National Marriage Week is celebrated February 7-14, but marriage and family life can and should be celebrated every day! The United States Conference of Catholic Bishop’s Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth created a seven-day virtual marriage retreat for this year’s observance; day one appears here and the entire retreat can be found at foryourmarriage.org.
Join us in celebrating National Marriage Week (February 7-14, 2020) by taking a few moments each day, together with your spouse, to reflect and pray. This year’s theme is Stories from the Domestic Church. This retreat will help you further reflect on how you and your spouse share in the particular calling to build up the Body of Christ and form a domestic church (cf. LG, 11).
For more instruction or inspiration, visit foryourmarriage.org or marriageuniqueforareason.org.
Day One: Ten Years of “I Do”
A Story about Love’s Promise
A memorable moment in our marriage was the celebration of our 10th wedding anniversary. Our parish priest had agreed to perform a special blessing and renewal of our commitment to our marriage vows during morning Mass. Following the homily, he called us both up before the altar, facing one another, hand in hand, just like at our wedding a decade before. Unlike our wedding, however, the weight of the words was profoundly different. As a blissfully hopeful engaged couple preparing for the sacrament, we thought we understood “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health” — even perhaps imagining what forms these highs and lows might take. Ten years later, they were no longer words of anticipation but a reality.
Our shared gaze as newlyweds captured the promise of new opportunities that would fade, however, many times over… into job loss and debt through unemployment; into uncertainty as the foundations of our first home gave way to near foreclosure during the housing crisis; into the joy of new life and the disillusionment that came through our daughter’s extended NICU stay and major life changes to support ongoing medical issues; into the hope of growth within our family and the wounds of loss through our first miscarriage.
To bring the whole of ourselves before the altar, not just the joys but also the sorrows, beneath the crucified Christ, and to verbally express our renewed commitment to our vows was a source of strength and a powerful reminder of our sacramental calling as a husband and wife that still ripples through and carries us today. Our family has certainly been blessed with times of great joy, of course, but the things that seemed so overwhelming and difficult to carry at the time, have been the very experiences that knit us closer together.
The “I do” of our wedding should never become an “I did,” it will never be past tense. Our vows, like the covenant God swore to us, are a promise to always say “I do,” to choose the other, in every moment of our lives, the good and the bad. By doing so, the life-giving love of Christ becomes realized within us and we allow grace to heal our wounds and draw us ever closer to His merciful heart.
— Mike and Evie
To Think About
To start this week of reflection, ask yourselves individually and as a couple:
(a) Reflect on your wedding day and the vows. How have you seen these lived out in your marriage? Which have new meaning?
(b) What are sources of strength in your marriage? Where are possible opportunities for growth?
(c) In what ways has your experience of marriage and family life revealed the presence of Christ?
AL – Pope Francis, Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, March 19, 2016, Vatican, https://w2.vatican.va/content/dam/francesco/pdf/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20160319_amoris-laetitia_en.pdf.
LG – Vatican Council II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, November 21,1964, Vatican, http://www.va