by Libby DuPont
Could you imagine a priest deciding he would only celebrate Mass for his family and friends? Of course not! We instinctively know that the sacrament of holy orders exists for the good of the whole church.
Although perhaps not as obvious at first glance, the same is true of the other sacrament of vocation: matrimony. The church depends on them both.
Priests are a sign to us of the breadth of God’s love through their celibate availability. They remind us that heaven is worth great sacrifice, and they bring the presence of Jesus to us in the most important moments of our lives. Married people are the sign to the church of the depth of God’s love. They are called to mirror the love of the Trinity by making a total self-gift to their spouse, loving and trusting so completely that their love gives life to those around them.
Married couples are meant to show the church that God is not distant or indifferent. He is a passionate lover who would rather die than risk spending eternity without us!
To help make matrimony the sign in the church that it is intended to be, we have to do two things. First, married couples need to approach their own vocation with wonder and awe.
Each couple’s sacrament reveals Christ’s love for the church in a unique way that no one else’s can. When this reality hit me, it changed everything.
Suddenly, my marriage was no longer about my own happiness. Other people were counting on me! This motivates me to reconcile hurts more quickly and makes me realize that it’s not only not selfish to spend time with my husband . . . it’s a gift to my kids and the church.
Secondly, as a church we need to treat matrimony with the same reverence as the other sacraments, rather than just as an incidental living situation. Some practical ideas of how to do this:
• Invite married couples to serve together on committees, as faith formation leaders, in works of mercy or at liturgy.
• Announce weddings and anniversaries at Mass or invite couples to receive a blessing for those occasions.
• Ask parishioners to spiritually “adopt” specific couples from engagement to their third anniversary.
• Offer regular opportunities for marriage enrichment and support for couples in crisis.
• Offer child care (or welcome children) to as many parish events as possible so couples can attend together.
Just as we all appreciate our wonderful priests as a gift to the church, so too should we celebrate the sacrament of matrimony.
Catholics of every state of life are welcome to come celebrate World Marriage Day with Archbishop Naumann on Feb. 12 at 11 a.m. at Prince of Peace Church in Olathe.
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