.- Scholars at a two-day conference in Rome explored the beauty of God’s plan for the marital union and the importance of this union for individuals and society as a whole.
“The goal of the conference is to examine, to analyze what the conjugal union really is,” said Father Jose Granados, of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, which organized the conference at the request of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Held September 20-21, the international colloquium focused on “The Language of the Body and the Conjugal Union.”
It featured experts in the fields of psychology, sociology, philosophy, theology and scripture, and examined different aspects of the conjugal union and its profound importance.
Fr. Granados explained that the culture does not see the marital union as something that is “valuable” and has “definite form,” but rather as something that can be defined as one chooses.
The conference was designed to analyze “the richness of this union,” which is properly understood “in light of the Creator” because it is possible only through the human body’s complementary nature, he said.
The conjugal union is profound because it is open to life, enriches society and allows for mutual self-giving “for the other,” he observed.
Fr. Granados said that the colloquium was “very fruitful” in presenting these truths to attendees.
To spread the message about the unique and important role of marriage, Catholics must first “understand the beauty of God’s plan,” he explained.
Attracted by the “call to love,” the faithful can be drawn into “the proposal of something beautiful and great,” which leads to a fruitful life, he said.
God’s plan for marriage views the family “not as a problem,” he continued, but as a means of building up the Church. And the family is also crucial for a New Evangelization, he added.
Unfortunately, he observed, our modern, post-Christian society “regards Christ as something from the past.”
“The family can make us aware again of this original experience of love that allows us to receive Christ in a new way, as something that opens up a future, not only something from the past,” he said.
Fr. Granados also noted that there is a connection between attacks on marriage and struggles with religious vocations, which are both manifestations of the universal “vocation to love.”
“The two problems are related,” he explained, “because the first place in which a vocation grows is the family.”
“When the Church focuses on one of them, it is also cultivating the other,” he said, adding that both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have worked to strengthen families so that they can play the foundational role they are designed to play.
Damon Owens, executive director of the Theology of the Body Institute in Philadelphia, said that the conference did a “beautiful” job of presenting “a number of different perspectives” on both the human and transcendent sense of the conjugal act.
With this foundation established, he said, the next step is to effectively communicate the truth about the sexual union to people living out marriages.
“There really needs to be a new dialogue and understanding what marriage is,” Owens said, so that both the human and transcendent senses “can come together in a way that’s understandable by those who are living it, but also connected more deeply to the truth of what marriage and marital relation is.”