Or, How Conjugal Love leads to Parental Love
“This is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.” Gn. 2; 24.
This short quote is so rich and opens up to such a vast horizon.
To cling to his wife has a very deep meaning, which includes the whole of the person, body, mind, soul, spirit, and faithfulness, to the extreme.
We find this verb ‘cling’ again and again in the Bible when God speaks of His covenant with His people: “But you who clung to the Lord, your God, are all alive today” Dt. 4; 4.
It’s so strong that it’s irrevocable.
This kind of commitment requires that “the man leaves his father and mother,” why? to build a ‘new community’ of life, a new family.
“and the two of them become one flesh.” Husband and wife become one flesh, not only through their conjugal embrace, but also through their conjugal daily life, their work, their love, their pains, joys, and all. In brief through their whole life.
They are now capable of bringing a new life, with the help of God, as Eve said after she had relations with Adam and gave birth to Cain, “I have produced a man with the help of the Lord.” Gn. 4; 1.
For Catholic couples, their union, being sacramental, reflects the union of Christ and the Church.
“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.
This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the Church.” Ep. 5; 30.
The grace of the sacrament of Matrimony, grace of self-giving love, will be transmitted, infused, through their parental love to their children. We can say that parental love originates in conjugal love.
“According to the plan of God, marriage is the foundation of the wider community of the family, since the very institution of marriage and conjugal love are ordained to the procreation and education of children, in whom they find their crowning.” Familiaris Consortio, 14; 34.
Then the education of the children is, de facto, a ministry, the same as any ministry of the Church with specific tasks, specific goals and specific graces. The parental ministry is anchored in the Sacrament of Matrimony and enriched by the grace of the Sacrament of Matrimony.
Here John Paul II speaks also very specifically of a ‘consecration’ of the parents to the education of their children.
“For Christian parents the mission to educate, a mission rooted, as we have said, in their participation in God’s creating activity, has a new specific source in the sacrament of marriage, which consecrates them for the strictly Christian education of their children: that is to say, it calls upon them to share in the very authority and love of God the Father and Christ the Shepherd, and in the motherly love of the Church, and it enriches them with wisdom, counsel, fortitude and all the other gifts of the Holy Spirit in order to help the children in their growth as human beings and as Christians.” Familiaris Consortio 38.
John Paul II indicates the very specific graces and virtues attached to the Sacrament of Matrimony: wisdom, counsel, fortitude and all the other gifts of the Holy Spirit in order to help the children, and also the parents, in their growth as human beings and as Christians.
“The sacrament of marriage gives to the educational role the dignity and vocation of being really and truly a “ministry” of the Church at the service of the building up of her members. So great and splendid is the educational ministry of Christian parents that Saint Thomas has no hesitation in comparing it with the ministry of priests: “Some only propagate and guard spiritual life by a spiritual ministry: this is the role of the sacrament of Orders; others do this for both corporal and spiritual life, and this is brought about by the sacrament of marriage, by which a man and a woman join in order to beget offspring and bring them up to worship God.”Familiaris Consortio 38.
When we are baptized we become priests, prophets and kings.
The parents are the King and Queen of their household, working together for the good of each family member, that is helping each one become a Saint and share eternal life with God.
This is also why divorce can never be part of the equation when the spouses confer the Sacrament of Matrimony upon each other. Their ministry to their children never ends, and it’s irrevocable.
Sources: Familiaris Consortio