Reflections on the Indissolubility of Marriage and the Trinity

Reflections on the Indissolubility of Marriage and the Trinity

Painting credit: The Holy Trinity, by Antonio de Pereda (first half of 17th c.).

DECEMBER 28, 2015 BY  

The source of our holiness as Christians is rooted in the revelation of God as Trinity with an interior life of total reciprocal, self-giving love between unique, distinct Persons who are, together, the Divine Unity. But the Divine Trinity is not only the source of Christian holiness, but also the ground of all reality, the existence of the world as true, good, and beautiful. At the same time, God’s Revelation tells us, at the very beginning, that it is central to the fruitfulness of personal, earthly reality for man and woman to be joined together by God in a marital unity of “one-flesh.” This seems to have a place of great importance in God’s plan. Much of the early Scriptures have to do with God forming a people as holy primarily through holiness in the family.

Yet, much of the discussion of the issue of divorce and remarriage after divorce seems to have forgotten the centrality of Christian holiness before God, and this task as a priority for married couples. This task is not about a satisfactory family life, personal fulfillment, sexual desire, earthly happiness, or community acceptance, even though these could be secondary fruits. It is primarily about forming a holy people as a sign of God’s presence in the world. How, then, can we recover the heart of this reality in our communication about marriage?

We need, first, to reflect on self-gift in the Trinity. The Divine Father, who is the First Principle of all that is, gave his whole Divinity to the Son, withholding nothing. In doing so, he subtracted nothing from his own Person, but confirmed it as Origin, Gift, and Love. Thus, the Father is both Giver and Gift. According to St. Athanasius, the eternal begetting of the Son forms the nature of actuality, resulting in Creation in which the Word is the economic communication of God in the world. The Father and Son face each other in mutual respect for the wholeness of their divine Substance, with a corresponding receptive participation in their enjoyment of the fullness of actuality, each Person in a unique relationship, giving to the Other in the circumincession of Love from which proceeds the Holy Spirit, who is Fruitfulness and Gift. The closest image we have of this in human life is marriage. We are all created as “image of God” and called, therefore, to reflect this self-giving love of the Trinity. But marriage is a particularly concrete image of this, desired by God to be fruitful in human life and love. Throughout the Old Testament, God’s relationship with his people is described in nuptial terms. In the New Testament, this is fulfilled in Christ’s nuptial relationship with his Beloved Bride, the Church, of which marriage is the icon.

The nuptial vow, then, is an analogy of the Trinitarian self-gift. As such, the spouses are both giver and gift to each other. As a person, one is a gift before giving oneself away. The totality of the giving subtracts nothing from oneself, but is, rather, a fruitful multiplication of oneself. This is concretely self-evident in the birth of a child. The child is the marriage in this sense. However, this does not mean that a couple who experiences an undesired infertility is not living the fullness of marriage since their openness to procreation is already a fruitfulness of their love. The vow states the couple are giving their whole self and life away to the other, so there can be nothing left over for something else. Love is the act of being in its social form and, thus, has the quality of totality, and God is present in this love. The totality in the mutual self-giving in the Trinity is the paradigm of self-gift, and it is this totality that God intends to be reflected in human marriage, as Christ explained in saying, “What God has joined, let no man put asunder.” The man and the woman as two distinct persons form one unity, the marriage. The model for this is, of course, Christ’s unity with the Church, his Bride, which forms the Mystical Body. This fuller understanding of the indissolubility of marriage needs to be stressed, so that Christians can recover their calling to be “perfect as their Father in heaven is perfect,” and to be faithful as Christ is faithful to his Bride.

Since we are steeped in sin, obviously this is not easy.  However, we were never told that Christian life was easy. “Unless you pick up your cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.” We, all of us, have to bear the sinfulness of others and, in particular, our own sinfulness. At the same time, we are called to holiness. Perhaps, it would help to reflect a little about Christ’s call to celibacy for the kingdom. It is said that consecrated religious life is an eschatological sign of the eternal life we will all hopefully live with God. Could it be that those Christians who have suffered the tragedy of divorce have been given a new vocation to live their life as a similar eschatological sign of the future life of paradise? Earthly life was never meant to be the end game, but only the journey toward heaven. Why should we assume that divorced Christians are incapable of holiness if Christ has challenged all of us to seek to be perfect as the Father? After all, many people, besides the celibate clergy, and those in religious orders, live celibate lives. Realistically, of course, the difficulty comes when a man and woman have chosen to live together for the purpose of marital sex, and then are faced with the choice of returning to a celibate state.  However, the words of St. John Paul II in a letter to the bishops on the pastoral care of those with a homosexual condition, are also relevant to those civilly divorced:

Fundamentally, they are called to enact the will of God in their life by joining whatever sufferings and difficulties they experience in virtue of their condition to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross. … It is easily misunderstood, however, if it is merely seen as a pointless effort at self-denial. The Cross is a denial of self, but in service to the will of God himself, who makes life come from death, and empowers those who trust in him to practice virtue in place of vice. … (They) are called, as all of us are, to a chaste life. As they dedicate their lives to understanding the nature of God’s personal call to them, they will be able to celebrate the sacrament of penance more faithfully, and receive the Lord’s grace, so freely offered there, in order to convert their lives more fully to his Way. (Letter to the Bishops on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, 1986, Pope St. John Paul II)

Perhaps, we can look at this from another perspective as well.  What used to be called the counsels of perfection—poverty, chastity and obedience—are virtues which have more recently been emphasized as important to all Christians, to be practiced according to their particular state in life.  The spirit of poverty includes freedom from ambition and greed. It requires humility, which is the key to holiness. It means setting aside one’s self-image before the world, and taking on the image of Christ. This is the fruit of prayerful self-abnegation before God. The practice of this virtue can facilitate the practice of chastity. The self-control of chastity is necessary for every marriage; for example, it enables a couple to reject artificial contraception, and practice natural forms of birth regulation. The fact that couples who practice this have a very low rate of divorce, compared to couples who do not, is a sign that chastity is a virtue central to all Christian living. Such couples have also discovered how many are the ways to express love, other than the marital act, thereby growing into a greater depth and breadth in their love for each other, and opening up new spiritual horizons in their relationship with God.

For a person who has been rejected by a spouse, and forced into an undesired divorce, the virtue of chastity now takes on the form of complete celibacy for the kingdom of God. Since this is not the vocation the person originally chose, this can seem very difficult and problematic. But it can also be a freedom enabled by grace, opening to a world of the spirit, perhaps unsuspected before. Each person must make his or her own choice, but this is our freedom: to open ourselves to the “more” God may have in store for us. It is respectful of a person’s dignity to recognize this as a positive choice. If one must look on it as a burden, one can, at least, look at it in view of the cross that Christ carried to free the world from its weight of sin. It is a great honor to participate in Christ’s own task.

The other key virtue, obedience, is not highly valued in contemporary society, but it is basic to the Christian. In baptism, Christians are given the grace to love God with their whole heart, mind, and strength. A Christian can gratefully obey the commandments of God when it is realized these are gifts of loving guidance that are a help in living the Way of Christ. It is Christ’s self-gift in carrying the cross of our sin that provides the grace to actually do this. The sixth commandment has always been one that frequently has seemed difficult to obey. Today, it is even harder to honor since the acceptance of remarriage after divorce is the majority view. But such honor of God’s word to us is part of the desire to love God above all else, because he is the one who holds the key to life, and the truth in the depth of our personal being.  A baptized Christian has been given so many treasures of grace that obedience to God in all things is a matter of gratitude and love. It is true that the circumstances of our sinful world can make this difficult to live out. The Christian community needs, especially, to accompany their brothers and sisters struggling with this, and be present with them to provide friendship and spiritual support.

The question of receiving the Eucharist, while continuing to live in an objective state of adultery, has become a hot issue clouded with emotion. One wants to empathize with the difficult situation the couple is in. But it is not a judgment on the particular couple that the Church is maintaining, and it does not resolve their difficulties to ignore the reality of sin. It is actually an exercise of mercy to invite the couple to grow in their relationship with the Lord until they can respond to the grace to change in conformity with his word. It is not merciful to make light of the infinite holiness of the Lord, who gives himself away in the Eucharist. We need to recall the ancient admonition that if you are not holy, the holy will burn you. We are so surrounded by secular ignorance of God, that even practicing Catholics take the awesome reality of Christ’s divinity too much for granted.  The difference between us and God is infinitely great, and we only draw close to him through his gracious gift of grace. The Church expresses this by reminding us that we need to be in the state of grace before presenting ourselves for Communion. In receiving Communion, we are united with the resurrected Christ, which is a taste of the eternal life we will experience after the death of the body and its resurrection. Confession, and the resolve to sin no more, are a kind of death that we need to experience before receiving this gift of Christ’s resurrected life, which is like a down payment on our future life with God in eternity.

The need for confession before receiving Communion is a requisite for all of us who are guilty of various kinds of sin, not just for those remarried after civil divorce. Singling out this circumstance as somehow different from the rest of us makes no sense. That this has happened is a sign that too many have absorbed the impiety, ignorance, and sexual fixation of our secular culture. It seems that some have inferred that because those remarried after divorce cannot receive Communion, the Church is singling them out to exclude them, but it is the state of sin on the part of the person that is blocking his or her reception of the Eucharist. The actual situation, in not a few parishes, is that the remarried, who are living in objective adultery, are continuing to go to Communion. This is endangering their spiritual state with an act of sacrilege dishonoring the Lord, as well as causing scandal and confusion in the parish. “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord … For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment upon himself” (1 Cor 11:27, 29).

Real mercy is helping persons live in the truth of Christ in place of multiplying a state of sin. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that “Sacrilege is a grave sin, especially when committed against the Eucharist.”  Canon 915 states that those “who obstinately persist in manifest, grave, sin, are not to be admitted to holy communion.” If this is practiced firmly, the next generation of young people looking toward marriage will be impressed with the resolution of celibacy for the divorced, and will be helped to think seriously about the spiritual requirements of marriage, and the hurtful fallout from divorce. Sadly, too many Catholics, whose lives should stand out as distinct from secular culture, are too often absorbed by it, to the point where even the inner sanctum of the Church’s life may be in danger of being reduced to barren meaninglessness. Those who have the courage to be a distinct light of faithfulness to all Christ’s teaching need to be supported in as many ways as possible.

God, whose very Substance is Love, acts in mercy when he sends his grace to enable us to change, and participate in his divine life of love. Marriage, in a particular way, participates in the divine life of the Trinity because the spouse gives all of him or her self to the other in totality, and unchanging faithfulness. This is why contemplation of the Trinity needs to be at the center of marriage preparation and counseling, and reinforced from the pulpit. As Christ was sent to represent the Father’s love to us, so we, as members of his Mystical Body, are sent out to complete Christ’s mission to the world, to be like Christ, perfecting in ourselves the mystery of his suffering, death, and resurrection, through the power of the Holy Spirit, active in our life. “Christ, the final Adam, by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and his love, fully reveals man to man himself, and makes his supreme calling clear” (Gaudium et Spes, 22). Here is the high dignity of man.  There are times when the gate is narrow, but it is the way to life. The world is full of evil deception that would tempt us to follow the broad avenue, but if the Church is to truly be a light to the world, the yeast that helps the rest of society to rise, then each of us is asked to courageously face our difficulties and respond to this high calling.

St. Joseph is the model of the chaste spouse, and dedicated father, protector of the Holy Family.  We can ask for his intercession in our struggles to be faithful to God’s call. The world is in great need of “everyday saints,” who live ordinary lives, but ones steeped in holiness. These are the treasures the Church has to offer the world.

About Kathleen Curran Sweeney
Kathleen Curran Sweeney holds a Master’s degree in Theological Studies in Marriage and Family from the John Paul II Institute in Washington, D.C., an M.A. in History from the University of Washington, and a B.A. from Seattle University. She has worked for several years in the pro-life arena. She has published articles on pro-life topics, bioethics, theology, education, and history. She is a member of both St. Agnes Church in the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, and the People of Praise Ecumenical Community.

Here-under are some articles about family and marriage for you to read or watch: 

  1. Getting to know you, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=284
  2. Be Positive, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=288
  3. Love and Marriage, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=292
  4. Endless Love – Marriage after all, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=294
  5. Say it with love, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=298
  6. Quality family moments, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=300
  7. Secret of successful marriage, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=302
  8. The vocation of marriage, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=1968
  9. Marriage as Covenant, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=1974
  10. Humility: Foundation for Marital Happiness, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=1986
  11. Gratitude: Foundation for marriage, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=1980
  12. True Meaning of marriage, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=1972
  13. Marriage and incompatibility, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=2112
  14. Love is a garden, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=2116
  15. Three kinds of love, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=2095

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What Catholics need to know about marriage and sex, Part 2

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Wives, Be Subordinate to Your Husbands? – John Paul II on Ephesians 5:21-33 http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/02/12/wives-be-subordinate-to-your-husbands-john-paul-ii-on-ephesians-521-33/

An Open Letter to the Adulterers Outed by the Ashley Madison Hackers

Pro-life, Married & Contracepting: Is there a problem?

Pope Francis’ General Audience: The Family is an irreplaceable source of stability for children

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Live-in: Research facts and analysis on cohabitation

Bishop Olmsted Calls Men Into the Breach http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/02/05/bishop-olmsted-calls-men-into-the-breach/

Pope Francis: When families teach forgiveness, they strengthen society

THIS EUROPEAN NATION JUST FOUGHT THE GAY AGENDA AND WON – Pope Francis lent a hand http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2015/12/23/this-european-nation-just-fought-the-gay-agenda-and-won-pope-francis-lent-a-hand/

“God himself is the author of marriage” (GS 48:1). The vocation of marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator. Marriage is not a purely human institution despite the many variations it may have undergone through the centuries in different cultures, social structures, and spiritual attitudes (CCC:1603)

FBI Homosexuality click below:

FBI (Faith Based Investigation): Homosexuality

Many believe the Freemasons are simply a centuries-old charitable fraternity. However, the Catholic Church has consistently condemned Freemasonry more than any other error in its history because it promotes indifferentism, naturalism, communism, and other dangerous philosophies.

PRIEST SEX ABUSE IS ALL ABOUT HOMOSEXUALITY http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2015/12/14/priest-sex-abuse-is-all-about-homosexuality/

THE VORTEX: BLACKMAIL? COVER-UP? Did the New York archdiocese buy Fr. Miqueli’s silence? http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2015/12/16/the-vortex-blackmail-cover-up-the-vortex-blackmail-cover-up-did-the-new-york-archdiocese-buy-fr-miquelis-silence/

THE VORTEX: HIDING GAY PRIESTS http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2015/12/14/the-vortex-hiding-gay-priests/

THE VORTEX: DAMAGE CONTROL TIME – This could be the end for Cardinal Dolan http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2015/12/15/the-vortex-damage-control-time-this-could-be-the-end-for-cardinal-dolan/

THE VORTEX: HALF OF PRIESTS AND BISHOPS ARE GAY http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/01/11/the-vortex-half-of-priests-and-bishops-are-gay/

THE VORTEX: SIFT THEM LIKE WHEAT- Satan has attacked the priesthood and episcopacy with homosexuality http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/01/12/the-vortex-sift-them-like-wheat-satan-has-attacked-the-priesthood-and-episcopacy-with-homosexuality/

MIC’D UP: SHOULD HOMOSEXUALS BE PRIESTS? http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/01/19/micd-up-should-homosexuals-be-priests/

HOMOSEXUAL ACTIVIST TO SPEAK AT SAN FRANCISCO PARISH http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/02/02/homosexual-activist-to-speak-at-san-francisco-parish/

Homosexuality, the Grave Evil Presented as Good with Q & A, Part 1 & 2

Homosexuality, the Grave Evil Presented as Good

FBI: Homosexuality with Question & Answer

Homosexuals and Freemasons inside the Church

Homosexual and Freemasons Inside the Church

“The Rite of Sodomy” Homosexuality in the Roman Catholic Church

“The Rite of Sodomy” Homosexuality in the Roman Catholic Church

Mic’d Up: Homosexuality is intrinsically disordered

Mic’d Up “Pink Money and the Homosexual Mafia” 

Please click this link to watch the video on Mic’d Up “Pink Money and the Homosexual Mafia”

Michael Voris gives a series of short talks, answering questions coming in response to his talk on homosexuality in Nigeria.

In this talk from Nigeria, Michael Voris speaks about the grave evil presented as good – homosexuality. Catechism of Catholic Church teaches that, “Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity (cf. Gen 19:1-29; Rom 1:24-27; 1 Cor 6:10; 1 Tim 1:10), tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered” (CDF, Persona humana 8). They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved” (CCC: 2357).

The Cost of Abortion & Contraception Deception click below:

The Cost of Abortion and Contraception Deception

Pope Francis Defends Life From Conception to Natural Death During Angelus – February 7,2016 http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/02/07/pope-francis-defends-life-from-conception-to-natural-death-during-angelus-february-72016/

Do Men Have a Duty to Have More than 2.1 Children? http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/01/26/do-men-have-a-duty-to-have-more-than-2-1-children/

Fighting Poverty by Eliminating Children http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/02/10/fighting-poverty-by-eliminating-children/

Catholic Bishops: Voting for Candidate who supports abortion is formal cooperation with evil

Eclipse of Reason – Live Abortion Documentary/Pro-Life Anti-Abortion Video

Stojan Adasevic: A communist abortionist turned pro-life after a saint visited him

12-year-old speaks out on the issue of abortion

Who is behind the murderers in abortion?

Abortion and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Is there a link between abortion, contraception and breast cancer?

Abortion and Eucharist by Michelle Yax

Please click this link to watch on Abortion with Movie: From Old Testament, New Testament & Fathers of the Church Teaching to Present Day

Bible’s Teachings Against Abortion

US Representative Nancy Pelosi vs. The Catholic Church on Abortion Issue

8 Unbelievably heartbreaking quotes from women who aborted their babies

Is there Ethics of Abortion?

Abortion Warns of Something Worse?

‘We’re killing babies all over the place!’ – Dr. Ben Carson

Ben Carson: They say abortion is about women’s rights but what about the baby?

Help to abolish abortion: Turn the tide 2012 Pro-life video

Discovering Natural Family Planning

Pro-life Song and Video: Stand Up For Life

Planned Parenthood Videos Put a Spotlight on Another Issues: Procurement Companies

Video: Laughing abortionists ‘pull out baby hearts after abortion, just for fun’. It’s cute.

Undercover pro-life investigator: I saw evil in the face of late-term abortionist

Forensic report finds Planned Parenthood video are authentic and unaltered

US Bishop issues major call for men to join the battle for life & family: ‘We need to get off the sidelines’

Pope Francis: Life must be defended in all its stages

Into the breach: An Apostolic Exhortation to Catholic Men, My Spiritual Sons in the Diocese of Phoenix

Does God want Christians to stand up against the injustice of abortion? Here’s what the Bible says…

‘I made a huge mistake’ – Why one radical feminist changed her mind on abortion http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/01/06/i-made-a-huge-mistake-why-one-radical-feminist-changed-her-mind-on-abortion/

THE VORTEX: TIME BOMBS IN THE MARCH FOR LIFE – The March for Life has been hijacked by the Church of Nice http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/01/21/the-vortex-time-bombs-in-the-march-for-life-the-march-for-life-has-been-hijacked-by-the-church-of-nice/

MIC’D UP—PLANNED PARENTHOOD’S STRATEGY http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/02/12/micd-up-planned-parenthoods-strategy/

Related Articles/ Videos on Euthanasia click below:

Pope Francis denounces “false compassion” behind abortion and Euthanasia

Rejecting Euthanasia, Respecting the Human Spirit

Euthanasia is always wrong; You do not kill innocent people

Michael Voris talks an in-depth discussion of the true, financial cost of abortion and its effects to the United States. Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that, “The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority. These human rights depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his origin. Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being’s right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death” (CDF, Donum vitae III; CCC: 2273).

Contraception & the New Dark Age, Part 1-4: Where we are & How we got here by Dr. Martin Brenner click below:

Contraception & the New Dark Age, Part 1-4: Where we are & How we got here?

CIA: The Rockefeller Foundation – Actively Undermining the Catholic Church click below:

CIA: Rockefeller Foundation – Actively Undermining the Catholic Church

We are used to thinking of the Rockefellers as simply a byword for wealth, power and financial success. Perhaps we might think of them as determined businessmen or see them as great philanthropists. But the truth is far different; the Rockefeller Foundation is actively undermining the Catholic Church, and in the process, attempting to erase man’s natural orientation to the eternal.

Global Warming Unmasked click below:

Global Warming Unmasked

Are the environmental movements and groups simply devoted to laudable, correct stewardship of God’s creation, or do they have a more sinister, hidden agenda? Is “global warming” being used as an excuse for something far darker? Is the final goal of the liberal elites behind the push of junk science population control, eugenics and Gaia worship?

Mic’d Up “Is Contraception Killing the Church?” click below:

Mic’d Up: Is Contraception Killing the Church?

This week on Mic’d Up we’ll be tackling the terrible scourge of Contraception on the Church. Michael Hichborn and Rey Flores from American Life League will join us to expose Catholic Relief Services complicity with Organizations who support contraception and to Discuss The Pill Kills Day of Action 2014. Also joining us will be Lynn Mills who will be discussing the continued prayer rally at Providence Park Hospital in the Archdiocese of Detroit because of their complicity in abortion, contraception and sterilization. Following that same thread we’ll break down the announcement from Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron concerning the crisis of parish closings facing Detroit. Also dropping by will be author James Kalb, to discuss the plague of pluralism on the Church’s Hierarchy.