By Amanda Murthy
Married couples should practise three important values which religious take as vows – poverty, chastity and obedience, American theologian-scholar Father Thomas Scirghi SJ told attendees during his free lecture titled “The Promise of Friendship, Forever: The Sacrament of Marriage”, which took place at the Newman Siena Centre on 26 July.
When talking about marriage as a vocation and calling, Fr Scirghi echoed the words of Pope Francis, defining marriage as an icon of the relationship between God and humanity.
“A good married couple gives us a glimpse of the divine – we know something about God’s love through them, and God’s way of loving becomes the measure of human love,” Fr Scirghi cited.
The Fordham University lecturer based his presentation on a course he developed called “The Future of Marriage”. The Centre for Faith Enrichment invited him as part of a series of adult faith formation.
“What makes marriage a Sacrament for Catholics is the covenant relationship – a covenant is a relationship which is entered into fully- unconditionally, freely- with a genuine desire, and lasts forever,” he said.
Fr Scirghi then discussed his next point on marriage as the highest form of friendship, by which the husband and wife recognise each other as another self.
According to Aristotle’s theory, Fr Scirghi explained: “You get to know more of yourself through your friend. Therefore, marriage is the highest form of friendship, by which the husband and wife recognise each other as another self.”
Fr Scirghi explained the stages of love.
“The first stage is infatuation, when both parties are very impressed with one another and see them as a mirror image of themselves.”
The next stage, Fr Scirghi said, is the disillusionment stage – when both parties see the person as they are with all their flaws. The final stage is the decision to love.
“When we are in love we feel good, but what happens on days when we are not ‘feeling it’ – Love is not a feeling, it is a decision,” he reiterated.
Fr Scirghi added that many young people today delay marriage as they fear they may lose their freedom, independence or individuality.
To those who have such doubts, Fr Scirghi asked: “Is it possible that by becoming devoted to another person, you can find your true self?” And to those who say no, he said, marriage may not be their calling.
Marriage is something one has to enter into with good reason, you enter and strive for unity and find yourself along the way, with the grace of God, Fr Scirghi added.
He ended by saying that while the Catholic Church is very good with marriage preparation courses, it is very important that the parishes continue to spiritually support couples after married life.