My mother is Sicilian Catholic, for all the things that brings in, and my dad’s a hardcore Irish Catholic. [There was] a lot of talking about it one one side, never mentioned it on the other. But his actions spoke very loud to me, and to this day are irreplaceable.
Will you love, honor, and cherish each other for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer?
No matter which way the toothpaste is squeezed, whether or not the dirty clothes end up around the house or in the hamper, with or without your in-laws visiting, during football season, through job changes, emotional changes, body changes… for the rest of your life?
Did we realize that all this and much more was included in our vows? Couples stand before the altar, in love, with hope and so much excitement in their eyes, before God and all those present, to profess their “I do” to one another. So why is it that so many marriages, even after all the good intentions and faithful promises, end in divorce?
Studies often point to inadequate communication skills, lack of education, resources, families of origin, and poor effort as reasons for divorce. However, even the most well-educated, hard-working, “perfectly compatible” couples, each from wonderful upbringings, are not given a divorce-free guarantee.
Talents, skills, treasures, and techniques may be great to have, and these surely come in handy, but they are not on what a marriage should be built. Just as a wise builder does not construct his house on top of his toolbox, but on a solid foundation, so too must spouses build their marriage on steadfast unshakeable ground.
It is in Chapter 7 of Matthew’s gospel, where the Lord teaches us just how to do that: “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock” (Matthew 7:24-25).
For a marriage or family to weather the storm, to stand the test of time, to overcome all the sick times, bad times, and make it through the rough times… it must be built on God.
We all want our marriages to do more than just survive; we want them to thrive! Not only is God the divine architect laying out the blueprint for this strong and lasting marriage, He is also the one who nourishes and perfects the very love of the spouses and gives us the grace to love as He loves!
Jesus says to all of us, “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).
What can we do to become more firmly grafted on this vine so that our love bears lasting fruit? In his Theology of the Body, St. John Paul II proclaimed to spouses that “Prayer,” the “Eucharist,” and the sacrament of “Penance” are the means “infallible and indispensable to form the Christian spirituality of conjugal and familial life” (126.5). For a married couple to be united in love, they must first be united in Christ. Spouses must turn to God in prayer, receive Him worthily in the Eucharist, and seek His forgiveness and mercy in Confession. We may not be able to order a divorce- free guarantee online but we can be grafted more closely to Him and receive all that we need for a healthy and nourishing love. God is so good, and He richly provides for us. It is our job, then, to take him up on all that He offers.
In an effort to help married couples hear and respond to this amazing invitation and to provide a resource for important work of the Church to strengthen marriages, we created a brand new six-part marriage enrichment series called, “United in Love, United in Christ.” It provides practical steps in building on what St. John Paul II taught to be the “infallible” and “indispensable” way to a truly united and faithful love.
Please check out United in Love, United in Christ for more info.
Thank you for reading, God Bless.
“It could be a wonderful person, but if they’ve hurt me, that’s how I define them. Instead of defining our spouse or our situation as the thing that I’ve got to escape from or I’m not going to survive, is I’ve got to somehow be able to see the good.”
God has been very patient with me in that process to recognize – “Look, your life’s not gonna be a total failure. This is gonna be a totally different adventure, and it’s going to be what I create. And there’s no way you can understand that now, but you’re gonna see it lay out day after day. When you put yourself in my hands, watch what happens.”
When people say “5 kids and this and that – how do you do that”, I say “Wait, do you think I’m like a Superman?” It is God. You have to see that God wants to move in all our lives, and if we do anything good it’s because of Him. He’s knocking at our door, and we’ve gotta let Him in.
“They’ve given themselves more than any human being ever could have. It’s miraculous the ways they’ve been able to do that. Not only are they not dead, they’re doing really well. And then you look at those people that have alot of kids, and they’re doing really well. You either write them off as either superheroes or super crazy.”
We need to work hard, but at the same time we also need to be able to play hard, and enjoy time together. And that leads us to be more refreshed and more fulfilled. And the role of work doesn’t trump my role as a father and as a husband.
“Am I gonna spend 30 minutes looking at my phone when I could just be hanging out with my kids playing Legos? I don’t want to play with Legos, but you know what? That’s what love looks like. Because I’m looking at the focus of my kids.”
“My wife is more than I ever could have asked for. She’s more than I deserve. If I can just rest in that, let that be the gift that it is, it is absolutely overwhelming. The joy that comes from that is overwhelming – it’s the best.”
“What does it mean to love God? That’s a tough question. The more I learn that He’s here, and it is good that He’s here. When He speaks to me, it feels good – it feels like a firm foundation. And things begin to make sense. The more I’m exposed to God, the more it makes sense.”