Husband & Wife Articles


 

Precipice of Faith

Say ‘yes’ to God in your married life

By Maria Grizzetti

Sacramental married life entails making vows before God. Insofar as we look to live out the promises we make to our spouse, we should also intend that God be a participant in our marriages. Thus, the life of faith is central to the way spouses live holy matrimony.

The beginning of this dynamic is intrinsically individual. Each person strives to live fully the spiritual life so as to attain that intimacy with God which strengthens union with him by giving grace permission to shape us. We must order our lives and our loves to become holy, to become saints.

Archbishop Fulton Sheen put it well in his book Three to Get Married: “To love what is below the human is degradation; to love what is human for the sake of the human is mediocrity; to love the human for the sake of the Divine is enriching; to love the Divine for its own sake is sanctity.”

From this ordering of love springs the desire to share it with others. Marriage is an exclusive forum for sharing the riches of the faith. We share the faith with our spouse in a way that differs from the way we share it with anyone else because marriage in the Church is a sacrament. Each moment of married life is imbued with the particular graces of the sacrament, and becomes the means to the sanctification of the union.

Out of the union of spouses, united in faith, comes that openness to human life which entails not simply physical generation, but spiritual responsibility for the fruits of the union they cherish: children who are given in trust to their parents as souls whom God dearly loves.

“Let the children come to me” (cf. Mt. 19.14) isn’t only the desire of Christ expressed among his followers. It continues to be the call to parents today. Catholic married life includes the responsibility of raising children in the faith, of sharing the treasury of grace that ideally the spouses themselves cherish, and which sustains their union of love. The Church depends on spouses for its future. Such is the freedom God blesses in each sacramental marital union.

We each stand at the precipice of faith. Faith entails the plunge of trust that allows God into our lives. He respects our freedom to choose a way of life that includes him or not. Marital love is proof of this. It can be self-serving or it can aspire to higher charity: a selfless offering that isn’t constrained or conditional.

This is most obvious in moments of trial. When a marriage is tested, the reality of our dependence on God is most evident. Each spouse must appeal to their faith in order to respond to the challenges that most affect the unity, the whole of their married love. When faith is frail, the bond of spouses is weakened. When the bond between spouses is weakened, our ability to see the bond of love between Christ and his Church is clouded.

The hopeful reality, however, is that spouses enter into marriage realizing it is a bond not of their own making. God blesses and ordains their love in such a way as to make it fruitful, because this is the nature of his love to begin with.

We need this truth as we fight to salvage our unions from the despair that so many call irreconcilable. We need this truth over and over in the course of a lifetime. We need this truth especially as we stand at the precipice of faith, and of love. Faith is the force that gives us strength. A marriage rooted in faith brings together two people who stake everything on the love of God – a love that doesn’t fail, even when everything we know may fall apart.

To know this fact is to know hope. From this vantage point fear is vanquished and we’re made strong. United in love that is sustained by the strength of God who is Love (cf. 1 John 4.8), two shall truly become one flesh, one heart, one mind – making sanctity possible, together.

Maria Grizzetti and her husband, Christopher, live in New York City. Maria studied medieval philosophy at Fordham University, and writes in the area of theological reflection at Incarnation and Modernity. She works for the World Youth Alliance, a global organization committed to promoting the dignity of the human person.