What God has joined together, let no one divide

Photo by J. Murphy

This is the happy couple whose marriage I witnessed on Saturday afternoon in Pittsburgh. It was a joyous occasion and certainly Alexis and Dan were, as they are called by this sacrament to be, a living icon of God's faithful love among us, a sign of Christ's love for his bride, the Church. At the wedding we heard Dan and Alexis speak these words to each other:

I, Daniel, take you, Alexis, to be my wife.
I promise to be true to you
in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health.
I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.

I, Alexis, take you, Daniel, to be my husband.
I promise to be true to you
in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health.
I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.

I'm reminded as I write this of the priest's instruction to the bride and groom in the pre-Conciliar wedding rite. Here's what the couple heard just before they exchanged their consent:
My dear friends:

You are about to enter upon a union which is most sacred and most serious. It is most sacred, because it is established by God himself and most serious, because it will bind you together for life in a relationship so close and so intimate, that it will profoundly influence your whole future, That future, with its hopes and disappointments, its successes and its failures, its pleasures and its pains, its joys and its sorrows, is hidden from your eyes. You know that these elements are mingled in every life, and are to be expected in your own. And so not knowing what is before you, you take each other for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death.

Truly, then, these words are most serious. It is a beautiful tribute to your undoubted faith in each other, that recognizing their full import, you are, nevertheless, so willing and ready to pronounce them. And because these words involve such solemn obligations, it is most fitting that you rest the security of your wedded life upon the great principle of self-sacrifice. And so you begin your married life by the voluntary and complete surrender of your individual lives in the interest of that deeper and wider life which you are to have in common. Henceforth you will belong entirely to each other; you will be one in mind, one in heart, and one in affections.

And whatever sacrifices you may hereafter be required to make to preserve this mutual life, always make them generously. Sacrifice is usually difficult and irksome. Only love can make it easy, and perfect love can make it a joy. We are willing to give in proportion as we love. And when love is perfect, the sacrifice is complete. God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, and the Son so loved us that he gave himself for our salvation. “Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

No greater blessing can come to your married life than pure conjugal love, loyal and true to the end. May, then, this love with which you join your hands and hearts today never fail, but grow deeper and stronger as the years go on. And if true love and the unselfish spirit of perfect sacrifice guide your every action, you can expect the greatest measure of earthly happiness that may be allotted to man in this vale of tears. The rest is in the hands of God. Nor will God be wanting to your needs, he will pledge you the life-long support of his graces in the Holy Sacrament which you are now going to receive.
Pray for Alexis and Dan and for all married couples that Christ's joy may be theirs and that their joy may be complete!



sam said...

What a beautiful homily and what you said was very true.

It just doesn't work out that way for everyone. There are times you go into it with the greatest intentions ... but some very unexpected things happen. Then you find yourself in a position where you don't know where to turn. I'm just saying ... it's well beyond the vows you take. Lots of "stuff" happens. I'm just saying....

elizabeth said...

"Only love can make it easy, and perfect love can make it a joy...
And when love is perfect, the sacrifice is complete."

...is there such thing as "perfect love" in love between human beings? I just don't think so...

the only perfect love is that of God...

St Edwards Blog said...

Amen! Many prayers for this beautiful couple and their life together.

ConcordPastor said...

On a wedding day one hopes, prays and even trusts that the couple marrying will have a healthy, holy and happy marriage all the days of their lives.

Some will not achieve that and no, there's no perfection in human love, even when blessed by the divine.

But I would never remove from a marrying couple's vision the hope of a life-long marriage, perfected as much as it might be through their grace-blessed efforts and desire to invite God into their union.

ned said...

Looking at these "pre-conciliar" words through the lens of 35 years of marriage I know their value first hand...perhaps we should read them regularly throughout our married lives to remind us of two things...there are three persons in a marriage, husband, wife, and God and we will struggle to succeed without all three; AND marriage is never 50/50 it is always 100/100!!

Phyllis Green said...

Nearly 32 years after making the same vow to my wonderful husband, I can attest to the strength that God has provided during our times of bad, sickness, and for poorer. Witnessing our son Daniel say those same words to his beautiful bride Alexis last Saturday was truly one of those moments that we continue to rejoice in and savor as the good times, health, and for richer!

ConcordPastor said...

Welcome to my blog, Phyllis! And thanks for your hosting all of us on Thursday and Friday evenings!