Good marriages can be choked by the cares and worries of everyday life. Here's a chance to clear those troubles away
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Cynics already mock Valentine’s Day as a marketing-driven campaign that generated $18.9 billion last year. Why do we need spin-off events like World Marriage Day, which also comes on the heels of National Marriage Week and International Marriage Week? Think of it as an effort to reclaim the culture for Christ.
World Marriage Day is an outgrowth of Worldwide Marriage Encounter, an apostolate aimed at helping couples make good marriages even better. World Marriage Day began in 1983 and is celebrated every second Sunday of February in dioceses across the country. This year it falls on February 14, coinciding with Valentine’s Day. The purpose of World Marriage Day is to highlight the beauty of marriage and to honor husbands and wives for their faithfulness and sacrifices.
In our sex-saturated culture, it’s essential to proclaim that romantic love is not the pinnacle of human happiness. As the schoolchildren’s rhyme goes, “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage.” Romance leads to marriage, and marriage leads to families that are domestic churches forming souls for Christ. World Marriage Day redirects us to that truth.
Every year the Archdiocese of New York marks World Marriage Day by honoring the longest married couple in the diocese. This year’s couple, Connie and Daniel Russo, have been married 76 years. The Diocese of Brownsville (Texas) schedules an annual Mass where couples are recognized for celebrating wedding anniversaries of 25 years and above. Other dioceses and parishes host dinner dances or hold ceremonies to renew marriage vows.
Couples are also invited to celebrate World Marriage Day in their own way. Lis Luwia of Catholic Mommy Blogs and her husband, Ryan, are planning to watch their wedding video. “During our first dance song, he’ll probably ask me to dance, and we’ll get to relive those moments from when we took our first steps together as husband and wife so many years ago,” said Lis.
Amy Brooks of Prayer Wine Chocolate and her husband, Matt, are keeping it simple, taking the day off just to be present for one another. “For years I prayed, ‘Lord, I want to get married! Please send me a good husband!’ Life is so busy. We forget how the Lord sent us a partner, a best friend and yes, a soul mate,” said Amy.
Like the good seed that is choked by thorns in the parable of the sower, good marriages can be choked by the cares and worries of everyday life. World Marriage Day gives us a chance to clear those troubles away.
World Marriage Day does not emphasize marriage to the detriment of other vocations, however. The mission of its founding organization Worldwide Marriage Encounter is “to proclaim the value of Marriage and Holy Orders in the Church and in the world.” Or in the words of Kimberly Cook of The Lion of Design, “We are all called to support each other in our respective vocations.” For World Marriage Day, Kimberly, her husband, Cory, and their three kids will be attending the Solemn Profession of Vows of Sr. Mary Veronica of the Cross, OP, at the cloistered Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary in Summit, New Jersey. They’ll show their children that marriage and perpetual celibacy both entail a lifelong, total gift of self.
Katie Sciba of The Catholic Wife and her husband, Andrew, are inspired by World Marriage Day and Valentine’s Day falling on the same date this year. According to Katie, “The beauty of World Marriage Day coupled with St. Valentine’s Day has an added depth. It’s an opportunity to discover real romantic passion; the kind that transcends physical attraction to discover my husband’s soul. It’s delighting in my husband, being captivated by who he is and drawing happiness from the fact that God intended us just for each other.”
Since Easter is so early this year, World Marriage Day also falls during the season of Lent, a poignant reminder that lifelong love always requires sacrifice, according to John-Paul and Annie Deddens of Pray More Novenas and Catholic Wife, Catholic Life. “The sins that separate us from God are also the sins that keep us further away from a more perfect union with our spouse. So when we enter into Lent and begin to share in Christ’s redemptive suffering by practicing some small sacrifice, it also reminds me to do the same work in my marriage,” said Annie.
World Marriage Day provides us with an opportunity to talk about true married love, and according to the Deddenses, “It can look a lot like Lent.” Ultimately, this is a reason to rejoice, not despair. “Sacrifice and denying ourselves is not a bad thing, but a beautiful one that can produce so much fruit!” they said.
Karee Santos is the founder of the Can We Cana? blog and also has written for Catholic Match Institute, Catholic Digest, National Catholic Register and CatholicMom.com. Together with her husband, Manuel Santos, MD, she co-authored The Four Keys to Everlasting Love: How Your Catholic Marriage Can Bring You Joy for a Lifetime (Ave Maria Press, 2016). The Santoses designed and taught a pre-Cana marriage preparation course, and they write a monthly marriage advice column on CatholicMom.com called “Marriage Rx.” They also contribute regularly to FAITH magazine’s “Marriage Matters” advice column. The couple lives on Long Island, New York, with their six children.