Catholic Medical Quarterly Volume 71(3) August 2021

The Trinity and the Family

Fr Patrick Pullicino

Icon of familyGenesis here shows the centripetal force of mar­riage, love at first sight or by degrees, brings to­gether. Love holds the Trinity together and no wonder therefore how strong the true Catholic marital bond can be. How do the two become one flesh? This is part of the Trinitarian mystery. It is both a physical and spiritual union. St Catherine of Siena cleaved to Christ and in a vision was given an invisible ring of his flesh which Catherine says she could see on her hand all her life. She also exchanged hearts with Our Lord ­ so they became one flesh. Spiritual marriage of this kind is said to be a prelude to Christ sharing his sufferings with his spiritual bride. In earthly marriage we certainly have to take on each others’ burdens but do so out of love as Catherine did when Christ told her “embrace the cross, and for my sake look on all sweet things as bitter and all bitter things as sweet and so be certain you will always be strong”.

Trinitarian love is always generative and so therefore must true earthly marriage be. Children bring to marriage what many nowadays may think of as bitter because they add to physical burdens, but the love that children bring makes any hardships vanish like the morning mist. Like being up all night with a child with earache, and when by morning they are finally asleep and relaxed, you still have the energy to smile and face the day, knowing that they are recovering. Faithful Catholic marriage is likely sooner or later to bring with it signs of closeness to our Lord with a wonderful unpredictability, unforeseeable depths of love but also sometimes deep challenges, which our Lord saves for those closest to him. But he always gives the strength to sustain them.

In the last year we have all been subjected to repeated efforts at control and intimidation. Discouragement is always a softening up ploy of our eternal enemy, so like Catherine, we must try to put worldly pressures in their spiritual context. Regular family rosary and prayer are a powerful protective shield. Remember Our Lord said: “In the world you have trouble and suffering, but take courage—I have conquered the world.”

Of all experiences available on earth, family life is the most wonderful, profound and rewarding - not only in this world but abundantly for the next too. No wonder the family is the powerhouse of society and is the institution most attacked by evil forces. We must be uncompromising in our protection of Catholic marriage and oppose anything that endangers it while asking God’s daily protection on what bears the Holy Trinity’s intimate signature, in a troubled world. We must impress on the Church to put families foremost and those with most children first. Remember Catherine was the twenty-third child of the Benincasa parents. And in those days there were no take-aways or disposable nappies!