First Reading: Gen 2:18-24; Psalm: 128. R. v. 1a; Second Reading: 1Cor 12:31-13:8a; Gospel: Mk 10:6-9
LIVING THE CHRISTIAN MARRIED LIFE
BY FR VALENTINE NNAMDI EGBUONU, MSP
I first met Jose and Marisca on the 31st of October, 2021; few weeks after my arrival to South Africa. It was Nelson’s birthday; Jose’s brother-in-law. I remembered how Jose couldn’t just keep quiet on that day. He kept talking and talking. He argued about football, about the Premier league, about Man United. He argued about almost everything. That day, he caught my attention and came across to me as one with an assertive personality.
Then I turned and noticed Marisca seated as gentle as a dove. She barely talked but smiled intermittently; nodding in agreement to the conversations and spoke only on a few occasions. From her comportment and carriage, I saw someone who exuded a gentle personality. When I later realised on that day that these unlike poles were prospective couple, I couldn’t but imagine how their personalities would help to moderate life situations; and how they would affect and reform one another.
Jose and Marisca, your wedding day lasts only today. But your marriage lasts for the rest of your lives. This moment is bristled with a lot of joy and excitement. Enjoy it; because you will not always have it. I assure you that the rest of your days will be strewed with the ups and downs of marital life. Be ready to weather this storm. Beginnings are always beautiful, filled excitement and expectations. But they must not becloud your vision to the reality of marital challenges. It feels good to know that both of you decided to embark on this journey not based on duress but on free consent; so that you may persevere in difficult times.
The Catholic Church teaches that in every Christian marriage, the union of both couple must be preceded by free consent. Consent is said to be free when it is not caused by coercion, undue influence, fraud, or misrepresentation. We believe that this marriage is a choice from two consenting adults. A choice made out of genuine love; a choice that is predisposed to the uncertainties of life. Every Christian marriage is considered invalid in the absence of free consent.
Jose and Marisca, officially, today is your first day at school; the school for the married. The school where you will learn how to love differently and tolerate your differences. The marital love is a gift from God. It is the kind of love that unites two to become one. 1Jn 4:16 says that God is love. And if God is love, then God is the one uniting the both of you today in this sacrament just as he gave Eve to Adam. It is for this reason that Christian marriage validly and sacramentally celebrated is considered indissoluble. For what God has joined together, man must not put asunder (Mk 10:9). Christian marriage therefore is a covenant between a couple and God. A covenant sealed by God. So there is no room for divorce, polygamy or infidelity. These injure the indissoluble character of marriage.
In every Christian marriage, the conjugal acts are directed towards self-giving and openness to new life. Openness to new life means that the both of you (Jose and Marisca) must be open to the possibility of children in your conjugal relationship just as God commanded in Genesis 1:26, “Be fruitful and multiply.” This gift of children of course goes with the responsibility of training and inculcating in them the Christian morals and the values that will help them adapt suitably to the faith and the society. So as parents, you will be the first teacher of the faith to your children and a model of example to them. Do not fail in this responsibility.
As St Paul recounted in the second reading of this celebration which was chosen by the both of you, love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; and it is not irritable or resentful. Please bear in mind this beautiful litany of love.
Try to understand one another; it makes room for tolerance especially on the things you cannot change. Give room to growth as you challenge one another on character displays and attitudinal identities. Remember, no one is too good not to grow to become better. Don’t be formal in your relationship with each other. This kills love and affection. Be as informal as possible. You can find a more romantic way of addressing each other rather than calling yourselves by name. Together you can see a movie, watch football, play hide and seek or ps5; you can even tiktok. Just try to find a way to bond with each other more and more. Don’t be shy to do this. Don’t hesitate to come out of your shell. Never take these things for granted. To sustain the love of married life, it has to be nurtured day by day.
Jose and Marisca, I would like to draw your attention to one of the most feared but an essential part for marital growth. And that is Marital Assertiveness. Marital assertiveness is an attitude of maturity that encourages growth in any marriage. It is that readily fearless disposition to express one’s feelings both positive and negative to one’s spouse. It could be feelings of anger, disappointment, resentment, love, desire, joy, or praise. Try not to be shy or scared in expressing exactly how you feel to one another. It encourages growth and maturity.
Finally, it is our hope and prayer that you both grow old together surrounded by your children. But as you grow older each day; be ready for surprises from each other. Because you will possibly get to see new and strange attitudes from one another that you may begin to wonder if this was the man or the woman you married. You may ask some advanced couples here; they will explain better. Familiarity and the uncertainties of life have a way of taking its toll on marriage. However, stick together, love your children, go to Church and always pray together as a family. For if you put God at the centre of your marriage and relationship; though the storms of life may hit at you, but you will never fall apart.
I wish you a beautiful and God-fearing home filled with fruitfulness, lasting love and fidelity. Amen.