Tuesday 16th October 2018

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

The Sacramentality Of Marriage

December 23, 2017 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By DON FIER

Having elevated Matrimony to the dignity of a sacrament at the wedding feast in Cana, Christ steadfastly preached throughout the course of His public ministry that marriage had been restored to the “original meaning of the union of man and woman as the Creator willed it from the beginning” (Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], n. 1614). Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ, expertly summarizes this topic as we considered it last week:
“Matrimony in the Lord” means “the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies. Christian marriage is a symbol of Christ’s unfailing love of His Spouse, the Church. The Savior restored marriage to its original state before the fall of our first parents. It is now to be an indissoluble, lifelong union of one man and one woman until death. The followers of Christ are given the grace to deny themselves, take up their cross, and remain faithful to each other out of love for the Savior and with the assurance of His supernatural light and strength” (The Faith, p. 137; cf. CCC, nn. 1612-1616).
Indeed, the Sacrament of Matrimony “signifies the union of Christ and the Church…[and] gives the grace that perfects the human love of the spouses, strengthens their indissoluble unity, and sanctifies them on the way to eternal life” (CCC, n. 1661).
We closed last week’s column by citing profound words from the fifth chapter of St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians on how the mystery of Christ’s love for the Church is to be lived out in a Christian marriage (see Eph. 5:21-33). In his book entitled Jesus the Bridegroom: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told (JtB), Dr. Brant Pitre characterizes this text as “what has become one of the most difficult passages of the New Testament” (p. 151).
Similarly, in his work entitled The Theology of the Body Explained (TBE), Christopher West states: “One would be hard-pressed to find a passage in the Scriptures that has been more maligned and dismissed by today’s ‘politically correct’ society” (p. 310). This stems from an incorrect understanding of the inherent meaning of St. Paul’s inspired words.
Pope St. John Paul II devoted 22 general audiences over the span of approximately one-half year (July 28, 1982 to February 8, 1983) to plumbing the depths of the true meaning of this passage from the Letter to the Ephesians. His insights on “the sacramentality of marriage” will, in all likelihood, be the subject of study for decades to come by learned theologians as they unpack the richness of his insights on the “theology of the body.”
What follows in this column, by necessity, will be but a brief synthesis of some of the key points made our recent Holy Father.
As stated last week, we will rely heavily on Dr. Michael Waldstein’s translation of John Paul II’s audiences: Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body (TOB). It is quickly noted in his volume that the Pauline passage being considered is centered on the body in both its metaphorical meaning (the Body of Christ, which is the Church) and its concrete meaning (the human body — male and female — and its destiny for union in “one flesh” in marriage as portrayed in Gen. 2:24) [cf. TOB, pp. 466-467].
As pointed out by West, “the convergence of these two meanings of the body gives us the key to understanding the ‘great mystery’ St. Paul speaks of [in Eph. 5:32]” (TBE, p. 311). The importance of this mystery is underscored by St. John Paul II in his 1994 Letter to Families: “Saint Paul’s magnificent synthesis concerning the ‘great mystery’ appears as the compendium or summa, in some sense, of the teaching about God and man which was brought to fulfillment by Christ” (Gratissimam Sane, n. 19 § 10).
Let us begin our treatment of St. Paul’s passage by looking at verses that are very much misunderstood in modern-day society:
“Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph. 5:21-25).
As Dr. Pitre rhetorically asks, “What are we to make of these words? What does St. Paul mean when he commands wives to ‘submit’ to their husbands? Does this mean that husbands can lord it over their wives and cite biblical justification for doing so?” (JtB, p. 152). Furthermore, is not the idea that the husband could be the head of his wife an affront to women?
St. Paul’s teaching on marriage is largely rejected in contemporary times because of a lack of understanding with regard to three basic elements of his message: 1) equal but different, 2) love, and 3) submission, subordination, or subjection. Equality is mistakenly equated with “sameness,” love is equated with emotional feelings rather than “serving the beloved,” and subordination is equated with mastery or domination rather than “being under the order of.”
First, the truth regarding the complementary differences between the sexes has been distorted due to a mistaken notion of equality. In no way does St. Paul’s teaching on subjection imply that the wife is inferior to the husband. Although they are different, God created both male and female in His image and likeness and they are therefore equal in dignity (cf. Gen. 1:26-27). Pope Pius XI eloquently expresses this in his 1930 encyclical On Christian Marriage:
“This subjection, however, does not deny or take away the liberty which fully belongs to the woman both in view of her dignity as a human person, and in view of her most noble office as wife and mother and companion; nor does it bid her obey her husband’s every request if not in harmony with right reason or with the dignity due to wife; nor, in fine, does it imply that the wife should be put on a level with those persons who in law are called minors….For if the man is the head, the woman is the heart, and as he occupies the chief place in ruling, so she may and ought to claim for herself the chief place in love” (Casti Connubii, n. 27).
Central to the Holy Father’s teaching is the concept of man as the head of the family and woman as the heart. When the “two become one” in Christian marriage, that unity requires both a head and a heart. When God created them male and female, He created them with strengths suited to those very roles. At the same time, this in no way suggests that men are unable to love or that woman cannot think. Husband and wife are each called to both, but each must rely on the other’s natural strengths to counteract their own natural weaknesses.
Pope John Paul II accentuates the true meaning of submission in marriage in his more recent teaching:
“When he expresses himself this way, the author [St. Paul] does not intend to say that the husband is the ‘master’ of the wife and that the interpersonal covenant proper to marriage is a contract of domination by the husband over the wife….Husband and wife are, in fact, ‘subject to one another,’ mutually subordinated to one another. The source of this reciprocal submission lies in Christian pietas [piety] and its expression is love” (TOB, p. 473).
Love, as pointed out earlier, is all too often associated with the emotions, with having “gushy” feelings for the other. For this reason, people all too often have the impression that St. Paul is letting husbands off easy by telling them to “love their wives” after having just instructed wives to “be subject to their husbands.”
However, love, correctly understood, is all about serving the other; it is willing to do what is best for the other. The model for love to which the husband is called is the sacrificial love of Christ which He expressed above all by laying down His life for His Bride, the Church (cf. Eph. 5:25).

Sanctification And Salvation

Dr. Pitre offers an excellent explanation of the love that husband and wife are called to in Christian marriage:
“St. Paul is calling the Christian husband to take the role of spiritual leadership through self-sacrificial love, and in this way to act as a kind of ‘living icon’ of Christ the Bridegroom. Likewise, Paul is instructing the Christian wife to place herself ‘under the mission’ (as in the Latin, sub-missio) of her husband’s sacrificial love, and in this way to act as a living icon of the Church” (JtB, p. 154).
John Paul II elaborates by affirming that true marital love “excludes every kind of submission by which the wife would become a servant or 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 is to the husband” (TOB, pp. 473-474).
Although spouses should “be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Eph. 5:21), the husband “is above all the one who loves and the wife, by contrast, is the one who is loved. One might even venture the idea that the wife’s ‘submission’ to the husband…means above all ‘the experiencing of love’” (TOB, p. 485). Ultimately, however, “the primary goal of Christian spouses should be one another’s sanctification and salvation” (JtB, p. 154).

+ + +

(Don Fier serves on the board of directors for The Catholic Servant, a Minneapolis-based monthly publication. He and his wife are the parents of seven children. Fier is a 2009 graduate of Ave Maria University’s Institute for Pastoral Theology. He is a Consecrated Marian Catechist.)

Share Button

2017 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Twitter Feed

Load More...

‘Just glad we ruined Kavanaugh’s life’: Pro-abortion Left responds to Supreme Court defeat

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 8, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Judge Brett Kavanaugh is now Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and the left-wing forces who pulled out all the stops to defeat him show no signs of cooling down anytime soon. The Senate voted 50-48 on…Continue Reading

Pope selects youth from pro-gay Vatican consultant’s media org to attend Synod

October 8, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — The four young people from Canada now at the Vatican synod on youth are all from Salt and Light Media. The Toronto-based media outlet is run by Basilian Fr. Thomas Rosica, who is also on…Continue Reading

Youth Synod Archbishop apologizes to young Catholics for sex abuse, ‘unbeautiful liturgies’

ROME, October 4, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney, Australia, has issued an extensive mea culpa at the Vatican Youth Synod for all the ways in which the hierarchy and members of the Church have failed young people — whether…Continue Reading

Michigan AG seizes Catholic dioceses’ records in sex abuse investigation

(CNN)Michigan authorities have seized records from every Catholic diocese in the state as part of an investigation into possible sexual abuse by clergy, the dioceses said in separate statements released Wednesday. The Archdiocese of Detroit, and dioceses in Gaylord, Grand…Continue Reading

Vatican cardinal reproves US archbishop for criticizing Youth Synod’s working doc

VATICAN CITY, October 1, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A second prominent cardinal has publicly rebuked Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput for publishing last week a letter critical of the controversial working document being used at the upcoming Youth Synod in Rome. At a press conference at the Vatican…Continue Reading

Catholic lay leaders: We were wrong about Church, McCarrick on sex abuse crisis

In 2004, Anne Burke went before the City Club of Chicago to say the Catholic Church was beginning “to set things right” by appointing a lay board — which Burke chaired — to address the sex abuse crisis then embroiling…Continue Reading

Protesters demand resignation of Catholic University professor over Kavanaugh tweets

WASHINGTON (RNS) — Demonstrators at the Catholic University of America are calling for the resignation of a dean over tweets he published criticizing a woman who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct. In addition, some demonstrators insisted…Continue Reading

Catholic Magazine Rescinds Endorsement of Brett Kavanaugh to Supreme Court

America, a weekly Roman Catholic magazine published by members of the Jesuit religious order, on Thursday rescinded its endorsement of Brett Kavanaugh after the Senate hearing on an attempted sexual assault accusation leveled against him by Christine Blasey Ford. “Even…Continue Reading

Pedophilia Isn’t The Main Problem With Catholic Priests, Homosexuality Is

The editorial board of the New York Times declared it had identified the source of “The Catholic Church’s Unholy Stain.” It names pedophilia and asks: “How have so many pedophiles been allowed into the priesthood?” The question was purely rhetorical…Continue Reading

A Persecuted Priest Speaks Out

Here is a link to a 10-minute on-camera Church Militant interview with Father Paul Kalchik, the Chicago priest who is now in hiding after being tossed from his parish by Cardinal Blase Cupich. Kalchik lost his position after presiding over…Continue Reading

Cardinal Cupich removes pastor for burning gay flag, wants psych evaluation

September 23, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Blase Cupich has removed a priest in his archdiocese from his parish in apparent retaliation for his decision to burn a homosexualist “rainbow pride flag” previously used by the parish to promote the homosexual agenda. According…Continue Reading

Opposition grows to controversial deal between Beijing and the Vatican

(CNN)A long-expected, controversial deal between the Chinese government and Catholic leaders in the Vatican has sparked opposition, including inside the Church itself. The provisional agreement, which will see the Vatican recognize the legitimacy of bishops appointed by the Chinese government, comes…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love

Cburke3

  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading

Catechism

Today . . .

Cardinal Wuerl blasts Viganò testimony as ‘not faithful to the facts’

October 12, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Donald Wuerl had a few choice words to say regarding Archbishop Carlo Viganò when he was interviewed by a liberal Catholic magazine yesterday. In a long and laudatory article published by America magazine today, the Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, D.C. – and its apostolic administrator until his replacement is named – denied Viganò’s allegation

Pope Francis accepts resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl from the pastoral governance of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. By Christopher Wells Cardinal Wuerl had submitted his resignation three years ago, when he turned 75, in accordance with the Code of Canon Law (can. 401 §1). In September, the Cardinal met with Pope Francis and requested that his resignation be accepted. At the time, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Washington D.C. said…Continue Reading

Recognition of ‘other forms of family’ called for by Youth Synod small group led by Cdl. Cupich

Vatican City, October 11, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Fourteen small groups of members of the Synod on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment discussed the Instrumentum Laboris (IL), or working document, guiding the Synod’s deliberations this week. Divided by language groups, there were four English-language conversations, three French, two Spanish, one German, and one Port

San Diego Catholic leaders demand ‘truthful answers’ from Bishop McElroy on sex abuse scandal

SAN DIEGO, California, September 8, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — “Acting with urgency and with purpose,” local lay leaders have launched Concerned Catholics of San Diego (CCSD), a grassroots initiative spearheaded by a committee of faithful Catholics whose first order of business is to seek “truthful answers” from San Diego Bishop Robert W. McElroy about the sex-abuse crisis. “The Catholic Church, including here in

Open Letter from Cardinal Marc Ouellet

Dear brother Carlo Maria Viganò, In your last message to the press, in which you make accusations against Pope Francis and against the Roman Curia, you invite me to tell the truth about certain facts that you interpret as signs of an endemic corruption that has infiltrated the hierarchy of the Church up to its highest levels. With pontifical permission, and in my capacity as Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, I offer my testimony…Continue Reading

Advertisement(2)

Neither Left Nor Right, But Catholic . . . Truth: The Casualties In The Current Controversies

By STEPHEN M. KRASON (Editor’s Note: Stephen M. Krason’s Neither Left nor Right, but Catholic column appears monthly [sometimes bimonthly]. He is professor of political science and legal studies and associate director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is also co-founder and president of the Society…Continue Reading

Setting Things Right

By DONALD DeMARCO An ancient Chinese proverb reads as follows: “If there is righteousness in the heart, there will be beauty in the character. If there is beauty in the character, there will be harmony in the home. If there is harmony in the home, there will be order in the nation. When there is…Continue Reading

Casualty Lists From The Kavanaugh Battle

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN After a 50-year siege, the great strategic fortress of liberalism has fallen. With the elevation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court seems secure for constitutionalism — perhaps for decades. The shrieks from the gallery of the Senate chamber as the vote came in on Saturday, October 4 and the sight…Continue Reading

Cardinal Ezzati . . . Declines To Answer Questions In Chilean Abuse Probe

SANTIAGO, Chile (CNA) — Ricardo Cardinal Ezzati of Santiago has exercised his legal right to silence after being summoned for questioning by a state prosecutor. The intended questioning was likely to be focused on what the cardinal knew about his former archdiocesan chancellor, Fr. Oscar Munoz Toledo, who was arrested July 12 following allegations he…Continue Reading

Judge Kavanaugh… The One Right That Matters To The “Pro-Choice” Crowd

By JACK KENNY Watching and listening to Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island incredibly grill Judge Brett Kavanaugh, line by line, over the contents of the latter’s high school yearbook, is to recall the words written by William Faulkner and revived a few years ago by Barak Obama. “The past is not dead. It isn’t…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World… Youth Synod Repeats Old Errors

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK We are now making things up as we go along. As if the Church had been founded yesterday. This nonsense was already tried in the sixties and found wanting. Paolo Ruffini reported on Twitter that at a press conference for the 2018 Youth Synod now underway in Rome a speaker called for “a liturgy that…Continue Reading

The Sacrament Of Confession… Indulgences!

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 8 The “indulgences” of the Catholic Church have acquired a bad name ever since Luther’s Reformation. In Luther’s days, it is true, the Church was going through one of those periods of crisis. Yes, there was a great crisis, almost as bad as today. The crisis was chiefly among the decadent clergy of the…Continue Reading

The Cardinal Virtues — Fortitude

By DON FIER It was with clever astuteness that Jesus responded to the Pharisees when they tried to devise a trap for Him by asking: “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” (Matt. 22:17). After examining a Roman coin and inquiring whose likeness and inscription was imprinted on it, His ingenious answer was: “Render therefore to Caesar…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. I thought the matter of no women priests was settled by Pope John Paul II back in the nineties. But I keep hearing about this possibility. Do you foresee this ban ever changing? — J.M., via e-mail. A. No, we don’t because St. John Paul, in his 1994 apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, made the following infallible pronouncement: “Wherefore, in…Continue Reading

Over 100 Young People . . . Tell Synod-Bound Scottish Archbishop: We Love Catholic Doctrine

By DOROTHY CUMMINGS McLEAN EDINBURGH, Scotland (LifeSiteNews) — Over 100 young Catholics have a message for the Scottish archbishop chosen to attend the Youth Synod: We love the doctrines of the Church. The Catholics aged 18 to 35 signed a letter to Archbishop Leo Cushley of the Archdiocese of St. Andrews and Edinburgh sharing their thoughts on their faith. While…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Alexander Sauli

By CAROLE BRESLIN After the upheaval of the Protestant Reformation, the Catholic Church was blessed with many saints including a lesser known but deeply loved man, Fr. Alexander Sauli, who labored in a little-known order, the Barnabites. Alexander was born of a wealthy and highly regarded family of Lombard on February 15, 1534. His father, Dominic, was the Marquis of…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Mary Frances Of The Five Wounds Of Christ

By CAROLE BRESLIN When a holy priest was dying of cancer, racked with excruciating pain, he begged for more. He was asking for more suffering to save more souls. Such is the glory of the saints when Christ dispenses His mercy with the grace to embrace more suffering. St. Mary Frances endured more suffering than many saints and she, too,…Continue Reading