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The Transfiguration, Raphael, c. 1520

Did you know that you and your spouse are a living icon, called to radiate the love of God?

It’s true. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in his 2005 encyclical Deus Caritas Est (God is Love) said that “marriage based on exclusive and definitive love becomes the icon of the relationship between God and his people and vice versa. God’s way of loving becomes the measure of human love” (11).

Pope Francis echoes this idea, in his Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love). He says that in marriage “the couple that loves and begets life is a true, living icon…capable of revealing God the Creator and Savior” (11). Married love is a “symbol of God’s inner life [for the] triune God is a communion of love, and the family is its living reflection” (11).

Most recently, Archbishop Alexander K. Sample of Portland, Oregon reiterated this idea in a pastoral letter entitled A True and Living Icon. He said the “family is a true and living icon of God’s own communion and graciousness, a beautiful proclamation and witness for all to see.”

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI also said that the beauty and dignity of marriage as it comes from the hand of the Father, and is revealed in Sacred Scripture and the Tradition of the Church, is “a Gospel in itself, a Good News for the world of today, especially the dechristianized world.”[1]

Sacramental marriage, lived out in the world, gives witness to the love of Christ for fallen humanity. To help you live out your marriage in the fullness of truth and grace, we offer the following prayer, adapted for couples, from the writings of the Venerable John Henry Newman. As you are conformed to Christ, may his light shine brightly through the love you have for each other.

Radiating Christ

Dear Jesus, help us to spread your fragrance everywhere we go. Flood our souls with your spirit and life. Penetrate and possess our whole being, so utterly, that our lives may only be a radiance of yours.

Shine through us, and be so in us, that every soul we come in contact with may feel your presence in our soul. Let them look up and see no longer us, but only Jesus!

Stay with us, and then we shall begin to shine as you shine; so to shine as to be a light to others; the light, O Jesus, will be all from you, none of it will be ours; it will be you, shining on others through us.

Let us thus praise you in the way you love best by shining on those around us.

Let us preach you without preaching, not by words but by our example, by the catching force, the sympathetic influence of what we do, the evident fullness of the love our hearts bear to you.


[1] Benedict XVI, Homily for the opening of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization, October 7, 2012.