Fulton J. Sheen’s Three to Get Married is a masterful treatment of the authentic meaning of love.
Fulton J. Sheen’s Three to Get Married is a masterful treatment of the authentic meaning of love. Love is perhaps the most written-about, most talked-about subject in all of human history, but sadly it is also the most widely misunderstood. The desire to love and to be loved is so intimately connected with our happiness in life that to misunderstand the purpose and direction of love is to misunderstand life itself. Today, popular notions about love that focus on pleasure and self-centeredness are found everywhere and are marketed particularly to the young. These false notions remain popular, though they invariably lead to devastating consequences, because they are simpler to understand and easier to pursue than the true estimation of love. Three to Get Married offers a highly readable and enticing alternative. In the classic Sheen style, this book is packed with lofty ideas previously reserved for academic circles, but here presented with great clarity and simplicity. Nor is this book for married persons alone. Human love is most clearly seen in the marital union where its manifestation is as visible as flesh, but the truth about love presented here so beautifully applies also to the spiritual realms and to every state in life.
From the differences between sex and love to the indissoluble character of marriage, Sheen offers many profound truths for our reflection. Sheen’s presentation of these truths, displaying a masterful skill with metaphor, is remarkable for its clarity, simplicity, and beauty. Certainly we cannot list every example of this, but let us let Archbishop Sheen speak for himself in these few samples of his wisdom.
On the difference between sex and love, Sheen writes: “ If love does not climb, it falls. If, like the flame, it does not burn upward to the sun, it burns downward to destroy. If sex does not mount to heaven, it descends into hell. There is no such thing as giving the body without the soul. Those who think they can be faithful in soul to one another, but unfaithful in body, forget that the two are inseparable … The separation of soul and body is death. Those who separate sex and spirit are rehearsing for death” (pg. 3).
Concerning the paradoxical nature of man, Sheen writes: “Man has his feet in the mud of the earth, his wings in the skies. He has sensations like the beasts and ideas like the angels, without being either pure beast or pure spirit. He is a mysterious composite of body and soul, with his body belonging to a soul, and his soul incomplete without a body ... Man is the pontiff of the universe, the “bridge-builder” between matter and spirit, suspended between one foundation on earth and the other in heaven” (pg. 32).
Discussing the triune nature of love, Sheen comments: “Love that is only giving ends in exhaustion; love that is only seeking perishes in its selfishness. Love that is ever seeking to give and is ever defeated by receiving is the shadow of the Trinity on earth and therefore a foretaste of heaven … Love is an eternal mutual self-gift; the recovery in the flesh, or in the soul, or in heaven, of all that was given and surrendered. In love no fragment is lost” (pg. 67).
Three to Get Married is beautifully written and captivating from beginning to end.
Sheen’s treatment of the differences between men and women is highly enlightened and particularly edifying. Also, his descriptions of motherhood and paternity are beautiful. I highly recommend this wonderful book.