by Joey Martineck
“Ma-waige. Ma-waige is what brings us together today. Ma-waige, that blessed arrangement, that dream within a dream…”
~The Princess Bride
From my earliest days, I have always desired marriage. And now at this moment, my desire for marriage has never been as strong as it is today. This is precisely why I am beginning a discernment year to form me for celibate priesthood.
Confused? Me too.
I love girls. They are so pretty!! I have known so many beautiful married couples that have really inspired me. I long deeply within me to have kids and be a father, a good dad. And just being honest, here are a couple of other things that appeal to me about marriage:
- Sex whenever you want it with your spouse.
- Never feeling lonely again.
- Being perfectly, totally loved by someone forever.
You can imagine then why I was shocked to discover some of the following that the Church teaches and what married couples have shared openly with me:
- It is sinful to lust for your wife.
- You can still feel lonely in a marriage.
- You are not married to your spouse in heaven.
What do you mean it’s not okay to lust for your wife? Isn’t that the point of waiting until marriage? I was pissed at God in hearing these things. I felt cheated because I had been faithfully following the Church’s teaching for several years. I didn’t fall away from my faith in college but grew in it. In fact, I worked very hard to repress many desires in my heart that I assumed were bad. That’s the holy thing to do, right?
Why at times did I feel so freakin empty inside? Why at night did I so often toss and turn in my bed unable to sleep? Why did my life feel like it didn’t have any meaning? I just got to find the right girl, I kept telling myself. It will all get better once I get married.
Then, I was exposed St. Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body and it totally blew my mind. Far from merely a teaching about marriage, the Theology of the Body draws far back to address the deepest and most basic questions of human existence: What does it mean to be human? Why did God make us male and female? What is purpose sex and of desire?
In Ephesians 5, St. Paul says that the two becoming one flesh is a great mystery but he goes further and says that it is speaking something about the marriage of Christ and the Church. God is speaking to us in a big way through our bodies. And yes, this includes sex!
“The body, in fact only the body, is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and the divine. It has been created to transfer into the visible reality of the world, the mystery hidden from eternity in God, and thus to be a sign of it.” (TOB 19:4)
And what is the mystery hidden from eternity in God?
“God himself is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and he has destined man to share in that exchange.” (CCC, 221)
This is the answer I was craving for!!! God wants to marry us! He wants to draw us in to his eternal exchange of love. And he wants us to live our lives as a gift in his image, to reveal, anticipate, and proclaim the marriage of Christ and the Church.
I was right in my discernment. I am called to marriage – that is to heavenly marriage. And so are you. I found out that most of what I was longing for in earthly marriage was ultimately what I am longing for in heavenly marriage. Earthly marriage is so beautiful! But at best it is only a sign that points to heavenly marriage (that’s why you’re not married to your spouse in heaven). What a super husband I would be to expect total fulfillment of all my infinite desires from my wife? How much my heart needed to be changed from viewing her as an object to be used instead of as a person to be loved – in which my life becomes about making a total gift of myself to her.
But the desires, the loneliness, and the hunger I felt and still feel is not bad. It’s powerful. It’s pointing toward the wedding banquet of the lamb that we are destined for in heaven! If handed over to him, The Holy Spirit gives new form to our strongest desires. He redirects our groaning in this life toward the redemption of our bodies where we will be married to the perfect spouse: Christ! He is the only love that can satisfy, the perfect bridegroom. Go ahead, ask a really faithful married person. They will tell you that they love their spouse but they know that they can’t be everything for each other. In a holy earthly marriage, it is about getting each other to heaven – to the bridegroom.
I don’t think I was capable of making an honest discernment of priesthood before learning the teaching of Theology of the Body. The celibate skips the sign of earthly marriage in anticipation of the heavenly marriage proclaiming to the world that this is what we are all really looking for and it’s real! JPII’s teaching freed me to be able to begin an honest discernment of my vocation. It allowed desires for priesthood grow in my heart in which I would make a total gift of myself to the Church.
You are called to be a gift. If you want to learn more about the Theology of the Body, a great place to start is Fill These Hearts by Christopher West or Theology of the Body for Beginners by Christopher West.
Joey Martineck is currently in a formal discernment program with the Archdiocese of Atlanta, GA for the Catholic Priesthood. He graduated from Georgia Tech in 2012 with a Bachelors degree in Computer Engineering. For the past two years, he has been working for Texas Instruments as a Technical Sales Rep in the automotive semiconductor industry supporting a large account in Indiana. For fun, Joey loves acting, writing, and dancing.