Welcome to Living Catholic Marriage, the place to find all kinds of information and resources to help you live the most “extraordinary” Catholic marriage possible.
There are some essential elements of Catholic marriage that are important to know. First, we believe that Jesus raised marriage to the dignity of a sacmament – He saw marriage as a saving reality and performed his first miracle at the wedding feast of Cana, turning water into the choicest wine. By inviting Jesus to our wedding and into our marriage, we can transform our love into something extraordinary.
Second, Catholic marriage is a sacrament of service – a vocational call to serve each other, but also to serve our children, our family members, our faith community, our civic community, and the world. We’re here to make the world a better place – to encounter Christ in the Eucharist and to bring his love to others.
Third, Catholic marriage is a partnership for the whole of life. Our marital love is faithful and exclusive; our marital bond is indissoluble. Husband and wife are equal in dignity but different. Together in their differences, they form a communion of persons… “two become one flesh.” They are helpmates in all things for all the days of their lives.
There are so many other aspects of Catholic marriage that stand out, but the last item we will mention here is grace. Sacramental Marriage is a source of grace – the pure and undeserved gift of God’s divine life in us, but married couples need the additional grace they receive in the sacraments to keep their marriage strong.
Grace is the divine energy that enables humans to go from ordinary to extraordinary, from natural to supernatural; with God’s grace our human love is transformed so that we can love as Christ loves – freely, totally, faithfully and fruitfully.
“In happiness may they praise you, O Lord, in sorrow may they seek you out; may they have the joy of our presence to assist them in their toil, and know that you are near to comfort them in their need; and after a happy old age, together with the circle of friends that surrounds them, may they come to the Kingdom of heaven.” (The Nuptial Blessing)
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Catholic married couples are never meant to go it alone. In addition to the grace of Jesus always available to them, they are part of a faith community that loves and supports them, and that they help to nourish as a fruit of their love.
We know that we’re meant to be in relationship with others – humans are social beings by our nature. That’s one of the ways we image God, who is a community of three persons – from all eternity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Just as our one God exists as an eternal communion of persons (the Trinity), married couples form a communion of persons – a family.
God became one of us to show us how to live, first, in a family – Jesus, Mary and Joseph are the Holy Family. Jesus also formed a community with his disciples – a community of faith that served as the foundation of the Church. Another term we use for the Church is “the Body of Christ.” We are all members of our Church family; we form the Body of Christ like cells in a human body. When one of the “cells” is sick or hurting, we all feel it; when one is freed of illness (or sin), we all experience the joy of it.
Married couples receive so many gifts and blessings from their parish family. When they serve the parish together, their marriage is strengthened. When they participate in faith enrichment gatherings, the growth in their understanding of the Catholic faith also nourishes their marriage. When a couple experiences a particular struggle in their marriage, they can turn to another couple in the parish who has already walked that path. The blessings of the parish community go on and on…no Catholic couple should ever be without such an invaluable resource in their marriage.
Just as all families gather around their family table for meals and for sharing, Catholic Married couples are called to three intersecting tables – the table of the family, the table of the Eucharist, and the table of the poor. Jesus tells us clearly in the Scriptures that each time we help one of the least of us, we are helping him.
Our Christian faith is a faith of action – by our Baptism we are called to bring Christ’s love into the world by being Christ to others. Because marriage is a sacrament of service, married couples are called into mission – to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to all they encounter through their words and their actions. To be truly fulfilled as married couples, they must be helping others. Their love can become stagnant if they keep it for themselves and fail to give it to others.
Here in the Diocese of Trenton, our Bishop has called all of us to work together to strengthen marriages and families. As our shepherd, Bishop O’Connell helps to empower all of us, not just our clergy or those employed by the Church, to help spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to all people, and to make our parishes a home for all Catholic families.
Our diocesan Plan for Strengthening Marriage calls all of us to task. Married couples can serve as mentors for engaged couples, newly married couples, or for couples struggling with a particular issue. They can serve on a Pre-Cana team, or be get involved in parish marriage ministry, where they can use their particular set of gifts and talents to contribute to the myriad marriage-building efforts of the parish.
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