One of the burning questions in contemporary Catholicism is what constitutes a good spirituality for families. Often, good Catholics find it difficult to connect with the “spiritual greats” of the Catholic spiritual tradition because many of the classics were written by religious and for religious. In addition, it seems like spirituality is divorced from the day to day realities of family life, in which stress and other pressures form a silent backdrop for daily activities.
Although I would in no way argue that I am expert on marriage, I would like to offer a few thoughts on the subject. First, we must recognize that all human activity is called to be drawn up into and transfigured by the activity of God. Through grace, God is meant to have sovereignty over every moment of our day, not by a dictatorship of pious attention, but rather through a gentle presence consistently calling us to invite heaven into our lives.
In this way, everything from sex to paying the bills must be an instrument that calls us to greater conformity to the Divine will. This conformity takes place as we open our hearts to the Holy Spirit and allow His inspirations to guide and direct us. As we are stripped of the attachments to self and the deep disorders of sin within the heart, we are opened to Christ’s presence in such a way that we walk with the Lord in all our activities. This movement of opening to his presence involves a letting go of our egocentricity and selfishness which in turn gives us the freedom to receive and give love.
The intimacy of sex shared among husband and wife can be a powerful catalyst for this transformation. Intimacy with other people is purified and directed through our intimacy with God. As we learn to be “naked” before the other, we learn the gentle art of letting down the walls of our limited egos. Although the communion shared between husband and wife remains distinct from our communion with God, the two are intrinsically interconnected. The spirituality of the family must contain a vision in which all the domains of domestic life are integrated into a vision of the infinite potential of the human person in Christ.
With this in mind, I invite you to measure all aspects of your life against the backdrop of Christ’s infinite love. It is the stillness and dynamism of true love which is the measure of all human activity, not simply in terms of strong sentiment or surface emotions, but rather that fire of true love which is nothing short of Christ’s activity invigorating us from the depths of our divinized personhood. When we have learned to discover this fire and to let it burn within our hearts, it is then that we will be awaken to the Father’s will.