I was really blessed and heartened to experience the sharing session on Marriage as a Vocation and Sacrament last Saturday. Having been married for the past 4 years, I felt renewed to be refreshed of what an authentic Catholic marriage entails despite all its day-to-day challenges!
As Catholics, we believe that Marriage is a Holy Covenant (a sacred vow made before God, based on love and commitment and affects generations to come) and not a contract (a signed time-bound agreement between equals to protect one’s interests).
A true Christian Marriage requires a permanent commitment from spouses, a loving fidelity and openness to children. However, these three components are very contrary to what we face in our society today. It has become a norm to hear that the couple of a wedding which we attended a few years ago are no longer together, followed by the typical reasons of “we just can’t agree on most things anymore so it’s better to live on our own” or “it’s better for the children since we’re quarreling so often”.
In our world where individualism thrives, it definitely takes much more effort to make a marriage work.
Permanent commitment you say? C’mon, you’re outdated… These days, nothing lasts forever and I’ll choose whatever that makes me happy #sorrynotsorry
Loving fidelity? Nah, I rather do what I like whenever I like #YOLO
Openness to children? No thank you, it’s too troublesome to have kids. High costs of living, we rather focus on our careers, and it impedes our freedom to travel the world #makessense
Subtly yet surely, these societal cultures challenge our belief in marriage and the depths of our relationships. Because when I start to only care for myself, it is an #epicfail.
So what really is marriage all about and do we know why we desire to get married / why we stay married?
Pope Francis says that God calls each of us to be holy and He has a particular path for each one of us. For those of us who desire to settle down or are married, marriage is a vocation, a real way of living out and participating in the life of Christ.
Marriage, just like religious life, is a natural opportunity for sanctification and it provides us with virtues to love more deeply, to be more patient, to say sorry and forgive over and over again, and to have God’s courage to gently correct each other so as to grow deeper in faith and love with Him.
There are no shortcuts or convenience to a lasting marriage. In essence, it takes effort of husband and wife to cooperate valiantly with the love of God.
Hebrews 13:4 – Marriage should be honored and respected by all. Be faithful to your spouse. A person will be judged by God on how s/he acts within the marriage.
It hit me hard when words of Truth were shared – how a husband’s sole responsibility is to help his wife and children enter the Kingdom of Heaven, and a wife’s sole responsibility is to bring her husband and family closer to God.
It struck me that my role as a wife is beyond cleaning the home, beyond preparing dishes for our family meals, beyond taking care of our daughter, beyond the logistical decisions required to run a family. My sole purpose as a wife is to guide my husband and daughter ever closer to Jesus. Because once I do that, everything else falls in place nicely and with meaning.
I’m not there yet, but I continue to pray for God’s wisdom, courage and grace to help me live consistently in word and deed to bring my family closer to Him, and to be another ‘Jesus’ to our loved ones.
In all our relationships with family and friends, may Love be a haven free from posing and pretending, with no manipulation, or secret wish to control. May Love help us face the risk of truly living, to accept each other’s incompleteness, and share the joy of learning to be whole. (Adapted from Michael Forster’s Let Love Be Real).
God is Love.