Updated: Feb 10, 2020
Happy Thanksgiving to our readers!
Yesterday, Bishop Robert Barron made a profound reflection on the Sunday Gospel (Mark 10:2-16) that really resonated with Roberta and I. In the spirit of the season, I wanted to share how thankful I am for the Truth embedded within those words…. Friends, in our Gospel Jesus defines the fundamental sacredness of marriage. I’m convinced that the deep sacramental and religious meaning of marriage—even within the Church—has been, in recent years, dramatically compromised. We say that marriage is a vocation, but do we mean it? We can look at human sexual relationships at a number of different levels. Two people can come together purely for physical pleasure, for economic reasons, or for psychological companionship. And we might witness two people coming together out of authentic love. But none of these levels is what the Bible means by marriage. When I was doing parish work, I would invariably ask young couples, “Why do you want to get married in church?” Most would say something like, “We love each other.” But I said, “Well, that’s no reason to get married in church.” Usually, they looked stunned. But I meant it. You come to church to be married before God and his people when you are convinced that your marriage is not, finally, about you; that it is about God and about serving God’s purposes; that it is, as much as the priesthood of a priest, a vocation, a sacred calling.
When I married Roberta, I thought wow: a beautiful, smart, funny, athletic and faithful woman to call my own, to love and cherish, et cetera, et cetera.
I knew marriage was not going to be easy, and even our engagement was a helluva journey with many highs and handfuls of grinds. As I covered in He Said She Said, my mentality has changed, my emotional IQ has skyrocketed from near zero levels, and spiritually I thought I knew what we were getting ourselves into only to have a whole new appreciation and dedication a little over a year after our vows.
On our Wedding Day we committed to give ourselves fully to one another just Christ gave Himself to the Church. With God and a sea of witnesses we spoke those powerful and eternal words. It was a dreamy day… but the reality is our marriage, or any marriage, is not going to be as perfect as the vows, because the vows speak of the perfect love that only God alone can give. Some days I don’t like Roberta, and there are more days she doesn’t like me. Our love tires, fatigues and loses focus from time to time.
Pope Francis recently said: “Marriage is like building a house. You would not wish to build it on the shifting sands of emotions, but on the rock of true love, the love that comes from God.” Every day we are given a chance to choose to act out this love.
Every day I look at our wedding pictures on the wall, on my office desk, my cell-phone background and other people’s Facebook wedding and anniversary posts. These daily reminders make me look back to June 17th, 2017 when I made those promises to Roberta, and the vows which I spoke that give vocation of marriage the shape and form it needs to sustain the perfect love that we strive to imitate.
Every day I strive to love out this constant, permanent, and unconditional promise spoken through word and body. And in doing so, we have invited spiritual growth and virtuous transformation into our lives. On the hard days when it’s a struggle to sacrifice and serve we must look to the Cross, remember His Passion, the washing of feet and how God became Man, so that man could become more like God. If God did it for us, we have no excuse not to do it for our beloved. This perspective brings joy when there is despair, peace when there is chaos, light when there is darkness. It centers us on Christ, and why we got married in the first place like Bishop Barron said: “You come to church to be married before God and his people when you are convinced that your marriage is not, finally, about you; that it is about God and about serving God’s purposes; that it is, as much as the priesthood of a priest, a vocation, a sacred calling” This is the marital way of the cross, the purpose of the vocation of marriage, the union and path to help us “get holy or die tryin’” as we aim for our Final Destination. As the Venerable Fulton Sheen said “It takes 3 to get married”, and with God at the centre of your life, you will be unbreakable.
I have eternal gratitude for the gifts and graces that God gave us in Himself Incarnated and the Church He left us to guide us Home. And every day I thank him for giving me the wonderful woman that I call my wife who gives me the best shot getting there. I pray you have enjoyed this weekend, having fun and lots of delicious food with your family as you reflect on all that you are thankful for! May God continue to bless you abundantly! Pax, Ante