The season of autumn reveals to us a beautiful aspect of creation that is hidden for much of the year. For three seasons of the year, the trees are either empty, blooming, or fully alive. It is only when they are preparing to shed their leaves in autumn, however, that they give us an awe-inspiring show of their colors. And we delight in this fall foliage display.
The seasons reveal both the order and beauty of creation. One need not be a religious person to perceive an order to creation. Each day, the sun rises and sets as the earth continues to rotate on its axis. We know that the beautiful foliage, which is already disappearing, will lead to winter, and winter to spring, and spring to summer.
We have oxygen to breathe, gravity to keep us grounded, food and drink to satisfy our hunger and thirst, and sex for the continuation of the human species. The order of creation and the laws of nature enable humans to thrive. To jettison the laws of nature is to risk harming ourselves.
In a recent editorial, The Westerly Sun accused some local Catholics who gathered outside to pray of being intolerant, bigoted, insensitive, misled, and misinformed when it comes to their understanding of marriage. However, far from being any of these, we feel it is important to state that the Christian understanding of marriage is informed (not misinformed) by beauty, order, and the natural law.
Just as creation reveals beauty and order, so too does the human body as male and female reveal beauty and order. Again, one does not need to be religious to perceive the complementarity of the body. Christians call this “the nuptial meaning of the body,” meaning that man and woman are created in such a way that each completes the other by becoming a gift to the other. The man is incomplete without the woman and vice versa. In marriage, the gift of self is made complete through self-donation: the husband gives himself completely to his wife and the wife gives herself completely to her husband. This gift of self includes their very fertility. In other words, the love between husband and wife is so profound, so beautiful, that nine months later they may be holding in their arms their now-named love.
Our modern world has been very much influenced by the Enlightenment philosophers who reduced truth to subjective feelings. This is why Catholic theology continues to reverence the given, objective order of creation. This is neither bigoted, intolerant nor insensitive. We believe, rather, that the complementarity of male and female is something to be celebrated and embraced particularly in and through its deepest expression in marriage. The outdoor prayer service in honor of God’s truth about marriage was an expression of love for God and his revealed truth. People of good will may disagree, but tolerance is demonstrated by respectful dialogue, not ad hominem attacks.
The Rev. Giacomo CapoverdiPastor of Immaculate Conception Church, Westerly
Rev. Michael NajimPastor of St. Pius X Church, Westerly