By: Thérèse Bermpohl
When couples are discerning the vocation of marriage they often ask themselves, “Can this person make me happy?” or “Will he/she fulfill my needs?”
While happiness (in the Christian sense) should be a natural outgrowth of finding one’s vocation as husband/wife, I think a more important question potential spouses might ask themselves is, “Do I have the ability to sacrifice for the good of another?”
Sacrifice is a necessary component of marriage because it is essential for true and lasting love. As Jesus instructs, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). It’s only when we love as Christ loves that we are able to experience the happiness and joy for which our hearts yearn.
When Catholic spouses pledge themselves on their wedding day and promise in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit to love one another “in sickness and health, until death do we part,” they are committing themselves to a life of sacrificial love. They are participating in Christ’s Love which opens them up to sanctification and the completion of their joy.
As we enter this month of May dedicated to Mary the Mother of God, married couples can benefit by contemplating her life to find the meaning of abiding love. Mary gave her “I do” to the Holy Spirit at the Annunciation. Yet, that holy promise was not a singular event. It was affirmed and reaffirmed throughout her life. Mary’s every choice, big or small, in thought, word and deed was made in context with that initial “yes” of surrender to God’s plan. She entrusted herself to God as she lived through her trials and joys from the birth of Her Son and His disfigurement on the Cross, to his Resurrection that first Easter morning.
Mary can gently lead married couples by her example and intercession through the joys, fears, anxieties and sacrifices involved in the vocation of married love. In contemplating her unique vocation as Spouse of the Holy Spirit and Mother of God, married couples can grow in the conviction and determination to emulate her yes, to choose a love that is bigger than anything merely human; a love that will not be conquered by “…anguish, distress, persecution, famine” (Rom.8:35, 37)., or finances, in-laws, troubled children, sickness, indiscretions, moodiness, disappointments, or sinfulness.
Don’t wait until six months prior to your wedding day to perfect the virtues needed for marriage. Begin now. Foster a deeper friendship with Jesus Christ. Find out what the Church teaches about marriage and contemplate the lives of Mary and the saints so that you will be prepared to live a marriage that will last a lifetime.
For guidelines on marriage preparation, visit the diocesan Web site.