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Title: Die Ehe als Berufung leben
Author(s): DEMMER, Klaus
Journal: Marriage, Families & Spirituality
Volume: 2    Issue: 1   Date: Spring 1996   
Pages: 39-62
DOI: 10.2143/INT.2.1.2014868

Abstract :
Living marriage as a vocation(I.)
For the majority of people, marriage is the model for a choice of life and the Christian makes no exception to this. However, the worlds of the everyday marriage and the theology of marriage are far apart. Thus it is urgently imperative to bring intellectual demands and everyday reality together, in order to make the Christian aware of the vocation as a challenge.
Marriage, as a life-long sacramental union among the Baptized, is part of the teaching of the Church. The common teaching of the Church places marriage within the sheltering framework of the family and easily overlooks the fact that all cultures of community living begin with the success of partner intimacy and this is also valid for the Church communio. The Church must ask couples to take on a spiritual pilgrimage, give them the task to conceptualize their marriage as a two-fold union before God and rigorously put this into action in life. In this context, it is necessary that the Church takes into consideration the changed social conditions and evaluates them rationally and realistically: other dimensions in life place an increased pressure on the private sphere of the marriage; the partner relationship is exposed to the increasing danger of disintegration as a result of the drive to achieve in the working world; the changed position of the woman leads to, until now, unknown balances of power in the marriage which can only be overcome by common faithfulness; the increased life-expectancy offers, until now, unknown challenges for a permanency of a life-long relationship and requires from the partners a special talent for patience; unclarified expectations, inherited from one’s family, already appear problematic in choosing a partner; the more the longing for security and dependability is put under the pressure of success, the more vulnerable and susceptible to risk this longing becomes.
In order to strenghten the individual Christian in his role as a constructive outsider, it remains up to the Church, as a community of people in solidarity and companionship, to assume any support which the pluralistic society refuses to ignore. Christians share, with all people of good will, the same experiences of life, but they would not like to give up the courage to be different. And it is here, where the challenge to the theologian begins: to expose the life history of the individual to the filter of theological reflection in such a way that reality is not diverted into triviality, but enhances the discovery of God’s co-presence. Who, as the Christian in marriage, is familiar with the fragility and limitations of life, will also be receptive to the unimposing nature and fragility of the thought of God.
With the help of the community thought, the renewed theology of marriage of the Second Vatican Council has raised the unconditional commitment of the partners to the rank of a reflection of the loving and caring self-commitment of God, to the people. Marriage partners are signs of salvation to each other; living and vivid reminders of God’s redeeming presence in their common life history. The concept of marriage shelters itself in the Divine Providence of God; in Jesus Christ, it becomes a life of reconciliation and promise which, at the same time, does not spare the humiliating experiences of failure and defeat.
It is the task of the theologian to realistically define and explain, in pragmatic terms, the meaning of marriage as a vocation. At the same time, it is up to the couple itself to fill in opened areas of discussion. A vocation fills the human heart completely, reason and disposition are never ending with it; thoughts constantly encircle its abundance. A vocation is the invincible source of happiness, but also the constant source of concern of not meeting its demands. And a vocation is “tailor made” to the individual. It cannot be interchanged as a profession. A change brings a greater loss of one’s own self. Vocation in marriage signifies the common fate of the partners. In this context, the vow of marriage is practiced toward the external world and the Church constitutes it. This common spiritual pilgrimage begins with the sacrament of matrimony and is subject to the inviolable promise of success. This intense moment and life sign of God with all its implications is to be patiently upheld in the everyday marriage. Thus, also the all-powerful remembrance of the fundamentals of ethical conduct is recalled in the ceremony of matrimony: neither regulations nor thoughts of achievement motivate commitment; the motivating force is the gift of the life-long commitment to God.

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