INTAMS Colloquium November 1995
Spirituality of the Permanent Sacrament? A Colloquium on Marital Spirituality and the Sacrament of Marriage
In November 1995 INTAMS organized a colloquium
in Brussels on the theme "Spirituality of the Permanent Sacrament".
Married and unmarried people, priests and religious with various academic
and other professional backgrounds came together from different European
countries and from the United States to exchange ideas and experiences
via lectures, round table-discussions and working groups.
Although the concepts of "marital spirituality"
and "sacrament of marriage" had been linked in the working-title
of the colloquium, it was clear from the very beginning that the combination
of these themes called for prior reflections on each of them.
On the one hand one can observe today's yearning
for a spirituality and the attraction of the notion of "spirituality"
is unbroken, but the content behind the concept remains often vague
and unclear. The same applies to the still unusual expression of "marital
spirituality". In his introductory lecture Prof. Gisbert Greshake,
dogmatic theologian from Freiburg i. Br., therefore tried to specify
the meaning of marital spirituality fromout a christian context. By
doing so, he stimulated further reflections on the subject - a task
INTAMS is especially committed to, bearing "spirituality"
in its name.
On the other hand, speaking about marriage as
a sacrament raises many questions. Contemporary christian men and
women wonder how they can realize properly this very special promise
as well as the great challenge of this choice of life. Prof. Herwi
Rikhof, systematic theologian from Utrecht, concentrated in the second
lecture of the colloquium on the specific sacramental meaning of marriage
as a permanent and life-long task. In his relecture of the sacramentology
of Thomas Aquinas, he suggested to look at marriage in analogy with
the sacraments who confer a seal, the so-called sacramental character.
In several language-groups the participants of
the colloquium had the opportunity to reflect upon the two conferences
and to enrich themselves by exchanging own experiences. Once again
it was obvious that marital spirituality needs a substantial input
from life wisdom which at the same time provides the foundation for
a theology rooted in lived reality.
The contributions are published in INTAMS
review vol. 2/2 (autumn 1996).