We are living at a period in history where the sense of sacrifice is at its lowest. Dead is the time when young men would go to the army out of a sense of love of country, justice, and peace. Forgotten is the time when God was the background of people’s acts. Now is the time of Descartes who conceived the person without a body, J. Celebrated is T. Hobbes who aimed at making science more useful to human, and Clifford who claimed that it is wrong always and everywhere to believe without evidence. We are harvesting the fruit of the Enlightenment that rejects faith for reason; we are living in the post-modern time, as a result, where reason is trampled underfoot. So, instinct without reason and the light of faith is now in session. This mindset invades the family, governments, every aspect of society, and the few that resist it are under fire.
These erroneous and disordered views have become the way people conceive life itself. They assume that it should always be without trials or difficulties. Marriage, which should be a lifetime commitment where a man and a woman swear to love each other in rainy as in sunny days, is baffled in the midst of this whirlwind.
My goal is to discuss the true purpose of marriage. Though marriage’s prima faciae achievement is union and procreation, I believe its deepest accomplishment lies in saving one’s partner’s soul. To save sometimes requires sacrifices. To save means the total gift of oneself to the point of dying if necessary. To save is demanding. Marriage is a beautiful commitment in which we promise that our will and desires will no longer be our own, but shared with someone else. However, it does not always go this way. Sometimes, one marries to only soon discover that the relationship sucks, or it becomes unlivable. After the honeymoon’s ecstasy is over in a few weeks or months, one can realize that it becomes dull. There is no emotional thrill in seeing the other person anymore. If anyone experiences this, he must know that he is not alone. Even saints undergo dryness at one point in their lives. Though man and woman complement each other, there will still be feeling of emptiness. That’s normal. As St Augustine said, “Lord you have made us for yourself; our heart is restless until it rests in thee” (Confessions I). The psalmist hit the same note when he proclaimed, “in God alone is my soul at rest” (Ps 62). The truth about ourselves is that we are made for infinity. Only when we work toward heaven are we truly happy and satiated. No finite things, no amount of human love can ever satisfy our yearning. No human being can fill our hunger. Know then that when, not if, faced with trials, it is God’s way to make us search for Him. Our loneliness, our encounter with a brick wall in marriage is to save our soul and/or our partner’s soul.
So when love becomes impossible, when the relationship seems to be heading toward divorce, then we need to offer it up as a sacrifice. Your sacrifice will allow you to save your partner’s soul, and your soul of course. Is there something greater than to save someone’s soul? Does Our Lord not say: there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for our friends? When marriage becomes unlivable, intensify your love of God and tell me what happens next. The greater our love for God, the greater is our capacity to love others. When our partner becomes an invalid, it is the time to increase our love of the cross. Penance, Eucharistic adoration, and scripture readings must be augmented.
It is often the case that after a young man or a woman attains the zenith of their prime and enjoy life to its fullest extent, he/she decides that it is time to get married. Those people usually are not married due to falling in love most of the time. They do so out of necessity. They simply seek a person capable of helping them to pay their rent or mortgage. They see marriage in this lens as something to ‘use’. It is those kinds of people that have recourse to divorce first when the relationship does not work out as planned. I must say it is always a bad idea to marry because one sees the other as something to be use. Marriage should happen only within the context of love. Only the bond of love, which is more stern than death, can unite two different beings. Love is not something ready-made. It requires works. It is a standard to which people must live up. They must liberate themselves from the utilitarian idea, using a person for one’s own interest, and become faithful to the principle than a human being is a phenomenon that must be treated always as an end rather than a mean.
I really enjoyed this post, Joseph. But, my most favorite line is,”…I believe its deepest accomplishment lies in saving one’s partner’s soul.” What a beautiful sentiment. I love it!!! It says everything about the love one should have for their partner. Keep up the great work.
I would be careful with the line, “Dead is the time when young men would go to the army out of a sense of love of country, justice, and peace.” Just a few months ago, a very good friend of mine, who has been active at my parish for a number of years entered the Marines. I assure you, there are still young men and women that join the military to fight for our country, peace, and justice! I enjoyed the article otherwise.