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Marriage and Christian Vocation

Research Paper #1

The first research paper requirement in this course focuses on the basic theological and spiritual concepts and symbols operative in Christian marriage. These concepts include:
• What is spirituality?
• Scriptural references relating to marriage.
• The principle of sacramentality
• The principle of mediation
• The principle of communion
• The unity of love of God, love of neighbor
Resources which may help you in your understanding of this material are two short videos by Richard McBrien. 1. Christian Spirituality 2. Sacramentality

Marriage and Christian Vocation Suggested Research Sources:

1. Catholicism by Richard McBrien, see references on Sacramental Principle &chapter on Spirituality. (Winston Press, ISBN: 0-86683-601-2) 1981
2. Christian Marriage, the new challenge , chapters 7 & 8, by David M. Thomas (Liturgical Press, ISBN: 978-0-8146-5224-4) 1989
3. The Experience and Language of Grace, chapter 1 by Roger Haight (Paulist Press, ISBN: 0-8091-2200-6) 1979


Students are asked to offer an understanding of the above mentioned concepts and symbols of marriage. You are at liberty to format your five page paper as you wish or, if you prefer, you can develop your work along the following lines:


• Create an Introduction. Your introduction should prepare the reader as to what is ahead. Start with a “thesis statement” such as: “This paper will explore some of the basic spiritual and theological concepts underlying Christian marriage.” Then, inform the reader as to how you intend to approach the material. E.g. This study will explore key Scripture references relating to marriage, discuss the spiritual dimension in marriage, offer an understanding of the principles of sacramentality, mediation and communion. The important principle of “love of God, love of neighbor” will also be addressed. You can also identify and name the symbols of marriage and their meanings you propose to examine. (Your introduction may be ½ of a page.

• The second page could be dedicated to a reflection on Spirituality. What is “Spirituality”? (offer a definition and cite your source). What is your experience of Spirituality? You may wish to draw from several points advanced by Richard McBrien in his video on “Spirituality.” The author of our textbook, David Thomas, talks about spirituality in marriage in Chapter Seven, What’s spiritual about marriage? In Christian Marriage, the new challenge.


• It will be important in this study to offer an understanding of the Principle of Sacramentality. Offer a definition of Sacrament. (e.g. St. Augustine). What is a scriptural reference which states that what God created is good?

• See Chapter Eight in our textbook by David Thomas. “What makes marriage a sacrament?” in Christian Marriage, the new challenge.

• What is the Principle of Mediation? Do you agree with this principle? How might you explain this Principle using the image of how wax relates to a wick which has been lite? (how does the spirit relate to materiality?). At this point, it might be helpful to the reader to offer some illustrations quoting a poem such as: “God’s Grandeur” by Gerard Manley Hopkins or “Canticle of the Sun” by St. Francis of Assisi.
How might the scripture image of being an “earthen vessel” be an example of this principle?
You may want to introduce the concept of, “…the unity of Love of God, Love of Neighbor” at this point. That is, given the Principles of Sacramentality and Mediation, it is possible to assert that in loving one’s neighbor (a friend &/or spouse) a person is, at the same time, loving God since God indwells in all creation.

• What is the Principle of Communion? How does the state of marriage give expression to this principle with the idea that, as the marriage rite says, “the two shall become one”?

• Explain St. Paul’s statement about marriage in his Letter to the Ephesians (5: 31-32) as it applies to the Principle of Communion.

• You may want to introduce the idea of Symbols and the role of symbols in the marriage ceremony and in married life.

• You may wish to reprint one or two symbols (limit your reproduction size to no more than ½ page per symbol).

Offer a one paragraph summary of what concepts and ideas your paper covered and anything you may have learned from your study.


Here is how to access the Microsoft Word Help Page on using the APA, MLA, Chicago – automatically format bibliographies tool.

In Word 2010 for PC, after you have opened or created your document:
1. click on the File tab.
2. click on the Help link on the left side menu.
3. click on the Microsoft Office Help link at the top of the second column on the page. A popup box will appear.
4. type in the words “reference tool” into the search box.
5. click the “APA, MLA, Chicago – automatically format bibliographies” link that should appear at the top of the list.
6. follow the directions on the page.

Last Updated on April 16, 2020

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