WE need to realize and appreciate more deeply that marriage, not only as a natural institution but also and especially as a sacrament, is a path to sanctity not only for the husband and wife but also for the family, and from the family, for the society and the Church in general.
We need to see the organic link among these key elements: the marriage between man and woman, and the family they generate, as well as the society of which the family is the basic cell and the universal Church of which the family is considered the domestic church.
Seeing that link, we would appreciate the crucial and strategic role that marriage plays in the life of men and women in the world. We would appreciate the tremendous potential good that marriage can give to all of us.
That is why everything has to be done to make marriage achieve its fullest dignity. And that means that we have to purify and elevate the love that is the very germ of marriage to the supernatural order.
That love has to develop from simply being natural and body-emotion-world reliant to being more and more spiritual and supernatural, driven by grace rather than by mere natural forces.
With the sacrament of marriage, the love between husband and wife is already guaranteed to have all the graces needed to make that marriage reach its fullness. What is needed is the faithful and generous correspondence of the parties concerned to those graces.
Let us reiterate the importance of understanding the true nature of marriage from the point of view of our Christian faith. We should never pooh-pooh the role of our Christian faith in understanding marriage. Short of that faith, we can only have at best a partial grasp that can miss essential elements of the constitution of marriage.
Marriage is definitely a path to sanctity. For the husband and wife, marriage is a way to reach God. Their love can reflect the very love God has for us, the very love Christ has for his Church. It is a love that, as St. Paul once described, â€œbears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.â€ (1 Cor 13,7)
The couple should remember this basic truth about the sacrament of marriage. They can always count on Godâ€™s graces that can make possible what may appear to be humanly impossible for man.
Marriage will always be tested in life. This is something that should not be a surprise to anyone. Marriage will expose the parties concerned to all kinds of trials, challenges, difficulties. It can have failures and enter into crises.
But it should never be forgotten that as a sacrament, with the backing of no less than God himself, victory is always assured, even if in human terms things may look like failures or irremediable cases.
Those trials, difficulties and even failures and crises are good occasions to deepen and enrich the spousesâ€™ love for each other. When Godâ€™s help is resorted to, the trials, difficulties and failures are good opportunities to learn or to refine virtues like fidelity, generosity, optimism, resourcefulness, generosity, etc.
They can actually point to certain deficiencies that often are taken for granted and that need to be attended to. The couple may have to improve their skills in dialogue, or in finding positive and useful elements in some problematic situations, or in being creative to derive something good from difficult situations.
The couple should realize that nothing is resolved if they start questioning the intrinsic properties of unity and indissolubility of marriage, or they start redefining marriage according to their own terms, already detached from Godâ€™s plan for it.
In this regard, it is of primordial importance that the preparation for marriage be thoroughly done and a network of marital and family support be put in place as husbands and wives traverse the sea of life.
What should not be forgotten is that difficulties in married and family life are good occasions for the parties concerned to grow in sanctity. Everyone needs to remember St. Paulâ€™s words: â€œFor those who love God, everything will always work out for the good.â€
The ideal marriage is not one where everything simply clicks, where there are no problems at all, where everything would run smoothly. That marriage is utopian.
The ideal marriage is rather one where it is game to all the situations of human life and, while using all the human and natural means to resolve things, always have recourse to God and his providence. Itâ€™s where marriage becomes a path of sanctification. Itâ€™s when sanctified that marriage sanctifies. (By Fr. Roy Cimagala)