On a Mission
Only two months to go until the big day! It’s starting to feel more real now that we have our invitations ready to be sent out, plane tickets purchased, and a one month extension added to the lease on my apartment, which will now officially be our first home (so exciting!), or that is at least for one month until we can find another apartment.
We’ve also just about wrapped up our immediate marriage preparation with our mentor couple, with only one more session to go. I’m definitely going to miss our chats with Juan and Carmen, who have been such gracious hosts to us during our evening sessions and who have helped Juan and me talk through some very important issues.
In the last session we talked a little bit about mission, and specifically our mission as a married couple. This topic will carry through to the final session, when Juan and I have to present a symbol we have chosen to represent our vocation and mission as a married couple. We aren’t quite sure what that is going to look like. (Surely it won’t look like what we intend it to look like. Neither of us are very good artists). Nevertheless, it does have us thinking about our mission and what we, as a couple, want to present to the world.
This whole concept of mission is so important in the life of a Christian. After all, God has a mission for each one of us, and discerning that mission and keeping that mission clearly in mind can help us orient our lives toward fulfilling God’s purpose.
The idea of designing a symbol to represent our mission reminds me of the thesis I’m currently working on. At the beginning of the thesis project, I had to write a proposal defining my primary objective and the secondary objectives that would support the primary objective. While I knew what I wanted to study before I sat down to work on the proposal, the very act of thinking through my objectives and organizing them on paper gave me a tremendous amount of clarity. Now whenever I’m working on my thesis, I have those objectives clearly before me.
In a similar way, defining our mission as a Christian couple will help orient us in our vocation. As Christians, we all have the primary mission of joyfully loving and serving God. As a married couple, our next, secondary mission, through which we fulfill our primary mission, is to love, honor, and serve each other and be a living sign of God’s love in the world. Beyond that, we as a couple have to learn what God is asking of us in our individual marriage, and this will surely change with time and circumstance. The beauty of this is that every couple’s individual mission will be somewhat different, although this can also present a challenge when we try to understand what our mission is. How many kids will we have? What traditions will we develop? How will we cultivate the faith in our home? How will we be involved in our parish? Our community?
And I thought I was done with most of the discernment when I got engaged!
As for the here and now, Juan and Carmen wisely suggested to us that one of the most important aspects of our current mission is simply being a young, faithful, (soon-to-be) married couple. Nowadays just being a young joyful Catholic couple, unafraid to commit to lifelong marriage, giving a “yes” to God, and a “yes” to family, being open to what life brings, and confident in God’s presence, can be a powerful witness of the joy and beauty of the Gospel. After all, just trying to live the faith in today’s culture will raise more than a few eyebrows, or at least that has certainly been my experience. I’ve gotten all kinds of questions about Juan and me over the last few years, from asking why we are getting married so young when neither of us even has a house or a car, to why we are not living together, to why we go to Mass every Sunday. I think all of these moments when our faith is questioned, so to speak, are a call to us to really know our mission, know what we are about, be able to articulate it, and live it out with ever greater faithfulness and dedication.
Regardless of what symbol we choose for our mission (a tree? a rock? maybe something else from nature? – we’re not very good at this), our goal will be to always keep our primary mission in mind: to joyfully love and serve God through one another, and to strive for greater dedication to our mission every day.