Page last updated at 10:56 CST6CDT, Monday, 17 December 2018 PH
As a member of the Board of Directors of the Alaska Milk Corporation, I am very proud of the fact that a recent advertising video promoting the products of this leading milk corporation has attracted millions of viewers, especially among the millennials. Actually, it was a millennial who first informed me on how the video has gone viral. I thought it was brilliant for those who created it to have combined the spirit of the last UNDAS (the day for the dead) and the subsequent Christmas season in one family-oriented theme. Without being a spoiler for those who have not yet seen it (you can find it in YouTube), the advertising centered on how a family on Christmas Day missed the presence of the mother who had just passed away but were eventually cheered by the memory of their mother’s excellent cooking as one of her daughters replicated her favorite dessert (of course, using an Alaska milk product as an ingredient) to the special delight of the widowed father. I am gratified to no end that this very successful advertising effort follows a long trail of family-oriented messages found in so many marketing campaigns of Philippine consumer-oriented enterprises such as Jollibee and Max’s Restaurant. Any effort to bolster family values is a most patriotic act because the good of every society goes the way of the family. It goes the other way around: any force that destroys the family, the very foundational unit of society, destroys a nation.
We should be grateful to Pope Francis for telling the whole world about “Love in the Family” in his Apostolic Exhortation on this subject. This document from the Holy Father is must reading for all married people, especially those who received the Sacrament of Matrimony. Referring to Saint Paul’s hymn to love, the Pope discusses conjugal love, the love that exists between husband and wife, a love sanctified, enriched and illuminated by the grace of the sacrament of marriage. The Pope is able to present marriage in its entire reality, both physical and spiritual, pointing out that marriage combines the warmth of friendship and erotic passion, and endures long after emotions and passion subside. In fact, this was very clearly shown in the Alaska advert in which the married couple, already advanced in age, were united more in their love for one another, no longer through the erotic part of love but in sharing the joys of being grandparents and seeing their children grow and prosper.
It is no exaggeration when we refer to marriage and the family as divine. Pope Francis reminded married couples that marriage is a precious sign because when a man and a woman celebrate the sacrament of marriage, God is, as it were “mirrored” in them. Marriage and the family are actually an earthly replica of the Blessed Trinity. Marriage is the icon of God’s love for us. From all eternity, God the Father is Supreme Intelligence that produces the Word, the equally eternal Son of God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. From all eternity, the two Persons, God and Son, love one another and this Love which they generate is the Third Person, the Holy Spirit. In an analogous manner, the man and woman are united in one flesh in the Sacrament of Matrimony and their love for one another generates their offspring. The mystery of marriage is precisely God making of the two spouses one single existence. The Pope points out that in virtue of the sacrament, the spouses are invested with a true and proper mission, so that, starting with the simple ordinary things of life, they can make visible the love with which Christ loves His Church and continues to give His life for her.
One common theme in the advertising focusing on the family is the focus on the fact that conjugal love, as Pope Francis points out, is the “greatest form of friendship.” Indeed, the friendship between husband and wife possesses all the traits of a good friendship: concern for the good of the other, reciprocity, intimacy, warmth, stability and the resemblance born of a shared life. Going against the trends of “trial marriages” and widespread divorce in today’s modern societies, the Pope emphasizes that marriage should have an indissoluble exclusivity expressed in the stable commitment to share and shape together the whole of life. Marriage should be a lifetime commitment: “Lovers do not see their relationship as merely temporary. Those who marry do not expect their excitement to fade. Those who witness the celebration of a loving union, however fragile, trust that it will pass the test of time. Children not only want their parents to love one another, but also to be faithful and remain together. These and similar signs show that it is in the very nature of conjugal love to be definitive.”
Thanks to the very creative advertising video of the Alaska Milk Corporation, we all have been reminded that even death does not break the lasting union expressed by the marriage vows because it is more than a formality or a traditional formula. It is rooted in the natural inclinations of the human person. Promising love forever is possible when we perceive a plan bigger than our own ideas and undertakings, a plan which sustains us and enables us to surrender our future entirely to the one we love. Like the widower and his children and grandchildren in the advert, let us remember the departed parents during the coming Christmas celebrations. As I have written in the past, I will never forget the way my mother, who lived twenty years longer than my father, never tired of showing the “friendship marked by passion” that she had with my father through the way she celebrated the many anniversaries that tied them together. We, her children, will be forever grateful that they showed us what it meant for husband and wife to love one another and to be faithful and remain together until and beyond death. (To be continued)