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June 12, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Adam spoke “up” when he spoke with God, and “down” in the naming of the animals, but it was not until the creation of Eve, “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh” (Gen 2:23), that he had a dialogue with an equal. 

Adam and Eve had no proper names of their own before they met each other (cf. Gen 3:20). The animals were altogether other; he was himself; but Eve was, in a way, himself and yet other—formed from him and for him by God, just as the Father and Son, though distinct, are not separated from each other, the One ever proceeding from the Other and turned towards Him, from and for Him. The unity of the Father and Son in the Love of the Holy Spirit is the source of our dialogue, communion, and fruitfulness. 

For Adam and Eve, their awakening was an ecstasy, a going-out-of-oneself in love; their state not the monism of manipulative autonomy but the oneness of unashamed communion (cf. Gen 2:21–25). This is the nuptial state to which husbands and wives are striving to return, just as the Church on earth is striving for it with her Bridegroom: “that they may be one, even as We are One” (Jn 17:22). 

Consecrated life is eschatological in its very essence as sacramental sign and anticipated reality of the future state here and now, but marriage, too, is eschatological, foreshadowing the ultimate rest of the beatific vision and the ultimate perfection of the Church in her embrace of Christ.

Just as the love “until the end” manifested in the Last Supper (cf. Jn 13:1) presupposed the Cross yet to come, so the fleshly union of husband and wife presupposes sacrifice through children yet to be received—later in time but already present in intention, present in eternity (cf. Eph 1:4). From this we can see the perversity of the intentionally barren union. He who partakes of the flesh unworthily partakes of his own damnation (cf. 1 Cor 11:29). The communicant must be willing to bear the Cross of Christ, for that is the meaning of the gift of which he partakes. Spouses, too, must be open to the crown and cross of children, for that is inherent in the gift they give to each other; the child is excluded or thwarted only by doing violence to the gift.

Would we receive Holy Communion as casually as some receive their partner into bed? There are those who do one or the other or both. But neither of these should be done casually. When we come into contact with God, we are touching fire. When we come into contact with the other person, we are touching God’s property, God’s image, God’s sacrament, and in this way, we are handling fire. It is no mere recreation for the sake of pleasure, it is a self-revelation and a self-emptying, the most intimate in its immediacy and the most cosmic in its implications. 

The Church does not “intrude” into this sphere (as her enemies say). Rather, she shows how this sphere extends to the depths and opens to the heights. Spousal friendship is the only vehicle great enough, stable enough, strong enough, to sustain the full impact of this communion, which is meant to increase the life of God within us. 

The dwelling together of spouses is a sacramental domain. The Holy Spirit moves over the face of these waters and, according to His inscrutable mercies, takes away their formlessness, the reproach of their emptiness, even as bread and wine in the divine liturgy are transformed by the power of the same Spirit into the flesh and blood of Christ. The child is the gift that consecrates and completes the nuptial mystery, making it come alive in the astonishing wonder of new life.

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Peter Kwasniewski, Thomistic theologian, liturgical scholar, and choral composer, is a graduate of Thomas Aquinas College in California (B.A. Liberal Arts) and The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC (M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy). He taught at the International Theological Institute in Austria and the Franciscan University of Steubenville’s Austria Program, then helped establish Wyoming Catholic College in 2006. There he taught theology, philosophy, music, and art history and directed the choirs until leaving in 2018 to devote himself full-time to writing and lecturing.

Today he contributes regularly to many websites and publications, including New Liturgical Movement, OnePeterFive, LifeSiteNews, Rorate Caeli, The Remnant, and Catholic Family News, and has published thirteen books, including four on traditional Catholicism: Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis (Angelico, 2014, also available in Czech, Polish, German, Portuguese, Spanish, and Belarusian), Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness (Angelico, 2017), Tradition and Sanity (Angelico, 2018), and Reclaiming Our Roman Catholic Birthright: The Genius and Timeliness of the Traditional Latin Mass (Angelico, 2020). His work has been translated into at least eighteen languages.

Kwasniewski is a scholar of The Aquinas Institute in Green Bay, which is publishing the Opera Omnia of the Angelic Doctor, a Fellow of the Albertus Magnus Center for Scholastic Studies, and a Senior Fellow of the St. Paul Center. He has published over a thousand articles on Thomistic thought, sacramental and liturgical theology, the history and aesthetics of music, and the social doctrine of the Church.

For news, information, article links, sacred music, and the home of Os Justi Press, visit his personal website, www.peterkwasniewski.com.

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