I am very grateful for your letter. I believe that you have asked a question that speaks to the great graces abundantly present in the Sacrament of Matrimony. Your letter is uplifting in its content and intent. Thank you.
Last Friday night at the cathedral 17 men were ordained into the permanent diaconate of the Catholic Church. It was a very moving ceremony to be sure. The cathedral was packed with standing room only for the many faithful who came to share in this Sacrament through their prayers and presence. My husband was one of the ordained. I was completely at a loss for words owing to the many emotions that filled my heart. As we began the long march to the front of the church, me carrying my husband's dalmatic and stole with which he would be vested later in the service, the presence of the Holy Spirit could be physically felt in the air of anticipation and the humility seen in the faces of the men. As we reached the altar area of the cathedral, my husband and the other men left their families to take their place upon the altar area with the bishop. The bishop then explained that we were about to partake in the ancient rite of Holy Orders. During the actual anointing each man knelt in front of the bishop as he laid hands upon them and prayed, "Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach." At the end of the Mass 17 men left the cathedral to serve the Lord in ministry. Each man was anointed separately for service that would be unique yet all 17 are now united in a common spiritual bond of Holy Orders.
How is this any different from the covenant a man and woman form with the Lord God when they enter into the Holy Sacrament of Matrimony? Each person in that union is anointed for service into the Body of Christ. Husband and wife are anointed to go forward to live the life of a married couple through the graces bestowed upon them in Holy Matrimony.
Interestingly enough, the week before my husband was ordained, our son was married. How striking were the two occasions in their similar anointing. It was profound. It was holy and worthy of human appreciation. I can not begin to express how my son's wedding and my husband's ordination affected my desire to service the Body of Christ with renewed passion.
You and your lovely wife have formed a union that has been anointed by the Lord. Jesus is asking you to come to Him with all your needs and to walk in faith as you work to nurture, protect, and spiritually feed your dear children and build a life that will eventually lead all of you to Heaven (not to mention the people who will witness your work in the world). Your holy witness of sacrifice and patient love will be the best teacher your children will have. Thus your anointing for the work is of the utmost importance because through this anointing the Lord gives you and your spouse a well-spring of graces that will never run dry.
Jesus does not anoint each separately in marriage. I watched as my brother, a priest, prayed over my son and daughter-in-law. Each time he blest them they were standing side by side. Their union became one. Just like the deacons they are two separate people yet unlike the deacons their union is anointed as one. However like the deacons their anointing will take them to separate missions at different seasons in their lives yet they will remain as one. The deacons will always be a part of the holy brotherhood of the ordained.
Jesus wants us as married persons to become more through that union. The secular world is the world that separates and divides roles. The Lord speaks of the world as belonging to one body, the Body of Christ. When my husband and I were married in 1973, the world was preaching 'women's rights' and equal opportunities for women. This is worthy but somehow it translated into a convoluted expression of what women were 'supposed' to do. It was actually the world that was confusing the role of women (by attaching expectations and duties) to her. In the same respect men were being told what a man was through the rhetoric of what a women could do.
The best example of a holy marriage that I have is my own mother and dad. I have seen my mom roof a house and I have seen my dad soothe a sick child. Yet I never thought of them as a separate entity; they are one, anointed for service. We must be willing to serve in whatever capacity the Lord asks. We serve through our complete docility of heart and our overwhelming love for one another. You are Jesus' hands to your children. Think of your work as work that is of Jesus' calling. Your wife is working as Jesus would have her work. The only persons who have a right to discuss your roles at this time are you and your wife. If your arrangement works for the two of you and is holy in the eyes of the Lord then go forward. We know that we are within the Lord's will when we experience a sense of peace in our spirits. This peace is not of the world's giving but of the Lord's generosity and love for us. It is His assurance to His little ones that we are on the right path.
The world desperately needs holy men and women who will enter into the bond of Sacramental Matrimony and as one with Christ step forward and be the Lord's workers in this vineyard of life. I admire you and would consider it a great privilege to meet you and to hear how you and your wife are working together to form such a worthy life for your dear children. I pray for you all the success and spiritual rewards that your docile and holy hearts can receive. Please build an area in your home for a family altar and bring your family before the Lord in prayer each evening. Tuck them away into the Sacred Heart, the safest of all places.
Again thank you for your witness.
Let us pray together a Hail Mary. Let us ask the dear Blessed Mother to show us the home she shared with St. Joseph and Jesus. Let us ask that through our work we can bring the peace of the Holy Family to our homes. Let us offer up the trials and burdens we will carry for all those families that find themselves in sorrowful situations which have the possibility of separating and dividing the union of marriage. Please, Lord, cover each family at this time and bring them the peace that passes all human understanding. Lord, we ask that all families have plenty to eat, safety, and freedom from anxiety due to debt or lack of resources. We love You, Lord Jesus, and long to see Your face. Lord, please anoint and protect this man that he may be for his family a true witness of gentle and caring love as is expressed in his care for his family. St. Joseph, pray for us. Amen.Sending out a prayer,