Mawwiage…That Bwessed Awwangement

“There is nothing nobler or more admirable
than when two people who see eye to eye
keep house as man and wife,
confounding their enemies
and delighting their friends.”


Last weekend, I had the opportunity to be a groomsman in my brother’s wedding. I’ve been to weddings before. I’ve participated in several, including serving some. I’ve had a few cousins get married, but this was the first time I had really been so close to the bride and groom. I can’t say I’m very close to my brother, but I did grow up with him, so I guess you could say I’ve known him all my life. So when I stood at the foot of the sanctuary last Saturday and watched as my brother gave himself in Marriage, and I couldn’t help but be hit by the immense reality of this great sacrament.

To the person who does not really understand Marriage, the wedding ceremony might seem a little odd to them. Here are two people saying that they will be with each other for the rest of their lives. Sometimes they will be crying. Their friends and family are crying. Wait… Is it a happy or sad occasion?? There is nothing sad about giving oneself entirely to another person. On the contrary, those who cry are struck by the beauty of the ceremony.

This man and this woman have been commissioned by the Lord. They are called to give themselves totally, faithfully, fruitfully, and freely to the other and for the sake of the other. They are called to lead their spouse and their children to heaven. This is integral to marriage: it is for the sake of the other. They are called to sacrifice their own wills, their own desires for the other’s sake. The vocation of marriage is supposed to be that icon of the love of Christ and the Church. There is a reason why it is called giving oneself in marriage: Marriage is a pure gift of self.

The all-too-controversial excerpt from Ephesians 5 expresses just that. However, the beginning of that excerpt seems to be skipped over: “Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ” (I. 5:21). That must be understood: both are called to be subordinate to each other. Different but EqualBut, when wives are called to be subordinate to their husbands, they are not called to degrade themselves. Subordination does not offend one’s dignity, but reveals a certain humility. When husbands are called to love their wives as their own bodies, it further reveals this difference in roles. If the husband and the wife had the same roles in marriage, it would be just like having two heads, or two bodies. That doesn’t really work. Just as Christ laid down His life for His spouse, the Church, a husband is called to lay down his life for his spouse. Husband and wife are called to make sacrifices for the other, but in different ways. The sacrament of Marriage reveals how man and woman are truly different, but also equal.

As I said above, marriage consists of man and woman giving completely of themselves for the sake of the other. It is a sacrament of sacrificial love. All people are called to die to themselves everyday. The married couple possesses a more specific calling in this manner: they are called to die to themselves in service of the other. Holy Orders and Marriage are referred to as the Sacraments at the Service of Communion – for the salvation of others. Marriage is ultimately intended for the other’s sake. Love is defined by St. Thomas Aquinas as willing the good of the beloved. By giving oneself to their spouse, husband and wife indeed will the other’s good by seeking to bring them to Heaven.

When it comes toChrist on the Cross marriage, it can be easy to get caught up in the ceremony, the tradition, the ritual, and the idea of love. However, marriage is obviously so much more than that. A man and a woman are joined together in order that they may lead each other to Heaven. Don’t get me wrong: there is merit in ceremony and tradition. However, those are only means to an end: bringing together the two called to Marriage, in order for them to begin their lives together in sacrificial love. A true marriage cannot lack sacrifice. The lover seeks to sacrifice for their beloved without counting the cost.

To my brother and my new sister-in-law, and to all those embarking on the journey of marriage, I pray that your lifelong companionship may be filled with love and sacrifice, that you may truly be each other’s guides to the Heavenly Kingdom.

“Lord, teach me to be generous.
Teach me to serve as you deserve,
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to ask for reward,
save that of knowing I am doing your will.”

-‘Prayer for Generosity,’ St. Ignatius of Loyola


Duc In Altum


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