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The true nature and purpose of marriage

There is no doubt that we need to revisit the true nature and purpose of marriage, since this basic human and Christian institution is now besieged with so many misconceptions and malpractices. What the gospel once narrated about some leading Jews asking and testing Christ whether divorce was lawful (cfr. Mt 10,2-12) is now being played out even in our own country.

With all the forces and elements now undermining the true nature and purpose of marriage, there is an urgent need to clarify and show the real face and beauty of this human, natural as well as supernatural institution.

Countries and nations, supposedly developed and quite rich, are now legalizing forms of marriage that really have nothing to do with marriage. Same-sex unions, divorce, civil marriages among Catholic, temporary unions and cohabitations are not only spreading but are also getting legalized.

There are those who are quite convinced, and wrongly convinced, if I may say, that marital problems can be solved by legalizing divorce. We need to talk a lot about this issue.

Our problem is that we now have a world culture that has lost the capacity to think deeply and thoroughly. It’s an ethos that is held captive by the quick and easy way of thinking and reacting, dominated mainly by worldly values like convenience, practicality, popularity, etc.

The full and global picture of who and what we are is ignored if not ridiculed. This, of course, determines our proper attitude and praxis about marriage and the other institutions related to it—family, education…

The spiritual and supernatural dimension of man is set aside. Instead only the material and social aspects are considered. The dynamism of today’s world, now heavily dependent on new technologies, has made people to be thinking, studying and praying less, and to be just more practical, if not more self-absorbed and self-seeking.

There is a need to realize and appreciate more deeply that marriage, not only as a natural institution but also and especially as a sacrament, is a path to sanctity not only for the husband and wife but also for the family, and from the family, for the society and the Church in general.

We need to see the organic link among these key elements: the marriage between man and woman, and the family they generate, as well as the society of which the family is the basic cell and the universal Church of which the family is considered the domestic church.

Seeing that link, we would appreciate the crucial and strategic role that marriage plays in the life of men and women in the world. We would appreciate the tremendous potential good that marriage can give to all of us.

That is why everything has to be done to make marriage achieve its fullest dignity. And that means that we have to purify and elevate the love that is the very germ of marriage to the supernatural order.

That love has to develop from simply being natural and body-emotion-world reliant to being more and more spiritual and supernatural, driven by grace rather than by mere natural forces.

With the sacrament of marriage, the love between husband and wife is already guaranteed to have all the graces needed to make that marriage reach its fullness. What is needed is the faithful and generous correspondence of the parties concerned to those graces.*

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