The Most Holy Trinity: Supreme Model for Family And Marriage
pose a serious threat to society. With penetrating urgency John Paul II reminds the faithful of the many grave attacks which are occurring against the family and life itself:
"Signs are not lacking of a disturbing degradation of some fundamental values: a mistaken theoretical and practical concept of the independence of the spouses in relation to each other; serious misconceptions regarding the relationship of authority between parents and children; the concrete difficulties that the family itself experiences in the transmission of values; the growing number of divorces; the scourge of abortion; the ever more frequent recourse to sterilization; the appearance of a truly contraceptive mentality."
The Most Holy Trinity: Model of Marital and Familial Love And Unity
When couples begin to look upon themselves and their relationship in Trinitarian light, upon their bond of love which is sealed in the sacrament of matrimony, the depth and meaning of the lifetime commitment they have made to one another takes on a profound significance. This is so because marriage is to be modeled after the three divine Persons of the Trinity whose gift of themselves is one of totality, unity, and fidelity. Thus marriage should reflect these same traits:
"The characteristic traits of marriage are: totality, by which the spouses give themselves to each other mutually in every aspect of their person, physical and spiritual; unity which makes them "one flesh" (Gen 2:24); indissolubility and fidelity which the definitive mutual giving of self requires; the fruitfulness to which this naturally opens itself" (CSDC, No. 217).
As we reflect on the Holy Trinity one of the first things we notice is the inseparable relationship between the three distinct Persons who are the one God. The Father loves the Son, the Son loves the Father, and the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and Son. We might say that the life of the Triune God is the highest and supreme principle of familial relationship. This profound bond of unity among the three divine Persons makes them "inseparable in what they are," and "inseparable in what they do" (CCC No. 267). This inseparable unity also occurs in matrimony: that Christian marital bond between man and wife which is established and sealed by God himself (see CCC Nos. 1639-1640).
The Most Holy Trinity: Origin of Family Life
Let us too reflect on the life-giving aspect of the Holy Trinity. In the Nicene Creed Catholics affirm that the Holy Spirit "proceeds from the Father and the Son." The Holy Spirit is often understood as the Spirit of Love who proceeds from the infinite ocean of love between Father and Son. We might therefore say that the Holy Spirit proceeds not only from the love of Father and Son but as a result of that love as well. The infinite love of Father and Son is of such an intensity that the Third Person of the Holy Trinity flows forth, if you will.
This aspect of Love giving life to yet more Love is clearly what occurs in marriage when children are conceived. The man and wife, in an act of complete self-giving, produce, as a result of their own love for one another, a new life: a child whose eyes reflect the Most Holy Trinity, and whose love for the parents is so completely bound up in his or her life as to be inseparable from it. At birth, this child will look into his father's and mother's eyes; yet he is not meeting his parents for the first time; for he has already known and loved them. The family existed at the moment of the child's conception, bound together in unity and love.
The importance of the family cannot be overstressed. The Church considers the family as "the first natural society," and "places it at the center of social life" (CSDC No. 211). John Paul II observed in Christifideles Laici that the family is presented, in the Creator's plan, as "the primary place of 'humanization' for the person and society" and the "cradle of life and love."
In his address to the Fourth World Meeting of Families in January, 2003, the Venerable John Paul II spoke these wondrous words of encouragement: "Dear Christian families, proclaim joyfully to the whole world the wonderful treasure which you, as domestic churches, possess! Christian couples, in your communion of life and love, in your mutual self-giving and in your generous openness to children, become, in Christ, the light of the world. The Lord asks you daily to be like a lamp which does not remain hidden, but is put "on a stand, and ... gives light to all in the house" (Mt 5:15).
F. K. Bartels is a Catholic writer who knows his Catholic faith is one of the greatest treasures a man could ever have. He is editor of catholicpathways.com, and is a contributing writer for Catholic Online.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
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