Pope Saint John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio 13
"In a deservedly famous page, Tertullian has well expressed the greatness of this conjugal life in Christ and its beauty: 'How can I ever express the happiness of the marriage that is joined together by the Church strengthened by an offering, sealed by a blessing, announced by angels and ratified by the Father? ...How wonderful the bond between two believers with a single hope, a single desire, a single observance, a single service! They are both brethren and both fellow-servants; there is no separation between them in spirit or flesh; in fact they are truly two in one flesh and where the flesh is one, one is the spirit.'...
...Indeed, by means of baptism, man and woman are definitively placed within the new and eternal covenant, in the spousal covenant of Christ with the Church. And it is because of this indestructible insertion that the intimate community of conjugal life and love, founded by the Creator, is elevated and assumed into the spousal charity of Christ, sustained and enriched by His redeeming power...
...Spouses are therefore the permanent reminder to the Church of what happened on the Cross; they are for one another and for the children witnesses to the salvation in which the sacrament makes them sharers. Of this salvation event marriage, like every sacrament, is a memorial, actuation and prophecy: "As a memorial, the sacrament gives them the grace and duty of commemorating the great works of God and of bearing witness to them before their children. As actuation, it gives them the grace and duty of putting into practice in the present, towards each other and their children, the demands of a love which forgives and redeems. As prophecy, it gives them the grace and duty of living and bearing witness to the hope of the future encounter with Christ."
Husband - Father
“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home." Mt 1:20
Marriage is not just a default institution for everyone not called to priesthood or religious life. It too is a call from God Himself. God calls real men to answer the call to be a true husband and father to the next generation of the human race. The art of true manliness is rooted in Our Savior Jesus Christ. It is only in a relationship with Jesus Christ that a man find His true identity. True masculinity cannot be verified in the weights and measures of the world. It is formed and nurtured in the fires of Christian virtue, walking the way of the cross.
To be an authentic husband requires a man to receive the heart of a woman as Christ did the Church on the cross. Christ gave every ounce of his blood for His bride - a true man called to be husband must do the same. He must have heroic courage and a well formed heart so that he can take a wife and love her to the point of death.
To be an authentic father requires a man to give of himself - he will have to sacrifice time and energy. He is the true teacher of the next generation of the qualities of honesty, integrity, and work ethic. He is the hand of justice within the family unit - and to use this office well, he must know the heart of Jesus Christ.
Wife - Mother
“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Lk 1:38
Like the call to be husband and father, God also calls real women to be wife and mother. The call to marriage for women is a call into a new reality, a reality in which the next generation is given its human form through the womb of a woman. The woman is the carrier of life, the nurturer of life, the entry point into existence of the creative power of God the Father. It is in the act of the receptivity of the Son to the will of the Father that the feminine heart is rooted. It is Christ's active receptivity of the love of God the Father on the cross that the woman finds her true identity as participant in the creative love of God.
To be an authentic wife requires a woman to open herself in vulnerability to the will of God acted out through the heart of a man, just as Christ surrendered to the will of the Father on the cross. It was in this complete vulnerability that Christ received all that the Father is. By opening up and surrendering his heart in this way, He returned all that He is to the Father - and this action bore fruit in the outpouring of the Spirit upon the Church. The woman must have heroic courage to open her heart completely to her husband, even to the point of death.
To be an authentic mother requires a woman to give of herself - her body in the pregnancy and the nurturing of the infant, her time, patient endurance, and most especially her tender love. She is the teacher of the human heart, helping the next generation how to open up in vulnerability before the Savior of the world. The feminine heart, so gentle and kind, instructs the other to authentically respond to the love of God infused on every human heart.