The powerful Sacrament which makes Christ visible in the world!
To all preparing for the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, and to all who have enjoyed this Holy Union for sixty or seventy years:
All who enjoy the sacred Bond of Holy Matrimony share in a very mystical and beautiful way a reflection to the world, of the sacred union between Jesus and his bride, the Church. The smallest expression and most immediate expression of the Church actually is not the parish. The most basic building block of the Church is actually the family. The family, our first community of faith, is the fundamental means through which God gathers us and forms us into Christ’s Body, the Church.
Catholic families first receive Christ from His Church through Baptism. They then express this Christ through love and fruitfulness, with forgiveness and mercy, within the four walls of their home. They are called the DOMESTIC CHURCH, or the Church in the home. Beginning with a Sacrament, (Baptism), the family is fed with Sacrament (the Holy Eucharist), and renewed through forgiveness (Confession), and strengthened to burn brightly in the world of shadows around us with the strength of the Holy Spirit (Confirmation). And, every Sunday, the Church in the home all gathers for worship on the Day of Christ’s Resurrection. Fed here, we are sent out into the world once again to be on Mission, the Mission of all families in Christ, the Mission of bringing the Christ we have into the world through hope and love and mercy and the Truth.
The holy bond between a man and a woman is true. Jesus raised this natural union to the high dignity of a Sacrament at the miracle in Cana of Galilee. The Holy Sacrament of Matrimony is much more than merely a contract, it is a true covenant; it is a sacred promise which relies on the grace and promise of God who first loved us. It is a permanent union of a man and woman called by this One True God to know and love each other with God as the source of their permanent and fruitful Love. This bond receives the power of a Sacrament because it participates completely in the Mission of Christ.
Through the Sacrament of Matrimony, the man and the woman practice the art of self giving. They each give one-hundred percent, not fifty/fifty, imitating the giver of the Sacrament, Christ Jesus. They nurture and foster their union with a dignity which is equal, with mutual giving and the undivided love that flows from God. In this way, they persevere in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, ‘til death do they part. They are truly one spiritual body, faithful in physical body and mind. This union is established by the consent of both spouses as they accept each other and freely give themselves to each other. It requires fidelity and is a lifelong bond.
Each stage of marriage presents its own joys and sorrows, opportunities and challenges. When understood in the light of Christ’s own journey, these moments actually contribute to human growth and spiritual maturity. That is, a couple sealed in the love of Christ grows in holiness by journeying with Him through the mystery of His own life, death and Resurrection. This movement with Jesus through a sacramental life together, through the daily dying to oneself, to a renewed life in Christ is called the Paschal Mystery. It is the basic model for Christian living and, therefore, for married love.
Christ’s love for us, for his Church, is an intimate union of generous, enduring, and fruitful love. The relation between husband and wife both participates in and reflects the loving relationship between Christ and his Church.