By Fr. Tom Vandenberg
Why should couples pray together? Is it to deepen their unity as a couple or to seek God’s help in dealing with problems in their family or even in their own relationship? The answer is yes to these and countless other such questions. However, the overriding motive for a couple called to the Sacrament of Matrimony to pray together is their vocation to be a living sign of Jesus’ love in the Church.
Like the Sacrament of Orders, the Sacrament of Matrimony is ultimately for the life of the
Church. That is what distinguishes sacramental marriage from all other marriages.
In addition to faith in each other, it requires faith in God and the desire to live in the Spirit
of God’s love as their way of life – not just for themselves, but also for the People of God. Because of their baptism into Christ, a sacramental couple’s vocation is to make love itself real and believable in the Church, for, where love is, God is. Sharing a relationship with God through prayer bonds the couple more closely together and supports their vocation
as a domestic church.
As a living sacrament, a couple calls the Church to that unique way of life Jesus referred to when he said, “By this will they know you are my disciples: your love for one another” (John 13:35). Not only do our sacramental couples show us what Christ-like love looks like, they actually bring Jesus’ love to the community of the Church. Sacraments confer what they signify. They make Jesus’ love real! And in so doing, they help empower others to have a real depth of love for one another as well.
The Sacrament of Matrimony exists in the dynamic power of the couple’s
relationship with each other. The home they create by their love is the most important
school for learning the ways of love that their children will ever experience. Calling on the
power of God’s love through praying together strengthens this extraordinary call from
When living in the Spirit of God’s love, rather than asking for Jesus to help them with their daily challenges, they may ask instead, “Jesus, how can we help you today? How can we make your love present in us more obvious today? What should our love look like right here, right now?” This all requires that a married couple surrender themselves to the Spirit of God’s Love who empowers them to fulfill their vocation. This begins by worshiping together at Mass when they surrender themselves as they are, in union with Jesus, to the Father. In this way, their hearts open to the transforming grace and love of God, so their hearts will more clearly reflect the heart of Jesus. United in divine love, they then can let the Spirit guide their private prayer together.