To love as Christ loves his Church
Just how important is marriage to the kingdom of God? According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “God himself is the author of marriage. The vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator” (CCC, 1603). To emphasize its importance even further, this sacrament “gives spouses the grace to love each other with the love with which Christ has loved his Church” (CCC, 1661). So it’s safe to say that marriages are important in God’s plan!
The Bible begins (Adam and Eve) and ends (the wedding feast of the Lamb) with marriage. We know that the wedding feast at Cana was Jesus’ first public miracle. We know from sacred Scripture that “it is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). And we know that at the heart of the marriage covenant, man and woman are called to help sanctify each other and lead each other to heaven.
At this time in history, when there is so much confusion about the nature of marriage, we are called more than ever to speak and teach the truth of God and his Church about this beautiful sacrament.
From the Word
“From the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother [and be joined to his wife], and the two shall become one flesh’” (Mark 10:6-8).
■ What is God’s plan for marriage? (“a lifelong, faithful partnership between a man and a woman … made for the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of children,” USCCB website)
■ What does the sacrament of marriage signify? (the union of Christ and the Church, CCC, 1661)
■ Who is the minister of this sacrament? (the bride and groom themselves; the priest or deacon is the Church’s witness)
1. Ask the experts. Put together a speaker panel, including, for example: a newly married couple, someone who runs a marriage preparation program, a couple that has been married for many years, and a priest. Have them each give a few brief remarks on the value of the sacrament, and then open it up to an honest Q&A session. Looking at the sacrament from so many viewpoints is really valuable.
2. Saintly intercessors. Learn more about the parents of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Louis and Zélie Martin, who on October 18, 2015, were the first couple ever to be canonized at the same ceremony. Pray to them as a class, asking them to intercede for all of the couples involved in marriage preparation in your parish and diocese. (See here for more on the Martins.)
Holy marriage — a total gift of self between one man and one woman for life — is foundational for the human person, the family, and all of society. Though challenges to this ideal abound in the world today, we find hope in Jesus, our perfect model, and in this timeless truth: “The entire Christian life bears the mark of the spousal love of Christ and the Church” (CCC, 1617).
LYNN WEHNER is a Catholic writer, editor, speaker, and catechist who lives with her husband and their children in Connecticut.
This article was originally published in Catechist, March 2020.