The year 2020 zoomed in so fast with such lightning speed. In just two weeks, the whole of Christendom will be celebrating the season of Advent. Hopefully, this Advent will bring joy and glad tidings, especially, to the sick, the poor, and the destitute. Whilst the situation has yet to normalize, it’s certainly a good time to savor the silence and intimacy brought about by the COVID-19 quarantine. After all, the home quarantine during this pandemic affords us ample time to reflect on the vicissitudes of life. Hopefully, this would facilitate uncovering the essentials in life.
With Advent fast approaching, it bodes well to focus attention on the primary or most immediate circle of relations in life, that is, the spouse and the family. Here, one examines the state of affairs of married life and how it impinges on the family. On this note, the quotation below serves as a good point in uncovering the essential things that matter in married life, as follows:
Matrimony is a holy sacrament. When the time comes for you to receive it, ask your spiritual director or your confessor to suggest an appropriate book. Then you’ll be better prepared to bear worthily the burdens of a home.St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way
In essence, Point 26 is practical advice from Saint Josemaria for couples who are contemplating getting married. At the same time, it also encourages married couples to reflect upon the state of married life. It seeks to unburden couples of the “heavy-ness” of living a life of being together 24×7. How? By uncovering the essentials in a life of marriage.
Nobility of Marriage
At the core of it, it is important to recognize the nobility of marriage. Nowadays, the ubiquity of the internet has spawned a social milieu that profanes marriage. Unsurprisingly, people remain indifferent to the rising levels of divorce, polygamy, and even same-sex marriage. Hence, it behooves the couple to take cognizance of the Catholic Church’s definition of marriage:
"The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament."1
Unity and Indissolubility of Marriage
Furthermore, modern cultural practices have bent marriage into a “disposable” union. This means that either party may unilaterally revoke the marriage anytime. Clearly, such a custom undermines the very nature of conjugal love. In fact, the Pastoral Constitution, Gaudium Et Spes, unequivocally declares the unity and indissolubility of marriage, as follows:
“For the good of the spouses and their off-springs as well as of society, the existence of the sacred bond no longer depends on human decisions alone. For, God Himself is the author of matrimony, endowed as it is with various benefits and purposes.2 Thus a man and a woman, who by their compact of conjugal love “are no longer two, but one flesh” (Matt. 19:ff), render mutual help and service to each other through an intimate union of their persons and of their actions. Through this union, they experience the meaning of their oneness and attain to it with growing perfection day by day. As a mutual gift of two persons, this intimate union and the good of the children impose total fidelity on the spouses and argue for an unbreakable oneness between them.3“Pope Paul VI, Gaudium et Spes, 48, December 7, 1965
Covenant of Love
Finally, the covenant of love in marriage demands authenticity. Given such, human love develops and grows over time between the spouses. This is attainable through constant nourishment of conjugal love with undivided affection and fidelity. By the grace of God, the married couple contributes to the propagation of the human race by their offsprings and the promotion of the well-being of society by educating their children in faith and moral conduct. In this sense, the married couple truly becomes co-creators and collaborators in the divine mission of attaining the common good for society.
”All of these have a very decisive bearing on the continuation of the human race, on the personal development and eternal destiny of the individual members of a family, and on the dignity, stability, peace, and prosperity of the family itself and of human society as a whole. By their very nature, the institution of matrimony itself and conjugal love are ordained for the procreation and education of children, and find in them their ultimate crown.”Ibid
1 Pope John Paul II, Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1601 (1992) 2 Cf. St. Augustine, De Bene coniugali PL 40, 375-376 and 394, St. Thomas, Summa Theologica, Suppl. Quaest. 49, art. 3 ad 1, Decretum pro Armenis: Denz.-Schoen. 1327; Pius XI, encyclical letter Casti Connubii: AAS 22 (1930, pp. 547-548; Denz.-Schoen. 3703-3714. 3 Cf. Pius XI, encyclical letter Casti Connubii: AAS 22 (1930), pp. 546-547; Denz.-Schoen. 3706.