Thursday, March 28, 2013

What does the one - flesh marital union of sex and love in the Divine plan; have to do with the Sacred Triduum? Happy Easter!

Holy Thursday, 2013

In short, the one-flesh marital union of sex and love in the Divine plan has everything to do with the Sacred Triduum!  In fact, our Christian understanding of the very meaning of sex comes from the one-flesh union of all time and eternity shared between Christ and his Church.  What is more, this one-flesh union of marital love is consummated “not on the nuptial bed of pleasure, but on the nuptial bed of pain, there on the cross by Christ Jesus,” said the late, great, Archbishop Fulton Sheen.  If we Christians want to understand the meaning of sexual union, we claim that this “great mystery” (Ep. 5:21-33) is revealed to us on the cross of Christ, especially at the moment of Jesus’s death - at 3:00 pm in the afternoon, Good Friday.  But that’s still not all!  We Christians are so strange; we assert that the one-flesh nuptial union of sex and love in the Divine plan reveals to us the very meaning of our entire lives!  (Not that “having sex” is the meaning of life; but that “consummation” – or, making our love complete in a total gift of self to the other(s) – is the meaning of life.)

Blessed John Paul II once wrote, in a document he was using to teach the Church about the dignity of women, that: “Christ is the Bridegroom because ‘he has given himself’: his body has been ‘given’, his blood has been ‘poured out’. . . The sincere gift contained in the sacrifice of the Cross gives definitive prominence to the spousal meaning of God’s love.  As the Redeemer of the world, Christ is the Bridegroom of the Church.  The Eucharist is the Sacrament of our Redemption.  It is the Sacrament of the Bridegroom and of the Bride.  (See, Mulieris Dignitatem.  N. 26)  Since Jesus is the Messiah “Bridegroom,” who has come for his Bride, the Church - Christ longs to fulfill a marriage covenant with humanity.  God wants to marry us all and the way he can accomplish this marriage is in the one-flesh union of Christ and His Church – the Eucharistic Sacrifice.

But, the Eucharist – Jesus’s Body and Blood “given” and “poured out” (or “shed”) for the world - can’t be accomplished except through his death:  the death of a person – the Second Person of the Trinity.  Why does the Church call the day Jesus dies – “good,” as in “Good Friday”?  Today is Thursday of the Sacred Triduum, which is a day of celebration in this three day long Feast.  Jesus institutes the Eucharist at the Last Supper and he simultaneously institutes the Priesthood.  But, tomorrow, on Good Friday, we celebrate the day that God died.  Are we sad on Good Friday?  Absolutely not!  Don’t be sad on Good Friday.  Jesus has to give himself to us, completely in love, even to the point of his death on a cross so that the memorial of His Body and Blood can also be given through the ages, perpetuated and “consummated” in a one-flesh union of love with his Bride, the Church.  (Please note that the term "memorial," in this context, doesn't mean: "to simply remember," it means: "to make the reality actually present outside of time and space.")  How can we “consummate” our marriage with Christ?  In the Eucharist is where we become one-flesh with our Bridegroom, who gives himself to us completely in love.

In this paradigm, Jesus - the Word made flesh - is the “seed” given to us by the Father (see John 1:1-14).  What am I talking about here?  Jesus is the seed of the Father who inseminates the world – literally – in the one-flesh union of the Bridegroom and the Bride, the Eucharist.  Jesus inseminates us, his Spouse, the Church.  Jesus, the Word made flesh, is the “seed” given to us by the Father.  We, the Church, who are the followers of Christ who receive his marital covenant offer made complete in the Eucharist, receive his seed into our bodies when we eat his Body and drink his Blood.  We then nourish his divine life inside of ourselves, we love Jesus there, we bring him to more and more fruition inside and then bring him to life in the world.  All of this also happens in the womb of any mother when she bears the fruit of her womb in the gift of a child.  It is the same kind of relationship between Christ and his Spouse, the Church – who receives Jesus, the seed, the Word.  The Church then brings Jesus to life in the world, just like a good mother, a good spouse.  We listen to His life-giving Word in the Bible and receive his very Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity into ourselves in the Eucharist.  In the “Erotic Order,” (another way to describe God’s plan and design for sex and love) a man and his wife offer a particular way of bearing fruit.  This fruit, primarily, is children.  The erotic order is created for this end and this type of fruit in the Sacrament of Marriage which signifies Christ’s love for his own Bride, the Church.

This Triduum, as every Triduum before - and every day a Mass has been celebrated since the very first Mass – the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, and the second Mass which occurred on the way to Emmaus (see Lk. 24:13-35) with two disciples the day Jesus rose from the dead, and so on, and so forth – the Bridegroom desires to make His marriage complete with us and the only way He can accomplish this is by way of the Eucharist.  So, we can all reflect this Triduum on the past, as well as on the present and the future – Jesus in the Eucharistic Sacrifice who consummates a marital covenant with the Church, and inseminates his Bride (that’s us) to bear Jesus to the world.