As a young student who had converted to Catholicism, and was attending a Jesuit College on the Canadian prairies, I was convinced I was called to the active religious life. I wanted to serve God. I did not even bother dating. What was the point? I only desired to dedicate my life to God in a dramatic way, embracing a sacrificial vocation to make a difference in the world. I loved my life and didn’t foresee any change. Besides, I never considered marriage to be a real vocation like religious life.
In the midst of preparing for a religious vocation, God surprised me. He upended my life in a single day when I met Michael, my future husband. I was secretly disappointed that I was not going to be a nun because I imagined myself embracing a heroic calling. I felt a sinking feeling when I surrendered my grandiose dreams, even though I knew without a doubt marriage to this man was the will of God. Looking back I have to laugh because I soon discovered the truth: a Christian marriage is a vocation, demanding faith, prayer, and sacrifice. It is a vocation which has the potential to transform couples into saints if they give God permission to transform them.
My husband and I got married and stayed married because of our faith. We are a brother and a sister in Christ, fellow children of God who seek his will together. We have always been on the same page, sensing the next level of growth in our spiritual walk and changing at the same pace. This has been a pure gift from God.
The Sacrament of Marriage
The only reason our marriage thrived when it was up against so many obstacles was the power of the Sacrament of Marriage. The grace available in the Sacrament of Marriage is not some esoteric theology; it is real and it is powerful. Once my director remarked, “The thought of divorce never entered your mind!” Then he threw his head back and roared with laughter. He added, “Your life is a witness to the power of the Catholic Sacrament of Marriage.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church outlines an inspiring view of a Catholic marriage. It unequivocally declares the grace showered on couples through this sacrament:
By this grace they “help one another to attain holiness in their married life and in welcoming and educating their children. Christ is the source of this grace. “ … our Saviour, the spouse of the Church, now encounters Christian spouses through the sacrament of Matrimony.” Christ dwells with them, gives them the strength to take up their crosses and so follow him, to rise again after they have fallen, to forgive one another, to bear one another’s burdens, to “be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ,” and to love one another. (CCC 1641-1642)
We both understood, beyond a doubt, that God brought us together and never questioned this basic call from God even during the dark years.
Copyright 2017 Melanie Jean Juneau