Yesterday, my dear husband posted about a man’s duty to form himself for his future wife, and, oh the comments! Many of our readers challenged Devin for his seeming lack of attention to spiritual matters in preparing for marriage. So, in order to forestall any further criticism regarding our excessive focus on temporal matters, here is another excerpt from our book.
Katie writes: I recall the golden August afternoon. I stood at the foot of Our Lady at Notre Dame University’s Grotto and uttered the words, “Be it done unto me according to Your Word”. I was an intrepid 18-year old and had just completed my first total consecration to Mary, a la St. Louis de Montfort. I felt reckless, as I placed my life entirely in the care of Jesus, through the hands of Mary, and I was sure that my life was about to change dramatically. But, it did not. I still got hurt. I still had my heart broken. I still walked in loneliness, and I wondered from time to time where was the providential hand of God. The years seemed to pass as all years do, with plenty of struggles and sorrows. And, yet, as I survey the 14 years since that day when I entrusted my life to the care of Our Lady (who gives it entirely to Her Son), I marvel at the beauty. Clearly clearly I see that every step was guided and sheltered and covered in prayer. I did not feel so at the time, but I was never alone. And, in the process of spending the past 14 years hidden in the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I see that Our Lord has totally refashioned my heart and made my life exceedingly beautiful.
Why do I share this with you, dear reader? Because, I wish to illustrate the first and most important principle of preparing for your spouse. That first principle is that of spiritual transformation. Entrust yourself entirely to Our Lord, calling upon all the saints, most especially Our Lady, and you will be amazed at the way in which you are remade—from the inside out, from the deepest corner of your heart where hides your greatest shame, from the darkest recesses of your memories and pain—into a new creature who is most fully yourself and most truly free and most incredibly happy.
The method is simple, namely, time with Our Lord. As a single person, you have time for daily Mass and a daily Holy Hour. It sounds daunting, I know, because you are busy with work and friends, but you can make time for what you most value. Once that 90 minutes of daily prayer is worked into your schedule (30 minutes for Mass and 60 for Adoration), your day will dance along and you will be amazed. Peace. New friends. Good that comes from apparent disaster. Through daily reception of Jesus’ Body and Blood, as well as a daily Hour spent gazing upon His face, you will be set free of what binds you and given every possible blessing.
In addition to these two necessaries, you will find that the grace which flows from Sacrament of Reconciliation offers an amazing source of cleansing and healing; when I was single and journeying through my most intense time of healing, I went to Confession every two weeks and absolutely loved it. It is the most potent antidote for shame and fear, aside from the actual reception of Our Lord’s Body and Blood, and is the best free psychological assistance you will ever receive.
So, there, dear friend, is the vital principle for self-formation, namely, offering yourself with complete trust to Jesus through Mary, so that He can heal your blindness and undo your chains and set you free to become the person He intends you to be. This is the most important step in preparing for your spouse because you cannot give yourself to another until you own yourself. And, you cannot own yourself until you fully know yourself. And, it is Christ who “fully reveals man to man himself” (Gaudium et Spes, 22). Only in Christ, under His merciful gaze which says to you, “I am glad you exist”, will you become ready to meet your future spouse.
Beyond this first principle, there are two others that support your work of self-formation, namely, intellectual study and human good sense. With regard to intellectual study, the concept is simple, namely, learn the truth and you will think correctly, upon which you will act correctly. Learn the truth about who is man and who is woman. Learn the truth about God’s plan for your fertility and your sexuality. Learn the truth about communication in marriage, why men are from Mars, and why babies need their mothers to care for them rather than a day-care employee.
Where, you ask, is such truth to be found? There are myriad resources available to young faithful Catholics, so the following list only offers a few of my favorites; there are many others equally helpful. The best place to begin is Sacred Scripture, with Proverbs 31 and the Song of Songs, and Magisterial documents, especially “Familiaris Consortio” and “Mulieris Dignitatem”—these are easily found by Googling their titles and are very readable, so please don’t be daunted by the Latin titles. In addition, some of my favorites are: Blessed Pope John Paul II’s “adequate anthropology”, articulated in his Love and Responsibility, as well as his Theology of the Body—these works are both philosophically dense, so it might be helpful to approach them through the works of Christopher West; good books on marriage like “Life-Giving Love”, “For Better Forever”, “Style, Sex, and Substance”; books on parenting by authors such as Steve Wood, Ray Guarendi, and Kimberly Hahn; books on males and females like “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus”, “Wild At Heart”, “Captivating”, “The ABCs of Choosing a Good Wife/Husband”, and so many others.
With all that said, I still say that you need to learn to dance. More on that in the next blog post. Ooh, this is fun!