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The Purifying Fire of Real Marriage

Conor B. Dugan

Marriage is an institution battered by twin forces. On the one side are the cynics and the increasing number of people who see no point in it. To be yoked to another person for life seems like an unbearable hell. It is banal and bourgeois. It limits and crushes. The evident pain and tragic betrayals do not seem worth the price of admission. On the other are the idealists, those who sugarcoat and romanticize marriage. These see the marriage bed as heaven on earth and a good marriage as the simple product of piety and hard work. Harrison Scott Key’s How to Stay Married: The Most Insane Love Story Ever Told speaks to these dueling forces.

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"Nora and Trish,” Eva Engelland-Spohn, Gospel of Life disciple

A Birth Unto Hope: Reflections on the Gospel of Life at Death

Sister Maria of the Trinity

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Birth. Death. What lies in between? A short span, often punctuated by suffering and loneliness. Each of us must wrestle with the “perennial problem of human finitude” (Ratzinger) and face the question of our life’s meaning. Is it good . . . fundamentally? Does it promise anything? Does it keep its promise? Absent hope in a good answer, we try to escape reality with numbing diversions of various kinds—from screens to drugs. We hang on, barely alive. Instead, when we attend to the glimpses of goodness in our existence, it is possible to engage it fully alive in the hope that our finitude will blossom into the abundance of eternal life.

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Humanum is about the human: what makes us human, what keeps us human, and what does not. We are driven by the central questions of human existence: nature, freedom, sexual difference and the fundamental figures to which it gives rise, man, woman, and child. We probe these in the context of marriage, family, education, work, medicine and bioethics, science and technology, political and ecclesial life. We sift through the many competing ideas of our age so that we might “hold fast to what is good” and let go of what is not. In addition to articles, witness pieces, and book reviews ArteFact: Film & Fiction searches out the human in the literary and cinematic arts.

Humanum is published as a free service by the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Washington, D.C.