"Kapag may kinakasal akong mga bata, kinakabahan talaga ako. Marriage is for adults. It is an eternal sacrament. It is not something you play with." These are the opening statements of Fr. Benedict Lagarde during his homily this afternoon. He further said that marriage mirrors the love of Christ for the Church (free, full, faithful, fruitful), therefore it must not be taken too lightly.
I really love the homilies of Fr. Benedict because he explains the readings in a practical perspective, he relates the readings to the Gospel, and he never fails to make his audience laugh. This afternoon, I laughed so hard with his stories and how he delivered them, but towards the end of his homily, and even until now, I find myself thinking of everything he said. In one of my conversations with God this week, I asked Him, "Is this how You are preparing me, Lord? Do You really intend for me to experience and feel THIS just to give me an idea on how things will be in the future?" I didn't hear an answer from Him but I saw Him smiled as if telling me, "Just go on, My child. Just trust Me. Later you will understand, but know that I am with you in this."
Listening to Fr. Benedict, I was affirmed that indeed, this is God's way of preparing me and giving me a glimpse of what to expect should I pursue that vocation. The big message for me today is this: When looking for a lifetime partner (if you have discerned that marriage is indeed your vocation), choose among your friends. Fr. Benedict said it clearly, "Never marry a complete stranger, unless you want to put yourself in big trouble." Yes, love should be the foundation for marriage, but for it to last, friendship is the key.
Marry your friend - someone you know so very well, someone who knows you even more; someone imperfect, yet complements you; someone who accepts you for all there is in you, and someone you can accept despite his/her many flaws.
In the book of Sirach (you see, there's really a lot of wisdom from the Old Testament, and the Bible will never be complete without it), there is a beautiful chapter about friendship, and it happened to be the First Reading today. :)
Sirach 6:5-17. Friendship
A pleasant voice multiplies friends,
and a gracious tongue multiplies courtesies.
Let those that are at peace with you be many,
but let your advisers be one in a thousand.
When you gain a friend, gain him through testing,
and do not trust him hastily.
For there is a friend who is such at his own convenience,
but will not stand by you in your day of trouble.
And there is a friend who changes into an enemy,
and will disclose a quarrel to your disgrace.
And there is a friend who is a table companion,
but will not stand by you in your day of trouble.
In your prosperity he will make himself your equal,
and be bold with your servants;
but if you are brought low he will turn against you,
and will hide himself from your presence.
Keep yourself far from your enemies,
and be on guard toward your friends.
A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter:
he that has found one has found a treasure.
There is nothing so precious as a faithful friend,
and no scales can measure his excellence.
A faithful friend is an elixir of life;
and those who fear the Lord will find him.
Whoever fears the Lord directs his friendship aright,
for as he is, so is his neighbor also.
I am talking about marriage because Jesus firmly stated in today's Gospel (Mark 10:1-12): "What God has joined together, no human being must separate." This is the reason why Fr. Benedict insisted that friendship must exist before marriage (putting emphasis on the correlation of the Gospel and the First Reading). Because, as he said, the greatest problem of married couples stems from the lack of knowledge about each other. By the time they realize the ugliest truths (the realities they cannot live with) about their partners, it is already too late; they have already vowed before God and men that they will stay together until death. Therefore, the "I do." should come only after the "Ganun pala siya." Because the moment you say "I do" it's as good as saying "I will accept and love everything about you, the best and even the worst in you that I have yet to find out." I just thought of this: the usual grounds for separation is "irreconcilable differences" but come to think of it, there should never be "irreconcilable differences" if the couple had taken the time to befriend each other before deciding to marry. Friendship is indeed the key. :) Even Nietzsche and Faust acknowledge this reality.
It's just amazing how God has spoken to me this week. He really knows what I need when I need it. He knew I had questions. He did not give me direct answers, He led me to discover things myself. Fr. Benedict said, when troubled couples (read: people) come to you, let the world stop. And remind yourself that they don't need solutions from you, they just need you to listen. When we come to God, more often than not, we just tell Him our hurts, our questions, our wants, our needs, our desires, our problems - everything that our hearts can no longer contain - we just need Him to listen. The same is true for Him. When He answers, He won't give us instant, direct solutions because He wants us to listen and hear the answers from within. :)
While typing this and thinking about this whole marriage thing (wait, let me just clarify that I'm not getting married yet nor am I engaged, but a lot of my friends are and this post is actually inspired by them and dedicated to them), Bonnie Bailey's Ever After is playing on my head. And I came to realize, marriage is really about these two words:
Thus, the proper greeting for newlyweds should not be "best wishes" but "May your marriage last." :)
Thank You, God for allowing me to experience and feel all these. I know You are just preparing me. I'm afraid I'll never be ready, but I trust that Your time will always be right, Your plan will always be grander than mine, because You love me that much and You know best. :)