Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr. James Farfaglia

10/8/2012 (2 years 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 (2 years 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'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2014
Peace:
That the Lord may grant peace to those parts of the world most battered by war and violence.
World Mission Day: That World Mission Day may rekindle in every believer zeal for carrying the Gospel into all the world.



Comments


More Living Faith

'War does not begin in the battlefield. Wars begin in the heart,' Pope Francis says Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Speaking at his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis addressed the topic of war. With the majority of the world engaged in some sort of battle, and it's up to the individual to realize that major conflicts begin with little things. LOS ... continue reading


Making a Difference - Newly beatified pope championed justice and peace

Image of Pope Paul VI addresses the UN during his 1965 appeal for peace.

By Tony Magliano

With numerous armed conflicts raging in various parts of the world, and the Vietnam War worsening, Pope Paul VI on Oct. 4, 1965 proclaimed before the U.N. General Assembly: "No more war, war never again. It is peace, peace which must guide the destinies of peoples and ... continue reading


Finding the Path to Peace Through Forgiveness Watch

Image of For he (Jesus) is our peace, he made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his Flesh, abolishing the law with its commandments and legal claims, that he might create in himself one new person in place of the two, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile both with God, in one Body, through the cross, putting that enmity to death by it. He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father- St Paul

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

In 1999 I was a part of Project Reconciliation led by a true peacemaker, paralyzed police officer Detective Steven McDonald. This trip was a part of Steven McDonald's mission of preaching peace through forgiveness. It had the goal of helping to heal the wounds ... continue reading


The Parable of the Rich Man: Becoming Rich in What Matters To God

Image of

By Deacon Frederick K. Bartels

What leads to permanent and lasting happiness? As Jesus points out, becoming "rich in what matters to God" is the key. When we place God first, and love our neighbor as another self, we soon begin to experience a perceptible, lasting happiness that is not of this ... continue reading


Pope Paul VI closer to sainthood with beatification by Pope Francis Watch

Image of Pope Paul VI cleaned house, abolishing the pontifical court and simplifying the Curia, the Vatican's administrative arm. Pope Francis is continuing his predecessor's effort to reform to this day.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis cleared the process for sainthood for Pope Paul VI after his beatification over the weekend. Pope Paul VI led the Catholic Church through internal reform during a tumultuous time of social and political change before his death in 1978. LOS ANGELES, ... continue reading


We Need Courageous Bishops: Ignatius of Antioch is a Model Watch

Image of Ignatius of Antioch - I know what is to my advantage. At last I am becoming his disciple. May nothing entice me till I happily make my way to Jesus Christ! Fire, cross, struggles with wild beasts, wrenching of bones, mangling of limbs-let them come to me, provided only I make my way to Jesus Christ. I would rather die and come to Jesus Christ than be king over the entire earth. Him I seek who died for us; him I love who rose again because of us.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

We need Bishops like Ignatius in this new missionary age of the Church. There is a literal assault on marriage and the family in much of the West. Yet, what the Church has to offer on the truth about marriage and the family paves the path to a future of true ... continue reading


Need a chapel? Pope Francis to rent Sistine Chapel for charity Watch

Image of Pope Francis is renting out the Sistine Chapel for charity.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis is renting out the Sistine Chapel for charity. The decision marks the first time that the chapel has ever been rented out for charity. It will be used for a private concert hosted by Porsche. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Vatican has announced ... continue reading


On World Food Day, a reminder of Pope Francis' mission for the Church Watch

Image of It's time to ensure that everybody has enough.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Today is World Food Day and we are all called to do what we can to feed others. This year's World Food Day falls during Pope Francis' 'Week of Action' where all Catholics are called to pray and act to feed the world's hungry. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Today, ... continue reading


Pope Francis: The only thing that counts for Jesus is 'faith working through love' Watch

Image of Pope Francis related former Jesuit leader Father Arrupe's lesson in humility in his recent talk.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis reiterated in his morning homily that faith is not about appearances and superficially following Church laws. The Pontiff said that God wants to see a faith that inspires action and is "working in charity" and making sacrifices for others. LOS ... continue reading


A Meditation on the Sacred Heart of Jesus: My Heart to Gods Heart Watch

Image of

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, O burning furnace of divine Love, you are the symbol and summary of the whole mystery of our Redemption.  O mystery of mysteries, an infinite Love which no vessel can contain emptied itself into a finite human vessel of love-and so became ... 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, Ephesians 4:1-6
1 I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you therefore to ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
1 [Psalm Of David] To Yahweh belong the earth and all ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 12:54-59
54 He said again to the crowds, 'When you see a cloud ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 24th, 2014 Image

St. Anthony Mary Claret
October 24: Claretian archbishop and founder. Anthony was born in Salient in ... 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