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Some Theological Reflections on Marriage Joann Heaney-Hunter, M.S., Ph.D., LMHC, NCC Columbus, Ohio November, 2009.

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Presentation on theme: "Some Theological Reflections on Marriage Joann Heaney-Hunter, M.S., Ph.D., LMHC, NCC Columbus, Ohio November, 2009."— Presentation transcript:

1 Some Theological Reflections on Marriage Joann Heaney-Hunter, M.S., Ph.D., LMHC, NCC Columbus, Ohio November, 2009

2 Overview of Presentation Marriage is a Sacrament Marriage is a Domestic Church or Household of Faith Marriage: a vocation to be supported

3 Marriage as a Sacrament Marriage can reveal the life of the Trinity Marriage can reveal the Paschal Mystery Marriage can reveal the Eucharist Marriage can reveal Reconciliation

4 Marriage Can Reveal Immanent Trinity Immanent Trinity – a Unity of Persons –Trinity – perichoretic union – the dance -- an embrace of the members of the ensemble – an expression of its unity. Trinity first described as a dance by John Damascene in the 8 th century –How does this relate to marriage? Couples draw close with flexible bonds that encourage interdependence within unity. –Couples infuse ordinary activities with the love of God – Couples develop as community, with the potential to be open to people and experiences, and to be a model of unconditional commitment.

5 Marriage Can Reveal Economic Trinity Economic Trinity – The persons of God reaching out in love to the world Economic Trinity – Presumed in early Eastern Church (Especially found in the writings of the Cappadocian Fathers -- Basil, Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa) How does this relate to sacramental marriage? –Couples reveal Economic Trinity through life as a community of faith and evangelization Reaching out to children and the broader community Reaching out as ministers of evangelization

6 Marriage can reveal the sacraments of the Church First – married couples invited to reveal Christ – the primary sacrament – by living the paschal mystery each day Second – focus on two ways that couples reveal the sacraments – how do they reveal Eucharist and Reconciliation? Sacramental Couples can reveal Eucharist –Blessed –Broken –Shared Sacramental Couples can reveal Reconciliation –Called to confess –Called to absolve –Called to restore

7 Married Couples Reveal Paschal Mystery Romans 6:3-11 Called to die with Christ –Death to all that keeps couple far from Christ Death to selfishness Death to isolated individuality Death to fear of commitment Called to rise with Christ Luke 24 John 21:1-19

8 Marriage – Called to reveal Eucharist First and foremost, called to be people of thanksgiving Sacramental couples challenged to “be Eucharist” –Augustine – Sermon 272 – be what you receive, receive what you are –Sacramental couples called to be Christ’s body blessed, broken and shared Blessed by commitment Broken by the events of life Shared in the community of family

9 Marriage – Called to Live Reconciliation Each day, couples called to live as reconciling communities –Every person causes pain – every person must forgive A thought from Ronald Rolheiser –in families, “we cannot not hurt each other.” “The name of the game is forgiveness,” he says, because “when we forgive, when we live beyond our hurts and hypersensitivities, God can enter our lives in a way that approximates what happened at the resurrection. Forgiveness is the force that rolls back the stone.”

10 Marriage reveals the rituals of reconciliation Confess –Each day, couples and all family members share honestly about hopes, failures, issues, sins –Through open communication and sharing – couples grow in a trusting relationship where sharing faults is possible Absolve –The call to forgiveness is constitutive for all Christians, especially those in intimate relationships – Restore –The process of forgiving and reconciling is built into the fabric of the sacramental couple

11 Reconciliation in the Gospels Gospel calls us to forgive and reconcile as Jesus did Forgiveness and reconciliation are about healing relationships –Luke 24:13-35 -- Describes reconciliation that takes place when the Risen Jesus shares a meal with his despondent disciples –John 21: 1-19 -- Great story of Petes’s reconciliation with Jesus – even after the tragic betrayal – Jesus makes all things whole Married couples called to forgiveness and reconciliation – as were the first disciples Forgiveness and reconciliation can occur at many times – interpersonal exchanges – prayer –times together Forgiveness springs from God and is lived out in families each day

12 Quick Historical Perspective on the tradition of Domestic Church Contemporary Perspectives on Domestic Church –John Paul II – Theology of the Body –Benedict XVI – Deus Caritas Est Marriage called to be a Domestic Church

13 The Domestic Church in Christian History I Corinthians 7 assumes domestic church – a marriage was Christian because of the faith of the spouses By Fifth Century – East and Western Theologians referred to marriage as a domestic Church –What made a marriage holy was the life of faith shared By 13 th century in Latin West, marriage often regarded as a sacramental contract – but domestic church receded in importance –Peter Lombard (mid-twelfth century) –Thomas Aquinas (Questions 42-50 Supplement 3 rd Part of Summa) –Fourth Lateran Council 1215 assumes the sacramentality of marriage – primarily contractual issues

14 Council of Trent to Vatican II Document Tametsi (1563) provides framework for celebration in the Church – but little focus on Domestic Church –Declares marriage is sacrament if: 2 people are baptized Proper form is followed Marriage is consummated Vatican II recovers idea of domestic church –Lumen Gentium –Gaudium et Spes –Apostolicam Actuositatem

15 Contributions of Pope John Paul II Familiaris Consortio – foundational document Theology of the Bod y –Presents vision of human sexuality as radical gift –Describes tremendous potential for human sexuality and its’ place in building up the Christian family –Begins with the perspective of the complementarity of genders –Concern – can be overidealized --

16 Benedict XVI – Deus Caritas Est Starting point – God is love –Spends considerable amount of time describing the meaning of love Emphasizes importance of BOTH eros and agape Says that love is intimately connected with service – can’t talk about love without talking about service –Building the Domestic Church with Eros and Agape Desire for – Desire for the good of another perfectly united in God alone Humans strive for the union of eros and agape Desire for can lead to desire for good of another –Love and service are intimately connected Love without service is empty Love without service is not complete Call to the entire Christian community to recognize that love of God leads to love of neighbor Uses marriage as an example of the first place where connection between love and God and love of neighbor

17 Supporting the Vocation of Sacramental Couples Supporting Sacramental Couples through the life cycle Early years Early years –Can’t discount importance of high end marriage preparation – good content, faith sharing, community support –Marriage Preparation plants the seeds – goal, especially if couples stay in an area, is to keep them! –Support for engaged and newly married –Help these couples feel welcome in the community

18 Encouraging Baptismal Spirituality in Young Couples Young couples invited to reveal Baptismal Spirituality –High end Baptism preparation Bringing children to the church and celebrating faith in the home Welcoming those who are seeking to deepen faith “Confirming” faith by a life of prayer and loving action in the name of Christ

19 Supporting couples with young families Young families may feel isolated – especially if both partners in couple work outside home –Baptism Preparation can be a critical tool for evangelization and support for young marriages –Theology of Baptism –Mentoring from “Sponsor Couples” –Social Support

20 Nurturing families with young children Different parishes and dioceses will have a variety of solutions –Various toddler and preschool programs –Elizabeth ministries as support for young mothers –Liturgical programming – variety of solutions – many conversations with different people – you choose! –Making sure new, young families are represented on various boards and councils

21 Supporting families with School Age Children How does Religious Education support evangelization of married couples? Parent involvement on many levels Some classes with parents and children together Opportunities for parents to build communities and share faith Times of reflection/retreat for parents as well as children

22 Couples of the Sandwich Generation What faith support can we provide for couples caring for multiple generations? How do we support young adult ministries? Can we create partnerships to provide respite for caregivers? Bereavement resources for middle aged adults?

23 Senior Couples and Singles The heart of so many parishes Need support and faith sharing as they face the challenges of later life Consolation ministries take on new importance for seniors Create opportunities for multi-generational events – ex. Teens and seniors – seniors and religious education children Create opportunities for seniors to serve others

24 The Sacrament of Marriage – A Lifetime of Service Serving the Church as communities of faith –Bringing the faith of the family to the wider community –Serving the Church through the priesthood of all believers –Sharing in the priestly, prophetic, and royal life of Christ in their own lives –Serving the World and transforming it Mission of the Laity found in Apostolicam Actuositatem, Christifidelis Laici, and most recently in Deus Caritas Est and Sacramentum Caritatis

25 Christian Marriage – A Way of Life: Rooted in God’s love for us Rooted in God’s love for us Revealing the Sacraments Formed as Domestic Church Nurtured through the life cycle

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