this June. We love each other deeply, but we want something more. We continue to become more aware that we are but signposts to that “something more.”

Archbishop Fulton Sheen describes this reality too when he so eloquently stated,

“The human heart is not shaped like a valentine heart, perfect and regular in contour it is slightly irregular in shape as if a small piece of it were missing out of its side. The missing part may very well symbolize a piece that a spear tore out of the universal heart of humanity on the Cross, but it probably symbolizes something more. It may very well mean that when God created each human heart, he kept a small sample of it in heaven, and sent the rest of it into the world, where it would each day learn the lesson that it could never be really happy, that it could never be really wholly in love, that it could never be really whole-hearted until it rested with the Risen Christ in an eternal Easter.” Archbishop Fulton Sheen (Manifestations of Christ)

Love on earth has its destiny in marriage – whether it be one natural man united in covenant love to a natural woman; religious as the brides of Christ; or priests marrying his bride the Church. Regardless, society seems to have forgotten much of this.

I typically like explaining this using reasoning from Blessed John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. Today, however, I thought an economic cartoon would be far more entertaining and meaningful. Base but a good grasp of much of the Catholic and secular dating culture. Hats off to The Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture and Justine Schmiesing on Facebook who shared this video entitled, the Economics of Sex:

The Lord is a Warrior and Bridegroom is His Name

Paradise Lost

The mystics of the Church typically speak of five gardens: Eden, Gethsemane, the secret garden of the Beloved, the soul and the Holy Mass.  All of the gardens are meant to be sacred and set aside for the consummation of marriage.  As we continue our meditation, only two will concern us today on Good Friday.

Adam consummated his marriage in Eden and then let the nahash defile that garden with the entrance of Original Sin. Together Adam and Eve fell and ruptured their relationship with the Father while at the same time seriously wounding their relationship with each other.  They suddenly were alone.  This did not go beyond notice of the Father – He looked for them in the garden to keep Him company.  But they hid.  And so from this time forth in Sacred Scripture, the personal name of the Father is no longer uttered and we are expelled from Paradise.

Paradise being Re-established

The Lord knew they were coming for Him – He was totally in control. In fact, He went out to meet them. (Jn 18:4)  A lover always is open to reconciliation and that is precisely why He came.  As He stood under the full moon’s light, knowing how the enemy hates, “the Name above all names,” He searched out and provoked the enemy by challenging a cohort to name the one they came for under stealth of darkness. He asked, “Who is it you want? Jesus of Nazareth, they answered.” (Jn 18:5)  Notice they did not say “You!” The darkened mind can never perceive Divine Love even when He stands before them (II Cor 4:3-4). And so, they arranged for a sign…a sign of love, a treasured sign of affection.  A kiss.

The Divine Lover is betrayed by a kiss in a garden. Wait, that is not what a kiss is for!  It is a sign of affection! It is the prelude to the consummation of love! But tonight, that Divine Lover is also a Warrior (Exodus 15:3), the Captain of our Salvation (Heb 2:8-10), and a Might Man of War (Is 42:13).  He knows that a Lover fights (shamar – Gn 2:15) for his Beloved, or is supposed to. Adam loved himself more than Eve and so handed his Bride over to the enemy out of fear for his life.

Our Lord on the other hand, looks and tells them, “I AM.” (Jn 18:6) Scripture says that they were paralyzed with fear and fell over backwards upon the ground. This was the seventh and decisive “I AM” statement our Lord makes in the Gospel of St. John.  And again upon the earth, the personal name of God has re-entered the garden out of love and by way of a new covenant.  Scripture then recounts a quick skirmish with Peter’s sword, the healing of a Malchus’ ear…but the Lord is still in control.

Jesus had already begun the war by his free, conscious and deliberate sacrificial offering to atone for our sins at the Last Supper.  He now prepares to continue the liturgy and fulfill the rest of the covenantal curses from Adam through David as the High Priest.  But he cares first for His own, “If I am the man you want, let these others go” (Jn 18:8). His disciples flee…and yet, all is still according to plan. For Jesus knew that in order to accomplish this sacrifice he must be alone:

Thus he shall make atonement for the sanctuary because of all the sinful defilement and faults of the Israelites. He shall do the same for the meeting tent, which is set up among them in the midst of their uncleanness. No one else may be in the meeting tent from the time he enters the sanctuary to make atonement until he departs. When he has made atonement for himself and his household, as well as for the whole Israelite community, he shall come out to the altar before the LORD and make atonement for it also. (Lv 16:17)

The Warrior had been captured and the enemy gloats but that was all part of His plan.  He is about re-establishing His Kingdom with the unwitting help of the enemy.

A  New Tree of Life in the Garden

Fast forwarding …A kangaroo court takes place (Jewish trials are never permitted to take place under the cover of darkness) and handed over to the Gentiles to be executed.  The Jews believe that by handing over Jesus to the Romans that they will be responsible for His death.  Had that been so, we would never enter into eternal paradise.  Pilate finds no wrong in Jesus and washes his hands of this murder – skillfully recalling Deuteronomy 21:7-8.

For Scripture recounts that,

“When Pilate saw that he was not succeeding at all, but that a riot was breaking out instead, he took water and washed his hands in the sight of the crowd, saying, ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood. Look to it yourselves.” (Mt 27:24)

Then Jesus waited. He knew what needed to come next. People curse all the time in society – it is as common as the words “the” or “a” in a sentence. But this time, He needed, He wanted, everyone to utter the divine curse. Suddenly, all assembled shouted out the curse that He would transform into the blessing of our salvation,

And the whole people said in reply, “His blood be upon us, upon our children and our children’s children.” (Mt 27:25)

Curses are done in threes. Jesus in his ministry unbound people struck by the curse of sin and death…but this was a curse He was to keep bound for eternity.

They tortured Jesus and like every good soldier said nothing because in His estimation it was just a scratch. The Romans marched Him up to Golgotha to crucify Him…and He is still in control.  Jesus knew that Golgotha was one of the peaks in the mountain range of Moriah.  He intended to fulfill the ancient promise made on Mt. Moriah by Abraham to Isaac that God would provide a lamb. (Gn 22:8)  Jesus knew that He would be the perfect sacrifice fulfilling the Passover requirements of an unblemished lamb. (Ex 12:5). He was still adovah (ing) for His beloved.

Then they crucified Him upon a tree.  Taking our sins upon Him, he fulfilled the covenant requirement by offering Himself, as the High Priest, to make atonement for our transgressions:

If a man guilty of a capital offense let him be put to death and his corpse hung on a tree… (Dt 21:23)

Now the crucified Warrior looks to His mother Mary who completes the garden by becomes the New Eve when He says, “Woman, behold your son.”  Shouldn’t He have said, “Mother”?  In John’s Gospel, the first miracle of Jesus takes place on the day of the covenant, the seventh day, at which we find Jesus at a wedding.  In Genesis, Adam also meets and marries his wife on the seventh day.  Jesus calls Our Lady by the same name Adam called Eve, “isha”  The only other time we hear Him call her isha is on the cross giving John to her as His son.  There too, he does not say John but son.  A family has being born.  He recited His vows at the Last Supper, “This is my Body…take and eat.” Here the Church finds our Lord consumatling his wedding vows by His words and through His body to His Bride the Church found in Our Lady.  When we look upon Him, we cannot we hear Him, but really He is saying,

“I take you to be my wife. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.”

The Church Fathers have always seen these last words of Jesus as His vows to His Bride the Church.  Archbishop Fulton Sheen used to always point towards the cross and shout out, “Nuptials! Nuptials! That’s what is going on here, Nuptials!”  And these vows are made fruitful and complete.  John 19:34 says,

“but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out.”

And so the Church was conceived and given life.  Jesus gives Himself freely, faithfully, fully and with fecundity to His Bride.  To the mystics, the cross is the marriage bed in which our Lord consummates His love for us.  It is no wonder that the saints say that when they unite their sufferings to Jesus on the cross the sufferings become blissful love.  Is that not the language the Bridegroom and Bride use when they describe their marital embrace?

Thus, the Lover plants a new tree in a different garden watered by His divine blood and the tears of the co-redemptrix, the New Eve. The Warrior lays down His life, unlike Adam, for His bride…and the serpent thinks that he has won.  But the story continues…on Holy Saturday.

The Right to Marry

When studying sacramental theology, one of the first principles that you learn is everyone has the natural right to marry. This does not mean that everyone is entitled to a Christian marriage and can marry anyone, whenever or wherever they want.

This attitude becomes crystal clear when talking to young people. They unfortunately do not understand that marriage is not a private choice or event. The couple, and thus the family, is the most basic building block of society. The community desires to have assurances that this marriage will be stable and beneficial to not only the couple/family but to those whom they will come in contact with. Frankly, society also has a financial stake in the marriage. If something goes wrong, it is society that flips the bill for the court costs, counseling, and the array of other provisions that are necessary to assist the individuals and/or families reintegrate with the emotional wounds.

The Holy Father this week also shed some light on this as he addressed the Apostolic Tribunal of the Sacred Roman Rota – the highest court in the Church. Vatican Radio captures his comments as such:

The“right” to Christian marriage requires serious preparation says Pope

On Saturday Pope Benedict XVI delivered his annual address to the Roman Rota, marking the beginning of the juridical year.

The Apostolic Tribunal of the Sacred Roman Rota is the highest of the Church, as such its main function is that of a third-instance appellate tribunal. Dominating its case load are petitions seeking the issuance of adecree of nullity , and with this is mind Pope Benedict XVI dedicated his address to the Rota’s auditors, officers and judges, to the issue of marriage.

Faced with the current crisis of the family, he called for “the greatest pastoral care” in the preparation for and admission to the marriage, noting that the pre-marriage courses, the examination of the spouses, publication of bans and other appropriate investigations are often seen as purely formal obligations.

“In fact – he observed – there is a widespread mentality that “in admitting couples for marriage, pastors should proceed with leniency, as the natural right of people to marry is in question”. Pope Benedict instead pointed out that the “right” to marriage in Church, “presupposes that the individuals can and intend to truly celebrate it, in the truth of its essence as taught by the Church”.
He continued “No one can claim the right to a wedding ceremony”, because “ius connubii, the right to marry”, “refers to the right to celebrate an authentic marriage”.

Admission to marriage – continued the Pope – an issue that requires “the greatest pastoral care” in the formation of the couple and in “testing their convictions regarding the obligations required for the validity of the Sacrament of Marriage. Serious discernment in this matter will avoid impulsive decisions or superficial reasons that lead two young people to take on responsibilities that they will not know how to honour”. In this context the pre-marital examination, should never be considered a mere “bureaucratic procedure”.

Pope Benedict concluded that marriage preparation is also a key tool in stopping the “vicious circle”, of the granting admission to marriage, “without adequate preparation or requirements”, on the opposing end, the granting of “a judicial declaration that sometimes just as easily, but of an opposite nature, considers marriage invalid”.

Understanding the Immaculate Conception

Good morning on this glorious Solemnity! Here is a great little teaching video by Fr. Joseph:

For the Grooms

Okay, I have not done this in the past but today has been one of those days. I am just re-posting an article I wrote for a different blog. Sorry everyone…just tired

The Complementary Language of Love

Weddings are a joyous occasion to celebrate the mystery of a couple’s love and communion. My wife and I have the privilege of going to them regularly since we are involved in our parish’s marriage preparation program. Of course, that also means we have the occasion to purchase wedding cards frequently.

When you think of greeting cards, what company comes to mind first? Hallmark is what enters my mind. You know…that seasoned company that has a card for any occasion. They are the Mecca for all things poetic and romantic; it is the natural “go-to” retailer to pick the perfect card.

About two weeks ago, my wife went to pick up a wedding card. I find it hilarious to see some of the wacky sentimental poetry that is supposed to pass as the “perfect card” for the perfect occasion. This time, though, I received a text from my wife saying we had entered a new season in our country. Now, for some of you reading this blog what I am about to say is not news to you, Northern Virginia, though, – not so much.

I am sure you have guessed by now that the card was for, well, the picture that accompanies this blog tells the story. Scripture tells us that God created Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve – no matter what the nightly news tells you.

I bring this up not only because of the greeting card my wife found, but it was a topic of great discussion at the USCCB’s annual meeting this week.   Archbishop Kurtz, Chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage and Family Life, stated that if Proposition 8 is struck down in California, the impact of defeating a traditional marriage initiative would be “akin to Roe vs. Wade.” The cultural impact would be devastating.

Over the past 20 years, I have had the opportunity to work with and get to know a number of gay and lesbian individuals. It has been a privilege and a pleasure discussing the truths of our faith and sharing the love that Jesus has shared with me. My decision to discuss this is not to say any of them are bad people. They are not sons and daughters of anarchy waiting to overthrow the Church and her minions. These individuals who I call my friends and family, though, are many times deeply wounded and confused.

At the heart of those who struggle with same-sex attraction is the desire for communion. This is the desire of all our hearts. The challenge, of course, is two-fold: boundaries and expression.

Love, by its very nature, must have boundaries. It is what defines every human relationship. The depth and expression of love for my wife is not the same expression or type of love I have for my sons and daughters. Everyone would agree these boundaries are reasonable and certain. If I crossed those lines we would immediately, and rightfully so, observe that I have wrenched those relationships out of order. How do we know, though, what the boundaries are? Is it civil law that determines them?

Christianity has always recognized the right of the state to mediate social relationships and contracts of which marriage is the foremost. That being said, Christianity has also recognized that civil law proceeds from the Divine Law. The result – no civil law can contradict the Divine Law.

Divine Law, and its reasoned expression Natural Law, provides a good starting point. The most influential philosopher on natural law was St. Thomas Aquinas. While he did not write much about same-sex boundaries, he was quite prolific concerning sexual sins. For St. Thomas, the marital act always takes place within the bounds of marriage and helps to further the distinctive goods of marriage first elucidated by St. Augustine. Namely: love, companionship, and legitimate offspring (as in a child within wedlock). He did not argue that procreation was necessary to the marital embrace but that every encounter must be open to it. An innovation to his thought was that every marital act must be potentially of a generative kind meaning that the union of a husband and wife must be always be oriented to natural relations which will potentially result in natural reproduction even if a given embrace does not lead to pregnancy, and even if it is impossible due to infertility.

Until most recently, marriage and family law has also reflected this. The rights of marriage (historically conjugal rights have only been acknowledged within marriage) have been most closely guarded by every society and group. Reasoning? Family is the most essential building block of any society. Natural marriage has always had a place of primacy within societies for the following three reasons: 1. Unity of the couple provides a stable boundary for relationships in a society; 2. The procreative nature of the marriage is necessary for the continuation and economic viability of the community if not the human race in general; and 3. The education of youth in order to further the economic demands of the society – whether agrarian or industrial. That being said, natural law is being attacked and reasonable civil laws are being dismantled on a daily basis.

This, of course, brings us to expression. As we have discussed before, the body has a language all to itself. It is a language based on communion. This communion, while expressed through the body, is not a mere biological function or chemical reaction. One must admit, though, that there is a profound connection that exists between the bodily senses and the sexual vitality of the human body. This, however, is the domain of the biologist, physiologist or physician to research and explain this in detail. These professionals, though, must recognize where their expertise end.

The expression of communion is not within their purview.  At the heart of communion is an act of the will which is specifically personal and unique to the human being. It is a personal act which no other creature can make. A doe cannot be in communion with a buck. The natural urge the two animals experience is instinctual to ensure its survival. While we may choose to act like animals…we are not.

The language of communion is that of giving and receiving. Those expressions are stamped physically into our bodies. At the core of a man, beyond the flesh and bones is a person whose sexuality speaks the language of giving. At the core of a woman is a person who speaks the language receiving. Their languages are sexually complimentary and it is communicated most profoundly in the marital embrace. And, this is because the most intimate communion for a married couple is that one-flesh communion of love where the man gives himself to his wife and his wife reciprocates through the loving reception of her husband. “Deep calls unto deep.” (Ps 42:7) That creative love is so profound at times that is must be named. This is not possible within a same-sex relationship.

It is not that the love that two men or two women have for each other is wrong. Their love though is a chaste love because that is how best to communicate their love. We encourage loving, chaste relationships – it is a sign of future glory. In fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church places friendship within the virtue of chastity when it says,

2347 The virtue of chastity blossoms in friendship. It shows the disciple how to follow and imitate him who has chosen us as his friends, who has given himself totally to us and allows us to participate in his divine estate. Chastity is a promise of immortality.

Chastity is expressed notably in friendship with one’s neighbor. Whether it develops between persons of the same or opposite sex, friendship represents a great good for all. It leads to spiritual communion.

Same-sex relationships find their natural expression in friendship which, too, can be life-changing.  Friendship is an end, and a good end, in itself. Whether you are family, friend, married or consecrated to the Lord, friendship must be the basis of all relationships. I am happy that Adam and Steve are friends. I would like to be their friends as well. But unlike the message that Hallmark is attempting to propagate, Adam and Steve can never be a married couple – they just don’t speak the same language.

Plan A: The Blessed Trinity Revealed in Marriage

For those of us who remember the Baltimore Catechism, you likely have those fond memories of Sr. Mary Margaret asking you:

  • “Who made us?”
  • “Why did God make us?”
  • “What must we do to gain the happiness of heaven?”

We quickly answered with the appropriate memorized formula and saved our souls from parochial perdition. These are important questions because they address the most basic needs of what it means to be a human being. For us, married men and those who will be following in our footsteps, one of the most intriguing statements we should ask questions about is,

The LORD God said: “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him.” (Genesis 2:18)

But why?  The answer to this question seems to be hidden in the reason for our creation:

Then God said: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the cattle, and over all the wild animals and all the creatures that crawl on the ground.” (Genesis 1:26)

Traditionally, we as Catholics, have understood that to be made in the image and likeness of God is to have a spiritual soul that is endowed with the powers of intellect and will: one power to know the truth and the other to choose the good. These powers alone neither sufficiently describe the human person nor explain what it means to be in God’s image and likeness. To answer these questions we need to see how our father, Adam, dealt with these questions.

We know that after Adam was created he experience what JPII termed the “Original Solitude.” This solitude was two-fold. It was first experienced after God led all the animals to Adam who then named them (Genesis 2:20) and found that “none were a suitable partner for him.” It was then Adam discovered that he was substantially different and alone, precisely because he was the only rational being around. Only he could name and till. He discovered that he was the only one who was self-aware. He knew what he was meant for. He knew and could talk with God.

The second experience was an ontological aloneness. We all have a need to share ourselves with an equal. Adam looked around and discovered that there was none like him. There was no one to share his life with. He was truly alone, he was the only human being.

We know the next part of the story…woman. The Lord gave Adam a suitable partner that we call Eve. Symbolized by God taking a rib from his side and forming it outside of Adam and not from dirt, the Lord teaches us that man and woman are equal in dignity. Suddenly, there was another that Adam could share his life with AND, he had no competition.

But, is this the meaning of what the Lord meant when He said that “it is not good for man to be alone.” – yes on one level. But, is there is a deeper truth that He wants us to see as well? The more profound truth is to see that “to be made in the image and likeness of God” and “it is not good for man to be alone” are two truths that find their meaning in each other. As it turns out, only Adam and Eve in their nuptial complimentarily can express the imago deo.

Man became the ‘image and likeness’ of God not only through his own humanity, but also through the communion of persons which man and woman form right from the beginning…Man becomes the image of God not so much in the moment of solitude as in the moment of communion. Right ‘from the beginning,’ he is not only an image in which the solitude of a person who rules the world is reflected, but also, and essentially, an image of an inscrutable divine communion of persons.(TOB[1], November 14, 1979)

This human communion of persons is specifically male and female. Only man and woman can consummate the meaning of communion. This communion described in Genesis 2:23-24 dispels original solitude and ushers in the original unity of mankind. They may be alone in a world of creatures, but they have each other. We hear this when Adam exclaims,

This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man.’ Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife and they become one flesh.

Communion is not just a spiritual or intellectual communion, but a bodily one as well.

Here we now begin to understand what the Lord meant when he formed us in His “image and likeness.” The Blessed Trinity is a communion of persons. In the nuptial act, Scripture teaches that the husband and wife become one flesh. Is this not how Jesus described his communion with the Father (John 10:30)? Isn’t this unity of persons how we describe the nature of the Trinity?

The Church teaches that the three Divine persons of the Trinity are consubstantial. The immanent[2] Trinity’s life is a relationship and life of eternal love. What do we know about this life of love? Revelation has unveiled for us that the Father and the Son’s eternal exchange of self-giving love is so complete that it is the person of the Holy Spirit. Jesus has also taught us through the Last discourses of the Gospel of John that the Trinity is the template and “ideal” (my tribute to Plato) for marriage. The spiritual is revealed through the material and material is giving its true purpose through the mystery unveiled.

It is for this reason that the Church zealously protects the union of spouses. Not just the institution and sacrament of marriage, but the fullest expression of that unity which is their nuptial union. Nothing on earth better describes (although all analogies fall short of the eternal truth) the Trinity than the nuptial union and communion of a husband and wife that needs to name their love.

The body, and it alone, is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and the divine. It was created to transfer into the visible reality of the world the mystery hidden since time immemorial in God [God’s love for man], and thus to be a sign of it. (TOB, February 20, 1980)

All the sins we connect with sexuality are not just sins of the flesh against us or “the other.” They are also sins against the Most Holy Trinity. The marital gift is meant to point towards an eternal communion and provide that material for meditation to ponder the nature of who God is. The Culture of Death, on the other hand, twists this sacred act and thus who God is and what it means to love not only God but each other:

God created man and woman in such a way that through their bodies it would be self-evident to them that they are called to love, called to give themselves to one another. The very purpose and meaning of life is found in this imaging of God by becoming a gift to another. “God is love.” (1 Jn. 4:16) Therefore, we fulfill the reason for our existence by loving. Our physical bodies were made precisely to show us this and be the means by which we accomplish this. (Anastasia M. Northrop, “The Sincere Gift of Self: The Nuptial Meaning of the Body, October 16, 2003)

Husbands and fathers have an enormous opportunity to teach their children from an early age what marriage and marital communion is meant to point to. They need to hear and see (by word and deed) that our marriage and communion is not only meant to “incarnate” the Trinity, but prepare us to experience the eternal communion of the supper of the Lamb. This is the husband’s responsibility: first with our wives and then our children:

The husband is above all, he who loves and the wife, on the other hand is she who is loved. (TOB, September 1, 1982)

Our children (and the world) need to see we love our wives. And it must start in our hearts. We are meant to express that love first in all that we do and say. Do we hug our wives? Do we say I love you? Did you know that flowers are for more than apologizing or “buttering her up” for something?

From the all eternity the Eternal Father designed marriage to be the instrument to get our spouse to heaven. Pope John Paul II went to great pains to correct the common misunderstanding and attitude that Marriage was somehow inferior to Holy Orders as a means to heaven. He said in his Letter to Families (Familiaris Consortio):

The sacrament of marriage is the specific source and original means of sanctification for Christian married couples and families.

Marriage and the nuptial union are not at odds with celibacy and Holy Orders. In fact, they compliment and vivify each other. While marriage “incarnates” the Blessed Trinity here on earth, Holy Orders points to the consummation of our true marriage and experiencing the life of the Trinity in heaven. There is no marriage between human beings in heaven because we the bride are eternally wed to the heavenly Bridegroom.

The joys of marriage and heaven are too sublime to worthily treat on this blog or in all the tomes of the saints that have passed on to us. But hopefully, this will light a passion in our hearts to study more on the subject and provide a few tidbits for our minds to consider today. Happy Friday!

[1] TOB is a reference to Pope John Paul II’s Wednesday catechetical teachings known as the Theology of the Body.

[2] Immanent Trinity – The internal life of the Trinity; how the divine persons relate to and act within their interior communion.