Most of us immediately think of priesthood or religious life when we hear the word “vocation.” Yes – these are vocations, but did you know that marriage is as well?
Vocation comes from the Latin word vocare, which means “to call.” Marriage is a calling that originates not from hormones or fear of loneliness but from God. Not only is it God who calls us to marriage, He also calls us to something amazing in marriage.
So what exactly is the calling of marriage? What is the mission in marriage?
To find the answer we must consider the striking fact that marriage is categorized as a holy Sacrament. The seven Sacraments are actually placed into three categories:
- Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, the Eucharist, & Confirmation
- Sacraments of Healing: Anointing of the Sick & Reconciliation
- Sacraments at the Service of Communion: Holy Orders & Marriage
The church teaches that the Sacraments at the Service of Communion are “directed towards the salvation of others; if they contribute to personal salvation, it is through service to others that they do so.”
In this description we find two key points. The first is that marriage is primarily calling spouses to help lead each other and their children to heaven. The “work” in a marriage is that of sanctification and pursuing holiness. The second point is that marriage may assist in the personal salvation of others! As a husband or wife serves, leads, and loves their spouse and children, they reflect God’s love and draw others to Him.
It may sound daunting, but remember – you and I are not meant to do this work on our own. Not one good thing that we can do in marriage or for our family originates in us. It is God who is good and He is the Giver of all good gifts. Because of God’s generous love we can experience an abiding and faithful relationship with Him, which empowers us to have healthy marriages. His plan for marriage is that we will have the grace to thrive – not just survive – in marriage.
God is with us! In the Sacrament of Marriage God gives to us the specific grace which is “intended to perfect a couple’s love and to strengthen their indissoluble unity.” By this grace, God enables spouses to “help one another attain holiness in their married life and in welcoming and educating their children.” This is why marriage is hard – not because it is a bad thing we strive to make good, but rather it is a very good thing meant to make us into saints!