This Spring, Denver’s Archbishop Samuel Aquila wrote a series of columns about marriage. They serve as a great primer on what marriage is, why it matters, and (for married couples) advice about living the vocation of marriage well.
1. The divine creation and gifts of marriage
“Marriage, most fundamentally, is gift. Or, perhaps more clearly, marriage is a series of gifts, connected and intertwined with one another.
“Marriage is the gift of a husband to a wife. And the gift of a wife to a husband. Marriage is a gift from God—an opportunity to form a family, a community of love. Marriage is the place where the gift of life begins. And marriage is a gift to every community, every culture, every people—marriage is the gift of stability, of civility and of love. Marriage is the first and essential community to society.”
2. Why traditional marriage is worth protecting
“The truth is that we need marriage promotion more than ever. More children than ever before are raised without fathers. More women are left to raise children alone. The three goods of marriage as a lifelong commitment, fidelity to one’s spouse and the gift of procreativity. These goods are the key to stable social life. When they are undermined, we face real social instability.”
3. Marriage as a cornerstone of culture and Christian life
“Marriage, one of the seven sacraments, is a cornerstone on which our Christian culture can rest. And like Christ, today marriage has become a stone rejected. Its trivialization and its redefinition mean that the importance of marriage has been forgotten. But Christ too, was forgotten. From a place of being forgotten, abandoned and crucified, Christ ushered in our redemption. And through the sacrament of marriage, like the other sacraments, Christ can redeem the world.”
4. The renewing, exciting graces of marital self-giving love
“Over the past few weeks, I’ve offered reflections on the nature and goods of marriage, and on the importance of marriage for Christian catechesis and culture. Marriage is a prophetic sign in our time, and one that is under attack. We’re called to promote and defend the vital role marriage plays in civic life and Christian culture. But we cannot do that if Catholic marriages are not lived with authentic vitality and faithfulness to God’s plan. The Church needs to promote marriage, and our world needs the benefit of healthy, fruitful marriages.”
5. Proclaim the truth about marriage
“Over the past five weeks, I’ve spent time discussing the mystery of marriage. I’ve done so because we are standing at an important cultural crossroads. Our culture is choosing between two views of marriage. The choice will have consequences for generations to come.”
“We must have hope—marriage is created by God. It is a beautiful gift given to man and woman, prior to the fall, so that they may become one flesh, share in co-creation with God, and from the two persons bring forth a new person, a child. No same-sex partners are able to do that. And while the state or government may attempt to redefine marriage, they are creating a lie that has no foundation in the truth. The Lord has given us all that we need to proclaim the truth about marriage—to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ who is “the way, the truth and the life.”
Today, news from “across the pond.” The President and Vice President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales penned a pastoral letter on marriage that was to be read at parishes throughout England and Wales this past weekend, March 10 and 11. In their letter, Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster and Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark write that they plan to present “the Catholic vision of marriage and the light it casts on the importance of marriage for our society” (all emphasis added).
The Archbishops reflect on marriage both as a natural institution and as a sacrament:
The roots of the institution of marriage lie in our nature. Male and female we have been created, and written into our nature is this pattern of complementarity and fertility.
. . .
As a Sacrament, [marriage] is a place where divine grace flows. Indeed, marriage is a sharing in the mystery of God’s own life: the unending and perfect flow of love between Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The letter also argues that “changing the legal definition of marriage would be a profoundly radical step.” Continuing, they explain:
The law helps to shape and form social and cultural values. A change in the law would gradually and inevitably transform society’s understanding of the purpose of marriage. It would reduce it just to the commitment of the two persons involved. There would be no recognition of the complementarity of male and female or that marriage is intended for the procreation and education of children.
On the Bishops’ Conference website, Archbishop Nichols and Archbishop Smith urge residents of England and Wales to sign an online petition organized by the grass-roots campaign Coalition for Marriage.