Friday, January 4, 2013

An Open Letter to the Engaged

Many young people spend a good part of their early years looking for a suitable partner for life.To help them make this important transition to married life, a priest in pastoral work for families has written an open letter in the Peace Weekly, with some advice, knowing it's often a time when the young are full of self-doubt and worry.  

He reminds them that all of life is a learning experience, beginning at birth when we learn to walk, to talk, to become socialized enough to live amicably with others, and to live intimately with one other person, as both take on the responsibility of family life. One person alone meeting another such person to love and take care of becomes a complete offering, the priest says, when done unselfishly.

Marriage is one of the most important events in a person's life, and should be an irreversible event. That is why the choice of a life-time mate should be done with great care. To be unduly influenced by the externals in making the choice, not seeing the whole person, is likely to result in choosing the wrong partner; the priest recommends that prayer be used to help make that choice as intelligently as possible .

For couples to be swayed by sexual desire and decide for marriage on this impulse alone is preparing to live a miserable life together, says the priest. He compares this motive to the first button of a garment. If not placed correctly, all other actions are bound to cause problems.

You want a person with the right worldview, a person who understands filial piety as a way of life, knows how to use money, knows how to sacrifice and  be of service to others; obviously not an easy choice to make. It would also help to know the friends of your possible mate, his or her family, and, of course, as much of their preferences as possible. 

The sacrament of matrimony, for Catholics, ties the two together in an indissoluble bond that only death can end; it's prepared for by the sacrament of confirmation and fortified by the Holy Spirit. In the marriage ceremony, the couple should be occupied primarily by the spiritual meaning of their union.  A small and simple ceremony prepares for this in a healthy way; without elaborate ceremonial preparations, they are able to think of what they will give to the partner instead of what they will get.  The night before the wedding the two would do well to  prepare a letter, the priest suggests, outlining the kind of wife or husband they will try to be, and give it to the other on the first wedding night.  

He prays they will overcome all the temptations they will face in life. Not all is accomplished at the wedding. They should remember that married life is a process. They are learning how to live together, and like beginning drivers, there is a lot to learn. He asks that they imitate the Holy Family, and be open to the graces they will be given.

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