My article on Cardinal Marc Ouellet’s book Mystery and Sacrament of Love: A Theology of Marriage and the Family for the New Evangelization is now up at B.C. Catholic.
Though not an easy read for a non-theologian like me, I nevertheless found it interesting and inspiring. I hope this book proves to be influential in the upcoming synod on the family in October. Here’s an excerpt of my article:
The Council marked a “Christological and personalistic turning point” from an overly juridical or legalistic and naturalist approach to marriage, he writes. But personalism is not subjectivism, nor is it an anthropocentric way of looking at God. “It is worth recalling that our fundamental presupposition is Christocentric,” he writes. “It is Christ who defines man, not man who must define Christ.”
In the same way, he argues the nuptial relationship between Christ and the Church defines marriage, and not the other way around. However, what may be most inspiring about the book is its stress on the divine sanctifying graces that flow to a sacramentally married couple throughout their relationship. Cardinal Ouellet writes the family as a ‘domestic church’ carries the task of new evangelization similar to that of religious orders in the past.
The Holy Spirit “inserts the natural and personal complementarity of this man and this woman into the divine and human spousal complementarity of Christ and the Church,” the cardinal writes. “This insertion and assumption demands a response from the couple, a response that, by virtue of their real participation in the mystery of the Trinity, entails the unity, fecundity, and indissolubility of their marriage pact, consummated and lived as a divine and human covenant.”
Cardinal Ouellet’s book also delves into new insights into sacramental theology and the deep links between marriage as the “primordial sacrament” and the Eucharist. The main thrust of Cardinal Ouellet’s book, however, is the family as the domestic church and how a married couple’s participation in the love within the Holy Trinity can be an ongoing sanctification of the couple and engine of new evangelization.
“Love is the first and last word of Christian marriage,” he writes. “The spouses are taken up into the love of Christ and the Church so that the God who is Love might be loved, served and glorified, and so that the world might believe in Love.”
He explains how the domestic church is modelled on the Holy Family. “The heavenly Father gave the child Jesus to the Holy Family of Nazareth, a first step in the gift of His Son to the Church and to all mankind,” he writes. “He continues to give this Child to Christian families, above all through the sacrament of baptism, which generates His Son in the members of Christ’s Body. Jesus thus lives in them and asks the father and mother of the family to help Him grow until He reaches the full stature of the perfect man.”