The Sanctity of Life begins with marital love lived to its fullest
As His Holiness John Paul II officially closes the Jubilee of Families today, October 15, 2000 it is fitting that we recall his words from his Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris consortio which he authored in 1981. "Conjugal love involves a totality, in which all the elements of the person enter - appeal of the body and instinct, power of feeling and affectivity, aspiration of the spirit and of will. It aims at a deep personal unity, a unity that, beyond union in one flesh, leads to forming one heart and soul; it demands indissolubility and faithfulness in definitive mutual giving; and it is open to fertility. In a word it is a question of the normal characteristics of all natural conjugal love, but with a new significance which not only purifies and strengthens them, but raises them to the extent of making them the expression of specifically Christian values."
Those beautiful words come from a man whom liberals within the Church and those fostering the culture of death call out of touch. Oh, he is very, very much in touch with the Holy Spirit and therefore truly touches the vein of mankind with the pulse of God's love. His words inspire wisdom, truth and obedience so all married couples can attain the mystical marital bliss God wants for them as one.
Our words pail in comparison to the Holy Father's, but we fervently hope and pray that our humble, inspired words in this special series on holy Conjugal Love will awake in all married couples the same conjugal ecstasy we have been blessed to experience, and you will recognize it as a special gift from the Holy Spirit that needs to be cultivated and nourished in order to fully blossom. Because it is blessed and encouraged by God, it is good, it is chaste and it is holy. It is marital love as He intended from all time. It is only through this Conjugal Love that family can blossom. Children cannot be fully loved, cannot be fully nourished if the love does not start first between husband and wife, the children's father and mother. John Paul II confirms this again and again in Familiaris consortio, "The fruitfulness of conjugal love extends to the fruits of the moral, spiritual and supernatural life that parents hand on to their children by education. Parents are the principal and first educators of their children. In this sense the fundamental task of marriage and family is to be at the service of life." Society will ultimately dry up if the culture of life continues to be erased through artificial contraception, abortion, adultery, abuse, abandonment and addiction.
The Catechism acknowledges these obstacles in article 1656, "In our own time, in a world often alien and even hostile to faith, believing families are of primary importance as centers of living, radiant faith." That belief can only begin through total, trusting belief in God first, and then each other in order that the two may become one and, through the Sacramental gifts, become one with Christ. This can only be done through the total fidelity of conjugal love. "By its very nature conjugal love requires the inviolable fidelity of the spouses. This is the consequence of the gift of themselves which they make to each other. Love seeks to be definitive; it cannot be an arrangement 'until further notice.' The 'intimate union of marriage, as a mutual giving of two persons, and the good of the children, demand total fidelity from the spouses and require an unbreakable union between them" (CCC 1646 and Gaudium et spes).
There was a popular song several years ago whose lyrics begged "what the world needs now is love sweet love." It has been said that love makes the world go round. But there would be no world, no love were it not for the Ultimate Infinite Love: God. And He has deigned from all time how this love needs to spread. He gave this love in all its fullness to us from the beginning of time, but generation after generation have taken it for granted and therefore abused and lost it. Jesus taught that Love is the Great Commandment. First comes love of God, then love of our neighbor as God asks in Matthew 22: 37-40. The marriage bond is the greatest sign of upholding this love, "The consent by which the spouses mutually give and receive one another is sealed by God Himself. From their covenant arises 'an institution, confirmed by the divine law,...even in the eyes of society. The covenant between the spouses is integrated into God's covenant with man: 'Authentic married love is caught up into divine love'." (CCC 1639 and Gaudium et spes).
For this reason the whole Law and the Prophets cannot be accomplished if we do not love God above all and our spouse with all our heart and soul. How can we love our neighbor if we do not love our spouse? We can't. How can we participate in parish life or contribute to our community, if we don't first help out our spouse and family? We can't. Therein, lies the answer to loving our neighbor and helping others as God wants. If we truly love God then we must desire to love our spouse with our entire heart, soul and body. No compromises, no exceptions. If we do that, we are well on our way to totally loving God and through this avenue, He paves the way for loving our neighbor even greater than before because that love is now shared with a life companion, and, rather than being divided is multiplied many times over.
Is it easy? No way, Jose! Nothing worthwhile in life is easy. "Every man experiences evil around him and within himself. This experience makes itself felt in the relationships between man and woman. Their union has always been threatened by discord, a spirit of domination, infidelity, jealousy, and conflicts that can escalate into hatred and separation" (CCC 1606). It takes hard work, it takes total dedication, it takes a conversion of heart. But the rewards are beyond comprehension. No Hollywood movie, no novel, no finite story has ever been written that could capture the love husband can have with his wife and wife with her husband. And really, it is so simple. All you need to do is love your spouse by following what God wills for you as one.
The more you practice, it will not only get easier, but it will be more thrilling, more enthralling, more ecstatic than anything you can imagine in wedded bliss. The more who realize this, the more divorce will dwindle to practically nothing for husbands will cling to their wives. Young unmarried couples will honor the state of virginity as a virtue, not a weakness; as a goal to achieve only after they have totally committed to each other within the sacrament of Marriage. No other way will do.
Rediscovering each other through and with God
In this series we will delve into the Sacramental qualities of connubial love in great detail while always keeping the subject in the highest esteem with a chasteful decorum. Stereotypes and misconceptions will be totally obliterated. Macho husbands will understand and appreciate the estrogenic qualities that they have within themselves in a good and proper display of emotion and love as God has deigned. Wives will better come to know the testosterone mindset and be indebted to God for the qualities He has given their husbands as strong and trusting protectors and guardians as the Law states. "The well-being of the individual person and of both human and Christian society is closely bound up with the healthy state of conjugal and family life" (Gaudium et spes, 47: 1). We can only hope and pray that after reading this, sharing this with your spouse, and praying together over it, you will see how beautiful, how right, how pure and chaste Conjugal Love can and should be. There are no restrictions, no limits, no barriers to fully loving God by fully loving your spouse in every way.
The Sacrament of Matrimony and the Sacrament of Holy Orders are the only two sacraments which Christ instituted for complete, lasting states of life. Because of that we can deduce the very special importance placed on these sacraments. We know the great graces attained through ordination to the priesthood and the stature of the consecrated life, but so few truly understand the privileges and graces given to husband and wife in the married state. Many have said "if I knew what I was getting into, I wouldn't have gotten married" and that is very sad for a bad marriage can be a millstone, whereas a good marriage can be a treasure chest of graces and blessings.
This special series AT ONE WITH GOD in reaching true Conjugal Love is a blueprint for marital bliss as God intended. Our desire to share this with other spouses is also in response to Paul VI's call for the Apostolate of Spouses in Humanae Vitae in which he said, "Moreover, great fruits are to be expected when the divine law is kept by a devout soul. The most outstanding of these fruits results from the frequent desire of spouses to share their experience with other spouses. Thus it happens that a new and especially worthy kind of apostolate is added to the already ample vocation of the laity: like will minister to like. That is, spouses fulfill their apostolic mission (munus) in behalf of other spouses by becoming guides for them. Among all the forms of Christian apostolate this apostolate seems most suitable today" (HV, 26). We have been blessed with the DAILY CATHOLIC in having the perfect vehicle to share with other spouses, as well as spouses-to-be in making all aware that the Sanctity of Life begins with each one of us. We cannot expect legislation to eradicate the culture of death. It must come through union with God in prayer and matrimonial harmony. Only then, one couple at a time, can we change the world. For the sake of souls everywhere, for the sake of future generations of souls, it's the only way to love!
We base our series on Holy Scripture, Church Teaching, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the landmark, cherished encyclicals Humanae Vitae by Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II's Evangelium Vitae as well as the latter's Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris consortio in 1981, his 1994 Apostolic Letter "Letter to Families" during the Year of the Family, and other works by this great Pope of our times such as Gaudium et spes of which he was a major author/contributor at Vatican II.
Through the grace of the Holy Spirit, we pray your soul will be enlightened, your emotions stirred, your heart rekindled and you will be able to not only resurrect those early feelings, desires and unrequited love that drew husband and wife together when they met, courted and married, but take your marriage to the greatest of heights in connubial ecstasy. For who cannot be ecstatic when they are at one with God? We are here to share that this is possible. We say this because the difference and salvatory factor is that once your heart is converted and you totally recommit, you will invite God always to share in these intimate and private moments, thoughts and love for one another. In doing so, you will truly become one in flesh and at one with God. The evil one will not be able to disrupt your marriage for though he can and does drive a wedge between two persons, he cannot drive a wedge between one. That is another of the great graces of being one with God and satan cannot come between. "What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder" (Matthew 19: 6).
Only through a couple's total bond with God can the charisms of Conjugal Love flourish, blossom and reap great fruits. We can't promise what those charisms will be for only God can do that as He sees fit, but we do know it is possible for "with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19: 26) and our marriage is proof of that through His graces, the graces of Lourdes, and the generous gifts of the Holy Spirit to this unworthy, but obedient and willing couple. We are merely His instruments in conveying the way it can be achieved if God wills it for your marriage, if you are willing to commit totally to Him and each other. Only in that way will you, too, be AT ONE WITH GOD.
NEXT SATURDAY: Lesson One: Planting the Seeds of Love