Monday, August 19, 2013
Marriage - The Mysterious Sacrament
I've been married for seven years today!
I don't seem to ponder my marriage often. Most times I'm thankful for my wonderful, loving, caring husband who understands and loves me through everything. Sometimes I marvel at how undeserving I am of such a man and such a marriage. But its much easier to focus on the concrete than the big idea. The great husband I have sitting in front of me, lying beside me, the one I sometimes take for granted, is easier to understand and appreciate than my "marriage".
I say this because before I got married I knew that my vocation was marriage, but at the same time had no idea what "marriage" in the sacramental or everyday sense really meant. Does anyone know what it really means before getting married? Do we have any clue what the nitty-gritty of marriage will be like before getting married? I'd be surprised to find anyone who thought they knew what living as man and wife would be like before tying the knot and be proved right in consequence.
But in the spiritual, metaphysical, sacramental sense of marriage do we any idea what it means? I feel that after seven years I have only a glimpse of what marriage means within the spiritual reality. And the only way I feel I can describe it is knowing that my marriage is bigger than me. Its even bigger than both of us. And not just in the sense that now we have five little dependents, a family, a domestic church, a whole little world that has miraculously come from the two of us choosing to marry each other.
Our marriage in the spiritual reality is something much bigger than just the two of us. It is itself a sacrament. A sacrament where my husband and I are the matter, like the physical bread and wine used in the sacrament of the Eucharist. We're the basic, plain, worldly, physical, bodily stuff of which God uses as a direct way to give grace and love. That's pretty bizarre when you think of it. Bizarre in the mysterious, incomprehensible sense.
I know that we're meant to mostly be a sacrament to each other. We're the direct line to each other of God's love and the main impetus of getting each other to heaven. And after the two of us, we're a sacrament to our children. Hopefully we're giving them more grace than aggro, more love than psychological issues. But more than that we're a living sacrament. A sacrament that has eternal implications, that is a vital part of God's life and plan for his Church on earth, but also something that exists in itself as a spiritual reality.
I don't know about you but that idea is pretty hard to wrap one's head around. But sometimes I feel a tiny glimmer of it. In times of difficulty, when I fail to love my husband, when we are on different wave lengths of communication, times of stress; I feel a greater pull forward, not just from the happy idea that we have vast depths of romantic love for each other, but an almost outward pull. And in another way an outward form of support. More than relying on the knowledge that our marriage is for keeps, but a support that feels like an extra pouring of perseverance and preserving solidity. It doesn't magically make your marriage easier, or feel more romantic, but it shines a little light on the fact of your marriage being more. More than just you, your feelings, your failings, your disagreements and struggles, something that is concretely part of God's will.
Like I said, I'm not good at describing this idea. But I know that its true. In seven years I've seen a small glimmer of what God really sees when He sees our marriage. Its a beautiful, complex mystery of how two people really do join together with God and His Church in marriage. I also know that our love has only grown stronger and deeper through seven years of marriage and is another sign of the beauty of God's working through the sacrament. I hope that as the years go by we both see more of this mysterious and loving work of God in our marriage.