Thursday, March 13, 2014

Of the Nature of Vocation

We expect too much out of marriage due to romantic idealism. To quote:
Today we’re having a similar problem with marriage. The orthodox Christian view of indissoluble marriage in many ways can seem “exalted” in comparison to secular society. And secular society certainly makes lots of noises about valorizing marriage. Thus, “You agree marriage is awesome, we agree marriage is awesome. Ain’t marriage awesome???”
But the problem is that this is an inversion of the Biblical theology of marriage. The root is Protestant. In his urge to torch his own vows, Luther built an exalted theology of marriage as the summit of Christian life (completely ignoring Paul, #solascriptura). The Protestant communities, separated from the apostolic Church, lost the great gift of the Holy Spirit of celibate life and the theology of celibacy.

If marriage is a vale of milk and honey, then when the milk and honey runs out, the marriage loses its reason for being. If marriage is a vale of milk and honey, then not offering it to everyone is tantamount to sadism.

Here is a proposal for a theology of vocation: vocation is a call to creation in self-giving, because God is Creator in self-giving. Creation is kenosis—God, who is the sheer act of Being itself, embraces the Universe with its imperfection in his existence. God is Creator and continuously creating the Universe and gathering the Universe to Him and God is total self-giving, even into the intimacy of the life of the Trinity.

And Biblical Revelation teaches us that the supreme act of creative self-giving is the Cross.

We see, then, how we are invited to take up our Cross and follow Christ.

Marriage is a Cross. Marriage is a vocation to creation in total self-giving. To say that marriage is a Cross is to say that it is part of God’s design and that many graces flow from it and even that it is joyous. But it is also to say that it sucks sometimes and that it demands a total gift of self.  (Read more.)
Via Unequally Yoked.

And being single means bearing the cross, too. From Mary Beth Bonacci:
I believe that God does exist. But I don’t believe that He is who you think He is. The “God” you’re talking about—the one who automatically provides us with spouses as a reward for virtuous behavior—He doesn’t exist. Never has. Never will.

I know you’re hurting. I’m sorry. I’ve been there, too. Virtually everybody on this site has. It’s hard—very hard—to feel called to marriage, to assume that it’s our future, and then to find that the “right one” isn’t showing up, and to face the possibility that he or she may never show up.

But don’t blame it on God.

He loves you. Madly. Passionately. And He wants what is absolutely best for you. More than just wanting you to be “generally happy,” He wants you to be really happy. In eternity with Him. Forever. That’s His focus. He’s our Savior. He came to save us—not from a corrupt government (as many of his followers assumed), or from spinsterhood (as we singles sometimes assume) or from persecution or famine or anything else. He came to save us from the power of evil, and He left us a Church as an instrument of our eternal salvation. And He promised that His Spirit would be with that Church until the end of the world.

As for this life, He never promised us “general happiness,” or a peaceful life, or a guaranteed spouse, or anything like that. In fact, He pretty much promised that we’ll have a bit of a rough time of it if we follow Him.

You are finding that now. The problem isn’t with God, it’s with the free will He gave to us. When people use that free will in ways that are contrary to His will, other people get hurt. That’s one reason why, in this day and age, so many faithful Catholics are single. Fewer Catholics are taking their faith seriously. And that leaves fewer faithful Catholics for us to marry. (Read more.)


boinky said...

JRRTolkien's letter on this is also wise: it is quoted here: "Faithfulness in Christian marriage entails that: great mortification. For a Christian man there is no escape. Marriage may help to sanctify and direct to its proper object his sexual desires; its grace may help him in the struggle; but the struggle remains. It will not satisfy him--as hunger may be kept off by regular meals. It will offer as many difficulties to the purity proper to that state, as it provides easements. No man, however truly he loved his betrothed and bride as a young man, has lived faithful to her as a wife in mind and body without deliberate conscious exercise of the will, without self-denial."

Tolkien traced unhappiness in marriage, especially on the part of the husband, to the Church's failure to teach these truths and to speak of marriage honestly. Those who see marriage as nothing more than the arena of ecstatic and romantic love will be disappointed, Tolkien understood. "When the glamour wears off, or merely works a bit thin, they think they have made a mistake, and that the real soul-mate is still to find. The real soul-mate too often proves to be the next sexually attractive person that comes along."

PV said...

Many singles are unhappy for being single because they too romanticize the marriage. They fail to see that the ultimate goal is Christ and marriage is a one of the means to reach this sublime goal...