Repost from summer of 2015, slightly edited
How beautiful, then, the marriage of two Christians, two who are one in hope, one in desire, one in the way of life they follow, one in the religion they practice. Nothing divides them, either in flesh or in spirit. They are, in very truth, two in one flesh; and where there is but one flesh there is also but one spirit. They pray together, they worship together, they fast together; instructing one another, encouraging one another, strengthening one another. Side by side they visit God’s church and partake of God’s Banquet; side by side they face difficulties and persecution, share their consolations. They have no secrets from one another; they never shun each other’s company; they never bring sorrow to each other’s hearts. Unembarrassed they visit the sick and assist the needy. They give alms without anxiety; they attend the Sacrifice without difficulty; they perform their daily exercises of piety without hindrance. Hearing and seeing this, Christ rejoices. To such as these He gives His peace. — Tertullian, +240
I wrote my thoughts on marriage/family for some wonderful friends, Jordan and Shannon Haddad, who got married on June 13. With their permission I share them here. Above is a photo of their Nuptial Mass (which was truly a mystical experience for many of us there). Say a prayer for them, if you would, that God will bring to completion the good work He has begun in them.
- Remember every day that marriage is a gift from God placed like the Blessed Sacrament in your hands, which God has joined. You are Christophers, Christ-carriers. Every dimension of your life is now to become a grace-giving Sacrament, a lived Liturgy, a total Offering, a holy Mystery of divine and human love. Your every gesture, lived in fidelity to your promises, saves the world. Rejoice that you have become God-with-us, embodying His faithful love to us all in a way absolutely and uniquely yours.
- Love is the bond that seals you as one and the gift that is poured out for many.
- Honor is the guardian of love, so you must show honor to each other and guard each other’s honor, especially teaching your children to honor each of you, their mother and father.
- Today you have embraced a vocation to love God in a very specific way: by loving your beloved. Always remember you will love God best by loving your spouse first, and placing all other loves in service to this first.
- Today you are surrounded by family and friends, mentors and the whole communion of saints. Remember that your marriage will flourish only in this web of support.
- Let prayer be your daily bread. Mutual forgiveness a healing balm. Let laughter give you wings. Allow tears to wash away past sadnesses and open the gates of joy. Make common labor a bond of unity. Keep hope as an anchor. May kindness be always your gentle embrace.
- Speak the truth in love with prudence. Keep confidences, but have no secrets from one another.
- Multiply small signs of your love. Offer impractical gestures of affection to reveal the sheer giftedness of your marital bond and sprinkle impractical beauties on the practicalities of daily life.
- Never let your love grow old, but permit it to mature, deepen, broaden and soar, every day begging the Spirit to stir into flame again the tongues of fire entrusted to you from Heaven. Your marriage is the sacramental fire Jesus came to cast on earth (Luke 12:49).
- Your marriage is a garden of virtue and in it you are afforded the opportunity to become great and noble. It is in the protection and cultivation of this garden that your children will come into existence, sprout, grow, bloom and bear fruit.
- Bless each other every night. Never go to bed estranged, harboring hurt or anger or resentment.
- Protect your face-to-face time. When you have children, create a “bubble” of time and space every day just for each other. Guard it with your lives!
- Before you turn outward in self-gift toward others, turn upward toward God in petition and inward toward each other in love. Your God-centered marriage is the axis around which your whole world must turn. Always return to each other after you have given yourselves for others.
- Strive for a well ordered love, because disordered love is no love. Disordered love is a seedbed for conflict and stress. Plan your lives, your priorities, your time together. Don’t let your calendar dictate to you but you dictate to your calendar. Reverence each other’s unique gifts in this work of planning and build on them.
- Know each other’s weaknesses and help each other to grow. But never use one’s weakness or failure against the other. That’s a betrayal of trust. We are made in weakness that we might supply for each other. Each of your weaknesses should be an opportunity to encounter the grace of Christ (1 Cor. 12:9). Learn to laugh at your own folly and to laugh with the other over your follies and their. But never laugh at the other.
- Choose your battles wisely. Some things must be endured in patience, other things require change. Allow the other to retain their uniqueness and rightful differences. St. Augustine helps us here: “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” Discern together and, when necessary, seek counsel from others to help each of you have the “serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”
- Know that some of the sweetest joys in life are found in your life’s trials and hardships, when they are faced together in trust and love. Cling together to Jesus in your Sacrament and He will make them fruitful. Don’t be afraid of the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.” God orders all things for good in your marriage because you love him (Rom 8:28).
- Be unrelentingly faithful to each other in body and mind. Fidelity is the bedrock of trust. Everything rides on fidelity.
- Remember God, forget yourself.
- Know you are daily gathering materials for the Wedding Feast of the Lamb and nothing you do, consecrated to Him, will be lost in that “eternal and universal kingdom; a kingdom of truth and life; a kingdom of holiness and grace; a kingdom of justice, love and peace.” May we all one day join again there to forever rejoice in the beauty of your life together, begun today. May it be so. Amen.