Today we celebrate World Marriage Day and focus on the sacrament of marriage. In the Book of Genesis, it is the Lord’s intention and ideal that two people who marry should become one flesh. That ideal is found in the unbreakable union of Adam and Eve. They were created for each other, and for no one else.
As previously indicated, this unbreakable union is also reflected in the sacrament of marriage. In marriage, a man and a woman are not only joined to each other, they are also joined to Christ. It is not just that Christ is a third party to this union. It is much more profound than that. Christ, who is the sign and sacrament of God’s presence in the world, is the foundation of that union. The couple then joins Christ as an outward sign of the love of God. They are able to open themselves to each other in love because God has first loved them. In reflecting on a couple’s love for one another, well-known Catholic author, Matthew Kelly, stated that in marriage, couples do their best to give the gift of themselves as they strive within their human limitations to reflect the total giving of self by Christ on the cross.
Archbishop Gregory expressed his appreciation for those couples who have embraced the sacrament of marriage and who have honored their commitment. He stated, in a column in The Georgia Bulletin, “Marriage and religious vows are relationships that are intended to mirror and witness to God’s perfect fidelity and enduring love.” He further commented, “It is increasingly important to hold up those folks who have lived their vocational commitments – certainly not without mistakes, challenges and failures – but with fidelity and steadfastness. We all know many wonderful people whose marriages or religious promises have not endured. And we love them nonetheless. However, in our society we also must hold up examples of people who have succeeded in fulfilling their commitments.”
As we reflect on these words, we also remember those friends, relatives and neighbors whose marriages are troubled. We pray that they will turn to the Lord and seek reconciliation as they strive to address their difficulties. We also remember those friends and relatives and neighbors whose marriages have not endured for one reason or another. We pray that they may seek the healing they need, especially when appropriate through the process of annulment available through the Catholic Church.
This weekend many couples renewed their marriage vows here at Saint Brigid after the 5 p.m. Vigil Mass on Saturday. They affirmed Christ as the foundation of their marriage. They also affirmed their love for their spouse and most importantly their love for Christ. We pray that many more couples, young and not so young, considering the vocation of marriage will follow their example.