Marriage: The Mystery of Faithful Love by Dietrich von HildebrandMy husbands parents gifted us this volume shortly before our wedding, and while Im not Catholic, I found it a wonderful book to read through together as we started our marriage.
It is a short book, but definitely not a quick read! We found that a page or two sparked an hour of discussion and re-reading the text to better digest Hildebrands ideas.
Unlike most books on marriage, this isnt a how to manual with practical tips and suggestions for a God-centered marriage. This is a densely written theology treatise! That being said, its still accessible to the patient layman. We have found it a great blessing and a source of Biblical principles to build a foundation of marriage upon.
Marriage: the Mystery of Faithful Love - Introduction
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What struck me about this remark was not its statement about the young, but the unembarrassed way in which my friend took for granted his fidelity to his wife. I could not recall having heard anyone — that is anyone not under some suspicion or duress — having made a similar declaration. Love we hear praised all around us, but faithfulness is not much talked about. There are perfectly good reasons for this, but I suspect that the more important not-so-good reason is that we are constantly bombarded with movies and TV that leave the impression that not to be open to adultery and infidelity is to be desperately out of tune with the times. It is not so much that fidelity is one of those things mature people need not talk about, as it is a category that we fear being associated with too closely. I, too, have my criticisms and queries to direct toward Von Hildebrand, but first a summary of his argument in Marriage is in order.
In our society, the beauty and greatness of married love has been so obscured that most people now view marriage as a prison: a conventional, boring, legal matter that threatens love and destroys freedom. Love is heaven; marriage is hell, wrote Lord Byron years ago. At the time he could not have foreseen the incredible popularity that his idea would have today. In our society the beauty and greatness or married love has been so obscured that most people now view marriage as a prison: a conventional, boring, legal matter that threatens love and destroys freedom. My husband. Dietrich von Hildebrand was just the opposite. Long before he converted to Roman Catholicism, he was convinced that the community of love in marriage is one of the deepest sources of happiness.
No natural human good has been exalted so high in the New Testament. No other good has been chosen to become one of the seven Sacraments. No other has been endowed with the honor of participating directly in the Kingdom of God. This in itself suggests the infinitely precious value already attached to marriage in the realm of nature, the richness and grandeur it unfolds. Before we examine the nature, the meaning, and the beauty of Christian marriage which St. Paul calls "a great mystery in Christ and the Holy Church" 6 , we shall examine the essence and meaning of marriage in the realm of nature, and its specific character in reference to all other fellowships and communities.