“Love and Life” Retreat Day Four: Marriage is a Sacrament of Christ’s Love
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Breaking Open the Theme
“[Jesus] heals marriage and restores it to its original purity of permanent self-giving in one flesh” (USCCB, Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan, p. 30). But the Lord does not stop there. Christ generously invites husband and wife to participate in His spousal love for his Church. Christian spouses are drawn into this love by the grace of the Sacrament of Marriage, so that their own love might reflect the loving communion of the Blessed Trinity. In this way, the marriage of two baptized Christians becomes a living and effective sign: a sign which makes present the union of Christ with His Church (see Eph 5:21-33).
Jesus is truly present in His followers and in their marriages. Practically, this means that when life’s difficulties press in on husband and wife, they are not alone. Though they remain fallible and weak human beings, Christian spouses can rely on Jesus to help them to continue in love even when it seems impossible. As Pope Francis says, “God’s indulgent love always accompanies our human journey; through grace, it heals and transforms hardened hearts, leading them back to the beginning through the way of the cross” (Amoris Laetitia, no. 62). The Lord never abandons marriages and families, but gives them the grace to find true healing and happiness.
She had felt that the world was crashing around her when she learned of her husband’s affair. Still, she was determined to fight for her marriage, and he wanted desperately to heal what he had damaged. Popular wisdom was not on their side, and people let her know it, too. After tears and late-night talks, some angry exchanges, and lots of counseling and prayer, she and her husband reconciled. She would say it was faith that made the difference, but mostly they don’t explain their decision to others. They just say, “We’re married.” That was 10 years ago, and new friends would never guess what they went through. Most couples will not be so severely tested, but a failure to be forgiving can make even small faults—leaving the cap off the toothpaste, poor hygiene, or weak cooking skills—destructive to a marriage.
To Think About
(Choose one or more of the following questions to reflect on by yourself and/or with your spouse)
- How has the grace of the Sacrament of Marriage sustained you in difficult times?
- What are some of the joyful things about being married? What are some of the challenges? Can something be both joyful and challenging?
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.