This should be my last musing over Amoris Laetitia. I will be found guilty of picking up the telescope and looking through the wrong end but there are times when an alternative perspective is needed, no matter how nonsensical.
Finding one's spouse ought not be difficult. There is a match out there for everyone (who so desires marriage) and most of the time feats of heroism are not needed in order to secure the match. It is quite an ordinary thing in many ways: companionship, friendship, trust and fidelity. Man find his mate, recognises her and calls her to be his for life. It is there from the beginnings of scripture: Adam recognises the flesh of his flesh, that which makes him whole. Fundamentally it is that way round, women are far more adaptable (and less passionate) than men, a man has to know that he has found the right woman and he has to tell her. [The woman already knows, but it is pointless to tell a man anything, he has to work it out for himself or he will be miserable for life. His happiness is everything for her and better that he never recognises her (God will find her another), than she ever thinks of coercing him.] This is more than tradition, it lies at the heart of the supernatural differences between men and women. It lies at the heart of God's desires for us. As many as the species of angels are the ways in which marriage works, each couple is unique, there is no blueprint for a perfect marriage, but it ought to be very rare indeed for a woman to propose to a man. If both parties then do their best (by the grace of God) to live by 1Cor13, then all is fine and dandy.....
Christian marriage is raised to the heights of a Sacrament and a sacrament that the man and the woman bestow on each other. The outward sign of inward grace is given. All Sacraments are a bringing forth of Christ; making Him manifest in the world. Christian marriage is not an insular thing, it is something to show the world and if both spouses are Christians then they should be plunging headlong into a growing relationship with God and a bringing forth of His desires in a world that so desperately needs to see the strength and beauty of God's plans for His creation. If one of the partners is not Christian, then the marriage is sanctified by the Christian witness of the believing spouse.
Marriage is the best expression of the 'little way'. It is the domestic church, it is small and it its smallness it is most powerful. It is small but it is not insular, it is not holed up in an enclosure or behind a large privet hedge in the suburbs, it is to be seen in public, in the time and space that has been allocated to it. A married couple do not openly proselytise, yet their Christian witness can be profound.
So much for the idealism. Now for the rant against my fellow Catholics (all stripes, I make no exception, though Trads annoy me the most)....
The understanding of Marriage is a mess and here is a possible reason why:
We are still living with the Counter Reformation's failure to answer the "movements of the spirit" encapsulated in the Haus der Liebe, Anabaptists, Quakers and their ilk [somebody please tell me I'm wrong here, this is my own home baked reading of history, but it feels to me as if the Puritans eventually won]. It is these Puritan movements that "spiritualised" sex, that abhorred celibacy and forced sex into marriages as a good in itself that must be had. [You can't force love, love and force are opposites, and sex without love is an abomination] Indeed we have accepted their ideas wholesale, seeing the Catholic perspective of the time a being at fault. The idea of sex as a gift from God is a Puritan one. Sexual incontinence starts here. The whole 'theology' is person centred (masquerading as Spirit centred) and not God centred.
You don't have to trawl too far on the internet to find you tube sermons from trad Catholic priests (mainly Americans and therefore far too tied to the Mayflower than they realise) exhorting that the "marriage bond" (which they interpret as sex) be fulfilled, that it is a mortal sin not to do so regularly, that it is a moral sin if women go out to work rather than keep breeding their quiverfull of children. That large families are everything, that family life is a breeding programme to make more righteous people just like them. It is all about breeding; bringing forth Christ is absent from their rhetoric, chastity and continence are absent from their rhetoric, spiritual growth and learning to love God more are absent from their rhetoric, humour and understanding of the companionship of marriage are absent from their rhetoric, understanding that some couples simply can't have children is absent from their rhetoric, the freedom of children to walk away from the faith is missing from their rhetoric. Love is absent.
Love is also absent from our trendy liberal friends too. They too have swallowed the Puritan lies wholesale and come up with a different but equally anti-God conclusion: that by nature we give into our sexual urges, we can't help it, but they are God's gift so it is is OK. That it is merciful to recognise sexual activity is certain circumstances outside of the sacred bond in which it is meant to exist. It is not just the true love between creatures that is absent, it is the lack of God Himself that is so worrying..
I'll leave it to my reader to ascertain prayerfully what it is that God so desires in the marriage bond that He so generously gave us in order that we could begin to comprehend the depths of His love for us through His unbroken Covenant with us. It will be different for each of us.....