August 26, 2018
21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
“We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”
MARRIAGE – Love and Life in the Divine Plan
A Pastoral Letter by the Catholic Bishops of the United States (Very) Abridged Version
Marriage is a natural institution established by God the Creator. It is a permanent, faithful, fruitful partnership between one man and one woman, established by their free mutual consent. It has two purposes: the good of the spouses, called the unitive purpose, and the procreation and education of children.
When the baptized spouses exchange their promises of loving and permanent fidelity before the Church, their marriage covenant becomes a participation in the unbreakable covenant between Christ and the Church. The Holy Spirit binds the spouses together and enables them to perform acts of self-giving love to the benefit of themselves, their families, and the whole Church. In this way their marriage does more than symbolize Christ’s love; it makes that love present in the world.
In order to imitate Christ’s love for his Church, the relationship between man and woman needs healing. Their relationship is not a one-sided subjection of the wife to the husband, but a mutual subjection of husband and wife, following St. Paul’s charge to “be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Eph 5:21).
The Christian married couple, with their children, forms an image of the Trinitarian God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Marriage and family life images the Trinity in two ways. First, like the Trinity, marriage is a communion of love between co-equal persons, beginning with husband and wife and extending to all the members of the family. Second, just as Trinity’s love is life-giving, a married couple’s love conceives and cares for children.
In addition to reflecting the Trinity, the family is a microcosm of the Church. The ancient expression “domestic church” accurately describes the family because it is a small communion of persons that draws its sustenance from the larger Church and reflects its life in unique ways. Within this domestic church, parents have a special responsibility to teach children the faith and help them to grow in virtue. The family matures as a domestic church by participating in the life and worship of the larger Church, especially Sunday Eucharist. In the Eucharist, members of the family are most fully united to Christ, to one another, and to their brothers and sisters throughout the world.
In the Eucharist Catholic couples meet Christ, the source of their marriage. This encounter moves them to reach out in love to the broader Church and to the world. The Eucharist nourishes the virtue of marital hospitality and helps the couple to recognize God’s image in others. This hospitality builds up the Church and makes it a stronger witness to Christ’s love in the world.
Note: Last weekend we began offering Holy Communion through intinction. In case you missed my homily introducing it, I encourage you to listen to it on our website.
You are in my daily prayers.
God bless you,
Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke