A guest post by Will Campbell
The Church teaches us that sacraments bring us grace. But what is grace? Grace is Power. Grace is the ability to give up what we cannot do, and recognize that God can do it for us. We cannot “will” grace. Grace is a gift from God, based on our disposition and relationship to Him. As one of our simplest and most holy saints, St. Terese of Lisieux, once said, “Everything is grace”.
The sacrament of marriage has a particular route to this power. If you’re married, you can tap into this power almost instantaneously. Consider a house. It has many outlets and sockets that deliver power to the home. But, if nothing is plugged in, then you will have no light… no power. By simply living the call to marriage, or starting your journey there if you feel called, you can tap into this power. Your relationship with your spouse is literally living the sacrament, particularly through the outpouring of love, service, and self-sacrifice. Through this, we are plugged into the ultimate Power Source: God’s eternal grace that is always flowing, whether we tap into it or not.
So, it’s a simple as that? Not so much…
If you have ever been in a relationship with someone, have been in love, or are currently married, you understand the difficultly, struggle, heartache, and sometimes suffering that can come from such relationships. Here, however, is where the grace and power begin to amplify. As our Lord said to St. Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9). Paul then goes on to proclaim, “I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor 12:10). Who better to give this example than Christ himself, who showed us the ultimate paradox: death of the infinite God on a cross.
Further, marriage is the archetype of Jesus’ love for the Church. Paul writes:
“For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body. As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her.” (Eph 5:21-25)
Though these words seem archaic and perhaps outdated, especially from the wife’s perspective, the opposite is actually true. The word “subordinate” can better be translated “to place oneself under”. While wives are called to place themselves under the loving care of their husband, notice how husbands are asked to love their wives: as Christ handed himself over for the Church. Men: we are called to die to ourselves in marriage, as Christ died for us. Now that’s power!
To seal this message, I’ll leave you with an excerpt from St. John Paul II in his Apostolic Exhortation, Familiaris Consortio:
“Within the conjugal and family communion-community, the man is called upon to live his gift and role as husband and father.
In his wife he sees the fulfillment of God’s intention: “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him,” and he makes his own the cry of Adam, the first husband: “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.”
Authentic conjugal love presupposes and requires that a man have a profound respect for the equal dignity of his wife: “You are not her master,” writes St. Ambrose, “but her husband; she was not given to you to be your slave, but your wife…. Reciprocate her attentiveness to you and be grateful to her for her love.” With his wife a man should live “a very special form of personal friendship.” As for the Christian, he is called upon to develop a new attitude of love, manifesting toward his wife a charity that is both gentle and strong like that which Christ has for the church.”
This is a call to arms.
This is a mission.
This is a lifelong vocation to be an example of Christ on earth through the sacrament of marriage.
This, my friends, is Power!