The other day I came across a startling statistic: out of 100 men, 100 of those men will eventually undergo what clinical physicians define as death. In addition to this statistic, another fact alarmed me: of those 100 men, 0% will have wished that they did not live a life of glory. Indeed, all of us, at the end of our mortal lives, will wish that we had lived lives of glory. But how do we, as fathers and men live lives full of glory? Our Lord tells us, “In this is my Father glorified, that you may bear very much fruit.” (Jn 15:8) We glorify the Father and are glorified as fathers when we bear much fruit.
God desires all of us to glorify God, and glorifying God we are glorified by God. This glory is made manifest in our lives by bearing fruit. God desires for us to be successful. He desires to grant success to the work of our hands. (Psalm 89) The Parable of the Talents exemplifies this divine desire. God’s glory is that God eternally gives Himself away, and this is expressed fully and definitively in the life of Christ. Being made in His image, our glory, then, is the same – to give ourselves away – to set the pace of self-giving love. This is our banner, our motto, this is our tangible goal, a goal that is written on our hearts. No more illusions of what it means to be a man – this is it – to set the pace of self-giving love. This is the mark of a true man – a true father.
Over the last several FOSJ meetings we have laid out several principles that are worthy of review: 1) The Triune God is perfect self-giving love and this God wants us to share in that exchange of love. (See CCC 211) 2) The three attributes of the Trinity are distinction, unity and fruitfulness. 3) To love like the Trinity, our lives as men, and as fathers, must bear these attributes. Created human love bears the divine image to the degree that it has these three marks of the Trinity. Our distinction as male and female causes sexual attraction, which consequently leads to unity – the two becoming one flesh – and this one-flesh union produces life, both spiritually and physically. This is the reward of authentic communion between spouses: fruitfulness. Indeed, this is our Lord’s desire, “I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (Jn 10:10) This means that “man becomes the image of God not so much in the moment of solitude as in the moment of communion.” (TOB)
God created the body, sexual attraction, and the one-flesh union to speak to us of the love of the Trinity. So “the body, in fact, and it alone, is capable of making visible what is invisible; the spiritual and the divine. It was created to transfer into the visible reality of the world the mystery hidden since time immemorial in God, and thus to be a sign of it.” (TOB) In other words, the body, and the one flesh union has been created by God to make visible the invisible self-giving love of the Trinity. So, the body has been created to speak a theological language – the language of God. “It is the body itself which ‘speaks’; it speaks by means of masculinity and femininity…it speaks…both in the language of fidelity, that is love, and also in the language of conjugal infidelity, that is of adultery.” (TOB 359) Therefore, spouses “are called explicitly to bear witness – by using correctly the ‘language of the body’ – to spousal and procreative love, a witness worthy of ‘true prophets.’ (TOB 398)
What do these statements indicate? 1) First, God created man and woman with an inherent need to give themselves away to the other -they need to procreate to survive. This means that we need each other and we need to give ourselves away to the other to survive. God designed it this way to teach us how to love like Him. So, the body speaks this divine language of love. We can be true prophets, speaking with our bodies of God’s self-giving love – that is, love without self-interest, or we can lie with our bodies -appearing as though we love, but in reality we are using our bodies to get what we want. 2) When we enter into the one-flesh union with our wives, we communicate with our bodies a mutual consent to God and to one another, a consent to being receptive to life; an openness to the Love of the Trinitarian God. This consent to life constitutes the truthful sign of God’s love being imaged, transmitted and communicated in our marriage. This has tremendous implications. Apply these principles to test the ‘loves’ that the world proposes. The world proposes homosexual union as ‘true love’ – yet, is it fruitful? Remember that the body speaks of spiritual realities. The world proposes ‘contraceptive love’ as ‘true love’. Yet is this love fruitful? The world proposes pornography and masturbation as ‘true love’ – yet, is it self-giving and fruitful? 3)Third, we will be glorified as a team – husband and wife. To live a life of glory – a life that is full of life – we husbands who are married, cannot accomplish this without our wives. Man images God, not by himself, but rather in communion with his wife. It’s a partnership. If we want to be great, holy, glorified, it must be accomplished with our brides.
Mary and Joseph transmitted, by means of their marriage, the love – the fruitfulness of the Trinity. Mary and Joseph both entered into the earthly marriage, yet both of them remained celibate in order to enter into the heavenly marriage. By doing this, there existed in Mary and Joseph, a marriage between heaven and earth in their marriage. This marriage between heaven and earth brought about the real marriage between heaven and earth- Christ in the flesh. Truly, God deliberately chose to have Mary conceive Jesus after she was betrothed (first stage of Jewish marriage) to Joseph. The distinction of Mary and Joseph led to a true union of wills, and this union of wills bore the fruit of Christ to the world – through their marriage.
Why do so many marriage fail? Why are so many marriages struggling, holding on by a thread? Is it because we are idiots and can’t figure out how to love? Is it because we haven’t tried the ‘true loves’ of the world enough? No. It’s because God created marriage to be the vehicle to express His love for His bride. The devil hates this – hates us. If the evil one destroys marriage, rather than the earthly marriage directing us to the heavenly marriage, it directs us to Hell. This is why God says through the prophet Malachi: “I the Lord your God hate divorce.” If we are to bear fruit-fruit that will last-glorifying the Father and thus being glorified, we must re-calibrate, re-orient ourselves, to setting the pace of self-giving love for our wives, and those around us. Only then will we bear fruit that will endure. This could indicate that we change the way that we are living out our sexuality – that is, how we speak with our bodies, how we involve our wives in our lives, our dreams and our goals.