Bookmark and Share

Marriage Is the Central Point of the Sacrament of Creation

98 (of 129) - Catechesis by John Paul II on the Theology of the Body
General Audience, Wednesday 13 October 1982 - in Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. In our previous consideration we have tried to study in depth—in the light of the Letter to the Ephesians—the sacramental "beginning" of man and marriage in the state of original justice (or innocence).

We know, however, that the heritage of grace was driven out of the human heart when the first covenant with the Creator was broken. The perspective of procreation, instead of being illumined by the heritage of original grace, given by God as soon as he infused a rational soul, became dimmed by the heritage of original sin. We can say that marriage, as a primordial sacrament, was deprived of that supernatural efficacy which at the moment of its institution belonged to the sacrament of creation in its totality. Nonetheless, even in this state, that is, in the state of man's hereditary sinfulness, marriage never ceased being the figure of that sacrament we read about in the Letter to the Ephesians (Eph 5:21-33) and which the author of that letter does not hesitate to call a "great mystery." Can we not perhaps deduce that marriage has remained the platform for the actuation of God's eternal designs, according to which the sacrament of creation had drawn near to men and had prepared them for the sacrament of redemption, introducing them to the dimension of the work of salvation? The analysis of the Letter to the Ephesians, especially the classic text (5:21-33), seems to lean toward such a conclusion.

2. When in verse 31 the author refers to the words of the institution of marriage contained in Genesis (2:24: "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and will cling to his wife, and the two shall become one body"), and then immediately states: "This is a great mystery; I mean that it refers to Christ and the Church" (Eph 5:32), he seems to indicate not only the identity of the mystery hidden in God from all eternity, but also that continuity of its actuation. This exists between the primordial sacrament connected with the supernatural gracing of man in creation itself and the new gracing, which occurred when "Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her to make her holy..." (Eph 5:25-26)—gracing can be defined in its entirety as the sacrament of redemption. In this redemptive gift of himself "for" the Church, there is also contained—according to Pauline thought—Christ's gift of himself to the Church, in the image of the nuptial relationship that unites husband and wife in marriage. In this way, the sacrament of redemption again takes on, in a certain sense, the figure and form of the primordial sacrament. To the marriage of the first husband and wife, as a sign of the supernatural gracing of man in the sacrament of creation, there corresponds the marriage, or rather the analogy of the marriage, of Christ with the Church, as the fundamental great sign of the supernatural gracing of man in the sacrament of redemption—of the gracing in which the covenant of the grace of election is renewed in a definitive way, the covenant which was broken in the beginning by sin.

3. The image contained in the quoted passage from the Letter to the Ephesians seems to speak above all of the sacrament of redemption as that definitive fulfillment of the mystery hidden from eternity in God. Everything that the Letter to the Ephesians had treated in the first chapter is actuated in this mysterium magnum (great mystery). As we recall, it says not only "In him [that is, in Christ] God chose us before the world began, to be holy and blameless in his sight..." (Eph 1:4), but also "in whom [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the remission of sins, so immeasurably generous is God's favor to us..." (Eph 1:7-8). The new supernatural gracing of man in the sacrament of redemption is also a new actuation of the mystery hidden in God from all eternity—new in relation to the sacrament of creation. At this moment, gracing is in a certain sense a new creation. However, it differs from the sacrament of creation insofar as the original gracing, united to man's creation, constituted that man in the beginning, through grace, in the state of original innocence and justice. The new gracing of man in the sacrament of redemption, instead, gives him above all the remission of sins. Yet even here grace can "abound even more," as St. Paul expresses elsewhere: "Where sin increased, grace has abounded even more" (Rom 5:20).

4. The sacrament of redemption—the fruit of Christ's redemptive love—becomes, on the basis of his spousal love for the Church, a permanent dimension of the life of the Church herself, a fundamental and life-giving dimension. It is the mysterium magnum (great mystery) of Christ and the Church. It is the eternal mystery actuated by Christ, who "gave himself up for her" (Eph 5:25). It is the mystery that is continually actuated in the Church, because Christ "loved the Church" (Eph 5:25), uniting himself with her in an indissoluble love, just as spouses, husband and wife, unite themselves in marriage. In this way the Church lives on the sacrament of redemption. In her turn she completes this sacrament just as the wife, in virtue of spousal love, completes her husband. In a certain way this had already been pointed out "in the beginning" when the first man found in the first woman "a helper fit for him" (Gn 2:20). Although the analogy in the Letter to the Ephesians does not state it precisely, we can add also that the Church united to Christ, as the wife to her husband, draws from the sacrament of redemption all her fruitfulness and spiritual motherhood. The words of the letter of St. Peter testify to this in some way when he writes that we have been "reborn not from a corruptible, but from an incorruptible seed, through the living and enduring word of God" (1 Pt 1:23). So the mystery hidden in God from all eternity—the mystery that in the beginning, in the sacrament of creation, became a visible reality through the union of the first man and woman in the perspective of marriage—becomes in the sacrament of redemption a visible reality of the indissoluble union of Christ with the Church, which the author of the Letter to the Ephesians presents as the nuptial union of spouses, husband and wife.

5. The sacramentum magnum (the Greek text reads: tò mystérion toûto méga estín) of the Letter to the Ephesians speaks of the new actuation of the mystery hidden in God from all eternity. It is the definitive actuation from the point of view of the earthly history of salvation. It also speaks of "making the mystery visible": the visibility of the Invisible. This visibility is not had unless the mystery ceases to be a mystery. This refers to the marriage constituted in the beginning, in the state of original innocence, in the context of the sacrament of creation. It refers also to the union of Christ with the Church, as the great mystery of the sacrament of redemption. The visibility of the Invisible does not mean—if it can be said this way—a total clearing of the mystery. The mystery, as an object of faith, remains veiled even through what is precisely expressed and fulfilled. The visibility of the Invisible therefore belongs to the order of signs, and the sign indicates only the reality of the mystery, but not the unveiling. The "first Adam"—man, male and female—created in the state of original innocence and called in this state to conjugal union (in this sense we are speaking of the sacrament of creation) was a sign of the eternal mystery. So the "second Adam," Christ, united with the Church through the sacrament of redemption by an indissoluble bond, analogous to the indissoluble covenant of spouses, is a definitive sign of the same eternal mystery. Therefore, in speaking about the eternal mystery being actuated, we are speaking also about the fact that it becomes visible with the visibility of the sign. Therefore we are speaking also about the sacramentality of the whole heritage of the sacrament of redemption, in reference to the entire work of creation and redemption, and more so in reference to marriage instituted within the context of the sacrament of creation, as also in reference to the Church as the spouse of Christ, endowed by a quasi-conjugal covenant with him."


After the catechesis, Papa Giovanni Paolo II greeted the pilgrims in various languages:

Ai pellegrini di lingua francese

Chers Frères et Sœurs,

Je résume ainsi ce que j’ai dit depuis quelque temps sur la Lettre aux Ephésiens en rapport avec les premiers chapitres de la Genèse. On peut parler du sacrement de la Création, concernant l’homme et la femme créés dans l’état d’innocence originelle et appelés dans cet état à l’union conjugale. C’était alors le signe du Dessein d’amour de Dieu, gratifiant les hommes de sa sainteté en vue de les adopter comme des fils. Et ce mystère caché dès l’origine a trouvé sa réalisation nouvelle et définitive dans ce qu’on peut appeler le Sacrement de la Rédemption, par lequel le Christ a aimé l’Eglise au point de se livrer pour elle et d’obtenir aux hommes rachetés la sainteté, par la rémission des péchés, comme en une nouvelle création; ce Sacrement de la Rédemption - le grand mystère - fait de l’Eglise l’Epouse du Christ, unie à lui de façon indissoluble, le complétant en quelque sorte, comme la première Eve (“aide semblable à lui”), et recevant de lui sa fécondité spirituelle. Enfin, de tout ce mystère d’Alliance, le sacrement actuel de mariage est le signe visible. Quelle dignité pour l’amour des époux chrétiens!

Je salue et bénis tous les pèlerins de langue française présents à cette audience, époux, parents, jeunes et aussi les personnes consacrées à Dieu, signes du Royaume à venir, frères et religieuses, et je dois aujourd’hui un salut particulier aux prêtres représentés ici par un groupement international.

* * *

Chers Frères dans le sacerdoce, membres et responsables de l’Union Apostolique du Clergé,

Soyez vivement remerciés d’avoir tenu à me rendre visite, au milieu de cette foule qui représente si bien l’Eglise universelle et qui vous rappelle concrètement la magnifique mission pastorale pour laquelle vous avez un jour reçu de votre évêque l’imposition des mains.

Je suis heureux de savoir que vous consacrez quatre journées romaines à l’approfondissement de l’esprit communautaire des prêtres au sein du presbyterium diocésain. Je vous félicite d’effectuer ces travaux de réflexion en vous appuyant sur des bases solides et lumineuses, telles que les Actes des Apôtres, l’enseignement des Pères, spécialement saint Augustin et saint Grégoire-le-Grand, et les documents de Vatican II. Aimez et faites aimer ces sources inépuisables et tonifiantes!

Je sais également que la prière tient une grande place dans cette session internationale et qu’elle se fond dans la prière jaillie du cœur de Jésus: “Père saint, garde ceux que tu m’as donnés . . . Que tous soient un, comme toi Père, tu es en moi et moi en toi. Qu’eux aussi soient un en nous, afin que le monde croie que tu m’as envoyé!” (Cfr. Io. 17, 11. 21). Oui, que votre ordination au presbytérat soit toujours davantage le fondement de l’unité entre évêques et prêtres et en même temps le signe efficace de la vérité et de la crédibilité de l’Evangile! A vous qui portez actuellement des responsabilités dans cette Union Apostolique qui touche quarante mille prêtres de quarante-cinq nations, j’adresse mes encouragements chaleureux, comme à tous les responsables d’associations sacerdotales. Vivez votre sacerdoce avec une foi à transporter les montagnes et aidez vos frères prêtres à faire de même! C’est bien de cela que l’Eglise et le monde d’aujourd’hui ont surtout besoin. Que Marie, la Mère de l’Unique Prêtre et Pasteur, veille sur vous! Et moi, je vous bénis de grand cœur.

* * *

J’aurais voulu aussi saluer plus longuement le groupe des Frères Maristes des Ecoles, représentant six mille religieux. Chers Frères, dans le sillage du bienheureux Marcellin Champagnat, vous tenez dans l’Eglise une place importante et originale: vous y incarnez le charisme d’une vie authentiquement consacrée à Dieu, selon les Conseils évangéliques, pour un apostolat complémentaire du ministère ordonné des prêtres, et totalement donnée au service de l’éducation des enfants et des jeunes, si nécessaire pour le progrès culturel et religieux du monde contemporain. A vous tous, mes vœux chaleureux et mon affectueuse Bénédiction!

Ai fedeli di lingua inglese

Dear brothers and sisters,

During the past weeks we have been reflecting on the sacramental origins of marriage, as it existed in the beginning, before original sin. But also after original sin, marriage continues to reflect the sacrament of God’s creation. It is indeed, in the words of the Letter to the Ephesians, a great mystery which signifies Christ’s gift of himself to the Church. And this gift of Christ to the Church is presented in the image of the conjugal relationship of husband and wife.

Marriage, as it existed in the beginning, was the actuation of the mystery of God’s love hidden from eternity in God. But through Redemption, marriage becomes a permanent dimension of the life of the Church, on the basis of Christ’s sponsal love for his Church. Through the sacrament of Redemption, Christ is united with his Church through an indissoluble bond, which is like the indissoluble covenant of husband and wife, and which becomes the definitive sign of the eternal mystery of God’s love. Christ’s love for his Church expressed in the sacrament of marriage becomes the visible expression of God’s invisible love.

My greetings go to all the pilgrims assembled here today from England, Scotland, Ireland, the Philippines, Canada and the United States.

* * *

In particular I welcome, from England, the members of Her Majesty’s Ships “Naiad” and “Fearless”. During your visit to Rome may you experience God’s gifts of gladness and peace of soul. And may the Lord bless your families at home.

* * *

With special joy I greet the group of friends of the Focolari Movement - the Anglican, Evangelical, Orthodox and Catholic Bishops meeting at Rocca di Papa. In your prayer and in the pursuit of truth in love, may our Lord Jesus Christ reveal himself ever more fully to all of you. And may the word of Christ abide always in your hearts.

Ai pellegrini di lingua tedesca

Liebe Brüder und Schwerstern!

Viene von euch haben schon am Sonntag an der Heiligsprechung von Pater Maximilian Kolbe teilgenommen. Ich freue mich auch über euren Besuch bei dieser Audienz und grüße euch alle herzlich. Nehmt die geistliche Botschaft des neuen Heiligen mit hinein in euren Alltag. Sein opferbereiter, heroischer Einsatz für den Mitmenschen sei euch stets Vorbild und Ermutigung, wie er mit Christus euer Leben im Dienst an de Mitbrüdern hinzugeben.

In unseren allgemeinen Überlegungen erörtern wir heute die Sakramentalität der Ehe. Ihre Wurzel liegt schon im sakramentalen Charakter der Schöpfung selbst, in der Gott von Anfang an seinen ewigen Heilsplan mit der Menschheit zu verwirklichen begonnen hat. Mit dem Verlust der übernatürlichen Begnadung durch die Ursünde verlor jedoch zugleich die Ehe ihre übernatürliche Wirkkraft. Doch bleibt sie auch nach dem Sündenfall in einer besonderen Weise Zeichen für jenes” große Geheimnis“, von dem das 5. Kapitel des Epheserbriefes spricht und das im Sakrament der Erlösung, im Liebesbund zwischen Christus und der Kirche, seine endgültige volle Verwirklichung findet. Wie die Ehe des ersten Menschenpaares Zeichen für die übernatürliche Begnadung des Menschen im Sakrament der Schöpfung gewesen ist, so ist die unauflösliche Vereinigung Christi mit der Kirche das grundlegende ”große“ Zeichen für die übernatürliche Heiligung des Menschen im Sakrament der Erlösung. Diese findet im Ehesakrament ihren besonderen sichtbaren, gnadenhaften Ausdruck.

Besonders grüße ich unter den heute so zahlreichen deutschen Gruppen noch jene Pfarreien, die den hl. Maximilian Kolbe als ihren Kirchenpatron haben; ferner die großen Pilgerzüge aus den Diözesen Köln, Paderborn, Essen und Münster sowie die folgenden Kirchenchöre und Gesangvereine:

- die Kirchenchöre der Region Heinsberg im Bistum Aachen;

- den Cäcilienverband im Erzbistum Paderborn;

- Chor und Orchester des Görresgymnasiums und Chor der ehemaligen Hofkirche St. Andreas in Düsseldorf

- und den Kölner Männer-Gesangverein.

Ich danke euch allen für eure Teilnahme an der heutigen Audienz und erbitte euch die Gnade, daß ihr auch in den Pflichten des Alltags treu zu Christus und zu seiner Kirche steht.

* * *

Einen herzlichen Willkommensgruß richte ich schließlich noch an die Neupriester des Collegium Germanicum-Hungaricum mit ihren Angehörigen. Ihr seid, liebe junge Freunde, am Tag der Heiligsprechung von Pater Kolbe Priester geworden, am zwanzigsten Jahrestag der Eröffnung des Zweiten Vatikanum habt ihr eure Primiz gefeiert. Möge euer Leben und Wirken immer unter dem Vorbild und der Fürsprache des neuen Heiligen stehen und sich an den Lehren und Weisungen des Konzils ausrichten!

Ich empfehle euch der mütterlichen Liebe Marias und erteile euch, euren lieben Angehörigen und der ganzen Kollegsgemeinschaft sowie allen hier anwesenden Pilgern deutscher Sprache von Herzen meinen besonderen Apostolischen Segen.

Ai fedeli di lingua spagnola

Amadísimos hermanos y hermanas,

Saludo cordialmente y doy la bienvenida a esta Audiencia a los peregrinos y visitantes de lengua española, procedentes de España y de varios Países de Latinoamérica.

En nuestra reflexión anterior hemos analizado el “principio” sacramental del hombre y del matrimonio, en el estado de justicia o inocencia original. La perspectiva de la creación, en vez de ser una herencia de la gracia original, ha sido agravada por el pecado original. Por ello, el matrimonio, como sacramento primordial, fue privado de la eficacia sobrenatural que, en el momento de su institución, recibía del sacramento de la creación; aunque no dejó de ser figura de tal sacramento, que el autor de la Carta a los Efesios llama “gran misterio”.

Gracia a Cristo, el misterio escondido desde los siglos en Dios, - hecho realidad visible por la unión del primer hombre y de la primera mujer, en la perspectiva del matrimonio - se hace una realidad visible en el sacramento de la redención, mediante la unión indisoluble de Cristo con la Iglesia.

* * *

Un especial saludo al equipo de técnicos de Radio Nacional de España aquí presentes.

Sé que habéis venido para ir preparando mi ya próximo viaje a vuestra Patria, en ocasión de la clausura del Cuarto Centenario de la muerte de esa gran Santa española y universal, Teresa de Jesús. Agradezco vivamente a vosotros, a la Dirección y compañeros vuestros de Radio Nacional el interés que estáis poniendo para ofrecer una cobertura conveniente de las diversas fases del viaje. Llevaos mi palabra de estima y aprecio, y que Dios bendiga a todos vosotros y vuestras familias.

Ai fedeli di lingua portoghese

Uma saudação especial aos peregrinos e ouvintes de língua portuguesa!

Com alegria de acolher-vos nesta audiência, quero deixar-vos um pensamento sobre o “grande mistério” de que fala São Paulo na carta aos Efésios. Trata-se de um plano de Deus, escondido desde a eternidade e realizado no tempo. Põe em continuidade o sacramento primordial da gratificação sobrenatural do homem na criação e a nova gratificação feita pela Redenção de Cristo. O sacramento da criação representa uma gratificação originária, que constitui o homem, desde o início, em estado de inocência e justiça. O sacramento da Redenção, ao invés, concede ao homem principalmente a “remissão dos pecados”. Mas mesmo assim com a superabundância da graça.

O sacramento da Redenção, em base ao amor esponsal de Cristo para com a Igreja, torna-se uma permanente, fundamental e vivificante dimensão da própria vida da Igreja. Este é pois o grande mistério de Cristo e da Igreja, um mistério eterno, realizado por Cristo que se deu a si mesmo à Igreja, unindo-se a ela com um amor indissolúvel, como se unem os esposos no matrimónio.

Desejando-vos uma feliz viagem, dou-vos a minha Bênção.

Ad un gruppo di pellegrini ungheresi

Un saluto particolare ad un gruppo di pellegrini ungheresi provenienti dalla diocesi di Veszprém, guidati dal loro parroco.

Saluto con affetto i pellegrini della diocesi di Veszprém. La mia benedizione apostolica ai cattolici ungheresi!

La preghiera alla Madonna di Jasna Góra

Matko Jasnogórska!

Pragnę ci dziś w sposób szczególny podziękować za dzień kanonizacji św. Maksymiliana Marii Kolbego, za ubiegłą niedzielę.

Gaude Mater Polonia

prole fecunda nobili.

Te słowa, które od wieków stosowano do św. Stanisława, pierwszego z polskich świętych kanonizowanego, wypada dziś zastosować do ostatniego: św. Maksymiliana.

Raduj się matko-Polsko wobec Matki Jasnogórskiej!

Raduj się ziemio ojczysta tym nowym twoim synem wyniesionym do chwały świętości.

Raduj się tak, jak niegdyś radowałaś się Stanisławem, tak jak po nim radowałaś się innymi synami Polski, na których spoczywała aureola świętości.

Stanisław zwyciężył pod mieczem.

Maksymilian przez bunkier głodowy.

Trudne jest zwycięstwo dobra w każdej epoce. Ale dobro w każdej epoce zwycięża.

Mówię to wobec Pani Jasnogórskiej,

i mówię do was, Rodacy, którzy w ostatnich latach uczyniliście ogromny wysiłek w kierunku dobra. W kierunku wspólnego dobra.

Przyjmijcie Maksymiliana Marię, świętego w pasiaku, męczennika bunkra głodowego, jako patrona naszych trudnych czasów.

Niech Pani Jasnogórska przyjmie w chwale Rycerza Niepokalanej.

Questa la traduzione in italiano della preghiera del papa alla Madonna di Jasna Góra.

Madre di Jasna Góra!

Desidero oggi in modo particolare, renderti grazie per il giorno della canonizzazione di san Massimiliano Maria Kolbe, renderti grazie per domenica scorsa.

“Gaude Mater Polonia

prole fecunda nobili”.

Queste parole che da secoli sono state riferite a san Stanislao, primo santo polacco canonizzato, conviene oggi riferirle all’ultimo: san Massimiliano.

Rallegrati, madre-Polonia dinanzi alla Madre di Jasna Góra!

Rallegrati, terra natale del tuo nuovo figlio elevato alla gloria degli altari.

Rallegrati come una volta hai gioito per Stanislao, così come, dopo di lui, ti sei rallegrata degli altri figli della Polonia sui quali è stata posata l’aureola dei santi.

Stanislao ha riportato la vittoria sotto la spada,

Massimiliano mediante il bunker della fame.

In ogni epoca è difficile la vittoria del bene. Ma in ogni epoca il bene vince.

Lo dico dinanzi alla Signora di Jasna Góra e lo dico a voi, Connazionali, che, nel corso degli ultimi anni, avete fatto un grande sforzo verso il bene; verso il bene comune.

Accogliete come patrono dei nostri tempi difficili Massimiliano Maria, il santo in casacca a righe martire del bunker della fame.

La Signora di Jasna Góra accolga in gloria il Milite dell’Immacolata.

Ad alcuni gruppi italiani

Sono lieto di salutare il numeroso pellegrinaggio del Movimento per la terza età, della diocesi di Prato, guidato dal Vescovo, Monsignor Pietro Fiordelli.

Mi compiaccio della vostra presenza, che è segno di fede e di amore per la Chiesa. Mentre vi esorto a vivere con profondo spirito cristiano questa stagione della vostra vita, amo auspicare che la società si renda sempre più sensibile ai vostri problemi e più pronta a risolverli. Da parte mia vi assicuro che potete sempre contare sull’affetto del Papa e sul suo interessamento per voi. Per questo vi benedico di cuore.

* * *

Desidero ora rivolgere un particolare saluto ai giovani. In questi giorni in cui atti di violenza e di odio opprimono i nostri cuori, voglio ricordarvi la necessità che - sull’esempio di san Massimiliano Kolbe - siate i primi testimoni della bellezza e della forza sempre vincente dell’amore cristiano, dimostrato, se necessario, fino al sacrificio supremo.

* * *

Il mio pensiero va, inoltre, agli ammalati. Per voi e per tutti questo mese di ottobre sia un richiamo alla recita quotidiana del santo Rosario, quale invocazione privilegiata alla beata Vergine. Lei, Madre di Dio e Madre nostra, non mancherà certo di presentare le vostre sommesse invocazioni e i vostri affanni a Colui che è il solo sollievo e ristoro, nelle tribolazioni della vita.

* * *

Voglio infine ricordare gli Sposi novelli, venuti a Roma per iniziare il loro cammino sulle memorie del Principe degli Apostoli, al centro della Cattolicità. Con le parole del Concilio Vaticano II, iniziato 20 anni orsono, esprimo l’augurio che il Signore abbia sempre un posto privilegiato nella vostra famiglia, la quale deve essere come una piccola Chiesa aperta e inserita profondamente nella vita della grande comunità ecclesiale, di cui siete parte insostituibile.

In pegno di questi auspici, a tutti imparto di cuore la propiziatrice benedizione apostolica.


© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana