Fortnight for Freedom is a 14 day period leading up to the 4th of July where we take time to bring awareness to and pray for our religious freedoms. It is a time to give thanks for the freedom we have, to pray for those who are persecuted for faith, and to pray that our own country will honor the religious freedoms that we hold so dear. My parish takes part in this Fortnight for Freedom with a prayer service each year that incorporates speakers, song, and prayers for our religious liberties. This is my first year participating and I was asked to speak on marriage. I wanted to share with you my witness to marriage that I will be presenting this coming weekend:
The theme of this year’s Fortnight for Freedom is to “Bear Witness.” I wanted to share today my own witness to marriage, what marriage means to me, and why it matters to begin with.
This July will be 4 years since my husband and I were married. When we were preparing to get married, plenty of people had advice on how to have a happy, successful marriage. Communication, compromise, making time for each other, and other things like that. Of course those things are great, but it’s something more that makes a marriage strong. I may only be married four years, but I look to the example of my husband’s parents who have been married 29 years, to my own parents who are celebrating their 30th anniversary in November, and to my grandparents who have been married over 60 years and I see one thing in common. They all had God at the center. It is God’s presence that makes a true marriage work.
Without God, there is no love. God is love! We think we know what love is. But one look at the cross reminds us that there is a love so deep we cannot begin to grasp it. A love that created life. That sacrificed itself for us, even when we stubbornly refuse it. The love of Christ is never-ending. Knowing that such a love exists, even while not fully understanding the depth of it, opens our eyes to the reality that we have so much to learn about love. We need Christ to show us how to love. We need Him beside us in all aspects of life, in all our relationships, and definitely in our marriages.
Marriage is a gift from God. It is the union of one man and one woman as husband and wife. Marriage is more than the “next step” in a relationship. To me, marriage is a calling from God to live as husband and wife being open to whatever God has in store for us. It is not something to be defined or changed by us. It is a sacred and beautiful sacrament given to us by God. Marriage is not just about the individual. It is about the unbreakable union between man and wife. And for a marriage to remain strong in love, peace, and joy despite what life throws our way, that union must include Jesus. With God at the center of our marriages, we may continue to grow in love for each other and for Him.