Last week we learned about the four goods of marriage and how they are woven into the very fabric of the vows that are part of the Marriage Rite of the Catholic Church. The wedding vows speak of: partnership, permanence, fidelity, and fruitfulness.
This week, we will show you how to live out the four goods in your marriage.
In marriage there are two people wounded by Original Sin with a natural bent to selfishness, who join their lives together for life. There will be struggles, hardships, disagreements, strife, and heartache. But the good news is that Jesus died on the cross to save us from sin and give us the grace we need to live out the four goods of marriage.
Trust is key to having a marriage that will last through both good times and bad. Without trust, a husband and wife will not feel secure in revealing their innermost feelings, thoughts, and desires. Equally important is placing God at the center of your marriage. If God is not at the center of a marriage, selfishness will become the god of one or both of the spouses. This is a recipe for disaster. Both spouses – in partnership – must be willing to put the needs of their beloved before their own in order to build a strong foundation for a life-long marriage. This is self-sacrificial love; the love Christ has modeled for us on the cross.
More than 50 years ago, it was common for the Priest to proclaim an “Exhortation before Marriage” to the couple before the recitation of their wedding vows. Our favorite line from the Exhortation speaks of the importance of self-sacrificial love:
Sacrifice is usually difficult and irksome. Only love can make it easy, and perfect love can make it a joy.
Just as God has been merciful to us, we must be ready at all times to be merciful to our spouses. Both husband and wife are sinful persons. They will make mistakes and hurt each other. It takes tremendous grace to be able to forgive a wrong when you have been hurt. This grace comes from having Christ at the center of your relationship and frequent reception of the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist.
Permanence in marriage requires natural faith in your spouse. It is the belief that whatever problems you face can be overcome. It is living with radical confidence that God will give you the grace to carry the cross, to love at all times without counting the cost.
It is critical for children to know that their mother and father love each other, that they are loved, and that they are secure in a stable home. Peace in the home paves the way for children to flourish, grow, and understand the love of God through the love their parents show for each other.
Friendship is at the core of fidelity or faithfulness. Friendship is the capacity to reveal ourselves, or to be intimate with another. Intimacy is the key to preventing adultery. Intimacy is not just sexual. It is being open and vulnerable, being willing to share from your heart. It is the capacity to share with your beloved what is going on in your life, the successes and failures, the struggles and temptations, the joys and the sorrows. If you are not meeting your spouse’s need for emotional connection, they may be tempted to find someone who will.
In the initial stages of your relationship, you revealed everything about yourself to each other. This pattern should continue once you are married.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring… (CCC, 1601)
Children are a gift from God. The Catechism further says, “The union of man and woman in marriage is a way of imitating in the flesh the Creator’s generosity and fecundity: ‘Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh’” (CCC, 2335). Husband and wife in the conjugal act are co-creators of new life with God. To be open to children demands fearlessness and a radical trust in each other and in God.
Partnership, permanence, fidelity, and fruitfulness: The Four Goods of Marriage. We have looked at the keys to living out these goods in your marriage. We pray that your family will thrive through the grace of God given to you through the Sacrament of Marriage. God bless you as you grow in faith, hope, and love.
The family is the privileged setting where every person learns to give and receive love…The family is an intermediate institution between individuals and society, and nothing can completely take its place…The family is a necessary good for peoples, an indispensable foundation for society, and a great and lifelong treasure for couples. It is a unique good for children, who are meant to be the fruit of the love, of the total and generous self-giving of their parents…The family is also a school that enables men and women to grow to the full measure of their humanity…O God, who in the Holy Family left us a perfect model of family life lived in faith and obedience to your will, help us to be examples of faith and love for your commandments. Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, August 29, 2012