Sacramental Life: Fatherhood and Marriage
On an upcoming ACR program, author Roy Petifils talks about his latest book, What I Wish Someone Had Told Me About the First Five Years of Marriage (St. Anthony Messenger Press). I recently brought a copy of the book to a wedding I was witnessing. I presented it to the bride’s mother during the homily—for safekeeping, until after the newlyweds return from their honeymoon!
My hope is that this newly married couple will get a head start on their life together. Along with the book, I spoke of “sacrament” as the thing I wished I’d been taught—34 years ago—about marriage preparation. Out of all the things I can tell a new couple, I believe that understanding “sacrament” is the most important.
Older Catholics knew what a sacrament was by memorized definition: “An outward sign, instituted by Christ to give grace.” I suspect most of the young couples I prepare do not know that definition. But the couple whose wedding I witnessed did tell me this in their personal assessment: “A sacrament to me is an invisible entity that God is present and active in that experience” and a sacrament gives “evidence that ‘God is around us.'” They went on to state that they hoped to “Allow God in our relationship, when we pray/attend Mass [so] we can grow as a couple.”
Not formal theological language, but good enough for this pastor! It’s my hope that in the premarital preparation with couples, I can communicate “sacrament” well enough to at least express our deep Catholic belief that God is indeed present in our world through the “visible signs” we celebrate in the Church; that in the everyday relationships of married life—and of fatherhood, which we celebrate this month—they will know the truth of the sacrament that married couples are.
It’s our hope here at Franciscan Media Production that our ACR programs this month are an extension of that great sacrament!