Trust Brings Grace

“God gives us the grace and the strength to lead our spouse and our children closer to God – to fulfill the mission of love.” -Jason Angelette

The greatest challenge of marriage is to lead our spouse and our children to God. This is our job as the “help-mate” – to help them strive to grow closer to God. There are special things we can do to encourage the people we are called to love into a deeper relationship with Him.

What God calls us to, He empowers us to do. This work of love is something that Christ enables us to do through relationship with Him. When Christ died on the cross, He demonstrated His love for us but He also showed us that He followed the will of God even to death. There is no need to doubt God’s love for us, and He will give us the strength to be obedient to Him.

Whatever challenge you face right now, God loves you and can give you the strength to walk through it. We can trust Jesus with the biggest and the smallest tasks – He can cast out demons and help us in our unbelief. Whenever you feel overwhelmed, He is as close as a simple prayer – “Lord, help me and give me your grace.”

A trusting relationship with God enables us to receive the grace to love others. The passion that spills out of us will then draw our families closer to God!

The Divine Choreographer

“The man – his job in the dance is to show off his beloved. His focus is on her.” – Jason Angelette

There is a special role given to both the husband and wife in a marriage – they are distinct roles, but neither is more dominant that the other. A good analogy is that of dancing. When a couple dances, someone must lead. The male leads, but the focus of the onlookers is typically on the female partner.

The man leading does not lead for himself – he leads to show the best of his partner. And as the female follows, she shows off the best of the dance. The choreography is not their own – together they follow the steps of the dance.

In a marriage, the husband’s role as leader is intended to be selfless – seeking the best for his wife, not for himself. Every step he takes should be about serving the best interests of the wife.

As the wife follows, she also focuses on the best interests of another. As she considers the best interest of her husband, the two complement each other and lift one another up! This is quite a beautiful complimentary relationship when we follow God’s choreography!

The Trifecta of a Healthy Marriage

Why is it that so many marriages – despite careful planning, faithful promises, and the best of intentions – end in divorce?

Research often points to inadequate communication skills, lack of education, or insufficient finances as the reason for divorce. So does that mean that if a hardworking couple has amazing communication skills and an impressive investment portfolio the are guaranteed to avoid divorce? Though these factors would certainly be helpful, they are not enough to sustain and support a marriage. A wise builder does not construct his house on top of his tools, but rather on a solid foundation. In the same way, couples should be cautious not to focus solely on feelings, good intentions, techniques, and resources when attempting to strengthen their marriage. Rather, it is a strong foundation that creates a lasting marriage that can flourish.

After all, most of us want our marriage to thrive, not just survive! God is not only the divine architect, laying out the blueprints for a strong and lasting marriage, He is also the One who nourishes and perfects the love between spouses.

“Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him  will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.” John 15:4-5

In other words, a marriage without God is much like a house without a foundation. It is a home without love, because God is love (Cf. 1 John 4:8). If a married couple wishes to be united in love, they must first be united in Christ.

How can be become more firmly rooted in the vine, so that our love bears lasting fruit?

St. John Paul II proclaimed that “prayer,” the “Eucharist,” and the sacrament of “Penance” are “infallible and indispensable to form the Christian spirituality of conjugal and familial life.” It is through a relationship with God and the exercise of spiritual disciplines that we can become more like Him.

He invites us to turn our hearts to Him in prayer, be purified and healed through His mercy in confession, and be strengthened, filled, and united to Him in the Eucharist. In drawing closer to our Lord and truly being one with Him, we will be able to love those whom we have vowed to love. We can then accept lovingly the lives God gives to us, rise above the struggles and hardships, and live a marriage full of life and love.

Dangers of Disillusionment

“It’s not a matter of leaving a relationship to start another one, but rather righting the ship…” – Jason Angelette

Jason speaks to a challenge that many often face in marriage – disillusionment. It happens when the honeymoon stage fads and our expectations are unmet. Jason reminds married people to reflect on the purpose of marriage, because this will provide perspective that prevents disappointment.

Made For Greatness

“We’re going to have to carry our cross. We’re going to have to sweat. We’re going to have to roll up our sleeves and get to work, and we’re going to need grace from God…” – Jason Angelette

Jason looks to the cross as a reminder that everyone will face challenges in life – when they come, they should not lead to a crisis of faith! Marriage itself is about sacrifice, and difficult times in the relationship are a reminder that marriage brings about sanctification. Jason draws connections between marriage and Scripture, illustrating the fact that neither marriage nor the Christian faith is all joy or all sorrow.

The Dance

“Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body. As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church” Ephesians 5:21-25

Do those first four words make you cringe?

We may want to stop reading after the first sentence, but it is crucial to understand verses such as this in the context of Scripture. So often this particular verse is misunderstood. In reality, Christ is inviting us into the Heavenly Father’s beautiful design for man and woman – that their union would mirror the love between Christ and His Church. Marriage is a beautiful masterpiece, in which love is a dance – a dance that reveals the amazing love of Christ to the world.

Stay with me as I try to explain this analogy of marriage as a dance. I’m not shy about hitting the dance floor with my wife, but I confess that I truly know nothing about dancing. My wife is the dancer – she is well-trained and continues to choreograph, so she makes us look good! My expertise on the subject comes from her, or from listening to the critiques of reality TV judges. We worked on this article together, with myself taking the lead and her making it beautiful – just like when we dance!

Dance is a beautiful thing. Picture it: a man with arms extended, firm yet gentle, with the softer, smaller hands of a woman in his, circling her slowly and gracefully around the dance floor. The man is leading, and the woman follows his lead. His role is to show off the woman as she then shows off the dance. Think about it – when you watch a couple dance, who do your eyes focus on? The man guides the woman around the floor and all the focus is on her. He is aware of every movement, taking care not to step on her toes, and looking out for her as she glides backwards and twirls about. It is favorable, of course, when the pair are skilled in their technique. However, it is passion, vulnerability, and soul that make the dance come alive! Passion and practice in their skills together make the picture complete.

The man is called to lead much like a conductor leads a symphony. He gives all of his focus to her, entirely wrapped up in her beauty, guiding her cautiously yet without fear. Man has been given strength not to dominate, but to protect, to provide, and to initiate the adventure! He should give himself in totality, allowing the beauty of the drama and mystery to unfold – two become one. He devotes everything to her –  he has mastered his skill so that she can receive his gifts, talents, and work. When she, in her femininity, receives his gift, she can give the dance life!

The woman has a very important role – she is the heart of the dance. While wrapped in his arms, his loving guidance allows her steps to float across the floor. Her audience is captivated by her beauty as she entrusts herself in this partnership with the man. She desires that others not focus solely on her, but on the beauty of the dance itself. The movement of man and woman together to the rhythm of the music leads hearts and minds to a deeper appreciation to the beauty of art – the art of two becoming one in the dance.

The woman is not then some rag doll, tossed here and there, requiring no skill or coordination. Quite the opposite! As the saying goes: “Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire, did but backwards and in high heels!” This begs the question whose role is more difficult! Yet, the point is not to show who has it harder. Both man and woman face different challenges in their roles, and both are crucial to the dance.  The beauty of this art form is not in the individual skill of the two dancers, but rather how they come together, giving and receiving, leading and being led, loving and being loved.

We marry not to become caught up in ourselves, but to give ourselves over to another with the desire to love them in total selflessness. As we give of ourselves, we entrust our spouse with the gift of self without holding back, no matter their response.In marriage, two people become one! One in mind, one in heart, one in love, and one in affection. Christ raised marriage to be a sign here on earth, proclaiming to the world the love that Christ has for us! This union of two people is the greatest picture of the union of Christ to his people. We are brought back into communion with the Father through our incorporation into his body, the Church, the body of Christ. We are His and He is ours, a union that cannot be separated.

Just as in the dance, husband and wife are called to be one and live as one, reflecting the union of the Church and Our Father. As Christ spoke those words about submission and loving as Christ loves the church, He was describing a beautiful dance that He choreographed for us. We were being invited to take part in a divine masterpiece. More elegant than the waltz and more joyful than the jitterbug, we’ve been invited to take part in the divine dance of life and love! That is something to be thankful for.

Working Through Us

“You can learn the love of God through the love you give to your wife and to your children…” – Jason Angelette

Jason illustrates how selfishness can hurt, and love can “unhurt.” Caring for your family is a means of teaching them about God’s love – an amazing opportunity and responsibility. Thankfully He offers redemption when we fail, because through Him – love wins.

Faithful Forgivers

“We have to have the habit of forgiveness just rolling in our family.” – Jason Angelette

Jason reframes asking for forgiveness as a means of demonstrating how much you care about a relationship – with God, your spouse, or your family. It is more meaningful to offer an apology before an injury is mentioned when you can. Jason points out that apologizing is a way to be attentive to the people you love.

Forgiveness is Key

“The only sin He can’t forgive is a sin you don’t confess.” – Jason Angelette

Jason uses the parable of the Unforgiving Servant to illustrate the importance of offering forgiveness to those who wrong us. Who are we to withhold forgiveness when God has pardoned us of such a great debt? Watch and ask yourself: are you a “giver” or a “grabber”?

What Do You Hold Dear?

“St. Benedict said, ‘Keep death ever before you,’ – It’s a reminder of just how precious this time we have is.” – Jason Angelette

Jason reminds you that there should be a relationship between what you value and how you spend your time. He encourages you to prioritize time with your family and your God, because time is an expression of love. Jason suggests considering your mission in life so that you can make choices that help you accomplish that goal.