Monday, October 05, 2009

27th Sunday - homily

With the emphasis on marriage in today’s readings, I have a question for you: who are your favorite married couples (after your parents, of course!)? It might be other family members, friends, or parents of friends. Or, maybe even celebrity couples – Jay Z and Beyonce, Brad and Angelina, Barack and Michelle. I was looking at a celebrity couples’ website the other day – some of it was actually inspiring (seeing that some Hollywood couples have been married for many years) and some of it was not. One couple who has been together for three years said that they don’t need to be married to show their commitment. Hmmm…but, marriage is the commitment.

One of my favorite married couples is the first couple I prepared for marriage. They came to me through a friend and I was the third priest they contacted. The other two priests wouldn’t marry them because they were living together (I don’t know how many priests are like that). I told them I would work with them if they worked with me. They agreed. Now, my marriage prep is pretty thorough. I meet with the couples six times. This is the rest of their lives! I have great respect for marriage and for couples preparing for marriage, so I want to prepare them as much as possible for what they’re getting into.

The first two meetings are devoted to their relationship. They take a survey which reveals their compatibility. They see where they each stand of issues of communication, faith, raising children, finances, etc. The couples normally are very into this. Then, in the other meetings, I talk to them about marriage as a sacrament, the importance of prayer and communication in marriage, whether this is God’s Will for them to be married, etc. So, about halfway through the process with my first couple, I discussed the issue of cohabitation. They were like, “so, what’s the big deal if we’re living together?”

I began with a government study that says it’s a big deal. This study from a few years ago found that 78% of couples who lived together before marriage got divorced. So, their chances of staying together were not very good. This got their attention. Then, I explained that the big deal is that cohabitation leads to fornication which has been condemned by God. God makes it clear in the Book of Genesis (and again in today’s Gospel) that sex is for the union between a husband and wife and for procreation. It is a sacred act that is reserved for married couples which they weren’t yet.

I asked them if they could make some alternative living arrangement before their wedding day. They were trying to work with me, but said honestly that they couldn’t, for one reason or another. So, I said that if they couldn’t separate, then they needed to live as brother and sister until they were married. They looked at me like I had three heads (a look I often get!)…but said they would try. Well, they did it. They told me the night before their wedding that they had been living chastity since our big talk (about 4-5 months). They were so glad that they waited, and you could see it in their eyes. They were so happy! And, they said that it helped their relationship so much because they grew much closer as a couple. They had so much more joy and peace on their wedding day…and I’m sure on their wedding night! They are doing great now; I will be baptizing their first child this Saturday. It’s all good!

Most of you are called to be married. So, most of you have already begun your marriage preparation… even if you haven’t met your future spouse yet. I ask you to do what I asked this couple to do: wait. It’s actually three things you should be doing now to prepare for marriage: waiting, saving, and praying for your future spouse. Wait until your wedding night to give yourself fully to another; don’t give your love totally to just anyone. The old saying that “you shouldn’t date someone you wouldn’t marry” should enter into your dating scene. Save yourself and the great treasure of your sexuality for your future spouse. As with the couple I married, it will be so much more meaningful and fruitful if you do. And, pray for your future spouse. Pray that he or she is doing the same: waiting and saving themselves for you.

Finally, in a few minutes God will give us a great treasure in the Eucharist; it is the greatest treasure on Earth! When I was in the seminary, I wanted to celebrate the Eucharist…I wanted to celebrate the Mass. But, that is a sacred act that is reserved for ordained priests. So, I had to wait. Well, it was well worth the wait, and has made celebrating all of the sacraments so much sweeter. The same is true for sex: it is a sacred act that is reserved for married couples. You, too, have to wait. And, I promise you, it will be so much sweeter if you do! It will be like opening a great treasure on your wedding day…a treasure that God has given you. When you open the treasure, you will find happiness and love. He wants each and every one of you to be happy and has a plan for you to get there. He wants you to know his deep love for you. May you know His love in your lives.

No comments: