Married couples need Christ to help them grow together Print
Seeing with Jesus' Eyes
Thursday, Mar. 14, 2019 -- 12:00 AM

George confided to friends at his 50th wedding anniversary that his father-in-law gave him a watch on his wedding day.

Across the watch's face, where he could see it a dozen times a day, were written the words, "Say something nice to Mary Lou today." Doing so helped George and Mary Lou to grow together in their marriage for over 50 years.

Dignity of a sacrament

Christ raised marriage between a baptized man and woman to the dignity of a sacrament.

In Matthew 19: 5-7, Jesus says, "This is why a man leaves his father and mother and becomes married to his wife, and the two become one flesh. They are no longer two, therefore, but one flesh. So then, what God has united, human beings must not divide."

Fr. Walter Burghardt playfully yet seriously said that Catholic marriage is too serious to be left solely to husband and wife. He meant that couples need Jesus' help to live this sacrament.

True love grows

On February 14, 2014, in Vatican City on Valentine's Day, Pope Francis talked to an estimated 25,000 engaged couples. The Holy Father said, "Today, many couples fear making a permanent commitment. This fear of forever is cured through daily prayer.

"True love is more than just a feeling, but a relationship that grows like the construction of a house. Just as God's is stable and forever, so we would want the love that is the foundation of the family to be stable and forever."

In 1631-1632 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it says, "The public character of the marriage consent protects the 'I do' once given and helps spouses remain faithful to it. So that the 'I do' of the spouses may be a free and responsible act, and have solid and lasting Christian foundations, preparation for marriage is of prime importance!"

Taking up crosses

An elderly lady, a daily communicant, who struggled with a difficult marriage for years, told her pastor, "Father, when you're walking down that aisle on your wedding day, you don't notice the Stations of the Cross which include the suffering of Jesus' mother."

My cleaning lady, who rarely complains, shared her latest cross by telling me that her husband is now disabled.

In no. 1642 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church it says, "Christ dwells with the couple, strengthens them to take up their crosses and follow him, to rise after they fall, to forgive one another, to bear one another's burdens, and to love one another with supernatural, tender, and fruitful love."

Domestic churches

By responding to marriage's graces, couples help each other attain holiness and welcome and educate their children. The Church teaches that Catholic families are called to be domestic churches, where children learn about Jesus and how to love by being loved.

A waitress told me, "Often I put my children's needs before my wants." I marvel at the sacrificial love of parents who strengthened by marriage's graces, lay down their time, moods, interests, and needs for their children.

Someone wrote, "Being happily married means falling in love many times, but always with the same person.' Couples need to pray for the grace to grow together.

Catholics who receive the Sacrament of Marriage treasure their wedding ring because, like George's watch, it reminds them daily of their marriage covenant to love and honor each all the days of their life in "good times and in bad, in sickness and in health."

Let's pray for and support parents whose children can affect Church, society, and the common good in many sometimes unseen, but graced ways.

Fr. Donald Lange is a pastor emeritus in the Diocese of Madison.