Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Reflection on November 24, 1982


The indissolubility of marriage stems from a function of the dignity of the human body. That make take some breaking down. Marriage is meant to be unique, only meant for one other. That same notion of gift to only one, a unique gift, goes to the respect and dignity we find in the body. Giving yourself fully and solely to one other shows by that gift the dignity you have for that person. Thus, when you make that commitment, it is indissoluble. If you give the gift to anyone else, you stain your dignity, the one you committed to, and the new person you give it to. Therefore, the only way to show true dignity to the human body is to establish that marriage as a unique gift of self is indissoluble.

It probably should be more particle, but I have never thought of redemption as an ethos, redemption as a way of life. You don’t really think about redemption on a daily basis, more in the big moments. I got the sense that SJPII wanted to shift that thinking and put redemption in our thoughts more, as a way of shaping the way we live our lives on a daily basis. Can you imagine if every choice you make was shaped by your striving for redemption? SJPII wants to take redemption out of the Theological clouds and bring it down to Earth to help us live our daily lives in a more Christian way.

When you look at Christ speaking about adultery and not committing it in your heart, He lays out an understanding of dignity towards all. Not only is there the negative rule, thou shall not, but the positive as well, thou shall show dignity to all humans. If you commit adultery of someone in your heart, you are not showing them dignity, even if they never know the thoughts you are thinking. I was also thinking about the indissolubility of marriage perception. I think most would say that Christ teaching only deals with those that are married. But if you see Christ teaching as dealing with the dignity of all and the unique gift of self to another as showing that dignity, then the indissolubility of marriage goes post and pre marriage. That goes for celibate religious as well. Their choice of continence for the kingdom is one that they are supposed to commit to from the beginning of their lives. The idea of waiting until you know which vocation you are called to and then continuing to wait or giving that up entirely is all part of the function of dignity and is wrapped up in marriage’s indissolubility.

Marriage is given, at the beginning, as a sign of creation; given, after the fall, as a sign redemption; given as an instrument of ethos; given to all allow us to give and receive love; given to join in creation; given as the primordial sacrament.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Reflection on October 27, 1982


SJPII now takes us back to the Scriptures we looked at before Ephesians and see what we can add to the interpretations of these Scriptures with the new things we have looked at. We go back to the indissolubility of marriage and the importance of this. How vital it is and why Christ preaches on it so explicitly when talking about divorce and the beginning. It makes complete sense, if marriage is a sign of redemption, of creation, of Christ relationship with the Church, marriage must be indissoluble. Christ says I will be with you until the end, not until I find something better or until you have satisfied my desires.

If marriage is the prototype for all the other Sacraments, for unity with the Church, for our Relationship with God, a critical part of the is its indissolubility. If this characteristic is thrown out the window, swept under the rug, seen as unnecessary, it seriously distorts our understanding of God.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Reflection on October 20, 1982


SJPII is laying a ground work here to dive into the other sacraments. He says that marriage, as the primordial sacrament, is a prototype for all the other 6 sacraments. He distinguishes the word sacrament and how he has used it before. The use in describing the sacrament of creation or sacrament of redemption, sacrament is used as another word for mystery. But here, in marriage as a prototype for the other sacraments, he is using it to mean the 7 Sacraments of the Catholic Church established by Christ.

Marriage is a sign, a link into understanding, the sacraments of creation and redemption. Marriage allows us our best earthly understanding of those mysteries and thus the importance of the definition of marriage and the importance of protecting its integrity. But now we move on from these mysteries and see how marriage helps us better understand all the other sacraments, or signs, of God’s Grace along the ordinary journey of our salvation. We have seen the connection to some in discussion so far. We see the similarities of unity in marriage and that connection with the Eucharist. There is the change that takes place in a person through marriage and its connection with the change that occurs in Baptism. There was also a great deal of time spend discussing the connection between the vocation of holy orders and marriage and how they are very similar and differ in calling by God, but foundationally call a person to many of the same things. I hope SJPII goes more into these different sacraments and how marriage, and what we have learned so far about it, will help us better in understanding the other sacraments.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Reflection on October 13, 1982


We have a discussion of the sacrament of creation and the sacrament of redemption. I wasn’t sure if I quite followed all of it, but felt a better grasp towards the end. (Reading ahead, it becomes very clear when SJPII points out that sacrament here is used as another way of saying mystery. I didn’t pick up on that.) Marriage is a visible sign of the gift of creation. God created all and allows us to join in this creation through procreation and marriage. But we fell and need redemption. Christ comes and through Christ and His gift of self, we have the Church and Redemption, the fruit from Christ Redeeming Love. In marriage we are given a sign of Christ unity with the Church and the fruit that comes from that unity. Marriage is a sign or sacrament of both the mystery of creation and redemption.

I think there is an argument in here for the Church being immaculate. Christ, as God, cannot unite with anything that is sinful, not immaculate. The Church must be immaculate in order for Christ to unite with it and for there to be fruit. I this uniting is laid out in other examples.

Adam needed Eve, a helper like himself, both whole and immaculate and created for unity and fruitfulness.

Mary, the immaculate virgin, had no sin and so was able to unite with God in order to conceive Christ.

We are to receive the Eucharist without mortal sin so that we are worthy of uniting with God and gaining those graces, become fruitful.

Without the purity in the union of the two, there is no fruit. If the Church is not immaculate, if Mary is not sinless, there is no fruit from that union.

I think you could say this idea can be used in the discussion of contraception, those being a barrier to unity, to fruitfulness. It might be a stretch, but the Scripture stating that “anyone who eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily is guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.” 1 Corn 11:27. Could that go into the idea that the use of contraception, the contraceptive mentality, has brought sin further into that realm, i.e. the spread of STD’s, etc. Taking the act of sex and making it something less than sacred, taking outside of marriage, thinking contraception makes it something anyone can do with anybody, is analogous to going and receiving the Eucharist with mortal sin. You are taking something that is sacred, that is to be fully given and received, that is supposed to be fruitful and a gift from God, and by distorting it, are endangering yourself, physically and spiritually.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Reflection October 6, 1982


Reading through this, there was a lot of pointing back to other discussions that have already been discussed and linking them to the idea of marriage as the primordial sacrament and why that ties into this language in Ephesians. I think I have grasp on what he is saying, but sometimes when I am typing these up, it feels like I am just saying the same things over again and that makes me think I am missing something. SJPII points that Ephesians quotes the scripture of Genesis in order to establish the importance of marriage at the beginning of creation, even before the creation of the world. God saw this gift of self and the gift of this union in such importance that it was given at the very beginning. It has practical meanings, in community and procreation, but it is also spiritually important as a sign of God’s relationship with us, the primordial sign, the primordial sacrament.

Ephesians points back to this because it wants to fully produce the analogy of Christ and the Church and a husband and wife. In order to do this, it must fully establish the gift of the sacrament of marriage, which cannot be fully done without pointing to the way it was in the beginning. This beginning, before sin, when the gift was given to man, and it was fully accepted, and fully realized between man and woman, this was God’s plan and this is what is there between Christ and the Church, because there is no sin in Christ or in the Church He established.

If Ephesians does not point back to the beginning, what marriage was in the beginning, then the readers of Ephesians would be in danger of what I have said is happening to us today. The analogy would fail because the readers perception of what marriage is would be distorted, and therefore their understanding of Christ’s relationship with the Church would be distorted. Ephesians must point back to a time when marriage was holy and immaculate to allow the analogy is fullest effect. That is why, I believe, SJPII calls marriage, especially marriage established by God in the beginning, is the primordial sacrament.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Reflection on September 29, 1982


Using marriage as the analogy to explain Christ and the Church, SJPII says that the focus is on the “gift” that Christ made of Himself for the Church. If that is the focus, we must go back and see that SJPII spend much of the first several sections going over the importance of seeing marriage as a giving of self as “gift” to the other. Over and over again, this became evident as the focal point of what marriage was all about, why it was instituted the way it was, why it became important to be unique, for only one other, for life, between male and female. All of these became extremely important in pointing to the idea of spousal gift of self and we saw that every step we take away from these characteristics of self gift move us further from what was meant for marriage from the beginning. We see now that the importance of understanding marriage as a gift of self is so vital because the analogy points to Christ gift of self for the Church, and understanding that mystery is essential in understanding our relationship and establishing our faith in God. The more we move away from the idea of marriage as a gift of self and into the idea that it is a relationship that fulfills desires and based on feelings, we will see Christ not as a gift given to be received, but as a resource to get what we desire. As with the ease of dissolving marriages, when we do not feel our desires are met by Christ, we will simple leave Him for something we think will meet our desires.

I thought it was interesting that SJPII says we cannot fully receive the gift of Christ because it is divine and we are merely human. I thought about that in the sense that the Church is the bride of Christ, we are merely the fruit of that union. We do not receive the full gift of Christ, but the Church has, and we are able to participate in the Church and receive the graces that come from that complete and full union between Christ and the Church .

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Reflection on September 22, 1982


Through paragraph 1-3, I get the sense that the “betrothal” understanding of the Old Testament leading to the “marriage” of the New Testament may be correct. SJPII focuses on language like “in the name of God…the prophet turns to Israel as a bridegroom to his chosen bride.” He also discusses that “being chosen by a man” takes away the disgrace associated with adultery, widowhood, or even original virginity. God turns back to Israel again and again throughout the Old Testament after they have disgraced themselves, to once again “choose them” as His betrothed. But the marriage is not completed until the appointed time.

I also thought this idea fit with the idea that Mary, when Christ is conceived, is betrothed to Joseph, not married. The idea that she becomes pregnant, disgraced in the eyes of others, is taken away when Joseph accepts her as his betrothed again after the angel visits him in a dream. I had never heard about this taking away of disgrace when the bridegroom chooses his bride and that this can take disgrace away.

I think it also helps to understand the language where God abandons Israel at certain times. The quotes from Isaiah say “For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with immense love I will take you again.” During the course of a betrothal, this can happen. But after the marriage is completed, that is not the case. They are to be in union until death. Thus, we have a different attitude from Christ stating “I am with you always, even to the end of the age." 2 very different attitudes based on the circumstances of the relationship.

Also, in the Sacrament of marriage, the two are changed. Although they retain their individuality, they are transformed because of the union that is created. God does not change, but does come in a new form, Christ, fully God and fully man. And the bride is transformed. The Jewish people, the chosen people, through the sacrifice and union with Christ, are transformed into the Church. The marriage unites the two, the two become one, and through their union provide a new fruit, us, Christians.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Reflection on September 15, 1982


I think sometimes it is very difficult for us to comprehend that God knew exactly what His plan was from the beginning. He knew about the fall and He knew Christ would come and be the redeemer. Christ, as the center of salvation history, is the climax of God’s plan that we see laid out in the Bible. Christ coming, His establishing and union with the Church, is the marriage that brings salvation. Part of God’s preparing us for this salvation was the gift of marriage from the “beginning”, formed and instituted in a way that we could digest it and therefore more fully accept the salvation that would be brought by Christ and His Church.

I was thinking about this more and how the analogy fits so well when you look at Salvation history. If you see man, specifically the Jewish people, as the future bride that is in preparation for marriage, you can see that the Old Testament is essentially the maturing of the bride. The bridegroom could not marry the bride until she is prepared and ready. We hear, during Mass, “in the fullness of time”. This is when the bride is prepared for the bridegroom. Christ comes to marry man, to establish the Church, His bride, and fully unit with her, to give Himself fully as a gift to the bride. The bride, fully prepared and matured over the years by God’s teaching through the laws and the prophets, is fully ready to receive that gift. The Head (Christ) and the Body (Church) unite and “become one flesh”. And from that union, that one flesh, fruit comes forth, which are those that “accept through faith the gift offered to them in Christ”, the “gift of the fruits of redemption”. I think SJPII is pointing to the analogy and the importance of marriage as the essential earthly sign that explains the history and method of Salvation better than any other sign. This not only shows the importance of the union with Christ and the Church, but clearly points to the importance of our understanding and respect and striving to live out the vocation of marriage the way the God established it, the way Christ preached about it, the way it was meant to be from the beginning.

I wrote all that above and then read paragraphs 6-8. It goes back into the Old Testament and looks at the idea of marriage and adultery and how that fits into the analogy because of God’s covenants with the Jews. Those made me take a step back and wonder if God’s covenant with the Jews was like a marriage in which they were unfaithful, how He could marry the Church with Christ. That would throw water on the idea of one marriage. A possible loop hole or explanation may be the idea of betrothal. God was, or allowed Himself to be betrothed to the Jewish people, though they were unfaithful, He remained faithful, until the appointed time when they were ready for the marriage to occur. SJPII says we are going to go more into the Old Testament next, so we will see if there is a better explanation.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Reflection on September 18, 1982


The main chunk of this reflection is SJPII debating or arguing about whether the Church is a Sacrament itself. This is from the language that it is a “great mystery”, language that have been translated into the same basic meaning as Sacrament. But, SJPII doesn’t conclude that it is a Sacrament, but “it is like a Sacrament” because it is “a sign and instrument of intimate union with God and of the unity of the whole human race”. He also explains the importance of the Church being like a sacrament because of the fact that all the Sacraments are bestowed on us through the Church.

I thought it was interesting that SJPII brought up that the author uses this analogy with marriage because he wants to point to the oldest Sacrament to illustrate that this relationship with Christ and the Church and its spousal nature was the plan from the beginning. Marriage was given, at the dawn of human life, to prepare us for the relationship we would have with God through Christ and the Church. First, when you hear that marriage is the oldest Sacrament, it really makes you sick to think about those trying to change its definition.

Second, it made me think if the analogy of Christ and the Church and that relationship could be used with other Sacraments. At first, I thought it should, but as I tried to come up with examples or lay it out, I thought of some issues. First, the Sacraments of Healing are not needed. As we discussed, the Church, not its members but the Church, is Holy and Immaculate. It does not need healing. Baptism, perhaps, and it talks about that in Ephesians, about the washing clean of the bride, but the other Sacrament of initiation would not be needed because, as stated early, the Church is Holy and Immaculate. The “baptism” of the Church was enough and it remains clean. Eucharist is there as Christ feeding the Church, and that is mentioned. Holy Orders might be able to be used, but would basically be repeating many of the “fully giving” ideas that are in the marriage analogy. Obviously the Sacraments of Marriage, Eucharist, and Baptism can help to form analogies that help our understanding of the relationship between Christ and the Church.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Reflection on September 1, 1982


I think when you start talking about a “holy and immaculate Church”, you will lose a lot of people because they see the scandal and the sin of those that are in the Church and those leaders of the Church. But the Church is not the sum of all its members; it is above and beyond that. The Church is supernatural and cannot be tarnished or lose its holy and immaculate status because of the actions of man. If this were not true, it could not be a part of Christ, specifically His Body. Christ would not unite Himself with something that was tarnished with sin because He Himself is without sin. People may see this as a cop out in that the we say the Church is perfect but can still admit that there are very sinful acts that have happened by those in the Church. The Church does declare that it can make infallible teachings, teachings that are the Truth and will never change. But these are pretty rare and must meet certain criteria. Many of the things the Church says and does are not in this category and can be mistakes. Those infallible teachings and the ability to make those teachings are the Perfect part of the Church, the “holy and immaculate” part.

I wonder if those that read a wife should submit to her husband ever read that in the context of it meaning a wife should open herself to experience his love. The husband is to love his wife as Christ loves the Church, the wife is to be loved, “is the one who is loved”. A submission to being loved, I see, is opening yourself up to be loved, allowing yourself to be vulnerable to be loved. SJPII seems to bring this idea into the setting of Christ in the Church as the Church, in order to receive the graces of God’s love, must open itself up to God’s love. A wife submits to her husband when she opens up to him completely and allows herself to be fully loved. (you could use this analogy and discussion to get into a discussion on contraception and see it as a barrier to this opening up to love, submission. You can also see how the feminist movement, in seeing submission as a evil thing, would push contraception, because it is a act of not submitting, of retaining independence.)

If a wife is fully to open herself up, the husband is to fully give his love, as Christ did the Church. Is there anything Christ kept? He fully gave Himself, dying on the cross, for the Church, out of love for the Church. In order to have this marriage analogy, we come back to the idea that both must be willing to give and receive fully, without barrier, without restriction, without holding back. If anything is held back, it is not what it was or is intended to be, as viewed from the beginning or as in this analogy of Ephesians.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Reflection on August 25, 1982


Christ as the head of the Church which is the body. The two are organically connected and cannot be separated. Just as the husband is the head of the wife who is the body, the two cannot be separated. They are, as we have already seen from the beginning, one flesh. Thus the marriage bond, the conjugal union, the vows, the commitment, join husband and wife together in one body, one flesh, a head and a body. Why does the Catholic Church not accept divorce? It would be saying that a body can be beheaded and still survive. It would be saying the head does not need the body, the body doesn’t need the head. Once the two are joined, they are not to be separated. Separation of the body from the head would lead to death. But I don’t think the problem in our culture is divorce as much as it is marriage preparation. If people knew more about the commitment before marriage, they would think more and not get married unless they were truly committed. Not that people shouldn’t get married, they should. They should just be better prepared. Marriage is already declining because people see it as unnecessary, they are cohabitating more, being sexually active before marriage, having multiple partners. All of these things have negative effects on the culture. Traditional marriage, entered into by a man and a woman that are educated on its importance and its indissolubility, is what the culture needs.

SJPII is talking about the sacramentality of marriage as it relates to baptism, as Christ washes the Church of its impurity, so the husband is to wash the wife. I was unclear as to whether this “washing” takes place during the wedding as a new baptism (sacrament changes the two, two become one flesh, part of that is the washing clean) or if it is something that the husband is supposed to continue to do. The husband, as the head, is to continually wash the wife clean of what stains her. It is the husband who is to sanctify his wife, making her ready for God, to present her at the end of all things as worthy to enter Heaven. Boy, I don’t know if I come close to that. I know I am doing better than I used to, but when you think that you are to be continually baptizing your wife by your actions as a husband, to be continually purifying her in preparation for God, continually drawing her away from what takes her away from God, it is a lot to think about and commit to. It is a lot to digest and reflect on. It is a lot to reflect on in your own actions and what you are doing to guide your wife. I have never seen a marriage as a constant baptism of purification, but I will try to draw on that the next time I know I am not being a good head.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Reflection on August 18, 1982


The mystery of salvation, the particular feature which is spousal love between Christ and the Church, the mystery of the Mystical Body of God, the mystery of God’s eternal love for man, all of these are best shown through the analogy or the sign of marriage. That is why marriage is important. That is why its definition should not be changed. That is why its deterioration is a bad sign for the world. Marriage as a sign of the mystery of God is, like we learned in Pope Francis encyclical, like the Light of Faith that guides us in the world. As we destroy marriage, we are essentially putting out the best light we have to understanding God’s relationship and love He has for us. Far beyond other repercussions of changing the definition of marriage (and I recommend the book “What is Marriage”) that are not religious or related to God, changing what marriage is directly impacts our understanding of who we think God is and our relationship with Him.

And on the flip side, we must want to seek that relationship with God and try to understand what that means so that we can live that out in our marriage. Not only is it an education in knowing God, but it is an instruction for how to know and love our spouse. God will not change, but our knowledge of Him and our spousal relationships will go hand in hand and will change. As you know more about God and His love, your marriage will grow. As you move further away from God, you will lose sight of how you are supposed to treat your spouse. The two are intertwined here on Earth. I can say personally that the closer I am to God in my relationship, the better I feel about my marriage and the opposite is also true. We must see that the two are connected and that it is vital for us to seek growth in both areas so they can grow together.

I was thinking of the Church as the Body and the idea of trying to fit that into an idea that there can be so many churches. The idea that I have heard argued for all the different Christian denominations is that they are all part of Christ Church and form an invisible unity of Church, that is the body of Christ. But does that make sense. I understand that Scripturally there are descriptions about the different parts of the Church, those that teach, those that prophesy, etc., but all the same Church. But isn’t that speaking more to the individuals that make the Church, not different churches. No one has yet, or at least I have never seen an argument, as to how a body can have parts that contradict each other. Even if one teaches and another prophesies, they move together towards a same goal, a same direction. When I walk, my feet move and my arms go along with them. It would be very comical if my arms could choose to go in a different direction than my legs, but I couldn’t accomplish anything. My son has lazy eyes and so he needs glasses that keep them straight and pointing in the same direction. If parts of the body do not work in agreement, everyone sees that something is wrong with the body.

The idea that the Body of Christ is made up of the invisible church that unites all these different denominations that disagree on different dogmas and beliefs is like saying a body that has parts that move in different directions is the normal. No one will say that, and yet they have to read these scriptures and either say that or just completely ignore it. One Body for One Christ moving in One Direction means One Church with One Teaching based on One Truth. That is the only way it makes sense. Not to mention a Body is something visible, something the world can see and follow or be a part of. Nowhere in scripture that I know of is there any mention of an invisible body or invisible church we are to follow.