Breaking Open the Theme
“Among the many blessings that God has showered upon us in Christ is the blessing of marriage, a gift bestowed by the Creator from the creation of the human race” (USCCB, Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan, p. 1). The vocation to marriage is inscribed in the very nature of man and woman (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1603). As a natural institution, marriage has certain God-given characteristics. It is the permanent, faithful union of a man and a woman, intended for the good of the spouses and the bearing and raising of children.
So essential is the blessing of marriage that it was not lost by original sin, a point we are reminded of in the Nuptial Blessing of the Marriage Rite. Instead, marriage was redeemed by Christ and elevated by Him to become one of the seven sacraments. In this way, Christ made marriage between a baptized man and a baptized woman a sign or visible embodiment of his love for the Church (see Ephesians 5:21-33). Sacramental marriage does not replace natural marriage but, in a marvelous example of grace building on nature, raises it beyond what husband and wife could achieve on their own, allowing them to share in God’s own divine life.
Many neighborhoods are blessed to have a married couple who are the true community makers. This is the couple on whom everyone counts to generate enthusiasm for the block party or to welcome new arrivals. When this special couple also happens to be Christians, their positive influence gives the Church a good name. People seek their opinion on moral questions or ask them to pray for their loved ones. They seem to enjoy working together in the yard and on church projects. Their dinner table always has room for another teenager. In such a couple, people witness the natural and supernatural dimensions of marriage, in the flesh.
To Think About
(Choose one or more of the following questions to reflect on by yourself and/or with your spouse)
(1) How has your spouse been a gift to you?
(2) What would you like to do for your spouse that would express your love in a special way?
(3) In what ways can your marriage become a gift to other people, not only to each another?
Prayer for Married Couples
Almighty and eternal God,
You blessed the union of husband and wife
So that we might reflect the union of Christ with his Church:
look with kindness on us.
Renew our marriage covenant.
Increase your love in us,
and strengthen our bond of peace
so that, [with our children],
we may always rejoice in the gift of your blessing.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.