Easter and the paschal mystery in marriage

| Kate Soucheray | April 10, 2018 | 0 Comments
Wedding rings

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We currently find ourselves in the season of Easter, the time between Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday and Pentecost, which celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit as tongues of fire on Christ’s followers. As we look back to the Passion, death and resurrection of Jesus we experienced throughout the triduum, we witnessed the self-sacrificing love of our Lord. This is known as the paschal mystery, which embraces and celebrates the redemptive work of Christ.

For Catholics and all Christians, marriage has this sacrificial aspect of the paschal mystery at its core. On their wedding day, however, couples don’t often think about the concept as they state their vows.

That day is filled with joy, people who support and encourage the couple, and the expectations of a loving future together. Even though the couple promises to love one another in good times and in bad, the bad times seem inconceivable, and the promise to abide by the vows in such times is often easily made.

However, when the day arrives to live out the commitment to remain resolute and faithful to that promise, the real work of the sacrament of matrimony unfolds.

A spouse might be diagnosed with depression or another mental illness, which will significantly affect the couple’s happiness and well-being. Or one of them might have a stroke or a heart attack, requiring the other spouse to take on a new role in the marriage, often that of caretaker, even though he or she might feel ill-equipped to do so. Or one might be diagnosed with chronic or terminal cancer, catapulting the other spouse into the role of deciphering medical jargon, as well as managing the turmoil experienced by their children.

In each of these cases, as well as many others, the supportive spouse must summon the resources to remain steadfast and committed to the work that will be required to remain strong and stabilize the family. This spouse might not feel prepared to handle the pressures of such changes in the marriage, and yet, as Scripture reminds us, God’s grace is a gift to us in times of difficulty and struggle, as it states, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9).

Action challengeMake a renewed commitment to your spouse and your marriage during this season of Easter, as well as to the paschal mystery. Take time to read the Mass readings for each upcoming Sunday liturgy and ask God to fill your heart with the grace of faithfulness to the renewal of your marriage.

Living the ‘yes’

With these and many other individual struggles that must be managed by couples, marriage in our current era requires a new kind of commitment. The “yes” we made on our wedding day is a “yes” to the self-sacrificing love found within the paschal mystery, which espouses that life will come from the “yes” we convey to the difficulties we experience with our partner throughout our lived commitment to that “yes.” When Jesus accepted the cross and all that it meant for himself, as well as for humanity, he did so through such self-sacrificing love.

As couples face the challenges in marriage and remain committed in the good times and the bad, they are a living example of the paschal mystery. Esther Perel, a noted New York marriage and family therapist, stated that in modern marriage, we have four or five marriages to the same person, for marriage must grow and evolve in order to withstand the pressures of our current culture.

In such a marriage, the partners continue to live out the “yes” they made to each other on their wedding day, and they hold true to that promise as they face difficulties that arise each day, due to the willingness to accept the sacrifice required by that “yes.”

Soucheray is a licensed marriage and family therapist and a member of Guardian Angels in Oakdale. She holds a master’s degree in theology from the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity in St. Paul.

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Category: Simple Holiness