Monday, January 11, 2010

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.