“Love and Life” Retreat Day Three: Marriage is a Communion of Love and Life
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Breaking Open the Theme
In creating man and woman for each other, God made marriage to be love-giving and life-giving. We call these two purposes or “ends” of marriage the unitive and the procreative. They are inseparably connected because of the very nature of conjugal love, by which a spouse desires to give everything to his or her beloved: a total gift of self (see USCCB, Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan, pp. 15-16).
When a man and a woman exchange marital consent, they establish a partnership for the whole of life. They mutually vow an exclusive fidelity that is open to the procreation and nurture of children. “The gift of a new child, entrusted by the Lord to a father and a mother, begins with acceptance, continues with lifelong protection and has as its final goal the joy of eternal life” (Pope Francis, Amoris Laetitia, no. 166). In participating in God’s love, husband and wife are empowered to make a total gift of self to each other. This gift of love is always fruitful, even for couples who are not blessed with children. As Pope Francis says beautifully, “Love refuses every impulse to close in on itself; it is open to a fruitfulness that draws it beyond itself” (Amoris Laetitia, no. 80).
When they were newlyweds, both were sure that this was the one person who completed their world. They thought they could never love each other more. When they found they could not have biological children, they adopted their little girl and discovered a new dimension to their love. The day they first held her in their arms, they suddenly saw each other in a new light: Mom and Dad. In becoming parents, they began to understand something new about why God had brought them together. Their feelings of great joy were accompanied by feelings of overwhelming responsibility; they knew they would need God’s help.
To Think About
(Choose one or more of the following questions to reflect on by yourself and/or with your spouse)
- If you are a parent, how has your child (or children) been a blessing to you? How have you changed for the better since becoming a parent?
- If you do not have children, how do you expect that having a child would change your marriage?
- How can couples continue to strengthen their marriage when they become parents?
Prayer of Married Couples
Almighty and eternal God,
You blessed the union of husband and wife
So that we might reflect the union of Christ with his Church:
look with kindness on us.
Renew our marriage covenant.
Increase your love in us,
and strengthen our bond of peace
so that, [with our children],
we may always rejoice in the gift of your blessing.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.