March 21, 2011

A Sacramental Angle

Marriage is not just for the couple. Their relationship, like the bread of the Eucharist, is blessed and broken open, given, taken, and feeds a multitude.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

9 comments:

IT said...

This is what I tried to get at here.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Thanks, IT, for that wonderful witness.

My brain was percolating at the recent churchwide consultation in Atlanta, and this was one of the things that came up. At the time I tried to cast it as a "Hillel" concept: if the couple is only for itself, what are they? but if they don't speak up for themselves, who will? and if not now, when?

Then the idea of the eucharist itself popped in, which stuck with me since the SCLM folks keep harping on baptism and I think eucharist is a better model, or at least a model of the lived-out reality of marriage, which is not just that one-time event, but a whole life! (Baptism is that, too, but also only as lived in the baptismal covenant...)

Thanks again, and mazel tov!

Fr. J said...

Amen!

bls said...

I don't get it, sorry. Are you talking about civil marriage? I don't see the connection, if so.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Thanks Fr. J.

bls, I was thinking primarily of marriage in the Christian context, but I do think it applies to the civil concept as well. If there isn't a social component beyond the couple themselves, why would the state have any interest in it? To paraphrase the famous Donne line, "No couple is an island, but are a part of the larger humanity. Every marriage enlarges me as well, as I share in that common humanity. So send not to ask for whom the wedding bell tolls: it tolls for thee."

bls said...

I guess I'm not understanding the "feeding" part; that's where I get hung up. In particular when thinking of civil marriage, but also marriage in the church.

I don't really see how marriage of either type can "feed the multitude," I guess....

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

"Feeding" is metaphorical here. The present marriage rite of TEC has a few notes in the direction I'm speaking of: "that their home may be a haven of blessing and peace..." "Grant that all married persons who have witnessed these bows may find their lives strengthened and their loyalties confirmed..." "Grant that the bonds of our common humanity, by which all your children are united one to another, and the living to the dead, may be so transformed by your grace..." "make their life together a sign of Christ's love to this sinful and broken world, that unity may overcome estrangement..." "give them such fulfillment of their mutual affection that they may reach out in love and concern for others..."

That's what I'm talking about. I realize that the language of civil marriage ceremonies is not so fulsome! The societal purpose of the civil act is implicit rather than so explicitly spelled out.

bls said...

Sure, I understand that it's metaphor. I'm just saying that I don't believe it's true - that marriage "feeds" others in that metaphorical way.

Particularly now, when half of marriages end in divorce - well, it's a bit hard to take the thing very seriously anymore. Thus: no "feeding." I don't think I'm alone in this, either; I think most people have become quite cynical about marriage (even as the wedding "industry" keeps chugging along, of course).

Friendship seems more like a sacrament to me than marriage does, to be honest....

Oh, well. Obviously I've become cynical about the whole thing myself.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Well, bls, now I see what you're getting at. I don't mean to imply that marriage is a sacrament efficacious automatically ex opere operato -- and surely a marriage ending in divorce could hardly be called "efficacious"! But in spite of those failures, I think marriage is intended to be, and very often is, a source of support to others than the couple themselves.