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’s Sunday Pope Quote comes from Bl. John Paul II, in honor of his beatification anniversary earlier this week (May 1). The quote comes from a series of scholarly essays given by John Paul II before he was Pope, so under his baptismal name Karol Wojtyla. Here are present many “seeds” of his later teaching on the theology of the body.
“The category of gift (the disinterested gift of self) takes on special meaning in the marriage covenant. The spouses ‘mutually give themselves to an accept each other’ in a manner proper to the marriage covenant, a manner that presupposes their difference in body and sex and, at the same time, their union in and through this difference. This is a relationship that can be analyzed and interpreted in a variety of ways; the category of gift, however, has a key meaning here. Without it, there would be no way to properly understand and interpret either the marriage relationship as a whole or the acts of conjugal intercourse that are part of this relationship and have a strict causal connection to the emergence of the family.”
. . .
Seeing marriage through the lens of gift “is not an idealistic picture, but a realistic one. The Gospel in a special way demands such realism of us in our appraisal of the marital bond. Man and woman were created as they were (according to the Book of Genesis), different in body and sex, so that through this difference they would be able to make a gift to one another of the specific richness of their respective humanity.”
– Karol Wojtyla (Bl. Pope John Paul II), “The Family as a Community of Persons,” in Person and Community: Selected Essays, trans. Theresa Sandok, OSM (New York: Peter Lang, 1993), p. 324, 325, emphasis original