I hung up the phone, feeling as if I had just caught a glimpse of some of the devil’s most triumphant work. A place where bodies go who have been robbed of their dignity in a way that leaves their souls gasping for air. A place where bodies go who have been dragged to hell and back because God’s vision of love was perverted into a crime of lust. A place where bodies go to restore their shredded dignity and where their souls are seeking the fullness of the Truth.
I called our local safe house for victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault to obtain a donation list of items that might help these women and children put the pieces of their lives together, beginning with their own personal dignity.
But how is this possible? Where is the fulfillment in a world where the sin of lust has taught us that the desires of the flesh exist to be indulged in ways that only leave us aching for more? Where is the hope in a world that has managed to separate the urges of our bodies from the true love that every heart desires? Where is the source of light in a world where children’s temporal and spiritual needs are neglected because their parents’ physical cravings were so horribly misdirected?
The answer lies within each and every one of us.
“When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God; he created them male and female.” (Genesis 5: 1-2)
“The man and his wife were both naked, yet they felt no shame.” (Genesis 2:25)
Blessed John Paul II tells us in the Theology of the Body that “‘nakedness’ signifies the original good of the divine vision. It signifies the whole simplicity and fullness of this vision, which shows the ‘pure’ value of man as male and female, the ‘pure’ value of the body and of [its] sex.”
It is within the sacramental marriage between a man and a woman that our vision is able to overcome the clouds of lust. It is within the sacramental marriage between a man and a woman that God gives us the grace to be naked without shame–naked without the fear of being used or abused, confident that our spouse is viewing us as a dignified gift.
A married man and woman can see in each other bodies that complement one another perfectly, bodies that hold the potential to create new life, bodies that have the capacity to image the Blessed Trinity itself through their life-giving love. This is how marriage in its supreme sacredness is truly “the way of the ‘redemption of the body’” (TOB 23:5) This is how marriage allows us to “retriev[e] this dignity, in which the true meaning of the human body, its meaning as personal and ‘of communion’ is fulfilled at the same time.” (TOB 23:5)
So let us clothe ourselves in the dignity of the Sacrament of Marriage, that we might be a light to others who have fallen prey to the skillful deceptions of the devil. Live your marriage in the fullness of the Truth so that others will not lose hope in the reality of God’s love.
“Be fruitful and multiply” and teach your children well. May the language of your body reveal the Truth of the ‘“divine vision” and an appreciation for the complementarity of your spouse’s body, exactly the way God created it. Study the Church’s teachings on married love and pray with and for your spouse. Have faith that God wants nothing more than to form your marriage into a beacon of hope for the world that will demonstrate to others the meaning of their desires and the answer to the deep longing in their hearts. Be the witness that the world can’t deny, that the world can’t help but look to as it struggles to retrieve its trampled dignity and satisfy its craving for love.
This is what marriage is: a symbol to the world of God’s great hope and love–a symbol of His life-bearing Spirit and total and faithful commitment–a reminder that we were all created with an inherent dignity that deserves to be respected by all.
Live the Truth of the real meaning of marriage and, in the words of St. Francis, “Preach always. If necessary, use words.”
Theology of the Body for Beginners by Christopher West is a great introduction to John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.
For Better . . . Forever by Dr. Gregory Popcak’s is a fantastic guide for married couples seeking insight into what it takes to create a loving, happy marriage.
Life-Giving Love: Embracing God’s Beautiful Design for Marriage by Kimberly Hahn will help you discover the true design of marriage and the beauty of the Church’s teaching on procreation and life.