Day 8 - The Sacrament of Matrimony
Welcome to another day in our 40 Days for Vocations! Today I'm sharing with you the final installment of my "vocation story." (And since these throwback pictures have all kinds of loveliness, I'll join Auntie Leila today.)
On that day we became a family of two...
When we sat down to pick a date for our wedding, we decided that we wanted to wait until after the summer semester, but get married before the fall semester began. That left us two Saturdays to choose from, one of which was the Feast of the Assumption. Andrew (whose favorite saint is the Blessed Mother, hence the name of our second born) was dead set on the Assumption for our wedding day, and soon won me over. My pastor was surprised and asked us, "You know you'll have to use the readings for the Assumption right? It'll be just like inserting a wedding into the Assumption Mass?" (Even though it wasn't a Holy Day of Obligation that year, it was still a solemnity.) Yes. Yes we knew. And that's why we were choosing that day!
(I've been grateful for that decision every year since then. We always have to go to Mass together on our anniversary, and we always hear the readings and prayers that we heard at our wedding Mass!)
When we were talking about what we wanted out of our wedding Mass (because the Mass was what we were investing the most thought and energy into) we decided that we wanted it to be something beautiful. We knew we would have people at our wedding Mass who were either fallen away Catholics or not Catholic or any faith, and we wanted everyone who came to be touched by the beauty of the Mass. We wanted the Mass to be a witness - not just to our love for each other, but a witness of God's love to us, and to the beauty of the vocation He was gifting to us. We gave great thought to what songs we would use, who our lectors would be, how best to include our loved ones in the liturgy. Andrew made up a beautiful program for the liturgy, complete with some catechesis tucked in.
There are a few other things we did, too, in preparation for our wedding day. We bought our wedding rings, of course. We wanted our wedding rings to be marked with the motto of our relationship/marriage, a motto inspired by St. John Paul II. Inscribed in our rings are our initials, wedding date, and the words, "Totus Tuus Domine," which translates, "All is yours, Lord." (And yes, we got a look of confusion from the jeweler, but it was a great moment for evangelization!) We wanted a reminder of the fact that we would always be in God's hands, and that our vocation would be dedicated to Him.
The second thing we did was to take time to write prayers asking for the intercession of our closest patrons (who were, at the time, St. Therese, Mary, and St. Michael the Archangel - we've since added St. Joseph, too) and officially "inviting" them to our wedding Mass. Of course, since it was a Mass, they would be there, but we just wanted to include them the way we included all of our closest friends. I cannot even begin to describe for you what incredible friends they each have been to us and to our family! I definitely recommend choosing patron saints for your relationship, from the time you begin dating.
Our wedding day arrived, and the morning and early afternoon were full of last minute preparations. Then, we arrived (separately) at the church. We'd decided that we wanted to see each other before Mass, because we wanted to pray together. We met up in the small chapel behind the altar, and prayed a rosary together. It was so beautiful, so perfect to have those moments to ourselves before the wedding Mass. I got to privately see Andrew's facial expression when he saw me in my wedding gown for the first time, and I'll always remember that look of joy and love. Sitting there together, sharing Andrew's rosary beads, we both felt the peace and strength we needed for the next step. One of our con-celebrants walked past us and he later commented that he'd never seen a couple look so peaceful before their wedding!
If I could use one word to describe the Mass itself, it would be joy. I couldn't stop smiling. I just felt such joy! To have Andrew, and the Mass, and the Eucharist, and all the people I loved...all at once?! Truly a taste of heaven. When Andrew and I think back to our wedding day, we think that our reception turned out well, and various details fell into place as they should have. But what really is a treasure to us is that wedding Mass. And to receive Jesus in the Eucharist for the first time as a married couple? Bliss.
On that day we became a family of two...
And now four! And God-willing, one day more. :-)
Before knowing what my vocation was, whenever I would think about vocation, I always thought of it as being my gift to God. When I finally found my vocation, I was so overwhelmed by the love I felt from God. My vocation was not my gift to Him - it was His gift to me. I felt (and feel) so unworthy of this beautiful vocation He's given me. It stretches me in ways I never could have imagined. When I was discerning vocations, I thought I knew what would make me holy. But God knew better. He knew that this vocation - marriage to Andrew and motherhood to the children God blesses us with - would be what would refine me, shape me, chisel away at my selfishness, and turn me into a saint. It is a work in progress, to be sure, but daily I am in awe of the ways that God is leading me to heaven through this vocation.
I think the most amazing aspect of this gift is the man that God has given me. I remember deciding, one night in high school, that I didn't want my life to be "ordinary." I wasn't quite sure what I meant by that, but I know now. I didn't want to live a life wrapped up solely in the material concerns of this world. I wanted to live a life pointed to heaven. I could have never, in my wildest dreams, imagined that God would send me a husband who felt the same, who longed for heaven as deeply as I did and do. Nor could I have imagined that He would send me a husband who would help me get there.
When we sign letters to each other, we often include the line, "I am so happy to be journeying to heaven with you." And it is so true. My deepest desire for Andrew, and his for mine, is to get to heaven. That longing for heaven has only deepened as I've grown in this vocation of mine. I've learned more and more, what real love is - the love of the cross.
My vocation brings me such profound joy. With my beloved St. Therese, I find myself able to say, "I've found my vocation! My vocation is love!"
Trust God with your vocation. You will know it when you find it, because it will bring you such profound peace. I used to wonder, and I've heard others ask, "But how will I know what my vocation is?" I remember hearing others say, "You will. You'll just know." And I didn't understand that...but now I do. When God offers you the gift of your vocation, you are overwhelmed with humble gratitude and peace. You need only give Him your "yes." And if you do...you won't regret it a day of your life.