Since today in the old Latin Rite liturgical calendar, is the feast of the Espousal of The Blessed Virgin Mary to St. Joseph (read my article from last year), I thought I would write “Mondays with Mary” on a Tuesday and provide you 10 quotes about Marriage from the great Polish 20th century Pope, St. John Paul II. Along with religious freedom and human dignity, the Holy Father wrote quite a bit on marital relations between a man and a woman, just as God intended it.
Today, I draw from three sources, but there are also other writings as well. Most notably is the principal work known as the Theology of the Body as well as the book he wrote before he was Pope, Love and Responsibility. If you have not read this book, I would encourage you to pick it up, however, it is rather philosophical and theological in nature. For another option, I would encourage you read – Men, Women, and the Mystery of Love by Dr. Edward Sri. It is based on Love and Responsibility, but a little easier to understand, especially if you have never formally studied theology. Although I have read both, I am going to read them again in the upcoming months as I prepare for my own nuptials to my fiancée.
The quotes from Pope St. John Paul II come from three particular sources – Letter to Families, which was promulgated in 1994 during the Year of the Family, Letter to Women, promulgated in 1995, and the Apostolic Exhortation, Redemptoris Custos, promulgated on August 15, 1989. I hope that you can reflect on these beautiful quotes and allow them to penetrate your own life as a married man or married woman –
1. “Since marriage is the highest degree of association and friendship involving by its very nature a communion of goods, it follows that God, by giving Joseph to the Virgin, did not give him to her only as a companion for life, a witness of her virginity and protector of her honor: he also gave Joseph to Mary in order that he might share, through the marriage pact, in her own sublime greatness.”
2. “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 arc 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.”
3. “The Book of Genesis helps us to see this truth when it states, in reference to the establishment of the family through marriage, that “a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Gen 2:24). In the Gospel, Christ, disputing with the Pharisees, quotes these same words and then adds: “So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder” (Mt 19:6). In this way, he reveals anew the binding content of a fact which exists “from the beginning” (Mt 19:8) and which always preserves this content. If the Master confirms it “now”, he does so in order to make clear and unmistakable to all, at the dawn of the New Covenant, the indissoluble character of marriage as the basis of the common good of the family.”
4. “When, in union with the Apostle, we bow our knees before the Father from whom all fatherhood and motherhood is named (cf. Eph3:14-15), we come to realize that parenthood is the event whereby the family, already constituted by the conjugal covenant of marriage, is brought about “in the full and specific sense”. Motherhood necessarily implies fatherhood, and in turn, fatherhood necessarily implies motherhood. This is the result of the duality bestowed by the Creator upon human beings ‘from the beginning’.” [This is something our modern culture is sorely lacking and needs to understand].
5. “As a rational and free being, man is called to transform the face of the earth. In this task, which is essentially that of culture, man and woman alike share equal responsibility from the start. In their fruitful relationship as husband and wife, in their common task of exercising dominion over the earth, woman and man are marked neither by a static and undifferentiated equality nor by an irreconcilable and inexorably conflictual difference.”
6. “Marriage, the Sacrament of Matrimony, is a covenant of persons in love. And love can be deepened and preserved only by Love, that Love which is “poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us” (Rom 5:5).”
7. “In marriage man and woman are so firmly united as to become—to use the words of the Book of Genesis—”one flesh” (Gen 2:24). Male and female in their physical constitution, the two human subjects, even though physically different, share equally in the capacity to live “in truth and love”. This capacity, characteristic of the human being as a person, has at the same time both a spiritual and a bodily dimension. It is also through the body that man and woman are predisposed to form a “communion of persons” in marriage.”
Marriage of the Virgin – Raphael
8. “By its very nature the gift of the person must be lasting and irrevocable. The indissolubility of marriage flows in the first place from the very essence of that gift: the gift of one person to another person. This reciprocal giving of self reveals the spousal nature of love. In their marital consent the bride and groom call each other by name: “I… take you… as my wife (as my husband) and I promise to to be true to you… for all the days of my life”. A gift such as this involves an obligation much more serious and profound than anything which might be “purchased” in any way and at any price.”
9. “The Church professes that Marriage, as the Sacrament of the covenant between husband and wife, is a “great mystery”, because it expresses the spousal love of Christ for his Church. Saint Paul writes: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word” (Eph 5:25-26).”
10. “In the Sermon on the Mount, recalling the sixth commandment, Christ proclaims: “You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery’. But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Mt 5:27-28)… Why does Christ speak out in so forceful and demanding a way in the Sermon on the Mount? The reason is quite clear: Christ wants to safeguard the holiness of marriage and of the family. He wants to defend the full truth about the human person and his dignity.”
As we remember this day…
Let us pray for the many holy and faithful Catholic marriages that are producing great fruit in the Church.
Let us pray for those who may be struggling in their marriages – may Our Lady and St. Joseph intercede on behalf of their trials.
Let us pray for those Catholics that are not married in the Church – those who are unaware that their marriages are not valid – pray that they, through the intercession of Our Lady and St. Joseph will come to be in full communion again and Convalidate their secular marriage.
Let us pray for those couples preparing to enter the Sacrament of Matrimony in the days and month ahead. Please pray for Megan and I as we do our preparations for Holy Matrimony.
O Mary, Perpetual Virgin…Pray for Us
Saint Joseph…Pray for Us