In preparation for the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in September 2015 and the visit from Pope Francis, a catechism on family life titled “Love is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive,” has been prepared. Each month CatholicPhilly.com presents a reflection on one of the 10 chapters of the catechism.
Our first three chapters reviewed basic Christian faith. We saw how confidence in Jesus opens the door to faith, enabling us to know God and what God has done in history. God creates male and female in his image, and makes a covenant with Israel and the Church. God is faithful to his promises, even when we sin. Because God loved us in this way, we spend our lives trying to return our love to God and share it with our neighbor.
In this month’s chapter and in the chapters to come, we will study the implications of these doctrines for marriage and the family. When husband and wife promise to love each other as God loves us all, they make a commitment to love not only romantically, but also with mercy and forgiveness.
Our culture sometimes teaches us to think of marriage as a negotiable contract between two individuals who happen to feel sexual chemistry. This view of love is a recipe for instability, since it is still premised on individualism and the waxing and waning of romantic feelings.
The Church’s alternative account of love enables us to transcend the culture of individualism and become who we were created to be. Founded on Christ, sustained in the sacraments, Catholic marriage builds humility and self-sacrifice into the dynamic between male and female. As this month’s chapter explains in more detail, sacramental marriage creates intimate communion even in times of suffering and hardship.
“Love is our mission,” as our catechism’s title declares, because Christ’s love frees us from false, shrunken accounts of love and makes us fully alive.