"Yet, owing to the efforts of the archenemy of mankind, there are persons who, thanklessly casting away so many other blessings of redemption, despise also or utterly ignore the restoration of marriage to its original perfection. It is a reproach to some of the ancients that they showed themselves the enemies of marriage in many ways; but in our own age, much more pernicious is the sin of those who would fain pervert utterly the nature of marriage, perfect though it is, and complete in all its details and parts. The chief reason why they act in this way is because very many, imbued with the maxims of a false philosophy and corrupted in morals, judge nothing so unbearable as submission and obedience; and strive with all their might to bring about that not only individual men, but families, also-indeed, human society itself-may in haughty pride despise the sovereignty of God." (Arcanum Divinae, On Christian Marriage, no. 16, Pope Leo XIII, 1880)
The current crisis in marriage has certainly been abetted by elements by our contemporary society, like contraception, and no-fault divorce. Though these things place great obstacles in marriage, they would not be resorted to unless first there were selfish motives to begin with. Unless first, man sought to control his own destiny as Adam first did in the garden; as Lucifer did: "Non serviam", "I will not serve." How often to we hear this false proposition that it is in man's nature to rebel? Submission and obedience are anachronistic phrases that have no meaning for today. And yet, man will be submissive to something. If he is not submissive to God's will, he will be a slave to his own.
Marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman. In contrast to a contract which requires the exchange of goods, a covenant demands the exchanges of persons: a total gift of self. Yet, one cannot completely give to the other, unless he completely denies himself first. And in denying himself, he refuses to submit to his own will, and agrees to submit to God's will revealed in the vocation to marriage. This submission requires a humble and freely given obedience. A submission that is instinctive; and an obedience that is not burdensome.
It is no surprise that the spouse of the Holy Spirit, readily gave her fiat to God, the Father referring to herself as a servant:
"Behold, the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word." (Lk. 1:38)She said her yes as quickly, and lovingly as a devoted attendant in the King's chamber would have. Might we do the same? We may believe that we gladly submit to God's will, but do we submit to our spouse? To our family's needs? In our vocations, in our everyday lives, we are called to submit to God's will, but this is revealed through others. This humble obedience, and willing submission is not a romantic notion but a difficult Truth that must be lived out constantly and consistently. Tempted in the Garden of Olives, Our Savior Himself struggled:
"Father if thou art willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done." (Lk. 22:42)Yet, through Christ's obedience we are all saved and have the grace to obey as well:
"For as by one's man disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man's obedience many will be made righteous." (Rom. 5:19)When we live this Truth, when we submit to His will, we acknowledge God's sovereignty over our lives. We also reveal our trust in His loving plan for us. God Bless you and be with you in your fast today!