english version  

한 국 어

Catechesi ai Filippini
24-25 aprile 1993

(trascritto dal chirografo originale vergato dall’Autore)
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Dear friends, my sisters and brothers in Jesus Christ,

I would like to reflect profoundly on the christian vision of marriage and family. We will begin to reflect on the original vocation of human person (first point) and (second point) we will reflect on marriage as form in what original vocation of human person can be realized. We conclude width some practical reflections.


1. The original vocation of human person


The human problems are many: many questions rise from our spirit. But there are some questions that are absolutely more important. More important, because sooner or later that are inevitable. There are persons that does not worry about her work, her health and so on. But there is nobody that does not ask: who am I? Where am I from? What is final end of my life? That questions are necessary questions about oneself.

Our christian religion gives profound and wonderful response: God creates everybody in his own image and likeness, and calling him to existence through love, he calls him at the time for love.


God creates everybody of us. At the beginning of our existence, there is not an obscure and impersonal necessity; there is not case, an incident. There is an act of intelligence and love. Everybody of us has been and is loved from God Creator and we exist precisely because of this divine love. Everybody possesses an infinite preciousness and value, because is loved from an infinite Love; he is object of infinite love. In front of our person, God tells: it’s good, it’s beautiful that you exist!

But, precisely at this point of our reflection, it is necessary that we ask: for what God creates myself? What is the end of my existence? Calling human person to existence, God calls him at the same time for love. God is love and in himself he lives a mystery of personal loving communion. Creating the human race in his own image and continually keeping it in being, God inscribed in the humanity of men and women the vocation, and thus the capacity and responsability, of love and communion. Love is therefore the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being.

But what is mean by “love”? No experience, perhaps, is so clear and at the same time so difficult to explain. Let’s begin to consider what happens in ourselves when we see something good, something beautiful. We feel an attraction toward this goodness, this beauty: goodness attracts our person and our person freely consents to be attracted. But, if we understand more profoundly, we can see that there are three possibilities. I can be attracted and I want something good because it is useful for me (first possibility); I can be attracted and I want something good because it is pleasing for me (second possibility); I can be attracted and I want something good because simply it is good: attracted because of its goodness. So that you see three possible relationship between human person and goodness: an utilization relationship, an hedonistic relationship, an personalistic relationship (I will explain after why I call third relationship “personalist”). Now let’s refer all this to human persons!

Somebody is attracted from other person: men from women - women from men. Bus what is mean by “is attracted”? Precisely, three things. It means that you see in other person something useful for you; that you see in other person the possibility of pleasure; that you see in other person goodness, beautiful so great that she is worthy of love. See: we arrive to key-word: love.

In the first case, the person exclaims: how it is useful for me that you exist! In the second case, the person exclaims: how it is pleasing for me that you exist! In the third case the person exclaims: how it is good, it is beautiful that you exist!

If you have been attentive, you can understand the true nature of love. What it is mean by “to love somebody”? It means to will the good of other, not because it is my good but because it is good of other.

We said: “Love is the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being”. Now it could must clear. Everybody is created for love, that is for constituting communion between men and God, between human persons. We have communion when somebody is recognized as person that is worth loving: when human person is recognized for his proper dignity, goodness, preciousness. Simply, because she is a human person.


2. The marriage as love


There are many relationship between human persons in what we must realize love. But, the marriage is the closest and most intimate of all earthly unions in which, more than in any other, one person is called to love another person, where the other in his complete personality is the object of love. We must now penetrate the intimate nature of conjugal love in itself and as elevated to dignity of Sacrament.


A. Nature of conjugal love

There is a widespread error that conjugal love is distinguished from love of friends or love of parents and children merely by its connection with the sexual sphere. Quite independently of sexuality, conjugal love in itself constitutes a completely new kind of love. It involves a unique mutual giving of one’s self, which is the outstanding characteristic of this type of love. It is true that in every type of love one gives oneself in one way or another. But here the giving is literally complete and ultimate. Not only something but the entire personality is given up to the other. When a man and a woman love each other in this way, they give themselves to each other at the very moment they begin to love. The man wants to belong to the woman, and she to belong to him; and the woman wants to belong to the man, and he to belong to her. All love certainly desires a reciprocity which is free from every shade of egoism, but in conjugal love there is an aspiration not merely for a return of affiction in general, but for the unique love whereby the beloved belongs to the lover in an entirely exclusive manner, as be in turn wants to belong to the beloved.

This love bends to a unique union, even in part constitutes it, a community where two persons constitute a closed union, which can exist only between them. Conjugal love constitutes a relationship in which the regard of each one of the two parties is turned exclusively upon the other.

This point must be investigated. Relationship between persons actualize themselves under two profoundly different forms. First form: two persons can be united through a common interest, by facing with each other something extraneous to themselves. Together they may take the same attitude toward a person or thing, they may rejoice together, may come to a decision together and may give thanks together. This may be called a we relationship where the partners remain side by side.

Second form. Two human beings can also turn and face one another, and in touching one another in interpenetrating glance, give birth to a mysterious form of fusion of their person. They become conscious of one another, and each making the other the object of his contemplating and responses can immerse himself into the other. This is I-thou relationship, in which the partners are not side by side, but face to face. Conjugal love is the highest form of this second manner of loving.

Perhaps now it is more easy to understand fundamental properties of conjugal love: the intention of duration and strict exclusiveness are implicated necessarily in the very nature of “being in love” as true as of marital love. Somebody may think that divorce and polygamy is only forbidden by a positive law of God or of States; that divorce or indissolubility is question of culture. Nothing is more erroneous: conjugal love in itself excludes divorce or polygamy. Conjugal love in its essence aims at one person only and for ever.

The characteristics of complete mutual self-giving, and of being exclusively turned toward the beloved, as well as the fact that the two partners form a couple, exclude in themselves the possibility that this love can be directed simultaneously to more than one person. Having two or more friends is in no way contrary to the principle of friendship and does not constitute something unworthy. But it is not possible for a man to love two women conjugally. The whole value of the relation would be destroyed; strictly speaking, it would indeed be impossible.

The next Sunday we speak on the conjugal sexuality as expression of conjugal love.


B. The sacrament of marriage

We have described the very nature of conjugal love. But now we must speak about the most profound mystery f conjugal love: the sacrament of marriage. We must consider what transformation of conjugal love takes place on sacrament of marriage, what is brought into the sacrament from natural marriage. Lord, that said “Behold, I make all things new” also elevated marriage to unprecedented heights and invested it with sublime dignity. Certainly, conjugal love does not cease to have the characteristics discussed above, that is: mutual self-giving, the character of I-thou communion, the living for each other, and the formation of an exclusive couple. This conjugal love is fully preserved in christian marriage. What makes sacramentality? What produces to be married in Jesus Christ? Two things above all.

First: sacramentality cures injuries of the sin. In fact, the beautiful reality of conjugal love has been disfigured from our sins. Always, relationships is not loving relationships but utilitarian; hedonistic relationship. Adulteries and divorces break the conjugal bond. Briefly: man and woman are not capable of loving each other in the light of true love. The grace, that couple receive from sacrament, is grace of recovery. Conjugal love is fully preserved in christian marriage. What seriousness, purity and unselfishness in those persons who see everything consciously in the sight of God, who are aware that all things acquire an authentic importance only in Jesus and through Jesus. Really, the grace of Christ introduces into conjugal love something new. In fact, so long as we do not conceive of the person as an image of God, as an immortal soul destined to eternal communion with God, we have not grasped the authentic dignity and ultimate solemnity which is invested in the beloved and which is connected with his destiny.

Second and more important effect of sacrament. By means of baptism, man and woman are definitively placed within the new and eternal covenant, in the covenant of Christ in the Church. And it is because of this indestructible insertion that the intimate community of conjugal life and love, founded by the Creator, is elevated and assumed into charity of Christ. By virtue of sacramentality of their marriage, man and woman married are bound to one another in the most profoundly indissoluble manner. Their belonging to each other in the real representation of the very relationship of Christ with the Church. So, spouses are the permanent reminder to the Church of what happened on the Cross. This is the central point: conjugal love participates in divine love of Jesus Christ on the Cross. It is participation of his divine-human love.

Now we may understand why unity and indissolubility of sacrament are absolute. As image of the union of Christ with Church, marriage possesses that full validity and reality which make it absolutely indissoluble. Certainly, the indissolubility of marriage may prove a great cross for one or both consorts. But it lies in the nature of conjugal love to be bold, heroic, not to spur back from taking a risk. All great things are connected with risk. Without risk human life would be deprived of all heroism.


We have ended. What I have said?

√ Human person is created for love: image of God she has original and innate vocation of love and communion.

√ Love is relationship between persons in what everybody is recognized for his proper preciousness as personal being.

√ Conjugal love is the highest form of personal love, because of its original properties: mutual self-giving, the character of I-thou communion, the living for each other, and the formation of a exclusive couple.

√ Sacrament of marriage is not something different from conjugal love. Il is the same conjugal love cured, elevated, and assumed into bound of Christ with Church.


3. Some general conclusions

Now I would like to conclude with some practical reflections.

√ Everybody must prepare oneself when he faces something great and important. There is something more important than conjugal love, than sacrament of marriage? More than ever necessary in our things is preparation of young people for marriage.

√ The science of love is the most important and most difficult science. Where can you learn these science? In Jesus Christ, by prayer, by sacraments, by contact with your pastors.

√ It is very necessary a profound discernment that guides you in the world. Only by discernment, you can distinguish true values from not true values. You must listen your true conscience, not the majority opinion.

You will be free: free in true freedom of Jesus Christ.