We had another session of our Young Adult Theology of the Body this past Sunday. It was entitled, “Marriage as a Sacrament”. Here are some questions and answers that summarize the content of the session:
-How is the wife a symbol of the Church and the husband a symbol of Christ?… The Church is always “bride”, and Christ is always “bridegroom” because the Church receives the gift that Christ initiates. God is always the initiator of love. As St. John says, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he first loved us” (1Jn 4:10). The wife symbolizes the Church by receiving the love of her bridegroom and the husband symbolizes Christ by loving his wife “as Christ loved the Church” (Eph 5:25). This giving and receiving cannot be equated, however, with “activity” and “passivity”.
-Why do people react so negatively to the verse in Ephesians 5 that speaks of wives being “submissive”? Is this reaction justified?… Because women rightly recoil at the thought of being treated as a dormat. This is not what St. Paul intends to say. When properly understood, the relationship St. Paul promotes is not one of command/obedience, but one of love/receptivity.
-How does John Paul II explain this spousal “submission” in his Theology of the Body? Is this demeaning toward women?… John Paul II points out that St. Paul starts the entire passage by speaking of a “mutual submission” between the spouses. As the Pope writes, the love to which St. Paul calls husbands clearly “excludes every kind of submission by which the wife would become a servant or a slave of the husband, an object of one-sided submission. Love makes the husband simultaneously subject to the wife, and subject in this to the Lord himself, as the wife to the husband” (TB 89:4). At the same time there is a complementary way in which spouses submit to one another. The husband images Christ as the wife images the Church. Hence the Pope says that since the “submission of the Church to Christ… consists in experiencing His love,” we can conclude that “the wife’s ‘submission’ to her husband [also]… signifies above all the experiencing of love’” (TB 92:6).
-What do couples commit to in marriage?… They commit to loving one another as Christ and the Church love one another: freely, totally, faithfully and fruitfully.
-How is Christ’s love for us free, total, faithful and fruitful?…
Christ gives his body freely: “No one takes my life from me, I lay it down of my own accord” (Jn 10:18).
He gives his body totally, without reservation, condition or selfish calculation: “He loved them to the last” (Jn 13:1).
He gives his body faithfully: “I am with you always” (Mt 28:20).
He gives his body fruitfully: “I came that they may have life” (Jn 10:10).
If men and women are to avoid the pitfalls of counterfeit love, their union must express the same free, total, faithful and fruitful love.
-How is a married couple’s love free, total, faithful and fruitful?
In order for married love to be free, it must not result from manipulation or coercion or merely from an uncontrollable impulse.
In order for married love to be total it must be without reservation or condition (the notion that “I’ll stay married only if…” places a condition on the relationship).
In order for married love to be faithful it must be exclusive of other sexual and romantic relationships and last until the death of one of the spouses.
In order for married love to be fruitful, it must remain open to children. Even when children are not conceived, due to no fault of the couple, marriage remains spiritually fruitful.
-Are children the only expression of “fruitfulness” marriage?… Every time a husband and wife unite in one flesh, it is always spiritually fruitful, so long as it truly images the love of the Trinity.
So there is a summary of the session. I hope the summaries are helpful for everybody who is not able to attend the sessions. Even this short series of questions and answers gives us a refreshing glimpse of the richness of the Church’s exalted and beautiful vision for marriage as God created it to be.
On another note, many, many thanks to Roseann Glass and her crew of volunteers who painted the sacristy at Payne during my pilgrimage a couple weeks ago. If you have not yet seen the sacristy, stop by and see how much brighter and cleaner it looks!
Believe it or not, we are fast approaching the last weekend of having our seminarian Peter Grodi with us. We will have a going away luncheon for Peter on Sunday, August 7th, right after the 10:30 Mass at Paulding. Please add this to your calendar and stop by to wish Peter God’s best for his continued discernment and formation.
Have a blessed week!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,