Because Marriage is the Model

Posted by Webster 
Have you ever wondered about the idea of Christ being “married” to His Church, the bridgegroom-and-bride thing? Or about a woman religious being “married” to Christ? I have wondered. The whole notion sometimes seems a bit—what?—intimate to me. But after this weekend, I think I understand it better.

Katie and I had been planning to spend the weekend apart. Her weekends are usually booked solid, starring in our local stage magic phenomenon. When the powers that be announced that there would be no show this weekend, Katie made plans to get away with a couple of girlfriends. After all, my weekends are booked solid too—CL meetings Friday evenings, men’s group Saturday morning, often lectoring, singing with the choir Sundays at 10:30. Oh, and the Patriots game. Had to see that. Probably with Ferde.

But then three things happened. (1) Katie’s plans fell through (girlfriends busy). (2) Katie decided to go away anyway, to my mother’s place in Vermont. (3) Friday morning I said a rosary in front of the Blessed Mother before Mass. . . . And the message came through clearly: Go with Katie to Vermont.

But, your Blessedness . . . I’m booked. Hey, Mother, don’t you understand? I’m booked with church stuff! I can’t just walk out on men’s group or lectoring or choir. And where would I watch the Patriots’ game? Ferde will miss me. . . . Go with Katie to Vermont.

I saw Father Barnes outside of church after Mass and said, sorry, I had to be away, and he—didn’t—even—blink. Have a good weekend, he said. And we did.

It was a great weekend, a weekend we both needed, a weekend that got me thinking: Marriage is the model for our whole Christian life. It’s the ultimate commitment here on this planet. No, we won’t exactly take it with us, the whole domestic conjugal arrangement including cars and dogs, when we move to another world, but for right now and right here, it’s the very last thing.

As I told Father Matthew in a moment of clarity when I was on retreat at St. Joseph’s Abbey, marriage is the only vow I’ve ever taken, or am ever likely to take.

It’s a model for my life as a Catholic. How many times do I let “being booked” get in the way of prayer, worship, adoration, service? My life fills up so completely with “important stuff” that I lose sight of what’s truly important. Ironically, this weekend my life had filled with church stuff, but thanks to the Blessed Mother, I had a moment of clarity: This is your vow. Be true to it.

"Vaya con Dios, Leonard; Rest in Peace."

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  • Anonymous

    I'm really glad you got away for the weekend with Katie! So many of us are on the receiving end of your time and attention and I have wondered if Katie ever felt like a blog widow. Finding a balance is crucial – good going!!I watched the pilot episode of the Donna Reed show last night on Hulu – very apropos! If you can squeeze out 30 minutes for some nostalgic comedy, you'll see what I mean. (, the Straight No Chaser clip was a riot. How do you find these things?? Got to forward that!S.

  • Webster Bull

    Hey S., thanks! I hope Katie doesn't read your comment, because I will probably find the label "Blog Widow" taped to her forehead the next time I look into her loving eyes . . .Donna Reed–I'm old enough to have seen the pilot the first time it aired. Gotta go to hulu!

  • EPG

    Webster,All I can say is "Amen and Amen." When things get a little tense in our house, I sometimes will open my copy of the Book of Common Prayer, and re-read and reflect on the vows we made (like you, the only vows I ever have made, or am likely to make). For better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health, until we are parted by death. (I'm paraphrasing here). It's a Covenant, not a contract.

  • Webster Bull

    Covenant, not contract. From the mouth of YIMC's "in-house counsel" to my ears, Amen! 🙂

  • The Blessed Mother always has a way of leading us where she wants us to be, doesn't she!God Bless you and Katie.DG

  • Hit me in the heart with this one! I often worry about neglecting my husband and children for "church stuff" and "blog stuff". Working on that balance!

  • Jan

    Good for you for tending your 'marriage garden.'You are both blessed!

  • Some stories from the Desert Fathers on hospitality clearly spell out that the "rule" you personally follow is subordinate to offering hospitality to another. In that sense,isn't marriage the ultimate in being hospitable? For example:Once two brothers came to a certain old man. It was his custom not to eatevery day but when he saw them he received them joyfully and said, "A fast hasits own reward, but he who eats for the sake of love fulfils two commandments:he leaves his own will and he refreshes his brothers."and another:Once three brothers came to visit an old man in Scetis and one of them said tohim, "Abba, I have committed to memory the Old and New Testaments." And theold man answered, "You have filled the air with words." The second one said to him, "I have written out the Old and New Testaments with my own hands." He said, "And you have filled the window-ledge with manuscripts." Then the third said, "The grass is growing up my chimney." And the old man replied, "You havedriven away hospitality."It was said of an old man that he dwelt in Syria on the way to the desert.This was his work: whenever a monk came from the desert,he gave him refreshment with all his heart. Now one day a hermit came and he offered him refreshment. The other did not want to accept it, saying he wasfasting. Filled with sorrow, the old man said to him, "Do not despise your servant, I beg you, do not despise me, but let us pray together. Look at the tree which is here; we will follow the way of whichever of us causes it to bend when he kneels on the ground and prays." So the hermit knelt down to prayand nothing happened. Then the hospitable one knelt down and at once the tree bent towards him. Taught by this, they gave thanks to God.

  • Maria

    And the greatest of these is Love.Maria

  • EPG

    I had to add this, from the opening paragraph of the current edition of the BCP:"Dearly beloved: We have come together in the presence of God to witness and bless the joining together of this man and this woman in Holy Matrimony. The bond and covenant of marriage was established by God in creation, and our Lord Jesus Christ adorned this manner of life by his presence and first miracle at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. It signifies to us the mystery of the union between Christ and his Church [drum roll here, Webster — EPG], and Holy Scripture commends it to be honored among all people."Now, there are those in our battered little branch of Christianity who might not hold to all of that, but (for now at least) is _is_ still in the BCP.

  • Webster Bull

    EPG, if you read to me at length from the BCP, I might be in danger of reverting, so back off. I love the cadences, the less-Latinate English. The KJV is still the best English Bible ever made, let my Catholic friends shun me for saying it!

  • EPG

    Now, _that_ is a LOL!After my most recent post, I checked out the 1928 BCP (much lamented by traditionalists) and the bit about marriage signifying the union between Christ and the Church actually came earlier in the paragraph back then. Which (insert grin here) may actually be one more bit of evidence about the progressive decline of civilization.

  • EPG…Quick! Get behind our battlements! Into the Fortress of the Church! ;^)

  • Wow ! a little more of this and I will be visiting the blessed Sacrament more often ! I needed to hear that! Thanks for sharing and I am glad and happy your weekend in Vermont went well and that you listened to Our blessed Mother! Yay! God Bless you .