A “Marriage Engagement” Sermon

Hot-Sale-In-Brazil-18K-Gold-Plated-Couple-Ring-Engagement-Wedding-Band-Ring-For-Lovers-ManOne of the most awfullest words heard today is “commitment.”  “Ehhh, commit what and to whom?”  The sentiment is real but their pronoun would have been wrong.  (They would have said “who” instead of the correct “whom.”)

“Commitment.”  A public announcement that is publicly acclaimed and accepted.

Here’s three great “A” words for you today, announcement, acclamation and acceptance.  We could call them the three “A’s” to a happy marriage.

“Happy marriage,” an oxymoron to most people these days with divorces after the first five years.  Just five years is the test run and then it’s decided that it’s over.

I was talking to a man who’s wife died after 69 years of marriage.  They had sex every night, “partied like it was 1999” (reference to Prince), ate whatever they wanted and fooled around with other people just to keep their relationship “fresh.”  I’m kidding.

69 years. 1945, he said.  Just imagine if you were making a movie of their lives what you would include in the film without even knowing them.  Just the span of time would cause all kinds of changes and upheavals as well as joyful and celebrating events with a growing family and friends.  Job changes, house movings, colicky babies and evenings spent wondering when their teenage daughter would return safely home from “that party.”

Marriage isn’t a commitment to each other, it’s a commitment to a shared life.  It’s a commitment of your life to another person whom you will never fully understand (even when you think you do), it’s a commitment to somehow, sometimes become two while always remaining one (and that’s a trick in itself).  That’s why I have cats.  Forget the Hallmark cards and be weary of those lofty “church prayers” about two becoming one.  If you’re a unique snowflake that your parents kept telling you that you were growing up then marriage will not melt your snowflake into the oneness of one snowflake.

That’s called growth, both personal and relational.  Can you two grow together as he did with his wife beginning in 1945.

The first “a” has been accomplished.  You’ve announced to all who care that you’re getting married as though it’s the end.  Engagement is intended to be a testing time between the two of you.  Questions are asked and weighed and carefully answered.  “What about this?”  “What happens when that occurs?” are asked and hopefully sincere answers are provided to the best of your abilities.  Whether it’s a cancer diagnosis after the second year or a huge promotion for only one of you adjustments and compromises need to be made.  It that love or devotion?  Do you love each other as best as you can or can you be devoted to each other through all the thicks and thins that life throws at you?

The Church’s role is the second “a” -the acclamation.  The Church can only celebrate what the two of you profess in front of her.  Along with family and friends the acclamation is the sacramental bond the Church either inflicts or imposes or blesses and empowers upon the two of you.  It’s up to you two to life out which one it will be.

The third “a” of acceptance is done completely in private between the two of you after all the toasters you don’t need are unwrapped and the top of your wedding cake freezes for some future occasion.  Acceptance.  If you thought commitment was big stuff just try living and exhibiting acceptance.

You’d think there’d be a receipt of success after all these years of this powerful union but there isn’t.  Just antidotes from people who like to write about themselves but has little meaning for the two of you.  Elizabeth Taylor tried it eight times and “The Donald” is on number three.

The irony (note the correct use of the word) is that you are committing to something that has so often failed, in recent times, for so many for far too many years.  The rest of the irony is that life always brings people together, two lives click for whatever reason and 69 years later she passes away leaving him with more memories than he can remember.

69 years for him and a waiting year for you two.  May God bless and watch over the mystery upon which you two are about to embark.

Did I tell you that I have two cats?  It a lot easier.

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About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). www.Salvatorians.com. He is associate pastor of partnering parishes, Christ King and St. Bernard parishes in Wauwatosa, WI.
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