Authentic married love is caught up into divine love and is governed and enriched by Christ’s redeeming power and the saving activity of the Church, so that this love may lead the spouses to God with powerful effect and may aid and strengthen them in sublime office of being a father or a mother. — Second Vatican Council
Every married couple is called to transforming union with God as a couple.
The heart of the bond of marriage teems with divine fire, as it is “what God has joined” (Matt. 19:6). From the moment the couple’s free consent is exchanged in the marital promises, God’s immediate act of joining unrelentingly commences as a sustained, constant, permanent, dynamically erupting in each new moment of married life, until death dissolves the nuptial bond.
Between husband and wife, God acts as a centripetal force, as His unity is now theirs. The three-in-one infinite dynamism of God, the two-in-one infinite dynamism of Christ’s human and divine natures, and the two-in-one dynamism of Christ’s covenant bond with the Church are sacramentally unleashed all at once in the married couple. The rest of their lives are spent recovering from the impact of these three mysteries that are called to embody as two-in-one flesh.
St. John Paul II remarkably described Christian marriage’s dynamism as “itself a liturgical action glorifying God in Jesus Christ and in the Church.” Mind blowing! My wife and I at every moment are invited to be con-celebrants of a ceaseless nuptial “liturgy” — liturgy here being defined as the full activation of the three mysteries in service to redeeming the cosmos.
In us, Patti and Tom, God longs, loves, desires to be given full freedom to do His work of joining, of stitching together, of reconciling, of uniting heaven and earth in, with and through us. Every tiny act of love-saturated synergy between us unleashes on creation the full power of the crucified Bridegroom of humanity.
Our bond exists to permit God to sweep all things up into the eternal wedding feast of the slain Lamb and so heal a fractured world.
In light of that, Cardinal Arinze said to me in 2010 after I asked him how I could be more effective at my ministry as a teacher in the Church, “You want to save the world? Love your wife. Love your children. Everything else is a distraction.”
The married couple’s mysticism is always a nuptial mysticism. Husband and wife, precisely as oned, are “caught up” into the triple white-hot core of Mystery: the Trinity, the Hypostatic Union and the Christ-Church covenant bond. Their journey to God is now no longer possible solely as individuals, but only as a couple. To seek escape from that is to seek union with God apart from the covenant demands of love. Their journey to union with God can no longer be thought of, acted on, sought apart from their spouse. Even if the spouse of a believer has no faith, the vocation remains exactly the same, or better, is intensified in its cruciform redemptive character:
For the unbelieving husband is made holy through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy through her husband. — 1 Cor. 7:14
My primary Way to God is my wife. Period. No other aspect of my life, work, relationships, religious activities rivals or surpasses her in importance. If I am saved, I am saved primarily by how I love God in relation to my wife, and how I love my wife in relation to God. If am saved by how I love my children, it is only in relation to how in parenting I have loved my wife. Love for my parents, friends, co-workers are saving only in right-relation to my wife. God’s joining makes Patti, at every moment, my vocational axis, my magnetic pole.
Apt it is that St. Paul (Eph. 5:21-33) chose to describe this radical vocation vision of marriage in terms of the love manifest on Golgotha. Nowhere is the work of repairing a shattered world said to be easy or breezy. East of Eden, the way home is narrow, messy and hard.
There is a man who lives not far from our home, whose wife is completely disabled, bedridden. He has dedicated his life to full-time caring for her. It’s just stunning, as all such things are. Once when I saw him in a local supermarket, we chatted about various things. Then I asked him how his wife was. After filling me in on a few details, he said, with the starkest sincerity, “She’s my life. It’s why wife and life rhyme, I think.” He chuckled.
I whispered under my breath, “Even a measure of that for me, Lord, please.”
His life, her life, their life, divine life. One life. One love. Forever and ever. Amen.