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On the Feast of the Holy Family, Fr. John Riccardo of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Plymouth, Michigan shared this moving homily on the lessons his mom and dad learned from 66 years of marriage.

“Seven Keys” – Fr. John Riccardo

Mr. and Mrs. John Riccardo Sr.’s “Seven Keys” to marriage…

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Fr. John referenced the Exhortation before Marriage in his homily. Here is the Exhortation in its entirety with emphasis on sacrifice.

The Exhortation before Marriage

My dear friends: You are about to enter upon a union which is most sacred and most serious. It is most sacred, because it is established by God himself. By it, he gave to man a share in the greatest work of creation, the work of the continuation of the human race. And in this way he sanctified human love and enabled man and woman to help each other live as children of God, by sharing a common life under his fatherly care.

Because God himself is thus its author, marriage is of its very nature a holy institution, requiring of those who enter into it a complete and unreserved giving of self.

This union, then, is most serious, because it will bind you together for life in a relationship so close and so intimate, that it will profoundly influence your whole future. That future, with its hopes and disappointments, its successes and its failures, its pleasures and its pains, its joys and its sorrows, is hidden from your eyes. You know that these elements are mingled in every life, and are to be expected in your own. And so not knowing what is before you, you take each other for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death.

Truly, then, these words are most serious. It is a beautiful tribute to your undoubted faith in each other, that recognizing their full import, you are, nevertheless, so willing and ready to pronounce them. And because these words involve such solemn obligations, it is most fitting that you rest the security of your wedded life upon the great principle of self-sacrifice. And so you begin your married life by the voluntary and complete surrender of your individual lives in the interest of that deeper and wider life which you are to have in common. Henceforth you will belong entirely to each other; you will be one in mind, one in heart, and one in affections. And whatever sacrifices you may hereafter be required to make to preserve this mutual life, always make them generously. Sacrifice is usually difficult and irksome. Only love can make it easy, and perfect love can make it a joy. We are willing to give in proportion as we love. And when love is perfect, the sacrifice is complete. God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, and the Son so loved us that he gave himself for our salvation. “Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

No greater blessing can come to your married life than pure conjugal love, loyal and true to the end. May, then, this love with which you join your hands and hearts today never fail, but grow deeper and stronger as the years go on. And if true love and the unselfish spirit of perfect sacrifice guide your every action, you can expect the greatest measure of earthly happiness that may be allotted to man in this vale of tears. The rest is in the hands of God.

Nor will God be wanting to your needs, he will pledge you the life-long support of his graces. (1961 Collectio Rituum)

Fr. Riccardo ended his homily stating that there is only one single point to marriage: Your life should point to God. He added that there is hope for struggling marriages. “Christmas tells us God breaks in, He acts, He rescues, He saves.” Make a conscious choice to invite Jesus into your marriage. He changes everything. May He make your marriage into a living image of His love in a world so in need of marriage lived well.

“May 2019 be a year rich of God’s grace for our marriages and our families.”

Fr. John Riccardo is pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Detroit. He was ordained in 1996. He studied philosophy at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, studied theology at the Gregorian University in Rome and received a Sacred License in Theology (STL) from The Pope John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family.

He has also served as the Director of The Cardinal Maida Institute for Marriage and Family, pastor of St. Anastasia Catholic Church, and associate pastor of Divine Child Catholic Church.

Fr. Riccardo also hosts the radio program Christ is the Answer produced by Ave Maria Radio and broadcast on the EWTN Radio Network.