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4 October 2015
posted by Canon Dakin on 12-10-2015

The word ‘mystic‘ means hidden or concealed.  The word was used in the Early Church to describe the Eucharist.  What met the eye was bread and wine but hidden or concealed under those appearances was the true presence of Christ. Similarly we are all mystics.  Our lives conceal the presence of God. Our lives are sacramental - they are outward signs of inward grace and the grace is the presence of God himself, present to us as light and warmth are signs of the presence of the sun. The equivalent of light and warmth is the love in our lives. The human relationship which above all is sacramental. God revealing, is marriage.  The story of Adam and Eve is not a folk tale.  Man and woman were designed by God for each other to reflect the relationships which make God what God is.  God is love and it is love that constitutes marriage. “I take thee ... to love and to cherish till death do us part”. Cherish means to hold dear, to value. How far, how much? St Paul has no doubt: the mystery of marriage is enveloped in the love of Christ for his bride the Church. He so valued, so cherished the Church that he choose to die to secure her happiness. This means that married love is expressed in self-sacrifice for the good of the other; it implies a gift of self not selfish taking.

Right from the beginning of his pontificate Pope John Paul II hammered away at this concept of our finding ourselves male and female because we are made in the image of God and he spoke of the generosityand restraint that should characterise married love.  A woman in America told him to get real.    “Fromthe time Americans reach adolescence”, she wrote, “lust is the lifeforce”. That is the drift of modern culture. It has guided the story-line of The Archers, I believe, recently. If you want it then it’s good for you. The glue which makes a marriage is not lust but a generosity which is a gift of self.   The sacramentis not in the exchange of vows. What is sacramentalis the quality of their life together. A loveless marriage gives no sign of the inner life of God, it is not sacramental and therefore, it would seem, not a marriage at all. The judgement of the quality of life, the quality of love which makes a marriage may come up for discussion at the Synod on the Family beginning today in Rome. What we have to do to save marriage is to change the culture of our time which regards sex as mainly for fun. That is a tough assignment but what we can offer is a vision of stability that does appeal.  Cultures are constantly changing. Christianity tamed the hedonistic society of ancient Rome and if you imagine that in modern times we had to wait for the 1960s to declare a free for all you should read the diaries of Samuel Pepys to discover the low life ofthe 18th cent. which was turned around by the Victorians. Young people are idealists. We have to show them the ideal.

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