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Posted September 16, 2010
The mystery of marriage, natural and/or sacramental, was evident in humanity since the creation. Early in the passages of Genesis, God creates Adam and then his companion. This was beginning of natural marriage. God's intent for marriage was plainly visible from the start: 27 And God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them, saying: "Increase and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it, and rule over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and all living creatures that move upon the earth." (Genesis 1) One man was given one woman for the ultimate purposes of procreation through a life-long union of equal but complimentary souls (Genesis 2:24). In the classic work, Marriage: The Mystery of Faithful Love, author, philosopher and theologian Dietrich von Hildebrand reminds us of the divine origin of natural marriage and its fulfillment of sacramental grace in the New Testament in which marriage is the visible construct of Christ's love for the Church and for our very souls. This is a small, almost pocket-sized work of marital spirituality that found itself out of print in the United States but ironically remained popular in Europe. Thanks to non-profit publisher Sophia Institute Press, we have the luxury of being reintroduced to this short and pithy work. For marriage today, as when von Hildebrand wrote the book, is suffering from demonization and contempt, which threatens the very foundation of society. It is in the rediscovery of true, transcendent and selfless love that we can fully understand the purpose and means of marriage and its role in the life of the Church and in the sanctification of humanity. As von Hildebrand rightly points out, marriage is not only a sacrament but it is a vocation with it being near equal to the Sacrament of Holy Orders. And if marriage is a vocation then it is logical to understand that it is God who calls us to serve him in this manner. And it is He that gives us the graces to carry it out in full - we need only to respond with acceptance. This is the core of Marriage - a call to reawaken the understanding of man and woman in this oldest of institutions.
*Sophia Institute Press sent me a complimentary copy of this book for me to review.