My husband and I celebrated 26 years of marriage last year. We’ve actually passed the point where we’ve been married longer than we were single. An invitation from a parish moms group to speak about marriage gifts prompted me to take a long look back and ponder what insights I could possibly share.
I really didn’t date in high school and my first real boyfriend didn’t come along until my senior year of college. Those were lonely and confusing years. I remember thinking that maybe there wasn’t anyone out there for me—and then I met the man who would become my husband.
You know how there’s a saying that when you meet the right guy “You’ll just KNOW?” Well, I didn’t. He was cute. He introduced me to hockey. He was the first guy who patiently explained the game of football to me (I really had no idea). He quietly put up with loud, obnoxious me. It wasn’t long before I noticed that he was the first guy who put me first in a way I’d never experienced before. He didn’t draw a lot of attention to himself, but he showed that he loved me in little ways that turned out to be really important. He listened to me and treated me with a kindness, patience, and respect that I’d never noticed from others before.
So, on a Saturday afternoon at the front of the church, we faced one another and pledged our love before God, our family, and friends. Although we were married in the Church, we were unable to share in the Eucharist. Because my new husband and his family were not Catholic, our priest would not permit it, insisting that it’s wrong to celebrate the union of two families with a sacrament that excludes one of them.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church notes that the celebration of marriage normally takes place during the Mass, where:
The spouses receive the Holy Spirit as the communion of love of Christ and the Church. The Holy Spirit is the seal of their covenant, the ever-available source of their love and the strength to renew their fidelity. (1624)
And so it was that the single most powerful moment of our wedding came when the pastor took up his stole and wrapped it—not too loosely–around our clasped hands, and said the words from Mark 10:9. Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” In that moment, I knew the presence of the Holy Spirit had come upon us.
The Holy Spirit accompanies us through the many stages of married life on a long and sometimes bumpy road that is our Domestic Church—as we are called to love each other for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.
Oh yeah—and lead each other to heaven!
Marriage Requires the Gifts of the Holy Spirit
In case you don’t remember the gifts of the Holy Spirit—and I’ll admit that even after six years of Confirmation retreats with Life Teen, I still have to look them up to make sure I have them all–they are:
- Right Judgment (or Counsel)
- Courage (or Fortitude)
- Wonder & Awe (or Fear of the Lord).
Each month this year, join me as we take a deeper look at the Gifts of the Holy Spirit working within our marriages and families. This month, give thanks for the gift of marriage. Pray for your spouse. Invite the Holy Spirit to be present in the daily work and strengthen your marriage with renewed love in faith.