Wednesday 18th July 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.

Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter Elects New Superior General

LINCOLN, Neb. — The general chapter of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, a society of apostolic life that celebrates the extraordinary form of the Roman rite, Monday elected Father Andrzej Komorowski as its next superior general. The July 9…Continue Reading

Catholic-heavy Supreme Court moves right as the church moves left

(RNS) — With his nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, President Trump has succeeded in doing for the judicial branch what he has often failed or neglected to do in his administration: acting efficiently…Continue Reading

Election of the Superior General . . . Society of Saint Pius X

Election of the Superior General On July 11, 2018, Father Davide Pagliarani was elected Superior General, for a mandate of 12 years, by the 4th General Chapter of the Society of Saint Pius X. The new Superior General is 47…Continue Reading

Paradoxes and indicators of Capella’s and McCarrick’s cases

These days we will find out whether Monsignor Carlo Alberto Capella, the former advisor to the Washington nunciature that the Vatican sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for possession and distribution of “large quantities” of child pornography, will present an appeal…Continue Reading

Diocese led by pro-gay bishop says it’s ‘up to each parish’ whether to promote homosexuality

LEXINGTON, Kentucky, July 3, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A Catholic church in the heart of Appalachia has attracted media attention for the Gay Pride Month banner stretched across its front lawn. The local ordinary, Bishop John Stowe, has a record of collaborating with a…Continue Reading

Al Gore: Pope Francis a ‘moral force’ for solving climate crisis

(Vatican.news) Nobel Peace Prize Winner and former U.S. Vice President, Al Gore, is one of the world’s most vocal defenders of the environment. His 2007 documentary film, “An Inconvenient Truth”, won an Oscar and his Climate Reality Project recently hosted…Continue Reading

Catholic bishops heading to border to tackle family separation issues

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — A delegation of Catholic bishops from across the country are heading to the border on Monday. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, will lead the delegation in its visit to the…Continue Reading

Catholic Church teaching on homosexuality ‘evil’, McAleese says

The Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexuality is “evil”, former president Mary McAleese has said. Speaking ahead of her inaugural participation in the Dublin Pride event on Saturday, where she will march with her son Justin and his husband, the former…Continue Reading

Senate Will Vote Before Elections on Replacing Pro-Abortion Justice Anthony Kennedy

The United States Senate will vote before the elections this November on a replacement for pro-abortion Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made that announcement today shortly after the surprising but welcome announcement that the longtime abortion…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke, Bishop Schneider respond to Pope Francis’ inflight intercommunion comments

ROME, June 27, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — The reception of Holy Communion in the Catholic Church — even in exceptional cases — by a Protestant or other non-Catholic constitutes a “lie” that betrays the Apostolic tradition and the Church’s constant practice…Continue Reading

German Bishops Publish Intercommunion Handout with a Rhetorical Trick

Today, the German bishops have published their very controversial pastoral handout which allows Protestant spouses of Catholics, in certain cases, to receive Holy Communion. Since Pope Francis, on 21 June, objected to a national bishops’ conference publishing such an official text, the…Continue Reading

Vikings host ‘LGBTQ summit’ to promote ‘inclusion’ in sports

EAGAN, Minnesota, June 21, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The Minnesota Vikings are hosting a conference and fundraiser today for “LGBTQ inclusion in sports,” the first of its kind in the National Football League (NFL). The event will include speeches, interviews, and…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 . . .

British pro-lifers say abortion clinic ‘buffer zones’ harm women and children

London, England, Jul 12, 2018 / 12:49 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- After a decision from the United Kingdom’s High Court, two women are attempting to overturn a ban on prayer and public discussion of abortion near a British abortion clinic. On July 2, the High Court of England and Wales upheld a “buffer zone” imposed by Ealing Council, west London, around a Marie Stopes abortion clinic. The zone prevents any pro-life gathering or speech, inc

Calligraphers face jail time for not promoting same-sex ‘weddings’

PHOENIX, Arizona, July 13, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Two Arizona calligraphy artists faced with fines and jail time for declining to take part in promoting gay “weddings” are asking the state’s Supreme Court to hear their challenge to the city of Phoenix’s law that compels them create artwork that violates their religious beliefs. Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski, owners of Brush & Nib Studio, face up to six months in jail, $2,500 in fines, and three

Bishop Paprocki disagrees with US bishops’ support for unions that fund abortion, LGBT

SPRINGFIELD, Illinois, July 11, 2018, (LifeSiteNews) – Hailed by free speech and religious liberty advocates alike, the United States Supreme Court recently ruled that public sector employees can no longer be required to pay mandatory fees to support unions which promote causes and political activities – including abortion – to which they are opposed. The ruling has also exposed a significant rift among the nation’s Catholic bishops. Despite public sector unions’ unabashe

Trump nominates Brett Kavanaugh to Supreme Court

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 9, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Brett Kavanaugh is Donald Trump’s choice to succeed the pro-abortion, pro-gay Justice Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court, the president announced Monday night. Trump praised Kavanaugh’s committment to “equal justice under the law” and called him a “brilliant jurist with a clear and effective writing style.” He is “universally regarded as…one of the finest legal minds of our time.” Kavanaugh formerly clerked for Kennedy. “Justice Kennedy devoted his career to…Continue Reading

Prof fired by Catholic university for defending marriage has huge court win

MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin, July 6, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The professor forced out by a Jesuit-run Catholic university for blogging about an undergrad student being assailed by his teacher for his having voiced defense of marriage has won in court. In a landmark decision Friday the Wisconsin Supreme Court said Marquette University violated John McAdams’ right to free speech when it suspended him for writing the blog post, and it ordered the University to restore McAdams immediately with his full rank,…Continue Reading

Advertisement(2)

Neither Left Nor Right, But Catholic … Old And New Tyrannies Borne Of Lust

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

A Book Review… What Man Does Not Reverence, He Will Profane

By MITCHELL KALPAKGIAN Society and Sanity, by Frank Sheed (Ignatius Press: San Francisco, 2013), 261 pp. $17.95. Available from www.ignatius.com or at 1-800-651-1531. This new edition of Sheed’s 1953 classic work of apologetics brings to mind the famous myth of Procrustes’ bed. The wicked king captures his victims then tortures them if their legs do…Continue Reading

How Vice Can Absorb Virtue

By DONALD DeMARCO Just as the Devil is at war with God, so too, vices are at war with virtue. The Devil wants people to believe that God does not exist. He also wants people to believe that neither does virtue exist. He would like to demolish virtue. One way of achieving this is to…Continue Reading

Henan, China… New Limits Imposed On The Religious Freedom Of Catholics

BEIJING (AsiaNews) — The Chinese government is approving increasingly restrictive measures against Catholics in the central province of Henan. As Eglises d’Asie reports, five new rules have been imposed which include the requirement of religious working in the province to collect data and information on their faithful. A priest from the Diocese of Zhengzhou reports…Continue Reading

A Book Review… Solzhenitsyn Remembered

By JUDE DOUGHERTY Congdon, Lee. Solzhenitsyn: The Historical-Spiritual Destinies of Russia and the West. DeKalb, Ill.: NIV Press, 2017; 163 pp. This book is descriptive of the prophetic voice of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008), who was convinced that the West has set out on a road similar to that which “led Russia into the abyss.” Solzhenitsyn…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Sheep Without A Shepherd

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Sixteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR B) Readings: Jer. 23:1-6 Eph. 2:13-18 Mark 6:30-34 In the first reading today, God speaks a word of woe through the Prophet Jeremiah to the shepherds who mislead the Lord’s flock entrusted to their care. God says that these shepherds scattered the flock and drove them away and did not…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World . . . In Death The Church Gives Everything

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Funerals, as many priests have learned, can often be pastorally challenging and problematic episodes. Grieving family members who are not dealing with death on a regular basis by practicing their faith are suddenly confronted with its reality upon the passing of a parent or other family member. Parents who have to bury a child sometimes…Continue Reading

Martin Luther… The Man And The Myth

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 2 (Editor’s Note: As this October marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s nailing his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Raymond de Souza is taking a break from his usual apologetics to correct the popular image of Luther.) + + + In the last article, I quoted from…Continue Reading

The Anatomy Of A Moral Act

By DON FIER Last week, as we considered the role that human freedom plays in the economy of salvation, it was immediately acknowledged that “man’s freedom is limited and fallible” (Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], n. 1739). Free will, so wondrously bestowed upon man as an essential element of his great dignity of being created “in the image and…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. What can one say to a teenage daughter or granddaughter who wears skimpy bathing suits? I know that is the “style” these days, but it seems wrong for many reasons. — M.M., Virginia. A. When our five daughters were teens, my wife and I ruled out the wearing of skimpy bathing suits, as well as skin-tight jeans or shorts…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Veronica Giuliani

By CAROLE BRESLIN In July, the month of the Precious Blood, the Catholic Church remembers saints by the name of Veronica. On July 12, the memorial of Veronica (meaning “true image”), the saint from the first century who presented her veil to wipe the face of Jesus, is celebrated. Three days before that, on July 9, St. Veronica Giuliani is…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati

By CAROLE BRESLIN Our Lord had a special love for the poor when He walked this earth. At one time He rebuked one of the apostles, saying, “The poor you will always have with you” (Matt. 26:11). Rather than avoiding the destitute or shun the homeless, Christians are called to love them as we love ourselves. At the beginning of…Continue Reading