By Patricia Brennan
All sacraments of the Catholic Church are sacred, but, according to Dr. D.C. Schindler, marriage is one of the greatest. The University of Dallas welcomed Schindler from the Pontifical John Paul II Institute on Wednesday Sept. 24 in Lynch Auditorium. Schindler is associate professor of metaphysics and anthropology at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for studies on marriage and family at the Catholic University of America.
The lecture, put on by the theology department, was on the topic of marriage and the family. This topic is already at the forefront of many Catholics’ minds, since the third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will be held this October to discuss family and evangelization. The fact that this lecture was put on less than a month before the synod was “serendipitous,” according to theology professor, Dr. Christopher Malloy.
In his talk, Schindler explained his belief that marriage, in its traditional Christian form, has been attacked from all sides due to the changing cultural climate. Secularism and moral relativism have pervaded even the blessed sacraments as society continues to pull away from God. Even within the Church there is debate and contention on the topic of marriage.
“One finds in some fairly recent literature, a proposal to add explicit personal faith in the sacramental character of marriage to the list of requirements,” Schindler explained. “But significantly, the Church has never accepted this proposal.”
According to Schindler, grace is found in each of the blessed sacraments, but most extraordinarily in marriage. Only in holy matrimony does the grace that “heals, elevates, and perfects” serve as an end of nature rather than an addition to nature.
“Marriage is naturally sacramental,” Schindler said. He explained that, paradoxically, while the divine transcends marriage, it also belongs to it by nature.
“[This] is why it has always had an essentially religious character in the history of every culture, in every part of the world, east and west, except perhaps, only the one in which we are currently living.“
Schindler discussed that, over the years, human desire has encroached upon the holy sacrament, demanding the grace that was intended as a gift in order to feed its voracious hunger, yet with no intention of honoring God’s will. Marriage, however, cannot be separated from that grace, since grace is naturally inherent in marriage.
Dr. Schindler presented five ways in which the sacrament of marriage represents a natural transcendence of nature: the natural distinction between man and woman, the openness to the gift of children, the inherently indissoluble bond, the nature and freedom within marriage, and the relinquishing of the future into the hands of God.
Schindler explained that marriage, like all sacraments, is a gift from God, one that is precious and that should be cherished. It is a unique sacrament full of grace and love and it is the hearth for the family, the very imitation of the union of Christ and the Church. It is through the gift of marriage that we receive the gift of the family. By its very nature, family is given as a pure and holy grace of God to make the natural sacrament of marriage of utmost importance.