This booklet has been primarily written for engaged couples who have decided to marry within a Catholic ceremony. It is hoped that married couples and single persons who read it will also find some benefit in reading it.
Love is Our Destiny
If you look deep within yourself, you will find that your most fundamental need is for love. This need for love is absolutely fundamental to being human. Our greatest moments in life come within the experience of love.
When we feel love in all its aspects, physical, intellectual emotional and spiritual, flowing from us and being received by the one we are loving, and when we feel that a similar love is being given to us by the one we love and we are receiving that love, we are truly happy. There is a sense of deep unity. Those who experience such unity are having an experience of deep loving presence together. Some people describe such experiences as heavenly.
In fact such experiences are foretastes of heaven. Each of us has an eternal heavenly destiny. We are made by God who wants us to be taken up into the loving life of the Trinity for all eternity. God wants each of us individually to be in a mutual exchange of love with the three Persons of the Trinity and with all other human persons forever.
In heaven we are fully alive and completely joyful in loving God and other persons. At the same time we are joyful and are fulfilled in experiencing that we are being totally loved by God and other persons. We are eternally caught up in exchanges of love.
The Life of God
Our human understanding of the life of God helps us to more fully grasp what true loving involves. The intimate life of God is clearly beyond complete human understanding. Over the centuries members of the Catholic Church have prayerfully reflected on God’s self- revelation in the Person of Jesus and in the Scriptures. The following have become part of Catholic Church’s doctrine and teaching:
- God is
- God is a Trinity of loving Persons. There is an infinite personal loving relationship among the three Persons of the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is understood to proceed (a technical theological word) from the relationship between the Father and the Son. It is as if the loving relationship between Father and Son becomes personified in the Person of the Holy Spirit.
Each of the Persons is truly God but there is only one God. Because of that unity the Father is wholly in the Son and wholly in the Holy Spirit; the Son is wholly in the Father and wholly in the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit is wholly in the Father and wholly in the Son.
- In the loving relationships which constitute the fundamental Being of God, each of the three Persons freely and totally self-reveals and self-gifts to each of the other two. Each Person totally receives the self-revelation and self-gift of each of the other two Persons. Each is totally lovingly present to the others in an eternal “now”. There is no possibility of one Person being rejected in any way by another Person.
- Each Person in totally self-giving loses nothing of personal individual The personal individual identity in being received by each of the other two Persons in the eternal “now” is eternally acknowledged and affirmed as the personal individual identity it is.
- Each of the three Persons in the Trinity is totally equal to the other two.
- Whilst the loving that is the very essence of life in the Trinity is complete and the Persons lack nothing, there is sense it which They have to create other beings who can have a chance to share in the eternal love and joyfulness which is theirs. Love necessarily overflows.
The Life of God in Us
When we were baptised, God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) lovingly embraced each of us as a unique individual and began to live within us in a way which has similarities with the way in which each Person of the Trinity lives within each of the other two Persons.
As a result of our Baptism, we are able to willingly receive the Love that is God into our very being and to give ourselves over entirely to being in a loving relationship with God and with all those whom God loves. We begin the journey on which we can grow ever closer to God and continually invite Him to fill us with His love.
As we grow up and move towards adulthood, we become more and more aware of how happy we feel when we experience being loved and loving others. Our happiest times are times when we are caught up in loving embraces.
We also become aware that we have a choice about whether or not we wish to be in a loving relationship with God and those whom God loves. We find we have deeply embedded tendencies to put ourselves first, and not love God and others.
In theological terms, we have a tendency to sin. Sinfulness is the tendency to put ourselves first at the expense of the legitimate needs of other people, resulting in some kind of harm to them as individuals and to the human community as a whole. Sin causes harm.
Sin also results in deep sense of guilt and shame, even if this is not in the explicit consciousness of a particular person. There is a sense of frustration because at the deepest level the person is aware of not moving towards the fulfilment of being caught up in a community of love.
God loves us and never gives up trying to help us to really become more truly loving as persons. God is ever ready to forgive us when we recognise that we have failed in love and we resolve to try never to fail in love again.
God tries to reach us through the love given to us by other people and by assisting us to truly love other people
The Calling to Marriage
Marriage is one of the ways in which God attempts to bring us ever more deeply into the His embrace of love. Those who are called to marriage are not just called to a way of life. Each person called to marriage is called by God to be married to a specific person. This does not mean we have no choice about a marriage partner but it does mean that if we are open to listening to God, we will find that He will guide us to marry a person who will truly join in a deeply loving relationship.
God says to each of the spouses in a marriage “I am calling you to love and be loved by your marriage partner. As you grow in your love for each other, you will find that you will move ever more deeply in a loving relationship with me and with all those that I love and your life will be increasingly filled with a deep joy”.