Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Marriage—the beginning...

We continue our reflections on marriage. It is the vocation which God gives to the vast majority of us. In some places of the world its very nature and definition are being challenged. Over the next several weeks this column will rely upon the best source of information; that source is The Catechism of the Catholic Church. You will see numbers in brackets. These are references to the numbers assigned to the paragraphs of the Catechism.

The teaching on marriage begins with a reference to the Bible where, in the very first book, God tells us that He created man and woman in His image (1602). The vocation of marriage is part of the very nature of man and woman. Marriage is not a purely human institution; it is a Divine institution. As noted last week, because God has designed marriage, the well-being of society depends upon the healthy state of marriage and family life.

Holy Scripture affirms that man and woman were created for one another: “It is not good that the man should be alone.” The woman, “flesh of his flesh,” i.e., his counterpart, his equal, his nearest in all things, is given to him by God as a “helpmate”; she thus represents God from whom they become one flesh. The Lord himself shows that this signifies an unbreakable union of their two lives by recalling what the plan of the creator had been” in the beginning”: “So they are no longer two, but one flesh.” (1605)

On the threshold of his public life Jesus performs his first sign—at his mother’s request—during a wedding feast. The Church attaches great importance to Jesus’ presence at the wedding at Cana. She sees in it the confirmation of the goodness of marriage and the proclamation that thenceforth marriage will be an efficacious sign of Christ’s presence. (1613)

After original sin, marriage like everything else was wounded. Even Moses permitted divorce because the people would not listen. Jesus came to restore creation and to heal a sinful world. He taught that marriage, as God intended, in indissoluble: “what therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder.” (Mt. 19:6)

By coming to restore the original order of creation disturbed by sin, he himself gives the strength and grace to live marriage in the new dimension of the Reign of God. It is by following Christ, renouncing themselves, and taking up their crosses that spouses will be able to “receive” the original meaning of marriage and live it with the help of Christ. This grace of Christian marriage is a fruit of Christ’s cross, the source of all Christian life. (1615)

Because we have been disturbed by sin, it can be difficult to live the married vocation as God asks. However, Jesus makes it more than possible. He enables married couples to be good spouses and good parents.

Fr. Stanley