by John Martignoni
Marriage and the Eucharist. We ended last week with John 6:54, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life.” The Eucharist is all about giving us life…eternal life. By receiving the Eucharist into our bodies we are receiving God’s own life into ourselves. We are receiving Life itself.
Listen to what Paul says in Galatians 4:19, “My little children, with whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you.” We need to have Christ formed within us. Christ, through the Eucharist, is giving us His very life. Christ, through the Eucharist, is planting the seeds of eternal life in our bodies. Seeds that will hopefully grow, aided by the Holy Spirit, until Christ is fully formed within us. Through the Eucharist, through receiving Christ into our bodies, the two have become one.
In the marital embrace, the wife receives her husband’s love and his very life within her. And he is planting the seeds of life that could very well grow until a life is fully formed within her. The two, husband and wife, have become one. And the two becoming one is most readily apparent when the marital embrace results in the conception of a new life. The two have become one have become three. It is here, in the life-giving and love-giving act of marital intimacy, that the family of man most closely mirrors the family of God…the Trinity.
Can you see how the Sacrament of Marriage is inextricably linked to the Sacrament of the Eucharist? How God’s relationship to us is most clearly mirrored in the relationship of husband and wife? How the Holy Spirit proceeds from the life-giving and love-giving relationship between the Father and the Son, just as a child proceeds from the life-giving and love-giving relationship between husband and wife? In the Eucharist, the Holy Spirit in a sense “overshadows” us and we receive Jesus into our bodies. The Annunciation, was, in some ways, a pre-figuring of the Eucharist. The Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary and the two became one became three but sometimes even the greatest marriages have trouble, so getting help is important to keep the foundation of marriage intact, there are even Christian counseling that you can find at sites like the Ranch of Hope that help you with this.
The Bible starts off, in Genesis 2:24, with marriage. All through the Bible, Old Testament and New, the relationship between God and Israel, and then between God and the Church, is described in marital terms. And then, in the Book of Revelation, at the end of the Bible, at the end of time, we have the eternal Wedding Feast of the Lamb…the eternal union between Christ and His Bride, the Church, in the New Jerusalem.
Do we approach the Eucharist within a marital framework? Do we see it as the very intimate act that it is? Do we allow ourselves to be completely open to receiving Jesus…to receiving His love…to receiving His life? Do we keep in mind His total self-giving…His being poured out on the cross for us, whenever we receive Christ in the Eucharist? Are WE offering ourselves totally and completely to Him? Are we pouring ourselves out for Him? Are we allowing Him to change our lives? Are we allowing Him to plant the seeds of eternal life within us? Are we allowing Jesus to be formed within us? Or, do we allow the receiving of the Eucharist to become routine? Just one action of many that we participate in at the Mass? Do you mentally tell yourself, “Okay, Father’s holding up the host, we’ll be out of here in 15 minutes.”?
Do we approach relations, and particularly our physical relations, with our spouse within a Eucharistic framework? Do we realize that whenever we “know” our spouse, that we are re-presenting ourselves fully and totally to him or her? That we are back on our wedding day and are re-presenting ourselves before God? That we are participating in an act of love that gives life, and that this act is a sign of the life-giving love that God gives to us? Do we contemplate these things? Do we raise physical intimacy with our spouse to a sacramental level, instead of a mere physical act?
Now, having drawn some of these parallels, let me ask the question: What if Jesus did not give all of Himself to us? What if Jesus held back the life-giving aspect of the Eucharist? In other words, what if we received His body and blood, but Jesus then did something to prevent that Body and Blood from producing life within us? We received the Body and Blood, but it was somehow prevented from forming Jesus within us? I think you may have an idea where I’m going here.
The question of contraception. Society says, no big deal. Most Catholics say, no big deal. But, looking at the marital embrace within a Eucharistic framework, do you maybe see now why it is such a big deal? When a man and a woman use contraception, then the man is saying to the woman, “I am giving myself to you, but I am not giving myself completely and totally and without reservation. I am holding something back. I do not wish to share the life-giving aspects of this act with you. I do not want the two to become one” Or, the wife is saying, “I do not want to receive all of you with no exceptions. I do not wish to receive you completely and totally and without reservation. I do not wish to receive the life-giving aspects of this act from you. I do not want the two to become one.”
Next week: Pro-creative love…
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