Engaged Encounter Part II: Three to Get Married?


Called to be One

Unity is Our Goal

Marriage is a vocation, a sacred call from God to love one another uniquely, totally and irrevocably, giving 100% of ourselves to our marriage, not 50/50 as the modern world tells us to do. Through the examples shared, we learn that striving for oneness, not happiness, is the REAL goal in marriage. The vocation of marriage can be challenging; and the more we strive for unity, the more we reflect God's love.

Marriage is a vocation, a sacred call from God to love each other uniquely, totally and unconditionally. Striving for unity, not happiness, is the primary goal of a Christian marriage.

  1. What does marriage as a vocation mean to me? How is God calling us to be one?
  2. You show me God's love best when you… I show you God's love love best when I…
  3. How do I feel about committing myself to love you unconditionally for the rest of my life, knowing that there will be times when I'll get very little in return?
  4. How do I feel hearing that unity, not just happiness, is the primary goal of our marriage? What is my understanding of unity in marriage?
  5. What have we experienced that has resulted in me feeling closer to you?
  6. God is calling us to unity. How does this affect and challenge our plans and dreams for our marriage?

"This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh"

Marriage is not just a vocation. It is a sacrament. It's God making His presence known by physical means and effusing His grace through them. We are called to become one flesh because we are more ourselves with someone else.

How can this be? Well, a married couple is more than the sum of their parts. Each spouse becomes more fully a person by being married. The union is not just 1 + 1 = 2. Nor does it mean that two people disappear into one entity, i.e. 1/2 + 1/2 = 1. It's more like 1/2 + 1/2 = 2 (kind of like covalent bonding in chemistry). We are incomplete by ourselves. Two incomplete persons become two complete persons living out the closest human imitation of the life of the Trinity. There are three whole persons, but only one God. Two whole persons are likewise one flesh whose love bursts forth into life just as the Spirit procedes from the Father and the Son.

By marrying, we complete God's creation and also become something more. We are a sign and example to others. We are to be so superabundantly blessed that our love and faith can only be fully expressed by bringing another being into the world to be loved. By procreating, we participate in God's primordial creative act. God is love. He created the universe in order to love it and its inhabitants. We mirror that love by obeying His command to "go forth and multiply".

Marriage Morality

What Life-Giving Means

The practical consequences of living marriage as a vocation are explored in this presentation. Marriage morality consists in life-giving, in accord with the ideal established by Jesus: "I have come that they may have life and have it more abundantly". This contrasts with the negative approach to morality, which emphasizes prohibitions. Marriage is not a contract, but a covenant, which Christ calls us to live daily as husband and wife.

Moral: To be life-giving – to call ourselves and others to a fuller life – to be open and honest, and bear witness to the values Jesus taught.

Examples:

  • Generous – going beyond the minimum
  • Supportive – bringing out the best in you
  • Sensitive – being aware of your needs and feelings
  • Selfless – caring about us instead of just me

Immoral: To be selfish, indifferent, unwilling to be responsible for the effect of my life on others.

Examples:

  • Indifferent – it's okay if it does not hurt anybody
  • Close-minded – already decided, just going through he motions
  • Comparing – at least I'm not like him/her
  • Self-centered – do my own thing (not dependent on, or responsible to God or others)

[This topic was handled as a group discussion. – Funky]

  1. Terry had a hard day at work and was pleasantly surprised to see Chris' car in the driveway. Terry was looking forward to spending some quiet time together before dinner. Instead, Chris was leaving for a long run to work off some steam after a tough day. Terry, feeling hurt and disappointed, walked away and sulked about it all evening. Question: How would this scenario change if they were being life-giving?
  2. When Tracy and Pat get
    together with friends, Pat frequently talks about things Tracy considers private, such as finances and arguments. When Tracy shared uneasiness about this, Pat responded, "I've always been very open. That's just the type of person I am!" Question: How can Tracy and Pat be life-giving in this situation?
  3. Kelly had a very frustrating day. It began witha disagreement with a co-worker and then the car repair took longer and was more expensive than expected. Fran called from work to say "I'll be late for dinner." In frustration, Kelly snaps, "Fran, you're always late!" Question: One person can be life-gicing even when another is not. How does that apply to Fran and Kelly?

covenant:A binding agreement; a compact.

sacrament:A rite believed to be a means of or visible form of grace

See what happens when you try to avoid using the 's' word? You become redundant and self-contradictory. I just love the dig at following rules, too. News flash, folks: rules are usually there for our own good. Parents set rules for their children to protect and/or teach them. God does likewise. Paul's letter to the Galatians makes it abundantly clear that freedom from the Old Law does is not a license for unrestricted behavior. Whether we like rules or not, the Church, in accord with Scripture, has established many. Some apply to marriage and sexuality. We can't just pick and chose the ones that we don't fins distasteful. This is a classic example of cafeteria Catholicism. Pope John Paul II highlights an appropos prohibition in Love and Responsibilty. No person should be treated as an object and thus used.

Decisions in Marriage

Applying Life-Giving Principles

The presenting team gives many practical examples of making moral (life-giving) decisions in our relationship with each other, God, parents, and friends. The presentation also covers making decisions with respect to career, work, roles, monet and time together. A guide for life-giving decisions is suggested in the form of five steps:

  1. Prayer – Give God a voice in our choice.
  2. Discernment
    1. Gather facts.
    2. Consult with outside sources/experts.
    3. Listen to one another and prioritize.
    4. Affect others.
  3. Mutual Agreement – Agree – not win or lose
  4. Mutual Responsibility – Accept the results.
  5. Re-Evaluation – Circumstances change.

[The full text of this section is far too wordy for me to reproduce here. Suffice to say that the statements above are elabortated. Also, the following questions were replaced with a group activity. – Funky]

  1. What important decisions have we made recently that have affected us as a couple?
    1. How did we seek God's guidance in prayer?
    2. Whom and what resources did we consult besides each other?
    3. In what ways was our decision a mutual agreement that we could both be committed to carry out?
    4. How are we sharing the responsibility for the result of our decision?
    5. When and how do we re-evaluate our decision?
    6. When and how do we re-evaluate our decision?
    7. How life-giving was this decision?
  2. The steps in the life-giving decision making process that we used in making our decision to become married were…
  3. What is my relationship with God? How will this affect our decision making?
  4. How would I like God to be a part of the relationship? What decisions do we have to make to bring this about?
  5. What decision do we have to make to be more supportive of one another in the practice of each other's faith and religious beliefs?
  6. How important is your/my career to and why? What life-giving decisions do we need to make about my/your career to enhance our marriage?
  7. What decisions have we made about handling our money? Are we handling our finances in alife-giving manner?
  8. What am I willing to do to help us reach a life-giving decision when a compomise seems difficult or impossible?
  9. How can we use the steps in making life-giving decisions in these additional areas?
    1. Use of time (family, work, activities, leisure)
    2. Involvement with parent(s)/friends after marriage
    3. Other

[An additional handout described important decisions to consider, including beginning and raising a family, work and roles, finances, time, family, friends, and God. It's too long for me to type out. – Funky]

The group activity involved giving us each two flourescent index cards, one pink and one green, representing "no" and "yes", respectively. We stood with out backs to our fiances. Several questions were asked of the "Doing such and such is okay" formula. We held up the card that reflected how we felt and then turned to show our cards to our fiances. I think answering the questions would have been a far more fruitful use of time.