If you have noticed that there seems to be a little extra bliss in the air lately, there’s a reason for that. We have entered into peak wedding season here at Nativity of Mary. Congratulations to all of the couples and their families who have been gathering to witness and celebrate the holy sacrament of matrimony.
When I meet with couples to prepare them for marriage so often I hear them talk about fate. It sounds kind of romantic to think that there was something beyond their control that thrust them together. I sometimes remind couples that, for much of world history, that’s the way it was. There was a higher force that brought two people together. That higher force was their parents.
For much of world history, young people didn’t get to choose who they were marrying. Many cultures had, and some still have, arranged marriages. Parents decide who their children will marry. One woman from India once told me, “It makes sense. Who should be entrusted with such an important matter – someone who has actually been married and has 50 years of life experience or someone who has never been married and who has no experience except for school?”
Of course, for better and for worse, things are different in our culture. We live in a culture of consumerism and this mentality has affected the way many approach marriage. Too many people see marriage as another occasion to consume – “I need to find someone to support me and fulfill me and make me laugh and rub my feet.” So much emphasis is placed on making a shopping list and finding the right person. Maybe we should place less emphasis on finding the right person and more emphasis on becoming the right person. Maybe the better question is not, “Who do I want to be with when I am 65?” but “Who do I want to be when I am 65?” Marriage does not require us to consume. The emphasis should be less on shopping for the right person and more on becoming the right person – becoming someone beautiful.
That’s why we take vows – because it takes time for us to become the person we are called to be. If we didn’t make this life-long promise we might lose heart. It takes time for us to become the right person. It takes time for us to become holy – to develop into someone with depth and character. It takes time truly to trust this person with whom I have promised to become one flesh. You will need time to face the truth of who you are, time to adjust when things don’t turn out the way you expected, time enough to begin again when you fail. It will take time before you can really see your life through the eyes of another – time to look at another person’s life as if it were your own. All of this takes time and that’s why Catholic marriage binds you together so tightly.
So I pray that our young couples can ask, “Who do I want to be when I am 65? I want to become someone who can forgive. I want to believe that I am forgiven. I want to believe that I am lovable even when I have a triple chin and age spots. I want to be holy. It’s not enough for my spouse to see my love, I want him or her to look into my face and to see the love of God.”
So congratulations to all of our newly weds. I pray that the grace of the sacrament and the passing of many, many years together help you to become someone beautiful and holy!