|Icon of the Nymphios|
The Anointed Nymphios (Christ the Bridegroom) loves His Bride the Church with a perfect love. How can I wrap words around love? Love is the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, Who is the union of God the Father with God the Son and also of Christ and His Bride. Love is Divine. How an anything infinite be described by us finite mortals? Most pure Theotokos, give me words with which to tell the glory of thy Son. We can see the Love of God on display if only we look at the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary. I'm laughing to myself that as soon as I typed that prayer, the Theotokos reminded me of my meditations on her rosary. That's so like her. Let's go through them:
The First Sorrowful Mystery: The Agony in the Garden We contemplate the Divine Nymphios suffering in the garden under the full knowledge of the life of sin of His Bride, the Church.
The Second Sorrowful Mystery: The Flagellation We contemplate the Nymphios suffering under the lashes, with the weights on the whips digging into His Flesh like each of the sins of His Bride.
The Third Sorrowful Mystery: The Coronation We now contemplate the Nymphios in full nuptial regalia. His wedding crown is become a torture device, the sins of His Bride digging into Him like a thousand needles in His Head. His scepter, His symbol of authority over Her, is become a symbol of mockery.
The Fourth Sorrowful Mystery: The Carrying of the Cross We contemplate the Nymphios suffering under the weight of the cross, which bears down on Him like the entire life of sin of His Bride.
The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery: The Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord We now contemplate the Nymphios offering His entire Self to the Father for the sake of His Bride. He gives His entire Self to Her, even His very Body, which She receives in the Eucharist.
This is the love that married couples are called to live. Christ sacrificed Himself and completely destroyed His Life and His very self to get His Bride to the dignity for which She was created by God. He offered His entire Self as a sacrifice to the Father for Her sake and the Father joins the Son to the Bride in the Eucharist. Likewise, bridegroom and bride offer themselves completely to God for the sake of each other. This is what happens at a wedding. The bridegroom and bride give their entire lives to God for the sake of each other. Receiving them, God joins them together in a union that is completed in the marriage bed.
Christ is over His Church, protecting Her, and gives everything of Himself to take care of Her, bringing Her to the dignity for which She was created by God. She is under Him, submitting to Him, and gives everything of Herself to Him to support Him in His work. So it is with married couples. The bridegroom is over his bride, giving everything of himself to take care of his bride, bringing Her to the dignity for which She was created by God. He holds back nothing for himself, but submits himself to suffering for the sake of his bride, just as Christ deemed Heavenly glory nothing to be grasped at for Himself, but emptied Himself and submitted Himself to suffering for the sake of His Bride. (Phil. 2:6-8) The bride gives everything of herself to her bridegroom to sustain and support him in his work.
Christ is glorified by pouring Himself our for His Bride (Phil. 2:9) and so too the bridegroom is sanctified by living, not for himself, but for the sake of his bride, to elevate her to the dignity for which she was created. Her sanctity becomes the one and only measure of the success or failure of his life. The Church becomes sanctified by submitting Herself to Christ in carrying out His work: to bring all men to Heaven. The bride too is sanctified by submitting herself to her bridegroom in all his work: to care for her and their children. They each entrust themselves to each other that the other might provide for their needs. Christ, as God, needs His Kingdom spread. The Church, not being God, needs to be brought to Heaven. The Church evangelizes and Christ washes away sins in the Blood flowing from His Broken Heart. Bridegroom and bride, neither being God, support each other in their endeavor to get to Heaven and in this regard are equals.
St. Paul summed this all up with great beauty when he told the Ephesians: "Therefore as the church is subject to Christ, so also let the wives be to their husbands in all things. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the church, and delivered himself up for it." (Eph. 5:24-25) St. John Chrysostom preached on this passage with great eloquence and relationship advice desperately needed today in his 20th homily on the Epistle to the Ephesians, describing marriage as in much the same manner as what I have already explained (even though he is a better preacher than I). Homily 20 is a necessary read for all people today, so I'll link to it here.
The union of Christ and the Church is perfected in the Holy Eucharist. Here, Christ gives His entire self, even His very Body, to His Bride. She submits to Him perfectly, carrying out worship that is focused entirely on Him and not on Herself or others (we've all seen community-based worship since the 1960's and much ink/pixels have been spilled on liturgy already). Here they are united perfectly. Here is where mystics achieve the greatest joys. St. Faustina writes at length with great eloquence in her Diary about the intimacy she had with Christ in the Eucharist. Well, she tries anyway: Divine Glory is beyond description. This is the union through which God brings about Eternal Life. That is the reason why this Divine Intimacy exists. Both the Holy and Life-giving Cross are rightly called the Marriage Bed of the Church, since the Crucifixion is what is present on the Altar. Traditionally (in the East, but especially in the West) an altar has a canopy over it, in imitation of an actual marriage bed. Likewise, in an actual marriage bed, the union of bridegroom and bride is perfected. They have given themselves to each other completely, even their very bodies, even the most private parts of their bodies. Nothing is held back; they exist for each other and not for themselves. This union is a symbol of their whole lives, where the bride submits herself to her bridegroom as his support, living for him and not herself, while he is over her as her protector, giving his entire self to take care of her desiring to keep nothing for his own happiness.
This is something of great beauty and it is only beautiful insofar as it mirrors the Love and Self-Giving of Divine Nymphios and Eccesial Nymphe. If this vocation is lived in conformity to the Love of the Nymphios, then it is a brilliant and resplendent reflection of Heavenly Glory and the matter of great sanctity. It is a saintly couple like this that the Church needs at a time like this. Surely God is preparing a nymphios and nymphe for this purpose; saints in the making; saints that will reflect the reality of the union between Christ and the Church. In a day when sex and marriage is so viciously attacked, God will raise holy ones for the good on mankind. God calls so many to marriage, how many will stand up and answer the call to live like this? How many of these sainted couples will we have? Would that we have an army of them! Neither bridegroom nor bride are good people or worthy of any praise on their own-either as individuals or a couple. They only are good people and worthy of praise insofar as they mirror the Love of the Nymphios. Not to us O Lord, not to us, but to Thy Name give glory. We do not seek glory for ourselves O Lord, we only want Thee, the Burning Sun of Love to shine forth, overwhelming us, overwhelming mankind. Even my knowledge of this Thy Love, O Nymphios is a great grace Thou hast given me, of which I am the least worthy, for Thou knowest well my sins and rightly do I call myself the first among sinners. (1 Tim. 1:15) Pray for such marriages to rise up. If you are married, start living in accordance with this Love. I've never written or said anything as serious as this paragraph in my life. With the Love of the Nymphios we are everything; without the Love of the Nymphios we are nothing.
The great majesty of marriage and it's pinnacle, sex, which is the marital oblation is so viciously hated by Satan just because it is the mirror image of Christ. So the devil perverts sex to make it selfish and about pleasure. The devil wants men to treat sex and women's bodies as if it exists for their physical pleasure and women to act as if relationships exist for their emotional pleasure. The devil like a rabid beast wants every last detail of sex an marriage to fail in the worst possible way, such that his demonic empire will be the exact opposite of what God designed, each detail being the exact opposite of God's design, for He so hates God and he will ruin entire lives to accomplish this satanic work and indeed he does as we speak. As we speak, the devil, who is Lucifer and Satan perverts many in the Church to tolerate sin, partly to prevent the Church from defending the Love of Her Bridegroom and partly so he can use the Church's authority to defend such sin; but that is an illegitimate and invalid use of ecclesial authority. This is why we must never rest on our laurels, but always be vigilant, for the devil is a roaring lion looking to kill us (1 Peter 5:8-9) and he is very good at it.
[EDIT: Here is another point that I forgot to mention. The marital vocation is one that can be lived even during physical separation and while the spouses are not getting along. Now, the union cannot be perfect in such times, because that happens with the mutual oblation in the marriage bed, but they can still live their vocation without each other because their vocation is to live for each other. Like the Nymphios, their vocation is to offer themselves to God as sacrificial victims for the sake of each other. Even when separate, they can still offer prayers and penances for the sake of each other. When one spouse lashes out at the other, the other can bear it as a penance for the one. Separation and division is not capable of defeating them because their love can bear it because their love is from God. (Rm 8:31-39) On the other hand, if their union is not the Love of the Nymphios but human emotion, then they do not live for each other but with each other, looking for good times. They then cannot survive separation or argument. If their union is just emotion and pleasure, then it originates from them and not God. Therefore, because their union is only human emotions, it is harmed by their emotions turning on each other or not properly sustaining each other. Their relationship is based on human strength and not the Divine Strength that bears hardship and suffering for the sake of the other, even when that suffering comes from each other.]
Like a ravaging lunatic, fueled by his indescribable hatred of the Nymphios, the devil promotes pleasure seeking, knowing that if love is about pleasure, then everything God says is wrong. However, God is right, just because He's God; He is Love (1 Jn 4:7) and created sex, so pleasure-seeking is sinful, even in marriage. Lust is a sin, even in marriage, because by it couples violate their own marriage bed by refusing to live the Love of the Nymphios and instead selfishly use each other for pleasure, degrading the marital self-sacrifice to an act of pleasure. They lie about what sex is. The morality of sex is not a matter of married vs. not married, as if getting married is "permission" for sex, then you can lust all you want after your spouse. Lust is not acceptable for some but not for others. Either it's right for everybody or it's right for nobody. Either it's good or evil. To be both would be hypocrisy. The married cannot lust because they are to offer a mutual self-sacrifice. The unmarried cannot lust because the self-sacrifice includes your whole life. The morality of sex is a matter of pleasure vs. procreative self-giving. If sex is about pleasure, then one must defend homosexuality, pornography, contraception, masturbation, group sex, and everything else the Church condemns because if pleasure is an end of sex, then all those things are in fact good. However, sex is not about pleasure. Sex is a procreative complete self-oblation. It is the pinnacle and symbol of your entire life as a couple lived in sacrifice for the sake of each other in the Love of the Nymphios. This is the Truth. This is my belief. May I be killed for it before I abandon it. Amen. Amen. Amen.