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Married Saints Models of Holiness: Weekly Message for 07-26-16
Dear Fellow Digital Pilgrim, pax Christi:
It may sound strange, but my experience as a celibate priest and religious over the last twenty-or-so years of my life has steadily increased my respect and admiration for marriage. Although I haven’t worked full time in family ministry, I have had plenty of priestly contact with married couples and families. More and more often, I find myself deeply moved by the mere fact that Jesus elevated the natural institution of marriage to the level of a sacrament. He turned marriage into a sign and instrument of his saving grace, like baptism and confirmation and all the other sacraments. That’s big. God thinks highly of marriage – very highly.
Today we celebrate the liturgical memorial of a married couple, both of whom are listed as saints in our Catholic tradition: Joachim and Anne, the Blessed Virgin Mary’s parents. It’s a remarkable thing, when you think about it. God works salvation from within the ordinary circumstances of our lives. He comes into them, meeting us where we are at, and gives us the grace to live life to full. That’s what sanctity really is. And that’s what every single one of us, whether married, single, or consecrated, is called to discover and unfold.
Most of our readers are married. I invite you today to take some time, in honor of Saints Joachim and Anne, to reflect on your sacrament. Ask the Lord to renew your appreciation for it, and to guide you in living it to the full. We have a bunch of resources that may help you do that, either as an individual, or as a couple, or even as a group of couples. We have a Study Circle Guide on Pope Francis’s Exhortation on Marriage, Amoris Laetitia, http://rcspirituality.org/study-circle-guide-amoris-laetitia/. We have a an entire Retreat Guide on marriage (one of my personal favorites): Three Hearts http://rcspirituality.org/three-heartsa-retreat-guide-on-the-sacrament-of-marriage/. You may especially be interested in reviewing the conference of that Retreat Guide, which is dedicated to improving spousal communication: http://rcspirituality.org/three-hearts-conference-video/. Our Family Center in Bethesda, MD also has retreats designed to strengthen and renew marriages, called Three To Stay Married retreats:http://www.ourladyofbethesda.org/marriage-and-family-development/marriage-enrichment/.
If we can learn to see our lives more and more as God sees them, we will be able to live them more and more as they are meant to be lived. I sincerely hope that these resources help you do that.
I also want to thank all of you for your ongoing support. We truly consider you part of our team, and we pray for you every single day.
God bless you and keep you!
Fr. John Bartunek, LC, S.Th.D.