Friday, May 28, 2010

Monday, May 24, 2010

Why everyone, regardless of vocation, should care about the state of marriage in society

"While marriage is a special blessing for Christians because of the grace of Christ, marriage is also a natural blessing and gift for everyone in all times and cultures. It is a source of blessing to the couple, to their families and to society and includes the wondrous gift of co-creating human life. Indeed, as Pope John Paul II never tired of reminding us, the future of humanity depends on marriage and the family. It is just such a conviction that has led us, the Catholic bishops of the United States, to write this pastoral letter. "
~ "Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan," U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

What a powerful statement for all of society -- "...the future of humanity depends on marriage and the family."  What I love most about this statement is the implication that it isn't only married couples who should care about the state of marriage and how it affects society; everyone -- single, married and religious persons -- should pay attention to the state of marriage.  If we all don't, it's detrimental to the future of humanity and how this world will evolve.  It's that important!

Many of us exist because of marriage.  Think about that.  Our very existence has depended upon this most holy sacrament and union.

Without marriage, without healthy marriages, where else does our society have to go other than awry?  It is a scary and unstable feeling to watch how the sanctity of marriage has become more and more diminished as I've grown up.  Popular culture teaches us to choose convenience over commitment, immediate pleasure over prayerful discernment, lust over love.

One of my favorite Scripture verses is, "Do not conform yourselves to this age, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect" (Romans 12:2).  That statement has applied to anyone who has ever lived as we all have and will be challenged by spiritual warfare.  The state of marriage in our society deserves no less attention.

Why should unmarried persons care?  Because their mothers and fathers, friends and family, potential future spouses are all living or will be living it.  The preservation of their own families from which they come, God-willing, depends on it.  As one of the three vocations, the discernment of being called to married life is one of the most important decisions a person will ever make.  The commitment to it is even more important.

Married and unmarried persons can help to preserve the sanctity of marriage by supporting men and women in their vocation of marriage, especially in difficult times.  This means helping keep our friends accountable in being a good and holy wife or husband, praying for them, ministering to them during times of illness or when they need extra help, encouraging them to seek spiritual direction or counseling during times of struggle as well as urging them to remember to take time for one another, prioritize one another (even over children) and go on dates.  Help to make this easy for them by offering to babysit or occasionally setting up something for them.  Double date. 

Married and unmarried persons can also help to preserve the sanctity of marriage by having the courage to spread the Good News about marriage when given the opportunity, especially on issues of cohabitation, divorce, denial or abandonment of a married couple’s responsibility to be open to children and the individualistic mentality that sees marriage as a mostly private matter and not so related to the common good.

Heavenly Father, through the intercession of the Holy Family, help us treasure the gift of marriage that reflects the love of Christ for the Church, where the self-giving love of husband and wife unites them more perfectly and cooperates in your plan for new life created in your image. Help us support men and women in their vocation of marriage, especially in difficult times when they join their sufferings to the Cross. Help us uphold the institution of marriage in our society as the place where love is nurtured and family life begins. Help us acknowledge that our future depends on this love and on your providential care for us.  Amen.  

Cousin's wedding, April 2008

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Congrats to Mr. and Mrs. Crilly

Last weekend, Mark and I went to my hometown of Baton Rouge, La., to witness the wedding of Chelsea and Jon Crilly!

Mr. and Mrs. Crilly recessing from their Nuptial Mass, May 15, 2010

They're on their honeymoon now in St. Lucia, surely enjoying the most amazing vacation of their lives to date!  God is good!  Congratulations, dear friends.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Wedding season has begun

I love weddings!  I love dressing up, dancing, fine cuisine and, most of all, watching two of my favorite people unite in one of the holiest unions known to man -- marriage.

This last weekend, our good friends, Lauren and John, were married after almost three years of dating.  It was a beautiful weekend of events, and Mark and I were blessed to have been a part of it in the wedding party.

May 8, 2010, John and Lauren just after their Nuptial Mass

Remaining May weddings:
Chelsea and Jon
Bekah and Ryan

June weddings:
Amy and Sunil
Christi and Thomas

July weddings:
Rachel and Carl
Jenn and Justin

Love it!  

Another reason why I love weddings so much is because I think it's a beautiful reminder to me and Mark, and all married couples, of our commitment to one another.  It's with such joy that we witness the excitement and overwhelming feelings of love that the bride and groom has for the other, and it brings me back to our own wedding day.  I remember how I felt in the bride's room as I waited to meet my future husband at the foot of the altar -- oh, how the minutes crept by!  I remember walking down the aisle, watching my husband behind my veil grow nearer and nearer with every step I took -- by far, my most favorite part of the day.  I remember our first dance as husband and wife as well as our last dance that day -- how we sang Jason Mraz to one another as the end of our reception came to a bittersweet end.  I remember the rushing feeling of excitement as we ran out of the reception doors into the limo, dodging the sparkler sparks and seeing off our loved ones as we climbed into our getaway car after a long weekend of emotion-filled events.

I hope those feelings will never escape me as we grow older, but I am so thankful that we had all of it videoed!  I highly recommend to every bride and groom to video, at least, the wedding ceremony and the reception if you can -- even if it's just a friend with a camcorder!  Visually seeing yourself later on film brings back those feelings and helps you to recapture all the things going through your mind.

So, thanks to our loved ones who have invited us to witness their own wedding days.  It's a most beautiful day that offers Mark and me the chance to reminisce and recommit to one another over and over again.

Thanksgiving 2009, Cancun, Mexico trip

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Surrounding yourself with uplifting, encouraging couples

As a married couple, I've found it's so important to surround ourselves with other uplifting, encouraging couples as often as we can.  I was just talking to some friends last night about how important I think it is to surround ourselves as individuals with uplifting, encouraging people who challenge us to be better people, who help us grow in holiness.  I don't see why it would be any different as a couple to not do the same.

I understand the need for a good balance.  It's not as if we'll desert our dear friends who are single or religious (i.e. priests); I just think that, especially as a newlyweds, Mark and I have a lot to learn about what it means to be good and loving spouses and it would do us good to see how other healthy couples have built a life together.

We are very blessed to already have several loving couples in our lives, which makes this idea easy to practice.  One of our favorite things to do is have friends over for dinner and spend some time catching up and hearing about what's going on in their lives, really focusing on them.  I dearly love small groups of friends over large groups, as I feel I can offer my full attention to them.

Our church has a ministry for couples that are in their first five years of marriage.  Part of this ministry is that all of the women and all of the men, separately, get together monthly and build each up other up as husbands and wives.  It's a great time for group accountability in learning how to live out our vocation.

As long as Mark and I remember that there will always be something to learn about being better spouses and are open to new ideas or ways of doing things, I think we'll be on the right track.

My 27th birthday, April 2008
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