Today, on the feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne, I have been reflecting upon the gifts of a faith-filled marriage. Sacramental marriage is a great gift and has always been viewed by the Church as a vocation in which a man and a woman are aided by the Holy Spirit to grow in holiness and virtue. The beauty of marriage is that both of the spouses, with their hearts firmly attached to Christ, aid each other in the spiritual growth that is necessary to perfect us for heaven.
That being said, among faithful Catholics, much attention has been given to the physical fruits of marriage...children. Thanks be to God! Openness to life is vital for a faith-filled marriage. But there are other fruits cultivated in a sacramental marriage that contribute to the good of the spouses, the good of the children and the good of society. Generosity, forgiveness, trust, compassion, empathy and sacrifice are all fruits of a Christ-centered marriage. These fruits are desperately needed in our society today, and it is up to us to cultivate good married relationships starting with our own spouses.
The mission of a married couple extends further than ourselves. So many of our priest friends are greatly edified to see married couples opening our hearts to the love of God. This is marriage as God truly intended, and it makes them grateful for their own vocation. In this current climate of hostility toward the pristhood and the Church, we need strong marriages more than ever to shine Christ's light into the world. Sts. Joachim and Anne, pray for us!