The Formula for a Happy Marriage

After restoring marriage to its original purity, Our Lord Jesus Christ teaches that innocence must govern the human being in any state of life.

Newsroom (04/11/2021 17:25, Gaudium Press) In the text of the Book of Genesis we find the beginning of creation, that is, the relationship that existed between man and woman before sin: a holy, monogamous, and indissoluble union, in complete conformity with the nature of both.

If this situation was altered, it was due to the hardness of heart of subsequent generations, a consequence of the original fall. Woman was gradually relegated from consideration for man, and polygamy-which had its origin in the lineage of Cain (cf. Gen 4:19)-became a widespread habit in many pagan civilizations of antiquity. It was tolerated even among the Hebrews.

Even under the Law of Moses, the treatment of the feminine element was marked by contempt. Our Lord Jesus Christ came to re-establish the primitive purity of the institution of matrimony.

In fact, the Saviour consecrates marriage in the New Law, re-establishing the exclusive and perennial conjugal bond which only death can undo.

But, this particular bond does not continue in Heaven, as Jesus later clarifies in a discussion with the Sadducees (cf. Mt 22:30); it is a permanent covenant only in this life.

Marriage is a vocation, and those called to embrace it will leave their parents “and the two shall become one flesh”. By instituting the regime of grace, the Redeemer himself provides mankind with the strength to make this possible.

The natural contract elevated to a Sacrament

If marriage is indissoluble, a husband who separates from his wife, or vice versa, and contracts a new union, commits adultery. How, then, can one be faithful in marriage? Would it be sufficient to restore marriage to its original purity or is there something to be added to this essential vision?

St. Paul, writing to the Ephesians, refers to marriage as a symbol of the union between Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Church (cf. Eph 5: 22-32). The Saviour loves Her to the point of having shed all his Blood for Her, and it is essential that spouses be willing to do the same for each other.

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Only when both are determined to embrace the Cross and carry it together, does marriage reach its fullness and splendour.

Thus, “where there is one flesh, there is one spirit“: they pray together, they prostrate themselves together, they fast together; they instruct one another, they exhort one another, they encourage one another. They are equal in the Church of God, at God’s Banquet, and in trials, persecutions, and consolations.

Let us not deceive ourselves! In any state of life, the true path to be trodden is that of the Cross! Since the Original Sin, it will always be present in social life, with disagreements and falling out, even between spouses.

It would be false to say that it is possible for a couple to exist in such complete harmony that each of the partners never has to make an effort to adapt to the other.

Hence the importance of the Sacrament, which “purifies the eyes of nature, makes misfortunes bearable, illnesses endearing, old age and grey hairs lovable. Grace makes love patient. It strengthens it in the face of the shock of the defects it encounters“.

The union of two people who decided to embrace the Cross together

This breaks the romantic idea – so widespread in Hollywood film productions and television soap operas – that married life is a reality made of roses…

Yes, there are fragrant roses, with very pretty petals, but with stalks full of terrible thorns… Because no two tempers are alike! If no two grains of sand or leaves of a tree are identical, still less are two human creatures, for the higher one moves up the scale of beings, the greater becomes the difference between them.

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The utopia of the absolute equality of men is madness! Professor Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira used to say that God does not stammer and therefore, does not repeat His works: “Each being is a unique and perfect syllable of the creative action of God in that range, which is truly a marvel”.

Sometimes there are lawsuits of separation over mere trifles.

What is the root of such disagreements? It is the difficulty in accepting the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. To redeem us it would have been enough for Jesus to offer the Father a gesture – for all His acts have infinite merit – but He preferred to suffer the torments of the Crucifixion, the most ignominious torture of those times, thus giving us an example of how we should embrace our own cross.

Those who base their marriage contract on physical beauty are acting with great folly, forgetting that, with the passing of time, the face and skin will take on a different appearance…

Worse still is the error committed by those who marry for sensuality, believing the lie that happiness lies in giving vent to voluptuous passions in the matrimonial relationship.

In this there can be no libertinism; each must respect himself and the other, with bearing children as his goal. What is done without this intention is purely and simply sinful, as St. Augustine teaches:

“Whatever the spouses perform against moderation, chastity, and modesty is a vice and an abuse, which does not come from authentic marriage, but from men who are badly restrained.”

To let go of the reins of the passions is inconceivable in any circumstances, because the fight against them is at the heart of our struggle and of our cross.

The formula for conquering Heaven

In affirming that Heaven belongs to those who are like children, Jesus teaches that the initiative is taken by God, for it is He who distributes graces, assigns to each his or her vocation, and sanctifies.

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It is up to us to accept His call as children in relation to God, and as adults in the government of creatures. He who is little does not think of himself as a colossus or as being self-sufficient, but as dependent; he is what Our Lord praises and points to as a model to be imitated.

Let us be aware of this: we are creatures of contingency, we need God’s help! It is necessary to be “like a child” in order to recognize His will and carry it out: whether in marriage, with the willingness to harmonize with one’s spouse, or in the religious state, with the soul open to everything that comes from on high, like a child docile to the teachings of his parents.

To be like a child also means to be innocent, that is, to have a soul like a crystal that has never been scratched: clear, transparent and full of light, never stained by any fault.

However, those who have lost their innocence should not think that they are in a hopeless situation. This treasure can be restored, as was the case with St. Mary Magdalene, St. Augustine, and so many others down through the ages. And it is above all in the love of Innocence that we recover our innocence!

Let us ask for the indispensable help of grace to preserve innocence intact- or to regain it- and let us be heralds of the Eternal Innocence, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Innocent par excellence, Mary Most Holy.

Msgr João Scognamiglio Clá Dias, EP

Text extracted, with adaptations, from the magazine Heralds of the Gospel n. 149, October 2015.

Compiled by Sandra Chisholm

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