This Sunday is World Marriage Day, a celebration of Christian marriage that honors husband and wife as the foundation of the family.
I always love to ask couples how they first met. Usually there is a smile or a smirk as that first moment of encounter is described. It is also moving to hear couples talk about when they first knew they had found their soulmate. Stories of engagement are also quite entertaining.
Being married, however, is a far different experience than falling in love and getting engaged. There is nothing more important in this world and hardly anything more challenging. As Pope Francis wrote in Amoris Laetitia, marital joy involves understanding that “marriage is an inevitable mixture of enjoyment and struggles, tensions and repose, pain and relief, satisfactions and longings, annoyances and pleasures, but always on the path of friendship, which inspires married couples to care for one another” (N. 126).
I like Pope Francis’ idea that married couples are always on the path of friendship. In our journey through life there is no greater gift than friendship, especially when it is between a husband and wife.
Christian marriage is a vocation, a call to discipleship, and a path to holiness. As a vocation, it is a call to love each other and your children as Christ loves them. As discipleship, it is to bring each other and your children to an intimate relationship with Christ. As a path to holiness, it is offering yourself in self-sacrificing love every day, with Christ as the model.
We don’t have to do the ‘marriage thing’ perfectly, as that is impossible. Marriage is hard work. Even Mary and Joseph had challenges to face. All we can do is try our best each day.
We know that sometimes marriages do not last and that can produce deep pain. Others have spouses who have died and are still grieving their absence. Our hearts go out to them. None of us get to heaven without bumps and bruises. Even the resurrected Christ still had visible wounds. If you have been through either experience, may God comfort you.
May God bless all of you married couples at Holy Redeemer Parish. Learn to accept each other more and more, without wanting the other to change. Try and pray for each other as you are lying in bed preparing to sleep, out loud if you can, just for a few seconds. You’ll see the difference it makes. And keep your sense of humor. There is plenty to laugh about when you think about it. Most importantly, enjoy the journey through life together!
In Christ, Fr. Pat