In light of the distress that I hear after the Supreme Court’s decision to legislate gay marriage, I want to reflect on the sacred nature of Holy Matrimony. Young Catholics, seem poorly informed regarding the obligation to marry in the Church and the meaning of Holy Matrimony. Matrimony is a covenant between a man and a woman who share mutual consent with God who participates in the development of their love and the procreation of their children, the fruit of marital love.
As great as natural love is, Matrimony objectively is more sublime in Christ and in the Church. Christian marriage; engaged in for Christ and in Christ, in the light of eternity, differs radically from even the best natural marriage. Conjugal love undergoes deep transformation in members of the Body of Christ. Wedded love retains mutual self-giving, I-thou communion, and unity as a couple. Christian wedded love does not cease to be conjugal love. The supernatural transforms natural love. Conjugal love envelopes the whole person and offers the highest earthly happiness.
Jesus invested marriage with a new dignity; raising it to a Sacrament making Holy Matrimony a source of grace. He gave marriage the ability to sanctify the spouses. The indissolubility of Matrimony is not merely the result of God’s law, rather in this sacrament, marriage finds the perfection of its meaning. Mutual consent finds fulfillment in the nuptial bond concluded in Christ, confided in Christ, and representing His union with the Church. Jesus affirmed the indissolubility of Matrimony by referring to its origin: “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.” Once we realize its sacredness, the only motive adequate for marriage is: mutual love and the conviction that this union will lead to the eternal welfare of both spouses.
Just as faith in divine truth and love is the only true motive for conversion, the conviction that this is the one God has destined for me and I for them is the only motive which can give this communion meaning. Only the existence of such a love, the authenticity of which must be well examined, should be the reason for marrying. Conjugal love does not exist only to make marriage easier and to move us to love the one we wish to marry. Matrimony is the fulfillment of conjugal love and we should marry because we love this person as destined for us by God.
Sacramental marriage has the focus of imitating the love of Christ for the Church. Profound interest in the eternal salvation of the beloved is the focus of Matrimony and the intention of the Church’s invitation to follow Christ. Matrimony has an infinitely more direct relation to Jesus and our eternal destiny than civil marriage. Christian marriage is a way to attain fuller communion with Jesus. The Matrimonial bond is concluded in Jesus and toward Jesus, therefore, an increase of conjugal love is also growth in love for Jesus. In conjugal love outside of Christ, spouses risk separation from God. On the other hand in Matrimony, conjugal love is a source of grace that helps the spouses grow deeper in love with Christ and each other. The basis of the Church’s invitation to submit to God’s laws, is that God’s law is intended for our best. We must speak the truth that what seems like the restriction of freedom is an invitation to union in Christ.
Your servant in Christ, Father Paul