With great relief and happiness I read Dr Jack Dominian's article "Christian Renewal and Marriage" (January 3).1 think it is the most important event after Vatican Council II. It opens the new era (and the new dimension) in the Catholic theology of marriage.
(Mrs) Irene Zawadzka 56 Goose Lane, Lower Quinton.
nr Stratford-on-Avon, Warwicks..
Congratulations on publishing Dr Dominian's splendid article on Christian marriage (January 3), surely a landmark, if not a watershed, in Christian and Catholic journalism. His assertion that matrimony is the most important sacrament after the Eucharist is particularly striking.
1 would like to add that the sacraments of Baptism, the Eucharist and Matrimony are all sacraments of mystagogical initiation into the divine life: of growth of awareness and the development of' the Christian consciousness, For in baptism we are, like Tertullian's "little fishes of the Lord" (piscisculi Domini), drawn up out of the dark waters of the unconscious into a higher awareness, a fuller self-realisation and union with Christ in God.
In the Eucharist the two and the one, as well as the one and the many, are made one bread. one body. The full personalisation which the Eucharist promotes inevitably draws all things to itself until all are made perfect in one.
In matrimony, in virtue of the union of the couple on the biological, psychological and spiritual levels, that asfiect of the human personality which tends to be dark and unconscious — in the man his 'tfeeling" values and in the woman the rational faculty — are raised up to the sunlight of consciousness.
Head and heart (ratio and intellectus) achieve a synthesis: a conjunction of "the charcoal poles of the opposites" — to use Coventry Patmore's striking metaphor — from which the light of revelation is born. For revelation, or the illumination of the human consciousness, is the end and aim of all the sacraments. Out of the union of the couple is generated the perfect, androgynous man — "neither male nor female" but one in the Christ-consciousness.
One is forcibly reminded of the dictum of the 19th century German philosopher-theologian, Franz von Baader: "The aim of marriage as a sacrament is not (so much) the perpetuation of the species, but rather the internal integration of the complete human image which is the divine and original Image."
In other words marriage is an initiation into the total Christ (Christus Total) and his illumined consciousness: that consciousness which draws all things to itself in a higher unity: first the couple; second the children of the marriage; third all those who are drawn to the light of the family circle as the shepherds and kings were drawn to the manger in Bethlehem.
G. F. Pollard 63 Upper Morin Road,
Paignton, Devon. Dr Jack Dominian writes a fascinating contribution (January 3) on the subject of Christian renewal and marriage. But — starting at the end — one has the impression ()Ibis living in a kind of fairytale land (the influence of Christmas, perhaps) where always the bridal couple "live happy ever after."
On mutual love, that famous novelist, Thomas Hardy, averred: "The man and the moment rarely come together." And what about the suffering of unrequited love?
We know that marriages are not made in Heaven; indeed Our Lord was not particularly. forthcoming on the matter of happy marriage. He never promised much happiness in this world to his followers, anyhow. A spiritual poet like the late T. S. Eliot wrote that Christian marriage could become a kind of crucifixion.
From Dr Dominian's reasoning. the "Good News" (which he seems to place in a sexual context) must be what it
pleases people to hear a characteristic not without its dangers, at least in relation to the spiritual life. If a Catholic
marriage can "cease to exist" r/id God ever bless it?
Gertrude M. Bannister 4 Portland house, High Trees, Tulse Hill, London, SW2.
In the light of Dr J. Dominian's interesting and challenging article (January 3) should there not be a cornpulsory period of preparation for the sacrament of marriage? It seems strange that a man has to undergo about six years of preparation for the sacrament of the priesthood, but a couple can marry sacramentally without any preparation.
Surely a minimum period of six months preparation is called for between engagement and marriage, during which time the couple attend weekly sessions covering the various aspects of married life, which they will live out as a sacrament. Such preparation is a necessity in our modern environment.
K. J. Hanlon„ 7 Lynton Drive, Shipley, West Yorkshire.