National Vocations Awareness Week runs from 4 to 11 August.
Remember back to when you stood in front of the church, perhaps feeling nervous, exhilarated, worried and hopeful all at the same time and said “I do” to the marriage vows you promised to the love of your life. It was a joyful event witnessed by your celebrant, family and friends, and most importantly (maybe even unbeknownst at the time), it was witnessed and blessed by our loving God.
Besides taking the title of Mr and Mrs to signal your new status as ‘two becoming one’ in a new family unit, you and your spouse also inherited a profound and special role – the vocation of being a married couple in the Catholic Rite of Marriage.
If this is news to you, not to worry, as God happily provides the grace to fulfil this role. All we need to do is be open and co-operate with him. And the extent of how much we allow God to be part of our marriage is basically how holy our marriages are (tip, more means holier).
As the unfortunate trend of decreasing marriages continues, let alone sacramental Catholic marriages, the more precious and important it is for those of us with the title of a ‘Catholic married couple’ to answer our call to holiness.
Those baptised receive an inherent call to holiness, and it is added on when we get married. We have a special and transcendental part to play; special because we get to follow God’s original design of a man and a woman becoming “one flesh”, which reflects the love and relationship of our Trinitarian God, as well as Jesus’ love for the church; and transcendental because it is literally in the family unit where new life is born and life and love can continue to the next generation (it is worth mentioning that having children is one of the best cures for selfishness).
So how can we live out our call to holiness in marriage? Well, we can try and develop more of these practices in our family life; Sacraments, word, prayer, mission.
In partaking in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, we are nourished and receive strength to go beyond our limited capabilities. In reading the Bible, we learn about God and truths of faith, and then in praying, we get to dialogue and develop a relationship with a living God who came to earth through his son Jesus, and sent us the Holy Spirit to guide us.
Finally, in being open to mission, we discover a purpose and meaning in life that connects us with something greater than ourselves, which ultimately leads to joy and fulfilment. If you’ve heard that ‘the family is the domestic church’, this is it.
If you feel drawn or curious with these elements, but unsure how to start, just offer a simple, genuine prayer for help, and just try. Don’t overthink it, start with yourself, your spouse, your children. It will not be perfect, then again, who of us skipped walking and went straight to running? Persevere, keep praying and trying. Try fast, fail fast, learn fast.
Secondly, may we suggest, start with joining or inquiring about a community. The encouragement and accompaniment in groups truly helps in living out these aspects of our marriages. There are many that journey with couples and families in this marvellous and sometimes mysterious journey of truth and faith (a few links are suggested below). And when you find yourselves in a community, ask lots of questions. Why, what, how, when, who, where – it will benefit both you and the community.
If that sounds daunting, you can start from the convenience of your own home through online resources (some listed below).
You are a Catholic, Christian married couple. Welcome to the universal call to holiness, and we hope and pray our paths cross in this adventure. If you’re already living the call, thank you for your ‘yes’, and please pass this on to another couple you know. If you’re not married yet, we would highly recommend it.
This is fun and exciting stuff, especially with the one you love.
Communities that work with marriages and families:
Plus check with your local parish for various ministries with marriage and family focus
Online resources on faith and marriage formation:
Plus check with your local parish for adult faith formation activities
Rowena and Angel Penano are Pre-Marriage Educators in the Diocese of Parramatta, and are in formation to becoming a missionary couple in the Verbum Dei Community.
For more information about Vocations in the Diocese of Parramatta, please visit: www.parracatholic.org/vocations/