By Peg Hensler, NACFLM Region IV
CELEBRATES the vocation of marriage in worship and community life.
When asked about the most important qualities that Catholic couples need for successful, lifelong marriage, the typical responses from engaged couples might include – great communication, honesty, trust, loyalty, acceptance, just to name a few. Rarely do young adults preparing for Catholic marriage list worship and prayer as necessary elements of a strong marriage, yet those of us who minister to engaged and married couples understand that the “faith” components of the marital relationship are as essential as the love and self-sacrifice that couples give to each other every day in happy, healthy marriages. We’ve all heard the phrase – “families that pray together stay together.” This simple statement is made manifest in the lives of real married couples and their families who regularly practice their faith together. These are the families that seem to exude that wonderful sense of marital joy and family wholeness that all of us hope to achieve.
Sharing in the Eucharist together as a couple is the highest form of worship in Catholic marriage. It is the source and summit of our Catholic faith, and the font of marital grace, that infusion of divine energy that enables us to take on superhuman qualities in the midst of the everyday joys and challenges of marriage and family life. Married couples that work hard to keep the marital graces flowing are most successful when they make intentional connections between their faith lives and their daily family lives. While Sunday worship and involvement in their parish community are obvious priorities, so is the daily attitude of thankfulness for all of God’s blessings, including the gift that spouses are for each other, and the supreme gifts that children are for their parents.
As Catholics, we believe that we are all members of the one Body of Christ, and as such we are all interconnected. We are all branches on the vine that is the person of Jesus Christ; each family adds a new chapter to the story that tells of our common salvation history. Nothing demonstrates our interconnectivity better than healthy, holy married couples and their families who invite Jesus to walk with them on a daily basis, and who glorify God in prayer and in action. Interfaith couples, though they can’t share the Eucharist together, can still be “eucharistic” and unified in their approach to family life. Together they can be thankful for all of God’s generous gifts, and they can pray for marital strength and endurance. Let us always recall that when Jesus returned in glory to the Father, he promised us we would never be alone. He left us the Holy Spirit to provide for all of our spiritual needs and he showed us how to worship and pray that we might always welcome the Spirit of God into our homes, our marriages, our lives.