…And Fall, Winter, and Spring brides,too. For various reasons, June is known as the month of weddings. Wedded bliss has been on my mind during this nuptial month because my son was asked to be the ring bearer for his cousin’s wedding. I am thrilled! And I am equally over the moon that my nephew and his bride-to-be have chosen to have a sacramental marriage. This means that they are entering into a sacred bond. They have done so mindfully and courageously. And, so have you.
As you probably learned in marriage preparation classes, a Sacramental marriage is a union filled with God’s grace. It is a unique bond between a man and a woman. You bring to the covenant two distinct life experiences that when brought together have the power to create new life. You have allowed God to be an integral part of your unity. Keep your unity candle in a prominent place in your bedroom to remind you of His providential care of your love.
You entered into this bond willing to submit to the great unknown: you are open to life. This truth is one of the most daunting facets of Catholic married life. It is unique to the Catholic experience. For my husband and I, it is the most exhilarating. If ever I am taking a leap of faith, it is when I agree to be completely open to God’s plan for our family. I believe this openness strengthens our faith and our bond as husband and wife. Never before have we felt more lifted and carried through life. As a reminder to always trust in God, put little notes around your home that say, “Be not afraid!”
By entering into a sacramental marriage, you also agree that divorce is not an option. And, believe me, you will be tested. There will be weeks, months, and perhaps a year or two where you will question your choice. Your spouse may disappoint you. Your passionate feelings may wane. You may face death of a family member, miscarriage, infertility, financial failure, and you may feel like you have fallen into a hole with no way out. Just remember: this, too, shall pass. And, I find that when you weather these setbacks by staying close to the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist, you experience a constant renewal. The passion returns in ebbs and flows, in even greater waves. The confidence in your choice of a mate triumphs. And, you experience an overwhelming feeling of joy and gratefulness.
That’s not to say that all sacramental marriages will flourish. Some will falter, others will fail. But, if you have both entered into this union honestly, completely open to life and God’s plan for life, then you have a statistically good chance of surviving. The divorce rate for couples practicing Natural Family Planning is less than 5%. That is well below the national divorce rate which is 50%. I believe that the reason for this success rate is that NFP requires you to communicate on a most intimate level. If you can have these conversations, then you can pretty much talk about anything.
Pray together. Start early. Keep it simple. Up to this point, you have done everything together. You have gone to church together but have you ever sat quietly, alone and prayed together? It may seem awkward at first. But, just by praying the Lord’s Prayer right before you fall asleep together, you will experience spiritual intimacy unlike any other experience. And, you will be less likely to drift apart when you practice this simple act of faith, hope, and love.
Most of all, have fun! You have married your best friend. How awesome is that?! Enjoy him, encourage him, and be a joyful light in his life.
Congratulations and Best Wishes for an amazing adventure!
A thankful Catholic bride of nearly 17 years
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
~ 1 John 4:18