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Love and the Sacrament of Marriage

刊登日期: 2013.03.10
作者: Fr. Thomas Au 區耀邦神父  

Let me recount what I wrote in the last article. 

S o c i e t y ’s law of marriage is to protect the innocent, vulnerable children and therefore, protect the institution of marriage and family. 

In our current struggle, it seems to me that children are not the focus of marital laws. I would even say that children are at best ignored, at worst considered a burden and expendable. That is, we don’t need children to have a fulfilled life and in some cases, they may even be seen as obstacle to a happy life. This we can see in marriages without children, China’s One Child Policy and the wide acceptance of legalized abortion. 

I also sense a very shallow and confused understanding or expectations of the kinds of emotion or feeling one may have in a “loving” relationship. When I listen to the debates regarding the issue of the various kinds of civil unions, it seems to me that it is based on what one feels good even at the expanse of someone else. I do not fault a person with homosexual feelings to want to be intimate with another person. “I” want to be intimate with another person. Each person is created with that need for belonging. It is the expression or the behavior that makes the difference. Am I willing to withhold my feelings for the good of society? Isn’t that really a sign of maturity and responsibility? Yet, proponents to these alternate lifestyles accuse society of being oppressive! It appears to me to be more like a teenager pouting and having a temper tantrum. If I don’t get my way I will make you feel bad. I may even say, “I hate you!” Any injustice begins with self-serving motives. I want what I want regardless of what the cost to others may be. 

The Church, on the other hand, has always upheld the dignity of each individual person from the moment of conception, nurtured i n t h e l o v i n g e n v i r o n m e n t o f marriage and family and brought to full completion at the end of natural life. Each person is uniquely created by God at the cooperation of the parents, wrapped in the secure and stable environment of the parents as the crucible of God’s love. This “feeling” of love is embedded in every intention and action within the family. It is indeed a feeling, but not just a warm fuzzy feeling. This “feeling” is particularly and profoundly experienced in occasions of pain. We can even say that without the painful opportunities, love cannot be truly expressed and received. Every time a parent sees a child gets hurt, there is the outpouring of love that is different, yet more real, than seeing the same child winning a sports trophy. In fact, the deepest love one can have is the willingness to be hurt for the good of the loved one, even to die for that person. It is this sense of love that one imitates Jesus’ own suffering on the Cross as the ultimate expression of God’s love for us. 

When the Church speaks of marriage as a Sacrament, it means that marriage is, first and foremost, a gift. God wants to give that to each of the couple so that they can exchange it at the altar on their wedding day, and fulfill it in their lives together at the service to their children, all in one breath. This is not that difficult to grasp. It is understood just as well in human history outside of Christianity. We merely put it together more clearly, in light of the Gospel. That is what we mean by a Sacrament. We receive it from God because we need it for this life and the next, in the context through which we grow in God’s love. Intentionally distorting this love is truly a denial of God who gave His Son to die on the Cross for us. 

Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam! 

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