Solely through the grace of God, we have been inspired to write a special series on Conjugal Love. Why? Because the Holy Spirit has moved within us spiritually, mentally and physically to share with all the only way the Sanctity of Life can be restored in its fullness as Christ demands and as His Holiness John Paul II has called for so many times. Through Godincidence we are coinciding the debut of this series during the weekend when the Church celebrates the JUBILEE OF FAMILIES. Family is the heart of the Sanctity of Life, and it is through Conjugal Love that family begins and grows. With a strong Conjugal Love by, of and in the parents, the sons and daughters are nourished ever more so in their faith and values. They grow up in an atmosphere of total love for God and a healthy respect for the love of a man and a woman as God intended. In this environment of family they are nurtured with love, virtue and the sacramental life of the Church. Thus, the cycle of life continues when they choose their vocations as young adults and, emulating the example and love of their parents, they will either practice perfect Conjugal Love and with each generation faith, hope and love will grow stronger or they will hear the clear call to serve God in the single state or as one of His chosen consecrated sons and daughters as priest, brother or nun. The Catechism of the Church verifies this in articles 1656-58.
The culture of death is stifling today. Everywhere we hear and see the six evil "a's" that satan promotes: Artificial Contraception, Abortion, Adultery, Abuse, Abandonment and Addiction. Most of those politicians who are supposed to speak out strongly for the culture of life have let us down. Even many bishops and priests fail to speak out stronger. They fail to realize that Pope Paul VI was truly a visionary and all he had warned of in his outstanding, but largely ignored encyclical Humanae Vitae has unfortunately come to pass. The Church in America should be speaking as one against these six "a's" and leave no doubt in the mind and heart of any Catholic that those politicians who promote pro-choice are not good for America, not good for the soul. The Catholic vote should be enough to sweep out of office those advancing the culture of death. But the reality is that most Catholics haven't a clue to the seriousness of this and look toward other issues. Many are uninformed and the fault, the ultimate responsibility before God, lies with those charged to instruct the sheep. Once the sheep are informed, then the sin lies with the flock if they fail to be obedient to the shepherd.
In writing this we, Cyndi and Michael, have not been charged with the evangelical counsels, we have not the authority of bishops, even priests. And it is something we are not asking for we greatly respect and humbly obey the Magisterium of the Church. We only ask to be heard for the sake of marriages everywhere, for the sake of reestablishing the Sanctity of Life. We are just a voice crying in the wilderness, a voice that needs to be heard for the sake of souls, for the sake of perpetuating holy matrimonial love as Christ intended. We have a message to tell. It is not our message, but one the Holy Spirit has moved us to share in order to touch engaged and married couples everywhere, in order to begin reestablishing the Sanctity of Life as it should be. The Popes of the past three decades have called for it and our response is "yes." By sharing these lessons we are revealing our inner selves, revealing intimate and holy aspects of our life as well as our faults and failings. We are doing so for a purpose. It is not meant to elevate ourselves as having a special gift from the Sanctifier, but rather of submitting ourselves to God's will and allowing Him to move within us and through our humble words, touch hearts where they have not been touched before in Conjugal Love.
The roots of Conjugal Love stem all the way back to Adam and Eve. The first parents blew their opportunity and mankind has been waiting a long time for someone to get it right, to truly understand the will of God within the confines of conjugal love. It took a second Adam - Jesus, born of a new Eve, a most blessed Virgin free of Original Sin. Mary was chosen by the Father from all time to be the purest tabernacle to hold the Most Precious of Life - Life itself in the Son of God. "The Word was made flesh" (John 1: 1).
Flesh is the word used by Christ in Matthew 19: 6 in describing the sanctity of life which begins with the Sacrament of Matrimony. "Therefore now they are no longer two, but one flesh." One flesh in God Who is life. "In Him was life, and the life the light of men" (John 1: 4); "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life" (John 14: 6). Ever since then He and His loving, tender, caring Mother have been trying to show us all that we need to do to fulfill our vows within the sacred sacrament of Matrimony. The Catechism says, "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'. (Matthew 19: 6)" (CCC 1604).
Yet, we've failed, miserably. Divorce, abortion, pornography, sodomy, pedophilia, lesbianism, profanity, infidelity...the list goes on and on of sin in search of worldly pleasures. No wonder the culture of death has taken such a firm hold today. Rather than rising above sin, we have caved to its lure. Like Adam and Eve and many who have come before us, we have failed to realize that. "According to faith the disorder we notice so painfully does not stem from the nature of man and woman, nor from the nature of their relations, but from sin" (CCC 1607). We haven't realized how simple, how wonderful, how beautiful, how lasting and how ecstatic Conjugal Love can be if husband and wife rise above sin and give themselves totally to each other through God. If they do, they truly can live in marital bliss throughout their marriage. Without God, there is no union, no bliss, only disorder!
A more abundant life within the Sacrament of Matrimony
Jesus tells us in John 10: 10, "I came that they may have life, and have it more abundantly." We can have and experience life more abundantly in the wonderful Sacrament of Matrimony. Within this sacred bond there is a mystical union with God that can bring ecstasy in the spiritual, psychological and, yes, physical sense and senses. But to achieve this, there must be God, the Blessed Trinity first and foremost, then husband and wife. Only through the conjugal love of husband and wife can life begin by the fullness of God's blessings. Only in the state of sanctifying grace can those blessings be realized.
In order to enter into lasting union, a bride and groom must give of themselves of their own free will and know fully the lasting bonds of their vows to love, honor, cherish and obey each other. Too many have mistakenly taken marriage to mean the wife must obey her husband in a scenario that would indicate a one-way street where the woman is subservient to the man in every way. It is not that way at all and these attributes that they pledge are very easy when they truly become one flesh for there is no more you and me, but only us. The masculine qualities of the husband are enveloped and absorbed by the wife, just as the feminine qualities of the wife are given to the husband for his understanding and love in loving response to Paul's words "Husbands, love your wives" (Ephesians 5: 25). This commitment of mutual expression is the main act of the Marriage ceremony.
The Sacrament of Matrimony increases sanctifying grace for Marriage is a sacrament of the living and must be received in the state of grace. When the couples pronounce their vows they receive an increase in this grace and they are given special assistance by God for their role as husband and wife, special help to love each other faithfully, to accept each other's faults and bear them in the spirit of love and understanding, and to bear children through the wonderful miracle of conception and nurture them to love, serve and obey God within the framework of His Holy Church. These duties are nothing to be taken lightly, for in so agreeing to bring children into the world they are contracting with God to take part in the work of the Creator, giving life to a deathless soul. When they truly realize this, they will take a greater accountability of their duty to do as the Apostle Paul advises in Ephesians 6: 4, "rear them in the discipline and admonition of the Lord."
These austere responsibilities must be balanced with privileges given only to those in the married state. Rightly God has given them the beautiful gift of conjugal love, the physical act of love between the couple. This is for the mutual support and pleasure of the husband and wife for God has said in Genesis 2: 18 after creating Adam, "It is not good for man to be alone; let Us make him a help like unto himself." And so, in order to provide support for begetting and bringing up children, for mutual fidelity, comfort, maintenance of the family and mutual exchange of love, He created from the body of Adam, his mate Eve to show the perfect equality and the union that must exist between husband and wife. The graces are increased when, through commitment to their matrimonial vows and the consummation of their marriage, the two become one in flesh (cf. Matthew 19: 6)
After all the glitz and glamor of the wedding itself and the reception, all the gifts and good wishes, the moment happens. The most glorious moment. The moment of consummating the marriage on the wedding night. At that point there is no longer a triune union but two - God and the couple for they are one. "For this reason a man leaves his father and mother, and clings to his wife, and the two become one flesh" (Genesis 2: 24, Matthew 19: 5, and Ephesians 5: 31). Christ said in Matthew 19: 4-6, "Therefore now they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder." Sadly, over the years and today, man has interfered in God's holy plan. Because of society's preoccupation with the prurient side of sex as lust, the wedding night is hollow to many because so few save themselves for the one God has put on this earth for them. Divorce and infidelity are rampant and everyone is suffering because of this selfishness and refusal to adhere to Our Lord's words. This unholy gratification of the flesh has fostered the culture of death just as Popes Pius XI, Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI and John Paul II warned us of. Like the people of the Old Testament, we have strayed far from God. Yet, in His Infinite Goodness and Mercy He has given us His Holy Church to purify us from the stain of sin through sanctifying grace. He has also given us a special Sacrament for a lasting state within the Church - the holy Sacrament of Matrimony. We must choose and use it wisely.
Called to share the Apostolate of Spouses
This series is a sharing of what the Church has said and a practical approach as seen through our eyes and experience. We are not the most accomplished couple, the most holy couple, the most worthy, the most competent, the most experienced to share what we have to share, but we have been called and our fiat, like the Blessed Mother's is "Be it done to me according to Thy word" (Luke 1: 38). Despite the obstacles of the world, the flesh and the devil, we continue to strive to live our marriage to the fullest through a complete oneness with God in our Conjugal Love. Our sharing is intended to rekindle in all married couples the vast advantages of the charism of Conjugal Love, accomplished only through the grace of God.
Part Two: The Sanctity of Life begins with marital love lived to its fullest