Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Death of Marriage

This is not a gloomy post. Sure, the "death of marriage" is a pretty dramatic title, but I just needed to catch your eyes. This one is meant to edify! To fire up husbands and wives and prospective husbands and wives! To lead them up the Mountain of Love that is Calvary, not down some primrose path with a white-picket fence that just feels nice. Those of us in the club know what I'm talking about: the secret to a joy-filled married life is... death.

So yeah....
Today, Rebecca and I celebrate 4 years of marriage... woohoo! So I went digging through the 'ole journals and this is something I found, written a few months before the BIG DAY...

"I am going to die." (I was ridiculous back then, wasn't I?) "It's not long now; just a couple of months. August 9th, to be exact. I'm getting married. Now this thought may not seem like your traditional “jitters” or cold feet. It’s a wee bit extreme, huh? But it’s true. I am going to die. I am mounting the hill of Calvary, and like Christ, I am called to lay down my life for my bride. His was the Church, mine is a symbol of the Church. But death it must be, if there is to be Real Life in our new life together. This isn’t poetry, it’s reality! To put it scientifically, no two objects can occupy the same space at the same time. In order to become a “one flesh union” we have to die to our old selves. Imagine if this was how engaged couples were viewing their wedding day! It would bring a radical simplicity to the plans, wouldn’t it? "We are going to die... Okay then, I guess we can’t take it with us, as they say. So what do we leave behind? The ego... yes, let’s die to that one. And the “Me First” attitude. That has to go too."

Marriage is about service to the other (I know this, despite the many times I turn it around). Before Jesus died, He washed the feet of his friends. A couple years ago, we went to a wedding of friends who were once Franciscan Volunteers (they were housemates of Rebecca when she lived and served in Kensington). At one point in the liturgy, they actually washed each other's feet.... is that awesome or what? We got the point! At our wedding, after Communion, Rebecca got up and sang to me the Servant Song.... it was RIDICULOUSLY BEAUTIFUL and I don't think there was a dry eye in the house!

So if this whole marriage thing is a call to die like Christ did for His Bride, to serve like Christ for the Beloved, then we discover that our union should be deeply “Eucharistic.”

A Little Somethin' from Christopher West
When we receive the Eucharist worthily, it bears new life in the whole of our lives. When we receive it unworthily, we eat and drink our condemnation (1 Co 11:29). Similarly, when spouses open their union to the Holy Spirit, their whole marriage continually bears new life in the Spirit. However, if spouses close their union to the Spirit, they undermine the whole reality of their marriage and their family life. (Read the full article)

It is therefore fitting that the spouses should seal their consent to give themselves to each other through the offering of their own lives by uniting it to the offering of Christ for his Church made present in the Eucharistic sacrifice, and by receiving the Eucharist so that, communicating in the same Body and the same Blood of Christ, they may form but "one body" in Christ. - CCC 1621

Now that's deep stuff. I can only say that I'm beginning to get it more and more. We have a beautiful reminder of this call to Communion in our marriage. It's a paten.... and was given to us by two dear friends on our wedding day. Our names our written within it. The priest who married us, Fr. Scott, was taken aback when he discovered, right before the wedding mass began, that this was a gift of ours. He had planned to preach on the very idea of this Eucharistic aspect of marriage for us, and saw in his prayer, a silver paten! (play Twilight Zone music here). A paten is a shallow dish or plate that holds the consecrated host, the material that God has transformed into Himself at the words of the priest and the power of the Spirit. Fr. Scott said that's where we belong, right in that paten. If we keep ourselves there, with the hands of Jesus hovering over the material of our marriage, then we can expect a transformation. Amen to that!

So God help us when we try and wiggle out of that place of transformation, as we so often do. God help all husbands and wives who share in this amazing, perplexing, impossible, crazy collaboration of hearts that is marriage.

Now it's off to grab some roses and a little vino ;)

.... Cheers!
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