“When husband and wife are united in marriage they no longer seem like something earthly, but rather like the image of God Himself.” - St. John Chrysostom
The following is a reflection I wrote to accompany my marriage program. In the Byzantine tradition this sacrament is called the Holy Mystery of Crowning.
Marriage is a human constant. Peoples throughout history have relied on lifelong, monogamous relationships to hold their communities together. While superficially similar, Christian marriage is radically different from its secular analogue. For Catholics, marriage is one of the seven sacraments. It is a visible sign of the invisible God’s action in the here and now. Jesus Christ instituted this holy mystery at the very beginning of His public ministry, when He blessed the marriage at Cana and turned water into wine. This bond cannot be unmade and cannot be broken. It is mystically, and thus literally, impossible to do so.
By entering into this sacramental union, the married couple dedicate their shared life to the service of the Kingdom of God. They pick each other up when one another falls, knock each other down when the other needs it, and work in synergy with the Lord to steward new life into being. Married couples have just as high a vocation as any priest or monk. They are to be perfect as their heavenly Father is perfect. They imitate the Lord in a unique way, as a symbol of Christ and His Church. The husband is called to lay down his life for his wife as Christ laid down His life for the Church. The wife is called to serve her husband as the Church serves Christ in the world. In complementing one another, they multiply each other’s strengths and cover each other’s weaknesses, leading to the emergence of a greater force for good in this fallen world.
Christian marriage is a sacred union between a man and a woman in which they become one flesh and live one life. This bond is ordered to the good of both members. The highest good of all creatures is to be deified and to enter into union with their Creator. God is relational, as He is Love incarnate. He is a feedback loop of knowing and loving between three persons, one in essence: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ became man so that we could enter into this dynamic of knowing and loving — to live as God lives. Married couples enter this divine life hand-in-hand.