Marriage, Wine, and Sleeping Beauty

January 7, 2004

Last weekend I had the great joy of seeing my good friend, Richard Logan, get married. He’s the first of my friends to marry, so it was almost as big of a day for me as it was for him! His bride Jen was beautiful, the Mass was beautiful, Father’s sermon was beautiful… it was a perfect day. (Congratulations Jen and Richard!) Thus inspired, I’d like to share a few thoughts with you from a marriage talk that I heard this summer, based on the wedding narrative of John 2.

As everyone was celebrating at the marriage feast in Cana, we read, “the wine of the newlyweds ran dry.” How embarrassing that must have been! It would be like running out of seats in the church for all of the guests, or not having enough wedding cake for everyone! There will be a time in every marriage when the “wine” brought by the husband and wife will run out. No matter how much the couple loves each other, their love is still a finite human love, with human weaknesses and limitations. Marital difficulties are inevitable. It takes heroic strength to stay with one person for the rest of one’s life, loving them in spite of all of their faults, and to learn selflessness and love through them.

When I was little, I looked forward to one day meeting the perfect woman, the girl who would make me unimaginably happy for the rest of my life. In her, I would find total fulfillment and earthly happiness. After all, this is what we always see in the fairy tales: the young man and woman get married and “live happily ever after.” Prince Charming alone will make Snow White happy for the rest of her life; Princess Fiona alone is enough to fill Shrek’s heart with everlasting joy.

The truth is that such happiness is only possible if God is at the heart of a marriage. Everlasting, infinite happiness can only be found in God. We will be greatly disappointed if we expect this happiness through another human being alone, even if they are a Prince Charming or a Sleeping Beauty! True marital bliss comes from inviting God into one’s marriage, just as the bride and groom in Cana invited Jesus to their marriage two thousand years ago. Such a marriage will never run out of “wine.” Rather, when a couple builds their marriage on him, Jesus will take their human love and make it joyful and fruitful beyond their greatest dreams.

In and through Christ, marriage became a sacrament, a floodgate of heavenly grace. Together, hand in hand, the couple is called to grow in their love of the Lord through their love for each other. The husband is to be Christ for his wife, a source of heavenly grace for his wife, that she may draw nearer to the Lord through him. Likewise, the wife is to be Christ for her husband, a source of heavenly grace for him, so that he may become more like Christ through her. This is the true purpose of Christian marriage—to help each another become saints.

So, you married couples, is Jesus Christ the Lord of your marriage? Is he its purpose and focus? Husbands, is your top priority to help your wife and children to become saints? Your job and income and retirement are but secondary worries, compared to this great responsibility. Likewise, wives, is raising a holy family your number one priority? And you who hope to be married one day: are you preparing yourself for that vocation by chaste living and by becoming a saint yourself, so that one day you may lead your family to Christ?