These are the Sacraments
arrow002.gif (3348 bytes)(Matrimony)

The Mystical Press and Christ in Glory - by Marco dal Pino (Marco da Siena) - from the Vatican Museum . . . . . .
Symbolic of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. Depicts the Infinite Supply of Merits and Grace accumulated by the Sufferings of Jesus in order to:

Vivify the Seven Sacraments of the Church, Instituted by Christ;
Pay the Debt of Men's Sins;
Reconcile Men to God and Reopen the Gates of Heaven to Mankind;
Deliver Men from the Power of the Devil; and
Restore the Divine Life and Vision of God to Men.

 

eucharist3.gif (9262 bytes) All my Sermons are Prepared-in the Presence-of the Blessed Sacrament. As Recreation is most Pleasant and Profitable in the Sun, so Homiletic Creativity is best Nourished before the Eucharist. The most Brilliant Ideas come from meeting God Face-to-face. The Holy Spirit that Presided at the Incarnation, is the best Atmosphere for Illumination. Pope John Paul II keeps a small Desk or Writing Pad near him, whenever he is in the Presence of the Blessed Sacrament; and I have done this all my life I am sure for the same Reason he does, because a Lover always works better, when the Beloved is with him.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

An Insightful Examination of the Seven Sacraments, by a future Saint

 

These are the Sacraments

as described by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
Ph.D., D.D., LL.D., Litt.D.

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VII: The Sacrament of Matrimony

Love exists-on Three (3) different Levels: the Sex Level, the Friendship-Love, and the Sacramental.

angel_02.gif (2330 bytes) Sex/Carnal/Erotic Love

Sex-Love, is directed-toward Another, for the Sake-of Pleasure, which the other-Person gives the Ego. The Partner is regarded-as One-of the 'Opposite-Sex', instead-of as a 'Person'. The Infatuation associated-with it, is nothing but the Boundless Desire-of Self-Centeredness, to express itself at all Costs. Because it cares only for, its own-Rapture, and its own-Fulfillment, such Love, quickly turns-to Hate, when no-longer Satisfied.

angel_02.gif (2330 bytes) Personal Love

Human Being/Person
(A Unity (1) of Body and Soul)

Body/Passions/
Five-Senses/
Satisfaction-of Sex (Subordinate-Partner)

Bodily Data to
dominate the Will of the Soul

Soul/Intellect/
Mind/Will/
Love as an Act
of the Will
(Dominant
Partner)

Sex-Love, and its Partner, the Passion of Hate, originate-in the Body; and demand Carnal Reciprocity.
Personal-Love originates-in the Will of the Soul, and includes Sex in Marriage.
Sacramental Love originates-in the Will of the Soul, and expects no Reciprocity.
There is no direct-connection between the Flesh, and Love.

Over-and-above Sex-Love, there is Personal-Love. Personal-Love includes Sex in Marriage, but in its Essence, it is based-on the 'Objective Value' of another Person. The other-Person may be Loved for Artistic or Moral Excellence, or because-of a Common, Sympathetic Interest. Personal-Love exists wherever there is Reciprocity, Duality, and Understanding. This kind of Love can exist-with Carnal Love in Marriage, or quite apart-from Carnal-Love, for there is no direct-connection between the Flesh, and Love. It is possible to be in-Love, without there being Physical Attraction, as it is possible to have Physical Attraction, without being-in Love. Personal-Love is in the Will, not in the Body.

In Personal Love, there is no substitution-of Persons possible; this Person is Loved, and not another. But, in Carnal or Erotic-Love, since there is not of necessity, a Love for another Person, but only a Love of Self, it is possible to find a Substitute-for the One who gives Pleasure. Sex-Love Substitutes One occasion-of Pleasure for the Other, but, Real Love knows no Substitution. No One can take the place of a Mother.

angel_02.gif (2330 bytes) Christian Love

Beyond each of these Two (2) is Christian Love, which Loves everyone, either as a Potential, or Actual, Child-of God, Redeemed-by Christ; it is a Love which Loves without even a Hope-of-Return. It Loves the Other, not because-of Attractiveness, or Talents, or Sympathy, but because-of God. To the Christian, a Person is One for whom I must Sacrifice myself, not One who must exist-for my-sake. Sex-Love demands Carnal Reciprocity; Personal-Love finds it Difficult to-survive without it; but Christian Love requires no Reciprocity. Its Inspiration is Christ, Who Loved us while we were Sinners and, therefore, Unlovable.

The Sanctity of Married Life is not something which takes place along-side Marriage, but by-and-through Marriage. The Vocation-to Marriage is a Vocation-to Happiness, which comes through Holiness and Sanctity. Unity (1) of Two (2), in One (1) Flesh is not something that God Tolerates, but something that He Wills. Because He Wills it, He Sanctifies the Couple, through its use. Instead of Diminishing, in any way, the Union-of their Spirits with One-another, it contributes-to their Ascension-in Love. The Sacrament which Sanctifies this kind-of Love is Matrimony.

Summary

****

Love
(Choice)

Sex
(Drive)

God

God is Love
via His Holy Will

God is Pure Spirit

Man

Capable of Love
(in-common with God)

Capable of Sex
(in-common with Animals)

Animals

Incapable of Love
(no Rational Soul)

Capable of Sex

 

Marriage: A Symbol of the Nuptials of Christ and the Church

Marriage, as a Sacrament, belongs-to an entirely Different Order than the mere Union-of Man and Woman, through a Civil Contract. It basically regards a Husband and Wife, as Symbols-of another Marriage; namely, the Nuptials-of Christ and His Church.

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Christ and the Church, from Bede's Commentary on the Song-of-Songs (St Albans, ca. 1130). The Song-of-Songs opens: "O that you would kiss me with the kisses of your mouth". This image of the Bridegroom kissing the Bride, is the Work-of an artist in the Monastery of St Albans, England. The Venerable Bede (673?-735) understood the Bridegroom of the 'Song', as Christ, and the Bride, as the Church. St Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) read the text as evoking the Intimate Relation of the Soul and God.

The Analogy-of the Heavenly Nuptials, goes back-to the Old Testament (Song-of-Songs), where God appears-as the Bridegroom, and Israel appears-as the Bride. When God becomes Incarnate, in Christ, He called Himself, and was called, the Bridegroom; it is the 'New Israel', or the Church, which becomes His Bride, or His Spouse. It is often Forgotten, that our Blessed Lord called Himself a Bridegroom. When Our Lord was asked why the Disciples-of John Fasted, but His Own did not, He answered: "Can you expect the Men of the Bridegroom's company to go Fasting, while the Bridegroom is still with them? As long as they have the Bridegroom with them, they cannot be expected to Fast" (Mark 2:19). John the Baptist called himself "the friend of the Bridegroom", or what might be, in Modern Language, the "Best Man". The Title-of Bridegroom, which belonged-to Christ, was shared-by no Other, as John himself said: "The Bride is for the Bridegroom; but the Bridegroom's friend, who stands by and listens to Him, rejoices too, rejoices at hearing the Bridegroom's Voice" (John 3:29).

On the other hand, the Wife's Relationship-to the Husband, is the Relationship-of the Church to Christ. That is why, when Saint Paul speaks-of Marriage, he says, "Those Words are a High Mystery ... applying ... to Christ and His Church" (Ephesians 5:32). The Ultimate Consummation-of this Espousal-of Christ and His Church, will be after the Resurrection, when the Church "without Spot or Wrinkle", will appear-as a Bride, adorned-for Her Husband, or as the "Spouse of the Lamb" (Apocalypse 21:2, 9:1, 22:17).

The Sacrament of Matrimony is not a 'Pious Extra', added-to the Marriage Contract; it is rather the Elevation-of a Natural Marriage Contract, to the Order of Grace, in which the Husband Loves the Wife, as Christ Loves the Church; and the Wife Loves the Husband, as the Church Loves Christ. The Husband and Wife are not just a Symbol-of the Union (1) of Christ and the Church; they enjoy a Real Participation-in that Union (1). As Christ lives-in the Church, and the Church in Christ, so the Husband lives-in the Wife, and the Wife in the Husband, and the Two (2) are in One (1) Flesh.

The Role-of the Priest, in the Sacrament is to-Ratify, to-Witness, and to-Bestow the Church's Official Blessing, on those whom She now Empowers-to-Furnish, New Members to Christ's Mystical Body. This is the One (1) Sacrament, in which the 'Contracting Parties' are the Ministers-of the Sacrament, to each other. In the Words of One to the Other, and in the giving-of the Hand to each Other, there is the Mutual Surrender-of Rights, and the Acceptance-of Duties. But, to be a Sacrament, a Representative-of the Church must be there, to Witness it.

Matrimony, in virtue-of the Mutual Inherence of Man and Woman, is a little Cameo, Reflecting the Greater Espousal-of Christ and His Body, the Church. The Word "Body", is used throughout Scripture, to Signify not only the Human Body, but also the Eucharistic Body, or the Real Presence of Christ, and also the Mystical Body, which is the Church. All Three (3), are in some-way, United (1). In the Marriage Ceremony, the Bridegroom, though he does not say so Expressly, is by Implication, saying-to the Bride: "This is my Body; this is my Blood". The Bride, says the same to him. It is a kind-of "Consecration", on a Lower-level. When during the Mass, they hear the Words-of Consecration, "This is My Body; This is My Blood", they give themselves to-Christ; in the same Action, they give themselves to One Another. The Epistle of their Marriage Mass, reminds them of this Bond-to the Church:

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) "Wives must Obey their Husbands as they would Obey the Lord. The Man is the Head to which the Woman's Body is United, just as Christ is the Head of the Church, He, the Savior, on Whom the Safety of His Body depends; and Women must owe Obedience at all points to their Husbands, as the Church does to Christ" (Ephesians 5:22-24).

The Man is the "Head" of the Wife, as Christ is the Head of the Church. What did Christ do for the Church, as Her Head? He Died for it. Hence, Husbands must show Love to their Wives. The "Headship" is not Overlordship, but Love unto Sacrifice. The Wife, in her turn, will show to the Husband, the Devotion and Love the Church does to Christ.

As further-Evidence of how Seriously the Church takes Marriage, as the Symbol-of Christ and the Church, Saint Thomas Aquinas makes a Distinction between a Marriage that is merely Ratified-at the Altar, and a Marriage that is Ratified and Consummated, when Husband and Wife become Two (2), in One (1) Flesh. The Church has always made this Distinction, in Her Canon Law, concerning Marriage. A Marriage that is merely Ratified-at the Altar, but not Consummated, represents the Union-of Christ with the Soul, through Grace. A Marriage Ratified-at the Altar, and Consummated in the Marriage Act, Symbolizes the Union-of Christ and the Church.

The Marriage that is Ratified only, is a Symbol-of a Personal Union of the Soul with Christ, through Grace. This Union can be broken-by Sin. If, therefore, a Husband and Wife, separated immediately-after the Marriage, at the Church Door, and never Consummated their Marriage, that Marriage would be Breakable, under certain conditions, because it is only the Symbol-of the Union-of the Soul and Grace. But, the Marriage Bond of a Baptized Husband and Wife, which has been Consummated, is Absolutely Unbreakable, as the Union-of Christ and the Church is Unbreakable.

Marriage as the Symbol of Christ and the Church

Two (2) Distinctions

Marriage is

Two (2) Symbols-of Christ and the Church

1) Ratified-at the Altar,
but not Consummated

Breakable by Sin,
because:

Symbol-of a Personal Union of the
Soul, with Christ, through Grace

2) Ratified-at the Altar,
and Consummated

Unbreakable,
because:

Symbol-of the Union of Christ and
the Bride of Christ, the Church

 

The Administration of the Sacrament

The Sacrament, when Administered-at a Nuptial Mass takes place before the Mass commences, and begins-with an Exhortation-to the Couple. A sample Exhortation, often appears in Liturgical Books, though it is not part-of the Sacrament; a Priest may and should prepare his own Sermonette to the Lovers.

After the Young Couple have been reminded of the Nature-of the Sacrament and its Obligations, the Priest asks the Groom: "[Name] will you take [Name] here present for your Lawful Wife, according to the Rite of our Holy Mother Church"? The Bridegroom answers: "I will". Then the Bride is asked: "[Name] will you take [Name] here present for your Lawful Husband, according to the Rite of our Holy Mother the Church"? The Bride answers: "I will". The Priest bids them join their Right Hands; then First, the Groom, and then the Bride says: "I take you [name] for my Lawful Wife [Husband] to have and to hold, from this day forward, for Better, for Worse, for Richer, for Poorer, in Sickness and in Health, until Death do us part".

Then follows the Confirmation-of the Marriage Bond, in which the Priest says: "Your Marriage Contract, I, by the Authority of the Church, now Seal and Bless, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost". When the Ring is Blessed, the Priest says: "Bless, O Lord, this Ring, which we are Blessing in Thy Name, so that she who wears it, keeping Faith with her Husband in Unbroken Loyalty, may ever remain at Peace with Thee, Obedient to Thy Will, and may live with him always in Mutual Love, through Christ Our Lord. Amen".

Because the Sacrament represents the Heavenly Espousals, the Church practically-asks the Bride and Groom, what 'Guarantee' they will give, that they Love One-another until Death. If they say, "We Pledge our Word", the Church will answer: "Words and Pacts can be Broken, as the History of the World too well proves". If they say, "We give the Pledge of a Ring", the Church will answer: "Rings can be Broken and Lost, and with them the Memory of the Promise". It is only when the Ring which is given, becomes a Symbol-of the Love-of Christ, and His Church, does the Church Unite in-Marriage. Eternal Salvation is involved-in their Reception-of the Sacrament. Their Lives become Bonded at the Altar, Sealed-with the Seal-of the Cross, Signed-with the Sign-of the Eucharist, which they both Receive-into their Souls, as a Pledge-of their Unity (1) in the Spirit, which is the Foundation-of their Unity (1) in the Flesh.

 

The Bride in the Marriage Ceremony

In a Nuptial Mass, the Bride and Bridegroom come-to the Altar, immediately after the Pater Noster. The Prayer that is said here, is for the Bride. There is no special Prayer said-for the Bridegroom. Part of the Prayer, is as follows:

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) "Look in Thy Mercy upon this Thy handmaid, who is to be joined in Wedlock and entreats Protection and Strength from Thee. May the Yoke of Love and of Peace be upon her. True and Chaste may she Wed in Christ; and may she ever follow the Pattern of Holy Women; and may she be Dear to her Husband like Rachel; Wise like Rebecca; Long-lived and Faithful like Sara. May the Author-of Deceit, work none of his Evil Deeds within her. May she ever be Knit-to the Faith and to the Commandments. May she be True to One Husband, and fly from Forbidden Approaches. May she Fortify her Weakness by Strong Discipline. May she be Grave in Demeanor and Honored for her Modesty. May she be well-Taught in Heavenly Lore. May she be Fruitful in Offspring. May her Life be Good and Sinless. May she Win the Rest-of the Blessed, and the Kingdom-of Heaven".

The Bridegroom is now included-in the Prayer for the Bride: "May they both see their children's children unto the Third and Fourth Generation, and may they reach the Old Age which they desire. Through the same Christ, Our Lord".

The Liturgy is very interesting in that it gives the Emphasis-to the Bride. Even from a Worldly point-of-view, the Bride is the One who receives the 'Attention', in Marriage. There are Showers of Gifts for the Bride, but not always for the Bridegroom. The Marriage Song is "Here Comes the Bride", but there is no Song: "Here Comes the Bridegroom". Everyone, too, is interested-in what the Bride wears, not in what the Bridegroom wears.


At the Wedding of the Lamb, in Heaven - all focus is on the Groom. Eternal Glory is for the Bridegroom.

In Scripture, where there is the Final Marriage of the Church and Christ in Heavenly Glory, after the End-of the World, all the Emphasis is upon the Bridegroom, Christ, and little upon the Bride. It would seem as if Time, Human History, or the Waiting-for the Second Coming of Christ, is the Season-of the Bride; but Eternal Glory is for the Bridegroom. In the "Book of Ruth", where the Final Glory is Typified and Symbolized, there is Emphasis only upon Boaz. The Bride is quietly at-home, awaiting the coming-of the Groom. She does not appear in the Ceremony, at the Gate. Though in Worldly Weddings, and even in the Liturgy of the Church, the Bride steals-the-show, it is not so at the Wedding-of the Lamb, in Heaven. There, He becomes the Center-of Attention. All the Bride possesses, is in-Him, and through-Him and with-Him. In the "Book of the Apocalypse", a long-description of how the Bridegroom would be dressed, is given, but there is only a very simple-description of the Bride: "Hers it is to wear Linen of Shining White; the Merits of the Saints are her Linen" (Apocalypse 19:8). The "Apocalypse" calls the Final Union-of Christ and the Church, the Wedding-of the Lamb, not the Wedding-of the Bride.

 

 

An Unbreakable Bond

Because Matrimony, images-forth in the Order of Flesh, the Union (1) of Christ and the Church, it follows that it is Unbreakable. In the Incarnation, Our Blessed Lord took Human Nature, which was the beginning-of His Mystical Body, not for Three (3) Years, nor for Thirty-three (33), but for all Eternity. So, Man and Woman, Reflecting the Eternal Union-of Christ and the Church, take One-another until Death do-they-part. The Enduring Character of Marriage, "until death do us part", is evident even in the Natural Order, where there are but Two (2) Words in the Vocabulary-of Love, "You" and "Always". " You", because Love is 'Unique'; "Always", because Love is 'Enduring'. No one ever said: "I will Love you for Two years and Six months". That is why all Love Songs have the Ring of Eternity about them. No Power on-Earth can fragment that which is One (1), and Husband and Wife are made One (1) in Marriage. To try and make-of them Two (2), Single (1) and Separate Individuals, as they were before Marriage, is actually to make them Fragments-of a Joint Personality, like unto Solomon taking his Sword and Threatening to Divide the Babe.

Other evidence-of the 'Unbreakable Character' of Marriage, is to be found in the way Scripture speaks-of Marriage -- never Interpreting it in Terms-of Sex, but always in Terms-of "Knowledge": "And now Adam had Knowledge of his wife, Eve, and she Conceived" (Genesis 4:1). When the Angel Gabriel announced-to the Blessed Mother that She was to be the Mother of God, She asked: "How can that be, since I have no Knowledge of man? (Luke 1:35). Saint Paul, later on, enjoins Husbands to "Possess your Wives in Knowledge".

Human Being/Person
(A Unity (1) of Body and Soul)

Body/Inferior Will/
Somatic Powers
Passions/Emotions/
** Satisfactions (Sex)/
Memory/Imagination
(Subordinate-Partner)

Soul/Intellect/
Superior Will/
Reason/Grace/
** Mind/Knowledge/
Heart/Conscience
(Dominant Partner)

Knowledge resides in the Soul of a Person
Satisfactions (Sex) reside in the Body of a Person.
Fidelity is manifested in our control of the Will of the Soul.
Love and Understanding are an Act of the Will.

 

Why is Marriage in the Bible, related-to Knowledge? It is in order to Reveal the close-Union, of Man and Wife. There is nothing in the Universe that Reveals a Deeper Union, than that of the Mind, and that which it Knows. When the Mind Knows a Flower or a Tree, it possesses these Objects within itself. They are not Identified-with Intellect: they are Distinct-from it, and nothing can Separate them.

Because Marriage is Knowledge, it follows that it demands Fidelity. Suppose a Student, until he entered College, never Knew the Soliloquy-of Hamlet. Once he came to Know it, he would always be dependent-on the College which had given him that Knowledge. That is why he calls his College, his "Beloved Mother", or his 'Alma Mater'; she caused something to happen in him, which was Unique. He could go-on enjoying the Soliloquy, all the days of his Life, but he could never Reacquire it.

So too, when a Husband and Wife come-to Know one another in Marriage, they may enjoy the Union Many Times, but they can never again Reacquire that Knowledge. As-long-as Time endures, it is this Man who has made her a Woman; it is this Woman who has made him a Man. A deep Bond-of-Relationship is established, between the Two (2), though not in the same-Order as the Bond between the Mother and the Child.

This suggests a Union between Man and Woman, that is much more 'Personal', than Carnal. Both Man and Woman, in the Moment-of Knowing, receive a Gift which neither ever 'Knew' before, and which can never be 'Known' again, except by Repetition. The resulting Psychic Changes, are as-great-as the Somatic. A Woman can never again return-to Virginity; the Man can never again return-to 'Ignorance'. Something has happened, to make them One (1), and from that Oneness (1), comes Fidelity, so-long-as either has a Body. Sex is never just an "Experience"; it is a Bond registered-through Eternity.

The Great Advantage of the Marriage Vow, which 'Relates' Husband and Wife to the Union-of Christ and the Church, is that it Guards the Couple against allowing the Moods-of a Moment, to Override Reason. There is no other way to control Capricious Solicitation, except by a Vow. Once its Inviolable Character is recognized, an Impulse is subject-to Probing one's own Faults, and the making-of New Efforts to-deepen Love and Understanding.

The Second Person of the Holy Trinity is a Product of the 'Knowledge' of the Father.
The Third Person of the Holy Trinity is a Product of the 'Love' of the Father.

The Son is the Perfect Image of the Father
The Son is a Product of the Knowledge of the Father
The Son is Generated by an Act-of-Intellect of the Father

God the Father possesses Two (2) Internal Divine Processions:
Intellect and Will

1. Knowing Act of Intellect
or Knowledge

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Eternally Generates
(not Made, not Created)

The Son of God,
Second Person of
the Holy Trinity

"Generation" is the Production of One Living-Being from another, both having the Same Nature.

 

The Begetting of Children

The Union-of Husband and Wife, also Imitates the Church in its Fecundity. In the Union-of Christ and the Church, there is Spiritual Fecundity (increase in Conversions); in the Human Marriage, there is Corporal Fecundity. As the Church begets children out of the Womb-of the Baptismal Font, Fecundated-by the Holy Spirit, so Husband and Wife beget children. Hence, in the Prayer of the Church, during the Sacrament, God is asked: "May they both see their children's children unto the third and fourth generation, and may they reach the old age which they desire. Through the same Christ, Our Lord".

If the Ultimate-aim of the Union-of Man and Woman is not Life, then, there can be only One (1) Alternative, namely, Death. The Child is the Physical Expression of the Fecundity-of the Godhead, in which the Father is the Source-of the Eternal Generation of the Son (refer to above Table). The Gift-of Generation is not a Push-from-below; it is a Gift-from-above. It comes not from the Animals-of the Field, but rather, it descends-from Heaven, as a reflection-of the Father, saying to His Son: "This day have I Begotten Thee".

This Primary End of Matrimony brings the Couple in relationship-to Divine Trinity, as the Duality (2) of Husband and Wife, ends-in the Begetting-of children, the Third (3rd) Term in their Love. This is in keeping with the very Nature-of Love, which may be defined as a Mutual self-Giving which ends in Self-recovery. All Love must be a 'Giving', for without a 'Giving', there is not Goodness; without 'Self-outpouring', there is no Love. In Marriage, Love is First a Mutual self-Giving; for Love's Greatest Joy is to Gird-its-Loins, and Serve.

But, if Love were only Mutual self-Giving, it would end-in Self-Exhaustion, or else become a 'Flame', in which both would be Consumed. Mutual self-Giving also implies self-Recovery. The Mutual self-Giving of Husband and Wife, like the Love of Earth and Tree, becomes Fruitful in new-Love. There is a Mutual self-Surrender, as they overcome their Individual Impotence, by filling-up at the Store-of the other, the Lacking Measure. There is self-Recovery, as they beget not the mere sum-of themselves, but a new-Life, which makes them an Earthly Trinity. Love that is ever-Seeking to 'Give', and is ever-Defeated by 'Receiving', is the Shadow-of the Trinity on Earth; therefore, a Foretaste-of Heaven.

Behind the Urge-to Procreate, is the Hidden Desire-of every Human, to participate-in the Eternal. Since Man, cannot do this in-himself, he compensates-for it by continuing-Life, in another. Our inability-to 'Externalize' ourselves, is overcome-by 'Giving', with God's Help, something Immortal to the Human Race. Thus, the Parents become Co-creators with God, as the Angel told Tobias:

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) "Then, when the Third Night is past, take the Maid to thyself with the Fear of the Lord upon thee, moved rather by the Hope of Begetting children, than by any Lust of thine. So, in the True Line of Abraham, thus shalt have Joy of thy Fatherhood" (Tobias 6:22).

Instead then, of Reflecting in any way upon Sex, the Sacrament sees 'Generation', as a Reflection-of the Eternal Generation of the Son in the Bosom-of the Father. As Saint Thomas Aquinas puts it: "If one is led to perform the Marriage Act, either by Virtue of Justice, in order to render the Debt to the Partner, or by Virtue of Religion, that children may be Procreated for the Worship of God, the Act is Meritorious".

As the Sacrament sees in the Father-of the Family, the Reflection-of Divine Paternity, so there is in Motherhood, a relation-to the Eucharist. The Mother says-to her child, "As I live because of Christ, so you will live because of me". As, under the Species of Bread, day-by-day, Christ Nourishes the Christian Soul, so drop-by-drop the Mother Nourishes the Child. As the Divine Eucharist gives Immortality, so this 'Human Eucharist' of Motherhood, is the guarantee-of Temporal Life. The Angel that once stood-at the Gate of Paradise to prevent Man from eating the Tree of Life, now Sheathes the Sword. Life comes into its own. There is Communion-with Human Life at the Breast, and Communion-with Divine Life at the Altar.

When the Son of God espoused Humanity and became a Child, there was a new-emphasis on Fecundity. It placed Primacy, at a point never before seen in-History. Up until the Incarnation, the Order had been Father, Mother, and Child. Now it was turned-Backwards, and became Child, Mother, and Father. For centuries, Humans looked-up to the Heavens and said: "God is away up there". But when a Mother held a Child in her arms, it could truly be said that she looked-down-to Heaven. God was way-down there in the Dust-of Human Lives. If it be Objected-that Mary had only One (1) Child, it must be repeated that she had only One (1) Child according-to the Flesh, but she had other children, according-to the Spirit, for Our Blessed Lord said to her, at the Foot-of the Cross: "Behold, thy son", referring-to John. And John, 'Unnamed', stood-for all Humanity. At that Moment, she became-by Divine Decree, the Mother of all whom Christ Redeemed, and the Patroness of all Mothers.

 

For Better or for Worse

Because of Human Frailty, there may be, despite Love's effort, a Failure to achieve Common Union in Mind and Body; but this does not give the Offended Party, the Right to-contract a New Marriage. "What God, then, has joined, let no man put asunder" (Matthew 19:6).

When Human Love and Sex-Love break-down, there is always Christian Love, which steps-in to suggest that the other-Person is to be regarded-as a Gift of God. Most of God's Gifts are Sweet; a few of them, however, are Bitter. But whether Bitter or Sweet, the Partner is still a Gift of God, for whom the other must Sacrifice Himself or Herself. Selfish-Love would seek to get-rid-of the Burden of the other Person, simply because he is a Burden. Christian Love takes-on the Burden in Obedience-to the Command: "Bear the Burden of one another's Failings; then you will be fulfilling the Law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2).

What Sickness is to an Individual, an Unhappy Marriage may be to a Couple; namely, a Trial sent-by God, in-order-to 'Perfect' them Spiritually. If a Husband were Suffering from Pneumonia, the Wife would not leave him. In like manner, if the Husband is Unfaithful or Unkind, the Wife will not leave him for another Marriage. The acceptance-of the Trial of Marriage is not a sentence-to Death. As a Soldier is not sentenced-to Death because he takes an Oath to his Country, but admits that he is ready-to-face Death, rather than Lose Honor. Being Wounded-for the Country we Love is Noble; being Wounded-for the God we Love, is Nobler still.

Just as there is a Communication-of Vital Forces between Husband and Wife, so too, there can be a Communication-of Spiritual Forces: "The Unbelieving Husband has shared-in his Wife's Consecration, and the Unbelieving Wife has shared-in the Consecration of one who is a Brother" (1Corinthians 7:14). What a Blood Transfusion is to the Body, Reparation-for the Sins of another, is to the Spirit. Instead of 'Separating', when there are Trials, the Christian Solution is to 'Bear' the Cross, for the sake-of the Sanctification of the other. A Wife can Redeem a Husband, and a Husband can Redeem a Wife, as Christ Offered Himself, for His Spouse, the Church. As Skin can be grafted-from the Back to the Face, so Merit can be applied-from Spouse-to-Spouse. This Spiritual Communication may not have the Romantic Satisfaction in it, of Carnal Communication, but its 'Returns' are Eternal.

The great difference between a Christian and a Pagan, in such a Trial, is that the Christian 'Receives' Suffering; he even speaks-of it as coming-from the Hands of the Crucified; the Unbeliever, however, finds no place for it, in the Universe, because it Negates his Egotism; it Cancels-out his Love of Pleasure, and it begets an Inferno within him. A Cross to the Christian is 'Outside' him, and therefore Bearable; the Double (2) Cross on the 'Inside' of the Unbeliever is Insoluble, Unbearable.

Christian Love not only can make such Suffering 'Bearable'; it can even make it Sweet. The Son of God, voluntarily ended-on a Cross; but it did not Conquer Him, because it came from 'Without': "He suffered under Pontius Pilate". The Christian, in like manner, sees that if Innocence did not Spurn the Cross, then somehow or other, it must fit-into his Life, which is far-from Innocent. Since Marital Love is the Shadow cast-on Earth, by the Love of Christ for His Church, then it must Reflect Christ's Redemptive Quality. As Christ delivered Himself up, for His Spouse, so there will be some Wives and some Husbands, who will deliver themselves up-to Golgotha, for the sake-of their Spouse.

Just as in the Spiritual Life, there is the "Dark Night of the Soul"; so in Marriage, there is the Dark Night of the Body. The Ecstasy does not always 'Endure'. In the Days-of Romance, the emphasis is on the Ego's Durability-in Love. Later on, the Christian sees that Marriage is not Two (2) Persons directed-toward one another, but rather, Two (2) going out to a Common Purpose, beyond themselves.

When the Incarnate Son of God, burst the Bonds-of Death, and rose-to Glory, Scripture revealed that the Physical Universe is groaning in Pain, until it is destined to be Transformed, as a Perfect Instrument of the Spirit; that is, until there is a New Heaven and a New Earth. In the meantime, the Church makes use of the Material Things of this Creation, and associates 'Action' and 'Prayer' with it. Water, Bread, Wine, Oil and other things, are made the Effectual Signs-of the Spiritual Gifts which God bestows-upon His People, through the Church, as His Agency. As Cardinal Newman put it:

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes) "We approach, and in spite of the Darkness, our Hands, our Head, our Brow, or our Lips become, as it were, Sensible of the Contact of something more than Earthly. We know not where we are, but we have been Bathing in Water, and a Voice tells us that it is Blood. Or we have a Mark signed upon our Forehead, and it speaks of Calvary. Or we recollect a Hand laid upon our Heads, and surely it had the Print of the Nails upon it, and resembled Him Who gave Sight to the Blind, and Raised the Dead. Or we have been Eating or Drinking, and it was not a Dream surely, that One fed us from His Wounded Side and renewed our Nature by the Heavenly Meat He gave us".

naaman.jpg (55126 bytes) It would be a False View, to look-on Water, Oil, Bread, and the Matter-of Sacraments, as having any Power of-and-by themselves. This was the 'Mistake' made-by Naaman, the Syrian General, when Eliseus told him that he could be Cured-of his Leprosy, if he would Bathe-in the Jordan, Seven (7) Times. Naaman answered: "Has not Damascus its Rivers, Abana and Pharphar, such water as is not to be found in Israel?" (2Kings 5:12). Thinking that the Cure would be wrought-through Water-alone, Naaman argued that the 'Dirty' Water-of the Jordan could not compare-with the 'Purer' Waters-of his own Land. Finally, at the urging-of a Servant, Naaman was Healed, and immediately saw that it was due-to the Power of God, not to the Power-of the Waters. So it is in the Sacraments. God uses Men and Matter; the Power is not in them, but in God.

 

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