Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Sacrificial Notion of Marriage

Dear friends,

How do I reflect on marriage, except to say that if you are called to marriage and you follow the will of God 100%, then you will lead a joy filled life. It will be hard, but you will do it with joy. Easier said than done.

True love is sacrificial. When you marry someone, you lay down your life for the other. It isn't just about who will make you happy; it is about who will sanctify you. True marriage and true love is joy filled, but as married people know (I am one of them), your day to day may not be the happiest. Marriage is sacrificial. If marriage was just about happiness, then every married couple would probably be seeking divorce. Arguments happen; disagreements happen, and they don't cause happiness, do they?

In marriage, the couple reflects in an intimate way the love of Christ, who humbled himself by being obedient onto death, death on a cross. How often do we hear about marriage being a reflection of the crucifixion of Christ, but it is precisely in imitation of Him who died for us that we are called to be sacrificial. A married man or woman is called to totally give him or herself, as Christ did on Good Friday, to his or her spouse. In the words of Archbishop Fulton Sheen: "Do you know what is happening at the foot of the cross? Nuptials!" The cross is a nuptial union between God and Man, not just a final covenant, but so much more than a covenant. It is the self-giving of God for mankind. It is in that moment that we find true joy, true happiness, in the sacrifice of Christ for the sake of our salvation. It is true happiness, achieved only in heaven, that we seek, and we help our spouse seek.

Let me say this again, if we think that marriage was just about what brings us happiness, we are delusional, stupid, and idiotic. Sometimes I am delusional, and stupid, and idiotic by thinking that marriage would solve all of my problems. Once one gets married, you still have those problems and you still live with them, but now, other things come up.

In the end, marriage must be for something else. In the "end" marriage is for the "end". Marriage is about sanctification. One's vocation in life gives us a sanctifying quality; through our vocations, we are made holy. In the case of marriage, it is the other person sanctifying you by the love you share, and the concern you share for the other. A consistent theological point to Pope John Paul II would be to say that in marital intercourse, one is experiencing the sacrament of matrimony, and one is experiencing sacramental love. As Christ laid down His life for his bride, so a man lays down his life for his bride. It isn't "alter Christus" in the priestly sense, but we do become another Christ in a sacrificial sense. A way of putting this is that as a priest lays down his life every time he celebrates Mass and consecrates the Blessed Sacrament, the Eucharist, a husband and wife lay down their lives during the most intimate of aspects of marriage, where both are totally vulnerable, gazing into the other's eyes with total love for him or her. I am not saying both sacrifices are equal, but yet they both share in the supreme sacrifice of Christ on the cross.

It is in the love of God expressed between a husband and wife that they can become mystics. As a priest consummates the Eucharist during Mass, so a husband and wife consummate their vocation during intercourse. Again, not equal ways, but both express the ultimate consummation of Christ on the Cross.

Am I making you blush? Human sexuality can indeed be hard to talk about; one speaker I know says that human history is really dependent on who is having sex with who (think about that). It is precisely in the marital act that married couples can be truly complete.

Being a married man myself, I am constantly reminded of the love of God, the same love that created my wife, and the same love that created me, so that the love my wife and I share may be fruitful.

God bless.

No comments: