5. Holy Communion: Eucharistic and Marital

Sealing of the covenant

A fifth similarity [between the Eucharistic and marital communions] can be urged by looking at the way in which the covenant is sealed. The New Covenant made by Christ is sealed in his own blood the next day on Calvary. On his part there was a complete giving of self, an act of complete obedience, a perfect compliance with the will of the Father without regard to his own inconvenience and suffering. The matrimonial covenant is sealed by sexual intercourse which, if it symbolizes anything, symbolizes a complete mutual giving of self and acceptance of the other. In this aspect of the seal of the covenant we can see the full force of the marriage discourse of St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Wives are to be subject to a loving husband.  Husbands are to love their wives in the same way that Christ loved the Church: He gave up his life to sanctify the Church.  Likewise, the husband should not be seeking his own benefit but must be willing to sacrifice, to achieve a higher union with his spouse, through the giving of himself.  In marriage as in all other phases of life, the words of Christ have new bearing: “He who seeks his life will lose it; he who loses his life for my sake will gain it.”

The covenant of marriage is to sacramentalize the covenant of Christ with his Church. That is, it is to be the same reality only under difference appearances. The New Covenant was sealed by the death of him who in this way sanctified the Church, his body.  The covenant of Matrimony must be sealed likewise by the death to self in order to help the spouse, now joined in a unique oneness, to attain a life of holiness.

To be continued tomorrow.  (By John Kippley, Ave Maria 1967; Sex and the Marriage Covenant, Ignatius 2005)

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