Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr. James Farfaglia

10/8/2012 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Marriage manifests God's love and Celibacy is a calling to love even more intensely

Love is the total gift of self lived out day by day within the ordinary circumstances of daily existence.  To live love authentically within the Sacrament of  Holy Matrimony is not an easy enterprise.

Highlights

By Fr. James Farfaglia

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

10/8/2012 (1 year ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: marriage, holy matrimony, sunday homily, homily, catholic spirituality, father james farfaglia


CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholoc Online) - God is love and we are all called to love. Jesus teaches us that the meaning of life is to love just as he did.  "Love one another as I have loved you" (John 15: 12). 

How does Jesus love us?  He loves us by the total giving of himself to us.  "A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends" (John 15: 13). 

As Blessed Pope John Paul II wrote in his first encyclical letter: "Man cannot live without love.  He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it" (Redemptor Hominis, 10.1). 

We can more fully experience love of this kind in two ways: either through married love or through celibate love.  Let us first consider married love.  

This Sunday's liturgy directs our attention to God's infinite act of love in the creation of the first man and woman.  "It is not good for man to be alone" (Genesis 2: 18).

For all who are called to the vocation of Holy Matrimony, God, in his infinite wisdom chooses a spouse for each person called to marriage.  Marriage is one of the seven sacraments.  A man and a woman give of themselves by pronouncing a vow to love each other totally and unconditionally until the end of their lives here on earth.  The indissolubility of marriage is an essential part of Christian marriage.  "Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate" (Mark 10: 10). 

The total and free gift of each to the other expressed in the exchange of the marital vows comes to fulfillment in the consummation of their yes through the gift of themselves to each other in the martial act.  The act of consummation is a profound expression of giving their entire beings, body and soul, to each other, in the marital embrace of love.  The honeymoon should never end.  The love between married couples should intensify more and more each day. 

Love is the total gift of self lived out day by day within the ordinary circumstances of daily existence.  To live love authentically within the Sacrament of  Holy Matrimony is not an easy enterprise.  Both husband and wife must rid themselves of all selfishness, for it is within their daily existence that they live out every detail of the Christian way of life. 

This is why deep contemplative prayer and daily Eucharistic life are so essential.  Because God is love and we are called to love, every time we encounter the God of love we are renewed in such a way that we can love even more.  It is only through grace that we can overcome our sinfulness and our selfish tendencies caused by our fallen human nature. 

Celibate love for the kingdom of God is a charism.  This charism or gift can be expressed through the Catholic priesthood, the religious life for men and women, or through the commitment made by lay people who dedicate themselves to the single life.  Celibacy is a calling to love even more intensely. 

Many people today criticize celibacy.  They argue that celibacy is not natural.  Well, they are certainly correct but for the wrong reason, when they affirm that celibacy is not natural.  Celibacy is not natural; it is supernatural.  Celibacy for the sake of the kingdom of God is a unique gift from God for his Church. 

The Catechism of the Catholic tells us: "Christ is the center of all Christian life.  The bond with him takes precedence over all other bonds, familial or social.  From the very beginning of the Church there have been men and women who have renounced the great good of marriage to follow the Lamb wherever he goes, to be intent on the things of the Lord, to seek to please him, and to go out to meet the Bridegroom who is coming.  Christ himself has invited certain persons to follow him in this way of life, of which he remains the model" (1618). 

The Catholic Church maintains that celibacy is a gift from God for his Church.  By not marrying, a young man is called to imitate Jesus and be totally consecrated to him.  Celibacy allows a priest to be completely dedicated to a life of service to the flock entrusted to his care.  Celibacy also permits the priest to be a witness of eternal life.  Saint Gregory of Nyssa reminds us that "the life of virginity is the image of the blessedness that awaits us in the life to come." 

When a young man is called by God to be his priest, he is not called to a life of repression.  Instead, through Holy Orders, his entire emotional being is transported into a spiritual world of love that is boundless and fulfilling.  The priest is called to love unconditionally, just like Jesus, and to love without seeking anything in return except the reward of eternity.

As expressed by both Jesus and Saint Paul, total consecration is the loftiest way to serve God and the Church.  Thus, the Catholic Church historically maintains that the practice of celibacy is a special grace from God, which allows priests to serve their people with total dedication.

Countless priests throughout the world are celibate, not out of disdain for the gift of life, but because of a greater love for that new life which springs from the heart of Jesus. They live this life of courageous self-denial and spiritual joyfulness with exemplary fidelity. This phenomenon bears testimony to an exceptional facet of the kingdom of God living in the midst of modern society.

Neither the hysterical voices crying out for an end to celibacy nor the evil actions of false brethren can invalidate the heroic testimony of the countless ranks of faithful priests, for whom celibacy has been the sign of their total gift of themselves to their God and their Church.

Thus the Sacraments of  Holy Matrimony and Holy Orders complement each other in the mystery of divine love.  The priest gives his entire being to God in the covenant of spiritual marriage.  He then takes bread and wine, and pronounces the words of Jesus: This is my body and this is my blood given for you.  A man and a woman called to the covenant of marriage stand before the altar of sacrifice and give themselves to each other as a gift: this is my body and this is my blood given for you. 

The altar of the Eucharistic sacrifice is the place that makes present the mystery of Christ's redemptive act of Calvary, the act of his unconditional giving of himself as gift to all of humanity.  The marriage bed can be seen as an altar upon which spouses offer their bodies as a living sacrifice, truly pleasing to God (Romans 12: 1). 

When we begin to understand the mystery of the Sacrament of  Marriage and how it is a reflection of the marriage of Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5: 21-33), we can then begin to understand why contraception is intrinsically evil.  Every marital act must keep together "the inseparable connection, established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break, between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the marriage act  (Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae, 12). 

Sexual intercourse, the marital embrace, can be an image of God who is love and gift.  The human body makes the invisible reality of God's love visible.  God created the human person for the purpose of being loving persons who freely choose to love.  Through love, they give themselves as a total gift of themselves to each other.  Thus, by being a total gift of themselves, married spouses, through the marital embrace, make visible the invisible reality of God who is love and God who loves us unconditionally

Celibate love, through the body of the celibate person, makes visible the invisible eschatological reality of the anticipation of what is to come; i.e.,  the marriage of the Lamb.  "For when they rise from the dead, men and women do not marry; no, they are like the angels in heaven" (Mark 12: 25).

----- 

Father James Farfaglia, is a contributing writer for Catholic Online and author of Get Serious! - A Survival Guide for Serious Catholics.  You can visit him on the web at www.fatherjames.org.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


ę 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for August 2014
Refugees:
That refugees, forced by violence to abandon their homes, may find a generous welcome and the protection of their rights.
Oceania: That Christians in Oceania may joyfully announce the faith to all the people of that region.



Comments


More Living Faith

Weakness and Failure in the Christian Life. We Hold This Treasure in Earthen Vessels Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

I have been reflecting upon my own weakness a lot these days. I have discovered that the older I get the less I know and the more imperfections I discover in myself. As a younger man, I labored under a misconception that living the Christian life would somehow ... continue reading


Labor Day: Human Work Has Been Raised to the Grandeur of God Watch

Image of For the Christian, all human work participates in the ongoing work of redemption

By Deacon F.K. Bartels

When God Incarnate entered into our created world, he sanctified humankind and the labor in which men engage in order to shape creation. It is in gazing through the supreme lens of the consummation of God's revelation, the Person of Jesus Christ, that the divine light ... continue reading


International community has done too little in Syria and Iraq, Cardinal Vegli˛ declares Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Cardinal Antonio Maria Vegli├▓ met with Pope Francis last week. The President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants, Cardinal Vegli├▓ me to discuss the plight of those fleeing the Islamist violence in Iraq. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Pope: 'God wants us to grow in the ability to come together, forgive each other' Watch

Image of Pope Francis drinks a traditional South American drink called mate offered by the faithful as he arrives to lead his weekly audience in Saint Peter's Square.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis, addressing more than 12,000 people that had gathered for the pope's catechesis and blessing, touched upon a common human trait that everyone must strive to overcome. The Pope said that while envy, jealousy and cruelty are human instincts, they are ... continue reading


Why Do We Commemorate the Beheading of John the Baptizer? Watch

Image of The Beheading of John the Baptizer

By Deacon Keith Fournier

We now refer to this Feast as the Passion of John the Baptizer more often than the Beheading of John the Baptizer. However, given the realities we face in this new missionary age of the Church, the actual beheading rushes to the forefront. We are seeing it in our own ... continue reading


How much power do you really have? More than you think!

Image of YCVF continues to deliver quality learning tools to Catholic students.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Earlier this year, representatives from Catholic Team Global donated a batch of XO Tablets to a humble Catholic school. Now, Catholic Team Global is preparing to do it again with support from its members and valued readers of Catholic Online. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Challenging the just war theory

Image of The horrors of war persist long after the shooting stops.

By Tony Magliano

Is there such a thing as a just war? Can the massive death and destruction of armed conflict ever be morally justified by followers of the Prince of Peace? For the first disciples of Christ the answer was a resounding "No!"During the first 300 years of Christianity it ... continue reading


St Augustine Teaches Us How to Read the Bible Watch

Image of St. Augustine writing

By Deacon Keith Fournier

The Bible is not some-thing, but reveals Some-One. In the words of St. Paul to Timothy, all Scripture is inspired by God. (2 Tim. 3:16) The Greek means God-breathed. They reveal Jesus Christ and our encounter with Him is the heart of what it means to be a Christian. ... continue reading


Spiritual Childhood and Contemplative Prayer Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

One of the greatest joys in this later chapter of my life is an unexpected gift, his name is Noah. He is my grandson. He calls me Poppi. He is seven years old and so very wise. Noah continually confronts me with the utter simplicity, trust, openness and beauty of ... continue reading


How to Avoid Sliding into Pharisee-ism Watch

Image of Christ Before the High Priest, by Gerrit van Honthorst (1590-1656) hangs in the London Museum of Art.  The painting depicts Jesus, standing before the High priest - with His holy hands bound. The Priest, who at the time I thought was a Pharisee, is looking up with an arrogant demeanor and a pointed finger.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

A priest friend once reminded me that not ALL the Pharisees were so blinded by their self-righteousness that they failed to recognize that the One whom they so often sought to correct was God Incarnate. And, of course, he was correct. The Pharisees were a genuine ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Corinthians 3:1-9
1 And so, brothers, I was not able to talk to you as ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 33:12-13, 14-15, 20-21
12 How blessed the nation whose God is Yahweh, the ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 4:38-44
38 Leaving the synagogue he went to Simon's house. ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 3rd, 2014 Image

Pope Saint Gregory the Great
September 3: St. Gregory, born at Rome about the year 540, was the son of ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter