Matrimony: A Sign of God's Love

10-14-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

I had a great time at my seminary reunion a couple of weeks ago. Not only was it nice to see old friends, it was even nicer to be at the place where my priestly vocation matured in so many ways. I made a point of praying for all of you both at the Tomb of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and the National Grotto of Lourdes (a beautiful place of prayer on the mountain behind the seminary). To those of you who gave me special intentions – please know that I made a point of reading each one and mentioning it in my prayers.

The beauty of the seminary made me think about some of the other beautiful parts of our Catholic Faith. One of these is the Sacrament of Matrimony, about which Jesus spoke in last Sunday's Gospel. While I preached on Marriage last Sunday, I thought it would make sense to follow up with some other thoughts about the Sacrament of Matrimony in my remarks here.

One of our most basic beliefs about marriage is that God gives those who receive the Sacrament of Matrimony a special mission in this world. Simply put, He asks spouses to show the world what His love is like by the way they love one another. As I said in my homily – and say at every wedding I perform – thinking of marriage that way helps us make sense of all the other things our Church teaches about marriage. God's love is everlasting – thus married persons must be committed to the permanence of their marriage. His love is faithful – and married persons reflect that in their fidelity to each other. Finally, God's love for us is life-giving – and He asks married persons to show the life-giving dimension of His love by welcoming any children He sends them. Indeed, God gives married persons a very beautiful – and important – mission.

He also helps them to fulfill this mission by giving them the grace of the Sacrament of Matrimony. This is why it is so important that Catholics get married in Church. While one can be legally married in a number of ways, Catholics receive the grace of the Sacrament of Matrimony by being married according to the beautiful Marriage Rites of our Church. I probably don't have to tell you that – these days – a growing number of people choose to get married at certain scenic destinations or venues instead of in Church. No doubt those other places may provide a nice setting for the ceremony. But they lack the Eucharist – in which Jesus is really present in the Church under the appearance of Bread and Wine. Indeed, while Christ is present in some sense all over the world – He chooses to make Himself present in a sacramental and tangible way in the Eucharist. Thus, couples who marry in Church are married in His presence in a way that exceeds any other.

This is one reason I absolutely love to do weddings in our Church. I love to help a couple know and experience the presence of Jesus Christ at their Wedding Mass or Ceremony. Please know that I am always happy to help a couple get married in our Church – because I want them to have all the graces that Jesus wants to give them to help them live out their marriage vows. Indeed, if you were not married in Church and would like to have your marriage blessed there – I can help you with this, too.

Because of the importance of this sacrament, some preparation is necessary. For this reason, it is good to make plans with the Church as early as possible. Many parishes require a full year – but we can often do it in several months. The important thing is to be in touch with our parish and priests as soon as possible. As I said, I am always happy to do everything I can to help a couple prepare for and celebrate the Sacrament of Matrimony in the presence of Jesus Christ so that – with the help of His grace – they can show the rest of the world what His love is like by the way they love each other.

Have a great week!
Fr. John