‘Date Night’ brings couples together

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The Marriage Apostolate at All Saints Church in Manassas (MAAS) hosted the kick-off of its annual "Date Night" series Sept. 12 with a talk by Father Juan Puigbó entitled "What is Marriage?" The talk marked the beginning of the third year of MAAS's "Date Nights."

Every second Saturday of the school year, the group hosts a free gathering with refreshments, beverages, babysitting and a talk - thus giving married couples an opportunity to build community with one another and dive into a deeper appreciation of marriage.

Father Puigbó, parochial vicar of All Saints and chaplain of MAAS, has a particular passion for defending marriage and family life. His talk focused on the nature and dignity of the vocation of marriage and ways to speak about marriage in a culture hostile to the truth.

Father Puigbó explained how God constituted the relationship between Adam and Eve and their complementarity in the book of Genesis. He said that "one of the most beautiful" parts of marriage is the spouses' "ability to help each other go to heaven" - even though, Father Puigbó noted, many people are too "impatient" to think in these ultimate terms.

The talk also covered the sacred, God-ordained meaning of the marital act. "We are sometimes too afraid to talk about sex," he said, "because of how other people have manipulated it."

However, he emphasized, the act of marital union is not only good, but holy, made by God, a "power of two human beings coming together, and able to create a new human being." In this way, "sex points to a higher reality … it surpasses your own identity because you are able to create another identity." Father Puigbó went on to note that self-giving in marital love mirrors the love of Jesus who gave Himself totally for His bride, the church, on the cross.

Father Puigbó also discussed offenses against the nature of human sexuality, such as divorce, contraception and same-sex "marriage."

"Sex also involves the souls of those two human beings," he noted, explaining that is why sexual sins leave wounds that are very deep: "You cannot use sex for a different reality than it was created for. … You cannot do to your body just 'whatever you want,' because your body was given to you to use for its purpose. … Your way of expressing love affects you."

Affirming the truth about marriage never means rejecting people with same-sex attraction, Father Puigbó emphasized; rather, they must be treated with love as our brothers and sisters.

"This is about the inner reality of the human being," he said. "It's not just about religion or politics."

Father Puigbó went on to explain that as temples of the Holy Spirit, human bodies are places of salvation.

"Salvation happens in our bodies … whatever you do to your body (affects) your soul," as in the case of fasting. Father Puigbó concluded by noting the call of every human being to heaven.

"We are called to be holy," he said, "not just because it is beautiful to say, but because we belong to heaven. … We need to live this life in awareness of this reality."

The talk sparked lively discussion both in the question-and-answer session afterwards, and among couples mingling after the talk.

"I thought it was very moving to compare the intimacy of a couple to the intimacy of Christ giving His life for us on the cross," said Charles Kapur. "I'd never heard someone make that comparison before."

Kapur's wife, Shalini, agreed, saying the talk really emphasized the role of holiness in the vocation of marriage.

Other attendees concurred. "The image of sex as holy, of imaging Christ, was beautiful and not something we hear ever," said Stacey Jackson. She added that we often hear a lot about the "do's and don't's" regarding sex, but the discussion of its holiness in marriage as a vocation "really took it to a new level," she said.

For MAAS, the talk got the new year of "Date Nights" off to a good start. Typically they have from 30 to 60 attendees. Saturday night was no exception: Father Kelley Hall was filled with couples of all ages.

"Our hope is that other parishes will begin marriage ministries, because there is a tremendous need for it," said Kelly McGinn, a MAAS core team member.

Joan Duda, another member of the MAAS core team, said that the talk was important because it provided "a clarification of what marriage is, the truth of marriage - and why it is not what (many people) are calling it."

Mann is a freelance writer from Northern Virginia.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015