This past Saturday at Saint Mary Magdalene Catholic Church, we were honored with the presence of Steve and Becky Greene, co-hosts of the Immaculate Heart Radio Show 1310 AM – The Catholic Conversation. As part of our Saturday Morning Speaker Series, which I oversee in my position at the parish, Steve and Becky spoke about their story together as well as the importance of giving of oneself in marriage to the other. The title of the talk was – Of Rings and Romance: The Gift of Self in Marriage. It is my hope to soon have their talk available online and linked to this blog post.
During their talk on Saturday, Steve and Becky mentioned numerous times the importance of Pope St. John Paul II and his writings that focus on the dignity of the human person and the beauty of marriage – The Theology of the Body. In a time when the institution of marriage is being so vigorously redefined on numerous plains, the overall attack on the family continues to occur on a daily basis, and the destruction of marriages through selfish and addictive acts seems to be an ever growing epidemic, as Catholics it is our duty and obligation to stand and combat the forces that seek to destroy the gift of marriage, which was given to us by God himself.
Focusing on this theme of self-sacrificial love in marriage, I turn our attention to an excerpt from the Apostolic Exhortation written by Pope St. John Paul II titled – Redemptoris Custos (Guardian of the Redeemer). It is the hope of this unwed writer to someday be able to sacrifice for another, but until that day comes, I challenge all of you to look to the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph as the true and perfect examples of marriage, full freedom, and the “spousal gift of self.”
Pope St. John Paul II says,
“The Son of Mary is also Joseph’s Son by virtue of the marriage bond that unites them: “By reason of their faithful marriage both of them deserve to be called Christ’s parents, not only his mother, but also his father, who was a parent in the same way that he was the mother’s spouse: in mind, not in the flesh.” In this marriage none of the requisites of marriage were lacking: “In Christ’s parents all the goods of marriage were realized—offspring, fidelity, the sacrament: the offspring being the Lord Jesus himself; fidelity, since there was no adultery: the sacrament, since there was no divorce.”
Analyzing the nature of marriage, both St. Augustine and St. Thomas always identify it with an “indivisible union of souls,” a “union of hearts,” with “consent.” These elements are found in an exemplary manner in the marriage of Mary and Joseph. At the culmination of the history of salvation, when God reveals his love for humanity through the gift of the Word, it is precisely the marriage of Mary and Joseph that brings to realization in full “freedom” the “spousal gift of self” in receiving and expressing such a love. “In this great undertaking which is the renewal of all things in Christ, marriage—it too purified and renewed—becomes a new reality, a sacrament of the New Covenant. We see that at the beginning of the New Testament, as at the beginning of the Old, there is a married couple. But whereas Adam and Eve were the source of evil which was unleashed on the world, Joseph and Mary are the summit from which holiness spreads all over the earth. The Savior began the work of salvation by this virginal and holy union, wherein is manifested his all-powerful will to purify and sanctify the family—that sanctuary of love and cradle of life.”
How much the family of today can learn from this! “The essence and role of the family are in the final analysis specified by love. Hence the family has the mission to guard, reveal and communicate love, and this is a living reflection of and a real sharing in God’s love for humanity and the love of Christ the Lord for the Church his bride.” This being the case, it is in the Holy Family, the original “Church in miniature (Ecclesia domestica),” that every Christian family must be reflected. “Through God’s mysterious design, it was in that family that the Son of God spent long years of a hidden life. It is therefore the prototype and example for all Christian families.”
I dedicate today’s “Mondays with Mary” to all my family members and friends who are married as well as those preparing for the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony in the Catholic Church. Let us also pray for healing to couples and families who have been torn apart for the reasons only known to them. May the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph always intercede on our behalf to their Son, and Our Lord – Jesus Christ.