Love is not happiness. Love is joy.
Joy has an interesting quality to it. It doesn't just have a simple relational aspect, like emotions such as happiness. Joy lives outside of both the emotional and rational spheres. It speaks to heart and head simply because it can. It speaks because true joy has Hope wrapped in it. Yet, "Hope that sees is not hope at all," so, it must also has Faith contained therein. Even more, if Faith has not works—works of charity—then Faith is dead. Therefore, too, Joy has Love, True Love contained therein.
However, the interesting thing about Love is that it requires the depths of sacrifice and self-giving with purpose. It must have an ordered purpose, or else it flies off the tracks of life into ruin. It becomes a fiery chariot racing towards the Sun, only to make its fiery crash to the depths of the earth, a fiery demise. This demise is seen everyday as "normal" and acceptable. Nothing could be further from the Truth.
If there is anything that I can learn from this experience of witnessing fiery demises on a personal level, of being a product of a fiery demise, I would stress the need for authenticity of hearts. I pray for those entering the marital arena. How much do we need the Domestic Church!
And what about Marriage? Why should we be worried on how we define it?
Because our very existence as a People depend on it. We do not exist without it.
Love does not seek quick fixes, does not quit at the first at bat, does not throw in the towel when it gets uncomfortable. Love does not fail the Other. Authentic Love requires a vow. It cannot exist outside a vow. It must subsist in a vow because, without it, love is merely a shadow of its meaning. It is icing without the cake.
This is what is strange about our society today, from our secular to church society. It demands all these things: quick fixes, no-fault verdicts, dissoluble definitions, dissoluble unions, dissoluble meanings of what a vow is. It is not quick fix. Love is not a quick fix.
Love is not merely a promise, and therefore marriage is not just a promise. It is a lifetime choice. A vow gives the love its permanence, its value as a currency. "I love you until death do us part," has a lot more permanence than "I love you until I no longer feel love for you." That, my friends, is crackle of Confederate money, a false currency. It cannot subsist on itself. It dies a ignoble death in the dark, cold and alone. Love does not burn out. It sets the world afire.
The difference between a vow and a promise is just that, promises are made to broken. Vows, on the other hand, cannot. They are the bonds, the marks of the One who gives breath to us all. We cannot escape our vows when the going gets rough. We cannot escape True Love.
Why then do priests who are given strong crosses to bear become Black Sheep Dogs or abusive priests muddy the waters of the Priesthood? Why do men and women forsake their avowed Vocations? Why do husbands cheat on their wives? Because they know not the depth of the vows to which they previously assented to. They do not mean the Yes that they spoke at the Beginning.
We are told by Christ: "Let your 'Yes' mean 'Yes,' and your 'No' mean 'No.' Anything more is from the evil one." (Matthew 5:37) "Anything more" is what we have today. It is not love; it is an excuse for love.
It's saddening, but it is not the final answer. It is not the end.
The Domestic Church and the Priesthood both require a sacrifice that the World today doesn't recognize. The World would rather redefine both to a temporary nature, ones that live on whims. Whims do not last; they have no continence. They die.
True Love never dies.
Both marriage and the priesthood require sacrifice. Both require the Other in inseparable ways, one for the Witness of earthly union and the other of Divine. Neither can be divorced from the other. Both require True Love. Both require the Cross.
That is the meaning of "I do."