This month, the 8th World Meeting of Families will take place in Philladelphia, USA. The World Meeting of Families is an international event of prayer, catechesis, and celebration. The theme of this meeting is Love is our Mission- The Family Fully Alive. The meeting will end with the Festival of Families and Mass celebrated by Pope Francis.
To prepare for the event, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the Pontifical Council for the Family have created a preparatory catechesis on family life. Each chapter ends with questions for discussion. Below, I share my answers.
Chapter 2: The Mission of Love
a) Why is God’s love like a marriage?
The Sacrament of Marriage is indissoluble. God’s love is like a marriage because he remains steadfast for us. In the Old Testament, we read of God’s relationship with his people using the language of marriage. When God’s people sin and turn away from Him, it is a kind of “adultery and prostitution”. God is portrayed as a betrayed husband. Yet despite this, God never abandons us. “God perseveres in love for his people, even when we fall, even when we insist on trying to live without him”. (World Meeting of Families Catechesis)
b) How is God’s way of loving different from our own human way of loving?
Human love is flawed- we are fickle and selfish. God’s love is perfect, enduring and sacrificial.
c) What is true love and how do we recognise it? What are some similarities and differences between your culture’s notion of romantic love and God’s covenant love?
True love is mutual self-giving.
God is love and humans are made in the image and likeness of God so, in order to understand humans, we need to understand Him. While the Trinity is a mystery, we do see glimpses through revelation and tradition of the Church of what the life of the Trinity exists in- the eternal exchange of love. This Trinitarian God is that same God in whose image we are made this we too are made to receive and give love. In so doing, by the grace of God, we can share in the eternal exchange of love.
Due to our fallen nature, human love can fall short of this. Our culture proposes notions of romantic love that are either distortions or contradictions of this authentic love. The impulse to love is written into our very nature, but all to often this can be corrupted into a self-love that seeks its own satisfaction, rather than the good of the other.
d) Can you think of a time when God’s love helped you to love in a more honest and better way?
In our relationships there are countless times when we hurt others and are hurt by others because of our selfishness and pride yet, by God’s grace, we find ways to forgive this hurt and to restore relationship. These graces which we receive and which sustain the best relationships in our lives with our family and friends are outpourings of God’s love restoring us to authentic relationship with Him and with others.