August 4, 2016

Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus? Actually, Both are from God, and Called to Sainthood

The temptation of Adam and Eve by the serpentPop Psychology vs. Catholic Theology

The book Men Are From Mars Women Are From Venus tries to explain male/female relationships by examining the differing emotional needs and perceptions of spouses. The Church teaches and Sacred Scripture affirms that men and women were both from Eden before sin and selfishness replaced love and selflessness. When our first parents turned away from God, the source of life, goodness, truth and beauty, it altered every aspect of our existence.

Love, courtship and marriage are difficult under the best of circumstances. One thing is clear, men and women, though equal in dignity are fundamentally different so as to complement each other. Some call this a stereotype. Others refute it as chauvinism. Such views dismiss the design of Providence as arbitrary and fallible. In making us male and female, God is telling us things otherwise unknowable about human beings and Himself.

Saint John Paul II observed that in "the beginning," man and woman viewed each other "with all the peace of the interior gaze," and were not ashamed. He reminds us that the person is a divine gift; Adam and Eve were a gift to each other. Their bodies revealed this, speaking a language of love, untainted by lust and desire. Both innately understood what St. John Paul II called the "spousal meaning" of the body. In the covenant of marriage, husband and wife share a conjugal union for life, of exclusive and mutual fidelity, for the procreation and education of children. Wives express the unrepeatable feminine incarnations of the human person they are when they give themselves completely in loving their husbands. In so doing they honor and love God. Husbands express the unrepeatable masculine incarnations of the human person they are when they give themselves completely in loving their wives. In so doing they also love God.

When sin entered the world, paradise was lost; paving the way for the battle of the sexes. Still, the remnant of grace, the echo of original innocence, is indelibly inscribed on our hearts. The life-giving love between husband and wife is a sign of this grace. Even in our fallen state, the differences between the sexes should be viewed as an opportunity to grow in holiness. Unfortunately, they can also lead to misunderstandings, miscommunication and pain. We can overcome this, but only with humility and God’s help.

Celibacy for the Kingdom

The Church's teaching on the sacredness of conjugal love within marriage cannot be fully understood without an appreciation of the Christian meaning of virginity and celibacy. Marriage, sex and celibacy are interrelated. The celibate is called to love through their bodies by offering up their masculinity or femininity to God. Consecrated women religious live a beautiful vocation by being spouses to Christ. This is not a sexual union but a profound spiritual union. Likewise, priests and religious brothers offer up their masculinity to God by loving and serving the Church. Their model is Christ who offered His life for us. St. John Paul II explains:
On the basis of the same spousal meaning of being as a body, male or female, there can be formed the love that commits man to marriage for the whole duration of his life, but there can be formed also the love that commits man to a life of continence for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.
Spiritual love, like that shared by the Holy Family, brings joy far surpassing sexual fulfillment. Such joy is difficult to comprehend since most of us have never experienced it. The Holy Family did. The Virgin Mary and her husband, Joseph, refrained from conjugal relations. They nurtured, protected and loved Jesus. Having Christ in their midst was an unrivaled joy. The happiness this brought is something we can only imagine.

In heaven, we will see God face-to-face. Such intimacy with Our Creator is something the celibate witnesses to in the here-and-now. Many religious testify to a love of God that is beyond words. It animates their vocations enabling them to love as God loves. Following the Last Judgment, the good will enjoy the Beatific Vision and experience perfect happiness. Salvation history will cease, having achieved its ultimate purpose, love will triumph over evil, and darkness will be no more. On that day, we will love perfectly and forever, like God loves us.

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