Spouses’ love depends first on God’s love

Categories: Around the Diocese,Synod,World Meeting of Families

The following is the fourth in a 10-part series focusing on the 10 themes of the preparatory catechesis for the World Meeting of Families Sept. 22-27 in Philadelphia.

By Sister Candace Fier
For The Visitor

The last time you saw a child receiving a gift, do you remember the joy and excitement on their face when they realized the gift was theirs to rip open and discover the treasure within? Remember the child’s ‘thank you’ facilitated by Mom and Dad? It was the gift that taught the child that someone loves them and wants to give them joy.

In essence, that child is each of us at the moment we begin our life. The freely given gift is our very life given by God. The joy and excitement of the gift was mirrored on the faces of our parents who had profoundly realized that by offering the gift of themselves in return to God and to each other, they had been able to bring forth the gift of this new life into the world.

world-meeting-of-families-philadelphia-2015-logoIn the mystery of creation, Adam and Eve were given to one another by the Creator. In turn, they received each other as gift and became one flesh. Because their love was totally in harmony with God’s love, they could express their persons in and through their body as spousal love, a love that makes a total gift of self to the other.

This blessing of being gift to one another demands, in the words of St. John Paul II, interior freedom and self-mastery. That is, the interior freedom that comes from opening our heart to what comes from God — trust, purity, integrity and honesty — and the self-mastery that is evidenced by self-sacrifice, generosity, nobility and fruitful love.

Out of love, God created us for communion. Once we have opened ourselves to God in love, we are able to open ourselves to give and receive love from another. This is the beauty of sacramental marriage: Christ bringing about the communion of husband and wife so that they may love one another as Christ loves the church — selflessly, faithfully and forever.

Sacramental marriage offers husband and wife the grace needed to overcome the challenges and difficulties they encounter. It fosters forgiveness, fidelity, mercy and growth in the conjugal relationship.

Its foundation is chastity, which allows husband and wife to live their sexuality with dignity and grace according to God’s covenant.

This covenant remains a sign and promise of God’s presence if couples do the work of love each day: to say ‘I am sorry’ with humility and sincerity, to say ‘thank you’ with heartfelt gratitude, and to invite the other to continue to walk this journey of love, mercy and reconciliation with them today and always.

Activity for families: Give a gift to a family member or friend without spending money. Then, as a family, share those joys with each other.

Sister Candace Fier, a member of the Secular Institute of the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary, is the director of the Office of Family Life for the Diocese of New Ulm.