Amazing Grace at the Center
A new family came into being! My cousin was married, and the wedding made it clear that their family is a domestic church. Before they said their "I do"s, they made their own personal vows to each other. My cousin began his vows by promising to keep God and his amazing grace at the center of their new family. This is a domestic church, a family with God and his amazing grace at the center.
As the ceremony began, the minister quoted Hebrews which says, "See to it that no one be deprived of the grace of God" (Hebrews 12:15) and set the marriage firmly in the context of grace. Grace is a spectacular foundation on which to build a family. Grace was the topic of a recent faith formation program at my church and we discussed how grace heals and restores us. Sin causes us to turn in on ourselves, making us only capable of loving ourselves. Grace sets us free to open ourselves up again to love God and love our neighbor. Marriage and family are a beautiful context in which grace can grow.
If sin causes us to turn inward and love only ourselves, then what is needed is a power that can call us back out of ourselves and towards another. A successful marriage will require the husband and wife to do this again and again, day after day, year after year. I see this in the love shared between my cousin and his bride. They put each other's happiness above their own and they give of themselves to one another.
We are incapable of breaking free of sin's power on our own, but we can cooperate with God's grace as we grow in holiness. In a thriving Christian marriage, the spouses will cooperate with grace to help each other grow in holiness. In the best man's toast, he observed that my cousin's bride makes him a better man. Grace works within a marriage to nurture the love between the spouses, and grace can use that love between the spouses to call them out of themselves. For the rest of their lives, his wife will constantly call him out of himself to love her and her husband will constantly call her out of herself to love him. As he gives himself to his wife and as she gives herself to her husband, grace works within their mutual self-giving to make them grow even more selfless.
This experience of love for one another will be one of the most powerful experiences in this life which helps them understand God's love for us. There is no better way for them to understand the love of Christ who gave himself for the Church than by giving of themselves to one another and by receiving the freely given gift of the other's very self. In their marriage, they will help each other understand God's love, but the sacramental sign does not end there. They are also a sign of God's love for all of us gathered around them. In the best man's toast, after observing that my cousin's bride makes him a better man, he observed that they both make all of us better people. In the maid of honor's toast, she observed their love is contagious, infectious, and radiant. Seeing them love one another beckons all of us to more fully love our spouses and our neighbors. I felt challenged go home and love my wife and my daughters more selflessly. Grace is using the example of my cousin and his bride to help me grow in holiness.
In the vows the bride wrote for her groom she said she looked forward to starting a family with him. I am confident that God and his amazing grace will be at the center of their family as my cousin promised to his bride. When they each said "I do", a new domestic church came into being. God's grace will surely be active within their domestic church helping each of them grow in holiness and helping all of us who know and love my cousin and his wife to grow in holiness with them.