Husband & Wife: A Communion Of Self-Gift
This stained glass found in the main chapel of St. Mary’s Seminary depicts the sacrament of matrimony instituted by Jesus Christ. Blessing the husband and wife, Christ reveals the drama of spousal communion. Within marriage, one discovers the drama of self-gift and the journey towards Heavenly communio. Hence, it is fitting that by gazing to Christ, one discovers the authentic meaning of nuptial love, agape. Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom of the Church, offers the world the vision of true love as revealed in the sacrament of matrimony.
At the center of this image is the covenantal exchange between wife and husband. In this depiction, both wife and husband kneel in the presence of the Lord revealing their intention to “help” (Genesis 2:18) each other grow in communion with God. Reflecting on this exchange and the journey it entails, one discovers that society is established from the family. Hence, it is fitting to reflect on the words of St. John Chrysostom that “[t]he love of husband and wife is the force that welds society together.”
Further reflecting on this depiction, beneath the couple we find the rings, which symbolize the vows between husband and wife, united to the Cross. Each ring is wedded with each other through the Cross. Marriage is perfected through the Paschal Mystery. The difficulties and joys in marriage are redeemed by Christ on the Cross and brought into fulfillment through the Resurrection. In the perfect act of spousal love, Jesus Christ offers Himself to His Bride, the Church. Thus, in Letter to Families, St. John Paul II reveals that “[t]he communion between God and His people finds its definitive fulfillment in Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom who loves and gives Himself as the Savior of humanity, uniting it to Himself as His body” (Familiaris Consortio, 13). In all, the sanctity of marriage is governed by the Blessed Trinity, perfect Communion of Persons. Hence it is fitting to reflect with Cardinal Ouellet that “the Trinitarian mission of the family begins with what constitutes the very foundation of the relationship between Christian spouses: conjugal love as a total and exclusive self-gift” (Divine Likeness, 62)
Above the depiction, we ultimately find the author of marriage, Jesus Christ (GS 48). In a postmodern society where meaning is lost and metaphysical truths are replaced with materialistic ideologies, Jesus Christ, the true logos, reveals the authentic meaning of marriage as it was intended “in the beginning”. Jesus Christ through the Paschal Mystery offers us a fundamental understanding of gift for marriage—the spousal commitment of husband and wife through self-gift. Seminarians studying for the Priesthood ought to reflect on the significance of Christ within the sacrament of matrimony (cf. John 2:1-12). Priests are called to form shepherds of the family by informing marriages of the love of God, in effect, transforming the world through them. Husbands and wives are called to be Shepherds of their own families, in turn, participating as missionaries of the Word of God!
Let us pray for holy marriages in our society, but let us also pray for priests to accompany the couple as they become shepherds of the domestic church. Let us be mindful of St. Lucia who warned that “the final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family.” The devil continues to prowl the world through various poisonous philosophies and misguided theologies contaminating the true nature of marriage as it was intended “in the beginning.” More than ever, we are called to defend the sanctity of marriage (husband and wife) and to nurture the shepherds of the family (father and mother). Oremus.