For those of you who didn't know, Michael's getting married tomorrow!!!
This is of course one of the reasons he hasn't been able to post as much in the last two weeks. So, in honor of my good friend and his beautiful bride-to-be, I've just decided to post here a few reflections for him on the nature of what he's about to enter into. (Michael, I know full well you know this stuff already, but maybe when you get back you can help me live it, too!)
The first thing to remember is that marriage is at its very deepest mystery about imaging the life-giving love of the Trinity . This love is supernatural, totally selfless, and fruitfull. No biggie, just remember what the Catechism teaches:
God who created man out of love also calls him to love--the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being. For man is created in the image and likeness of God who is himself love. Since God created him man and woman, their mutual love becomes an image of the absolute and unfailing love with which God loves man. It is good, very good, in the Creator's eyes. (CCC 1604)
Second, always remember that you can't do this on your own power. It takes the grace of God and the power of Christ. That is of course why marriage was elevated to the status of a sacrament. Again, the Catechism teaches:
[Jesus'] unequivocal insistence on the indissolubility of the marriage bond may have left some perplexed and could seem to be a demand impossible to realize. However, Jesus has not placed on spouses a burden impossible to bear, or too heavy--heavier than the law of Moses. By coming to restore the original order of creation destroyed by sin, he himself gives the strength and grace to live marriage in the new dimension of the Reign of God. It is by following Christ, renoucing themselves, and taking up their crosses that spouses will be able to "receive" the original meaning of marriage and live it with the help of Christ. This grace of Christian marriage is a fruit of the cross, the source of all Christian life" (CCC 1615)
The third and final piece of advice flows directly from that last line: always pray for the grace to be willing to climb up on the Cross for your bride. The great error of the world is that it wants the joy of the marriage bed without the cross of the marriage covenant. But there is no marriage without the Cross; it was the Cross that was Christ's marriage bed. "The day will come when the Bridegroom is taken from them, and they will fast on that day" (Mark 2:20). It was there that he sealed the covenant with his Bride: "When Jesus had received the wine, he said, 'It is finished' (Lat consummatum est); and he bowed his head, and he gave up his spirit" (John 19:30). The great mystery of marriage is that at its heart lies a cross, and that only by dying to yourself will the life that is the fruit of marriage spring forth.
Saint Paul, of course, knew all this. This is why he called marriage "the great sacrament":
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies... "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and two shall become one." This is a great mystery (Lat magnum sacramentum) and I mean in reference to Christ and the Church (Eph 5:25-32)
As one of my favorite theologians likes to say, all this is not difficult, it's just humanly impossible! But with God's grace "all things are possible." And I know that His grace will be with you and Kimberly. Many blessings to you both. We will be praying for you this weekend.