Sunday, 14 June 2020 08:52

The Holy Spirit and Marriage

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It is not by chance that Luigi and María Quattrocchi, the first married couple beatified jointly, are buried in the sanctuary dedicated to Our Lady of Divine Love (or the Holy Spirit). They lived with one heart, understanding that marriage is a communion of life between man and woman following the image of God, One and Triune.

 

This is what we discover if we look at the account of the creation of man and woman in the light of the revelation of the Trinity. With the trinitarian prism, he quotes it “and God created man in His image. In the image of God He created him. Male and female He created them”, finally reveals its full meaning:  "The similarity consists of this. God is love and love requires communion, interpersonal exchange; it requires that there be an ‘I’ and a ‘you’. There is no love that is not love for someone; where there is only one subject, there can be no love, but selfishness. The God revealed by Jesus Christ, being love, is unique and alone, but He is not lonely; it is one and triune.  Unity and distinction coexist in Him: unity of nature, of will, of intention, and distinction of characteristics and persons.]”. (4th Lenten preaching of Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa to the Curia: “Marriage and Family in the Gaudium et Spes Today”, March 16, 2016).

Indeed, already in God's original project on marriage and the family, we find the trinitarian meaning of Christian marriage, since two people who marry reproduce something of what happens in the Trinity. As Cantalamessa continues saying: In the Trinity "two people - the Father and the Son, loving each other, produce (‘exhale’) the Spirit, which is the love that unites them." In this precisely Christian marriage is the image of God. Husband and wife are, in effect, one flesh, one heart, one soul, even in the difference of sex and personality. They reconcile unity and diversity.

For this reason, the Holy Spirit has been defined not as the "third person of the Trinity", but the plural first person, the divine "We". In this sense, marriage is the humble recognition that we do not suffice ourselves, but we need the being of the other to complete us. Man, being created in the image and likeness of God - who is love - is also called to love, and this requires communion.

In the same way, Jesus did not limit Himself to revealing to us the centrality of His message, saying: "I give you a new commandment: that you love one another" (Jn 13:34), but He infuses on Pentecost, through His Spirit , that love in the hearts of His disciples, giving Himself as the supreme gift in the mystery of inhabitation by grace. The love of God has been poured into our hearts by virtue of the Holy Spirit that has been given to us, and this love "is right as a gift first," as St. Thomas said. Through Him, all other gifts are given. When we love someone, the first thing we grant is love.

Therefore, we could say that living under grace, governed by the Spirit, is living "in love", that is, transformed by love. Christian spouses are temples of the Holy Spirit, and they are configured in the image of God as the Spirit of the Lord works in them. In fact, the term "Christian" derives from the word “Christos”, which in Greek means "anointed". Christian spouses have been anointed in imitation of Christ, the Anointed per par excellence by the Holy Spirit. For this reason, married people have a special charism, which is a particular manifestation of the Spirit, for their personal advantage and for their common utility (1 Cor 12: 7). Hence the responsibility to put the received gifts at the service of others, rediscovering their greatness and living them fully.

The effects of the Holy Spirit in married life

1. Pope St. John Paul II illuminates with his meditations on the Theology of the Body the reminder that Saint Paul makes to us that marriage is called to live according to the Spirit: “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, that it is in you, and you have received from God, and therefore you do not belong to yourself? " (1 Cor 6:19). From this it follows that the Holy Spirit that dwells in man is the cause of the dignity of the body, granted after the redemption operated by Jesus Christ. “In this gift, which sanctifies each one of the men, the Christian receives his own being again as a gift from God. It is difficult to express in a more concrete way what the mystery of the Incarnation entails for each one of the believers. The fact that the human body comes to be in Jesus Christ the body of God-Man achieves, for this reason, in each one of the men, a new supernatural elevation, which each Christian must take into account in his behavior regarding his own body and obviously, with respect to the body of the other: the man towards the woman and the woman towards the man. The redemption of the body involves the institution in Christ and by Christ of a new measure of the holiness of the body. This holiness is precisely what Paul refers to in the first letter of the Thessalonians (4, 3-5), when he speaks of ‘keeping your own body in holiness and respect’."

Thus, in daily life, man must draw inspiration and strength from the mystery of the redemption of the body to overcome the evil that is asleep in it in the form of lust. Men and women, united in marriage, must begin each day the adventure of the indissoluble union of that alliance that they have established between them”. (General Audience of February 11, 1981).

"By virtue of the mystery of redemption, therefore, a particular gift corresponds to marriage, that is, grace. This truth also determines the character of marriage as one of the sacraments of the Church.

Those who, as spouses, unite in a way that, in a certain sense, become one flesh, are also called, in turn, through the sacrament, to a life according to the Spirit, capable of corresponding to the gift received in the sacrament. By virtue of this gift, leading a life according to the Spirit as spouses, they are able to rediscover the particular gratification in which they have been made participants. In as much as lust obfuscates the horizon of the visual interior, it takes away from the hearts the limpidity of desires and aspirations. In the same way, life according to the Spirit (that is, the grace of the sacrament of marriage), allows man and woman to rediscover the true freedom of the gift, together with the awareness of the nuptial sense of the body in its masculinity and femininity.”(General Audience, December 1, 1982).

For this reason, the redemption of the body is of essential importance for hope: Marriage as a sacrament immutably serves so that man and woman, dominating lust, fulfill the will of the Father. And "he who does the will of God remains forever." (1 Jn 2:17). In this way, marriage as a temporary reality lived according to the will of God, performs an essential role for the timeless reality of eternal life.

2. One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit that spouses should always ask for is that of counsel, by which marriage is helped to evaluate situations and guide their decisions, not only based on criteria of human prudence, but also on the light of the supernatural principles of faith. The first and fundamental discernment of spirits is that which makes it possible to distinguish "the Spirit of God" from the "spirit of the world" (cf. 1 Cor 2:12). And this discernment is important in conjugal spirituality because it presents all questions to God and waits in joint prayer for His answer.  Thus, the judgment of marriage will always be fair because it does not seek its own will, but the will of the one who created them. The Holy Spirit will be Himself the substantial will of God manifested in the common soul of marriage, which guides the spouses allowing them to return the power of their lives to God.

3. From all that has been seen above, we know that the Holy Spirit is, in the Trinity, the reciprocal gift of the Father and the Son, the gift made person, but not in a specific or temporary act, but in a permanent state. Hence, marriage is the sacrament of the stable and reciprocal gift that spouses make of themselves, of each other. Where the Holy Spirit is, the capacity to become a gift is reborn, the “state grace” of marriage operates, allowing them to discover the joy and beauty of living together.

This same Spirit is the one who moves spouses to good works, purifies them of their sins, ignites in them the lucidity of faith, lifts their hearts to hope, enables them to love, fills their souls with joy and happiness, it gives them freedom in the world around them, it makes prayer possible in them.

The Spirit of God shapes marriage, vivifies it and moves it always and in everything. The marriage union is a living organism, because Divine Love is the "Spirit of life or the spring of water that jumps to eternal life". (Jn 4.14) Through Him the Father gives life to men who are dead through sin, until in Christ their mortal bodies are resurrected.

By the gentle and effective impulse of His interior grace, the Holy Spirit produces the fidelity and fruitfulness of marriages day by day, granting them chastity, strength, wisdom, prudence, and persevering fidelity. It is He who, in short, produces the sanctity of the spouses. For this reason, the Holy Spirit is a specialist in the diseases of marriage, since it unifies its members, so that everything that generates division in the union is a sin directly committed against the Paraclete.

God wants spouses to be aware of the presence of all these gifts in them. He has not come to live in ignorance or forgetfulness of His loving presence. On the contrary, couples have "received the Spirit of God so that they may know the gifts that God has granted them" (1 Cor 2:12), consecrating their members as their living temples, with the highest existing dignity.

Address the Immaculate Virgin, Bride of the Holy Spirit, confidently pleading with her to get the graces you need. She is the treasurer of divine gifts. In her the fruitfulness of the Holy Spirit is manifested, since she reveals him as "Lord and Giver of life". May He illuminate your understanding so that you always follow the path of good and, when God calls you to His presence, opens the doors of Heaven to you.

 

 

Fr. FelixI belong to the Servant Brothers of the Home of the Mother since its foundation in 1990, and have been a priest for 25 years. I am licensed in Pharmacy from the University of Madrid and hold a doctorate in Dogmatic Theology from Holy Cross University in Rome. I am committed to the lay apostolate and give retreats for youth and adults.

Fr. Félix López is author and editor of the Blog "God’s Plan for the Family".

More in this category: « Marriage and the Eucharist