Thursday, July 11, 2013

When You're Not Married to a Saint

 (This article is featured on Catholic Stand.)

Cheers to coffee and cream
My husband and I are as opposite as coffee and cream.  He grew up as up as West Coast of the West could be, with a palate made exclusively for hamburgers and hotdogs. I was raised in the Philippines amid mango and coconut trees. His dream home is a garage packed with a Ford Mustang, organized tools and a large screen featuring reruns of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy.  Mine will have wall-to wall bookshelves (though books are everywhere but there) and a closet that leads to TJ Maxx.  On Sundays, he’s over at the Benedictine Abbey, listening to the monks singing their Gregorian Chants in plain English, while I would rather be at the Latin Mass.

In short, no dating service -- no one in their right mind -- would have matched us up for better or worse.  But when we both prayed for our future  spouses, discernment led us to conclude (individually) that God, the Matchmaker, had written our love story.  We were married in less than a year of meeting each other… and that was ten years ago.

During a season of marital disharmony, I was so sure God hadn’t meant to put us together or I was supposed to be a nun in a cloistered convent.  So we both sought help in church. I prayed on my knees, he ran for the nearest priest. ( I told you we were different).

If you think priests have no business giving marital advice, think again.  Here are the top three words of wisdom our shepherds have given us:

1. “When you are married in Church,” said our Marriage Encounter priest, “there is nothing that God will withhold to keep you married.  Grace is always and freely given, and graces are found in the Sacraments.” 

2.  “See a therapist to learn how to communicate,” our pastor, a trained counselor, advised us.  “And remember your job is to get your husband or wife to heaven.  When you’re married, your mission in making your spouse a saint should be so consuming that you forget about your own self. You can’t expect to enter heaven’s doors by yourself without Jesus asking you ‘Whoa! What about the spouse you left behind?’”

Powerful weapons for your marriage and family.
3.  “Satanists fast for the break up of families” an exorcist from Europe told me.  “So you should counter evil with all the spiritual weapons given to you: receive Communion as a family, in a state of grace.  Pray the rosary regularly in front of a statue of Our Lady with a blessed candle because that will seal off all evil.  Sprinkle your home with holy water frequently. Wear the miraculous medal.  Fast and give up a little treat here and there when you can. And most of all, lead a holy life because the blessings will be passed on to your children, just as the curses of a sinful life will be passed on to your children.”

Despite taking the advice, we’re still not as sinless as Mary or humble as Joseph. But I can say with conviction that our shared love for the Catholic Church has enabled us to love each other in and through Jesus Christ.  More so than the day we said “I do --because a marriage without the sacrifice of the cross is a marriage without the Paschal mystery of Christ.

So, if you’re not married to a saint, my one advice is to seek help: both spiritual and practical.  The Church has abundant resources (from sacraments, to pastors, counselors and sacramentals) that will help you become a saint and raise a holy family.  She is on a mission of preparing us for the wedding feast of the Lamb.



Sue Elvis said...


What an excellent post! “When you are married in Church,” said our Marriage Encounter priest, “there is nothing that God will withhold to keep you married. Grace is always and freely given, and graces are found in the Sacraments.” I guess I knew that, but to see those words written has made me stop and think. Thank you!

8 kids and a business said...

Another great article, Annabelle! We will be celebrating our 28th wedding anniversary in about a week and the journey so far has been challenging, nerve-wracking, glorious, life-affirming. We aren't perfect but have grown to know and even anticipate each other's imperfection.

Vicky said...

I so agree with all that you wrote, Anabelle.

You know, I think it's not the highs that make a marriage successful but our loyalty. Just as we need to be faithful to God through all our challenges, we need to be with faithful to our spouse through the ups and downs, too, don't you think? And, then, love grows.

God bless, Anabelle:)

Anabelle Hazard said...

Thank you Terry and Sue. you are both inspirations to me.
Vicky, yes yes... That's true love, I think, tested through ups and downs.

Gina said...

Two things struck me in this one.

First - "“Satanists fast for the break up of families”

YIPES. A thought like that never crossed my mind. Satanists fast? At all?

Second - I've got the same fear as you regarding Jesus saying, "Hey, hey, hey... I'm glad you think you made it to Heaven and all, but you left the key (your husband) on the bottom rungs of Purgatory, so you might wanna rethink your Entrance strategy for the next hundred years or so..."



Bless you!

Jamie Jo said...

Annabelle-I LOVED this! I have to print this one out to read to my husband! Loved the words of advice from the priests, wow, so good!

God bless you and your husband.

We, too, met and were married in less than a year. (blind date-16 1/2 yrs ago)

We are also opposites on many many things. (almost everything, except what counts, our faith!)

Jamie Jo said...

I wrote about marriage back in April, not sure if you saw or not, but if you didn't , you might like it:

Anabelle Hazard said...

Thank you Jamie Jo, heading over to read yours.
Gina, LOL. The key is always the cross ;)