by Jewelle Mendoza-Reyes
“I think I already know what my forever is!” blurted an old friend. “I’ll be forever Bridesmaid!” she added laughing like a drain.
My old friend Sophie is a suki to her friends and colleagues who are getting married. Whenever there’s a newly-engaged couple within her circle, she’d mostly likely get an invitation with those inscriptions, “Will you be my Bridesmaid?”
Right on cue, I curiously asked Sophie, “So what passes through your mind whenever you learn a friend is getting married?” Without a second thought, she answered “The truth is, I am in great AWE! Wow! These people are as brave as a lion! I mean, getting married has a No Return, No Exchange policy. That’s it! And it’s for life! Even if there are stories of marriages with no happy endings, they still decide to brave it out!” Sophie continues, “Imagine, two people coming from different backgrounds and with different values will live as one. And not only that, when one gets married, he will no longer think about himself but also his spouse, his kids, everyone in the family! It’s not just ME anymore but “WE.” He has to give up his carefree single life and that’s scary and crazy!”
Interestingly enough, my single question to Sophie took us almost an hour to discuss. But during those minutes of listening to Sophie talk through her sense of marriage, it turned out I was the one in awe of my realizations on receiving the Sacrament of Matrimony:
1. While a person getting married is overwhelmed with the hustle and bustle of wedding planning, he should better prepare for the greater tasks and responsibilities that await him after the so-called big day. Marriage is not just ONE BIG DAY that one prepares for. Marriage is a lifelooooong commitment. An individual commits oneself to only one person “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health”. Marriage is not always a day at the beach. There will be storms and waves crashing through it. But no matter what comes, husband and wife remain faithful to a covenant they have made until death do them part.
2. Engaged couples usually book the church first and, therefore, the priest who is at that chosen church will celebrate the wedding ceremony. However, there are couples who chose a priest they already know to preside over the celebration. He could be a favorite priest, a friend, or a family member. While this is perfectly fine, it is more important for the bride and groom to understand that the two of them are actually the ministers of the sacrament! Unlike the other sacraments, the ministers are the contracting couple because they are giving each other vows and the consent. That’s why during this part of the ceremony, the priest asks the couple to stand, join their right hands and express their intentions and vows to love each other before God and His Church. This is the most significant moment for the couple to be aware of as it symbolizes that they are giving each other the willful consent to enter into a union forever. The indispensable element that “makes the marriage” is the exchange of consent between the spouses.
3. If one has a new crucifix, or rosary or any sacramental, wouldn’t he always desire to have it blessed? Who wouldn’t wish to do the same consecration when entering a new chapter in his life? While it is true that through the Sacrament of Baptism, the bride and the groom has already been consecrated, it’s different in the Sacrament of Matrimony. Those two individuals consecrated individually in Baptism come together as one in Matrimony to consecrate their union and ask God to eternally seal their love in the presence of His Church. God abundantly blesses their love and enriches them through a sacramental grace which consists in a claim upon God for whatever actual graces the couple may need through the years to make a happy, faithful and lasting marriage.
4. I got married just a couple of years ago. Even if we were just a couple then, I’ve been declaring to (now) my husband, “Your love is a manifestation of God’s great love for me.” The words may sound profound but that’s exactly how I feel. And indeed, the love of the couple for each other is veritably a reflection of God’s love for man! And it doesn’t just stop between the husband and wife. Their love for their kids will be the same love that they and their kids will give to others. The domestic Church is the Christian family. The love in the family beacons God’s own love for the Church. It becomes a living testament to the world.
5. We’ve heard or probably know stories of failed marriages among our friends and families. Think of spouses who are in a dilemma such of an abusive relationship, or husbands or wives who were abandoned by their spouses. One tends to ask, “Isn’t the indissolubility of marriage too rigid on these cases?” NO. The same indissolubility is a powerful and valuable reminder to single people to be sober in his thoughts and understanding of marriage, to take things slow if he is in a relationship, and to seek God’s will so he can make the right choice in the person he will share his life with or so he can discern if vocation to marriage is right for him.
Sophie was genuinely right with her deep admiration for two brave souls entering into marriage. It’s overcoming fear of the uncertainties in married life. There are no guarantees. Yet engaged couples make the decision and take this leap because they are individually and together persons of faith. They believe in God, the author of marriage, who has brought them together and will be with them forever. The indissolubility of the marriage bond is not a burden impossible to bear, because Christ Himself gives the strength and grace to live it. With God sealing their everlasting love in the Sacrament of Matrimony, they stand together, ready to accept with faith the challenges of creating the future together.
Photo Credit: Ma. Lourdes Camerino-Brillante / Danbuenas Photography