Fr. Michael Stala recently produced a video entitled The Four Pillars of Marriage which explains that Catholic marriages need to be based on a free, total, faithful and fruitful commitment of love. My husband and I have been married 40 years and I can attest to the fact that Fr Michael’s message is TRUTH!!!
Free: My husband and I entered freely into our sacramental marriage – neither of us felt pressured or stressed in making our decision. This freedom came from MUCH prayer and contemplation. We brought God into the center of the decision, so much so that when we were dating my husband casually asked me one day if I would like to go on a retreat with him that his friend Sister Peggy was co-ordinating. I agreed because I enjoy retreats! Little did I know that the “retreat” was an Engaged Encounter and we weren’t even engaged! I found out later. Quite honestly it was the best thing we could have done for our relationship and our future marriage……great way to discern IF you are being called to the vocation of marriage and IF this person is the right one! Would highly recommend it!!!
Total: We entered our marriage covenant knowing it was made with God and was not just a contractual agreement. This meant that we were totally in for the long haul. In some marriages, unfortunately, this pillar is not fully understood or there can be underlying issues which can invalidate the sacrament. In our case, we understood that this was a life-long commitment. However, I have a latent problem with change. My husband can attest to the fact that the morning after we got married I had a “mini breakdown”. The awareness of the commitment we had made hit hard and heavy. I thought I was prepared, but that morning was an awakening. I even said to my husband “What did we DO YESTERDAY…..this is for LIFE!”. My husband calmed me down and reassured me that we would just move forward one step at a time and live our lives relying on God and we would be fine.
Faithful: When thinking about the faithful pillar, most people immediately think about the sexual component of marriage, which of course is vitally important. However, there is so much more to the faithful component than following the sixth commandment. The one that I would like to highlight is remaining faithful in sickness. I suffered from debilitating depression accompanied by suicidal ideation in the 34th year of our marriage. It lasted over 3 years and was in truth hell for the whole family. In all that period of time, my husband was the epitome of the faithful spouse. Never ONCE did he excoriate me in any way. There were many times during the course of those three years that I point-blank said to him “I don’t even know why you are still here, any other man would have left me by now”, to which he would instantly reply, “Karen, I meant what I said at the altar. For better for worse, in sickness and in health. I am not going anywhere”. That is faithfulness personified. He and my children stayed by my side through it all, and in His mercy God healed me miraculously of my maladies in His time. PRAISE GOD!
Fruitful: People immediately think of fruitfulness in a marriage as receiving children from God and establishing a family unit. We did as well, but we always viewed marriage as a mission field. Much like Jesus sending the apostles out “two by two” we saw our marriage as a way to minister to others. Our life journey has given us many opportunities along the way. My husband was traveling internationally at the time we married allowing us to share our faith at times with people all over the world. Old and new friends, family members, and even employees were brought into our mission field. As business owners for 30 years, we considered those businesses, our customers, and our employees as opportunities to bring Christ into our workplaces and the communities where they were located. Our three children were taught the faith through instruction, but most importantly by watching us work as a team when times were hard, and relying on Christ’s strength when ours had been depleted. Of course, life’s abundant joys were celebrated while thanking God for the blessings.
Free. Total. Faithful. Fruitful. That’s a recipe for success for any marriage while keeping Christ at the center.
Copywright 2021 Karen Baglieri