From This Day Forward…

In my line of work, I attend a lot of weddings. After all, my job involves preparing couples for the Sacrament of Matrimony. Each engaged couple is unique in their story. How they met, their family of origin, past relationships, and the baggage acquired thus far play a part in how they view and live out their vows. Some have storybook beginnings. Others, after cohabitating, decide marriage is the next step. Still, others know they want a committed relationship after moving past a bad relationship. They all have in common the desire to find happiness and fulfillment in a life-long marriage. They believe this is the very person in which it is possible.

After a recent wedding, I was racking my brain, hoping to remember if we were given any sage words of wisdom at our Nuptial Mass over 42 years ago. Nothing came to mind. I give you this disclaimer; however, I barely remember what day of the week it is or what tomorrow brings without first consulting my calendar. With that said, I thought it would be a great little walk down memory lane to see if anyone else received useful or not so helpful information on that blessed first day of the rest of their lives together. (Comment below, please)

We recently offered a mini marriage retreat at the parish, and one of the sessions had us break into separate groups as husbands and wives. This proved to be very eye-opening and helpful. One woman opened up by stating that the “worst advice” they ever received on their wedding day was, “Don’t ever go to bed angry at one another.” She went on to say, “that advice almost cost us our marriage.” Many women agreed with her, including me. How is arguing into the night a worthwhile endeavor as sleep-deprived and angry are a dangerous combination? I recall teaching a marriage class to engaged couples a few years ago, and my husband proudly stood there and confidently proclaimed, “we’ve never gone to bed angry in over forty years.” If the shocked look on my face didn’t say it all, what came out of my mouth clarified. I stared at him in disbelief at such a ludicrous statement in front of sixty strangers and flatly replied, “Perhaps you may have never gone to bed angry, but there were times that I sure did!”

Other poor advice includes something about the woman always being right. We are not. Any marriage built on that selfishness is not a partnership.

The kind of marriage preparation our couples receive is invaluable. Had we had the same in-depth opportunity, it would have saved us years of misunderstandings and miscommunication. We really are wired so differently as men and women. Gasp! There’s a difference between men and women? Ignoring that crucial component in your partnership for life will likely play a part in many disagreements. It took me over thirty-five years to realize that Mark could not read my mind and did not know without being asked what I needed to be done. Women are more apt to look around the home and quickly conclude the necessary tasks that require attention.

On the other hand, changing the oil, keeping the license plate tags up to date, and a balanced checkbook came quickly to Mark. None of those things even register a blip on my radar screen. I have come to rely entirely on him in these areas of our marriage. There is a beautiful complementarity in the differences between the sexes.

So back to my original question. What advice, helpful or unhelpful, did you receive on your wedding day or since that has helped your marriage thrive? I invite you to share with us so that we all might benefit from this wisdom.

I leave you with this gem we had to learn the hard way. Love does not quit, measure or keep track. It is patient and forgiving and keeps on giving, even if it is the only one doing so for a time.

I welcome your marriage wisdom.

  1. Yesi Avatar

    We have been married for 20 years and some of the things that we were told when we were in preparation for marriage was that 1. We were going to help each other get to heaven. We would be sanctified in our marriage. 2. We had to make a decision to love each day especially in the hard times.


    1. pouredmyselfoutingift Avatar

      Great advice and thanks for sharing!!


      1. pouredmyselfoutingift Avatar

        I have been happily married for 39 years and like every marriage there are challenges, decisions, and disagreements on where to hang pictures! LOL! In all seriousness the best advice I received is when we attended the engaged encounter weekend retreat in Santa Barbara, California. Now ask me what I remember? Can’t tell you the minutia of the retreat, but what I will never forget is this statement “LOVE ❤ IS A DAILY DECISION.” That was the most wow and profound advice moment for me! Words mean something! Those 5 words have been a tremendous help on how I am able to navigate and separate my emotions and intellect during the most harmonious times and the not so harmonious times. Each day my commitment to my marriage is to engage my will and say in my heart to my husband “I will love you today!”

        Serving Jesus Christ the King
        Anita Romero <


    2. pouredmyselfoutingift Avatar

      … maybe a part of me thought I have nothing to offer, given that I’m divorced, but in fighting Satan and his lies, the truth is I do.

      He’ll change.
      He can read my mind.
      It is his responsibility to make me happy.
      False understanding of submitting to my husband, even when he was leading me down the wrong road.

      Pray together
      Deepen your personal relationship with Christ
      Wait one more minute, when you think you cannot because some decisions may be irreversible.
      Forgive one another
      Realize that true happiness can only be found in God.
      Be courageous and stand in love when the other is lost or trying to lead you down the wrong road.
      Respect him.
      You will not always like him, but you are called to love him.
      Frequent the sacraments.
      Seek counseling individually and hopefully together if needed.
      Know there will be suffering and unite it at the foot of the cross.



  2. Ernestine Avatar

    We have been married 19 years. On our wedding day, our priest gave us this bit of advice; “Pray the Our Father “, together every night. And I wish we would have heeded this advice, this gift. Our family was attacked as the family is attacked in this day and age. And it is only prayer and the Lord Jesus who saved our family.
    Pray for your spouse every day! In the sacrament of marriage, we are called to help our spouse get to Heaven. It is part of what this sacrament is about. Pray for for your spouse EVERY DAY!


    1. pouredmyselfoutingift Avatar

      Simple, straightforward advice that we can all do. Thank you Ernestine


  3. Libby Avatar

    Hi Barb. I’m not an auditory learner, so remembering something told to me 27 years ago does not come to mind readily. BUT I do remember a wonderful gift we received. It was the Couples’ Devotional Bible. It gave us a way to pray together after reading scripture as well as reflect on questions related to the scripture and our current lives. It was revolutionary as we were never taught how to pray together as a couple beyond “Bless us O Lord, and these thy gifts…” plus it gave us prompts to talk about topics we may have not tackled in our short courtship. I have given the same Bible as a gift at weddings, but I wish it came in a Catholic version.
    The best advice I have received since our wedding day is to always remember that it is my job as a wife to get my husband to heaven, and it’s his job to get me to heaven. When you keep this in mind, prayer for your spouse comes more naturally as opposed to harboring anger which will keep you from heaven.


    1. pouredmyselfoutingift Avatar

      Excellent Libby thank you for sharing. Most times these simple measures have incredibly fruitful benefits.


  4. Michael Villanueva Avatar

    Michael and Rachel, 5 years married

    Hi Barb! I’ll leave a comment with one of the most helpful things in our marriage, while I continue to think of “bad advice” we’ve received.

    From the Messy Family Podcast, we began to institute a weekly check in for our marriage. Thus, every Sunday evening – AFTER THE KIDS ARE ASLEEP – we check in with each other beginning with prayer, then asking each other some important questions, and ending with a basic overview of the week.

    To elaborate: we’ve found lectio divina to be helpful, where we read the Gospel from that Sunday four times with breaks for silence/meditation in the middle. To be honest, if we’re just exhausted, we’ll read the gospel once or twice with some silence mixed in. After – and here’s the key – we ask each other what came up during prayer time. This is time of intimate sharing and praying together – even if your answer is, “honestly, I’m tired and agitated, so it was hard to focus during prayer.”

    in terms of the important questions, we commit to asking each other and answering: “How have you felt loved by me this past week?” “How have I annoyed you this past week, and how can I improve?” “How have you TRIED to love me this past week?” – This practice has been incredibly fruitful – it’s a safe space to bring up frustrations or issues, rather than in the heat of the moment, while also giving each the opportunity to be aware of the ways they’ve felt loved and how the other has been proactively trying to love you (and vice versa).

    Finally, the basic overview of the week’s appointments, plans, hopes, etc. has been incredibly fruitful for staying on the same page and perhaps preventing at least some miscommunication.


    1. pouredmyselfoutingift Avatar

      Wow Michael, such wisdom from one so young😃 I love it. Thank you for sharing


  5. Babe & Arlene Avatar
    Babe & Arlene

    Great article Barb! Many couples will benefit from your work and caring. We started our marriage with no remarkable advice but have learned much over the years. The longer you are married the more experiences you will have both good and not so good. Open and honest communication is the best tool to work through these experiences. Some of the worst experiences produce some of the greatest bonds and memories. Look for the gems in the worst of times. Look inside of every challenge for a good memory. Don’t give up on your partner or yourself.


    1. pouredmyselfoutingift Avatar

      Hi Arlene, what great advice, thank you for sharing!!


    2. pouredmyselfoutingift Avatar

      Excellent-“some of the worst experiences produce some of the greatest bonds and memories.” Thank you


  6. Lorie Avatar

    John and I have been married almost 37 years. I don’t remember being given any specific advice on our wedding day. Advice through out our marriage that has made our marriage thrive is to continue dating your spouse. It was not always easy to go on dates when our children were young, but as they got older we made date nights or daytime lunch dates a priority and still continue to do so. We love to go out and sit and talk about the past, things going on currently, and envision how our future might look. We continue to grow closer with each passing day.


    1. pouredmyselfoutingift Avatar

      Thanks Lorie- and a beautiful witness you both are


      1. Sharon T Avatar
        Sharon T

        Great post Barb. Dave and I have been married for almost 31 years. We were told to never to go to bed angry lol…but we have gone to bed angry and by getting some sleep, things are definitely better in the morning. I would say the best advice I could give is to apologize (even if you believe you have nothing to apologize for). Marriage, love…it’s a two-way street…give and take. Just by apologizing, tension melts. More often than not, you’ll get an apology in return, and forgive your spouse. Make time for each other (date nights or mornings) are a must…and travel if you can. It’s beautiful to create those memories!!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. pouredmyselfoutingift Avatar

        Excellent! Thanks Sharon


      3. pouredmyselfoutingift Avatar

        A comment from Bill
        I pondered my past forty years, especially the wedding day and night. I do not recall any body giving me any marriage advice. That marriage exam we took in our preparation classes showed that there were several areas that we were not compatible, according to the exam. Of course, I was also unemployed at the time because I had just gotten laid-off, along with all the mechanics there, because the recession was so bad, and as a result of not having much money to pay for the wedding, I was so busy trying to do as much of it as possible myself and with some help from mom and dad, and their friends to ensure everything was working and flowing at the wedding mass and reception. I may not have stopped working long enough to chat with anyone who might have wanted to offer us some good advice. My goal that day was focused primarily on taking care of all my guest who gave up there Saturday to celebrate our marriage covenant day.
        This past forty years, fraught with life’s ups and down, financial, employment, and many other things that put pressure on marriages has made our time together more than interesting. When we had children we discussed frequently this awesome responsibility that God now had given us. Our focus was raising and growing children that would be children of God, an asset to their community and world, as opposed to a liability. We worked opposite schedules for twenty years and tried to create a home that would be a foundation and a model for their future. There was joy and there was times of difficulty but by God’s grace I was blessed to have learned the true definition of love in my early 20’s, and not the world’s and this society’s definition. Love is not what you get or what you feel, it is what you give. This understanding and desire to be totally faithful to this covenant with my wife and God almighty is what was has been my anchor.


    2. pouredmyselfoutingift Avatar

      Awesome, thank you for sharing😃


  7. Mindy chau Avatar
    Mindy chau

    Hi Barb,
    You are doing a wonderful job, marriage is the foundation of our church, that’s why it’s being attacked so much. I remember when I was on a retreat with an Irish priest, he was telling us, marriage is not a feeling, it’s a commitment. I have always kept that advice. God bless your work.


    1. Kathy Hillman Avatar
      Kathy Hillman

      Great article Barb, and LOVE the picture! Neither Brad nor I can recall anything specific from our wedding day, but like everyone else, have heard good and bad advice over time. We heartily agree “never go to bed angry” is very unrealistic, and have found that a night’s sleep is often the “timeout” we both need to calm down and gather rational thoughts. We have also learned over our journey that men and woman are truly hardwired very differently and it’s so important to keep that in mind as we develop our expectations of the other. Know yourself, know and be able to share your expectations with your spouse. Amen to Gem’s comment to love your partner in THEIR love language. And finally, St. Gianna said (not an exact quote) “Love and sacrifice are as closely linked as the sun and light. We cannot have love without sacrifice and cannot sacrifice without love.” Brad and Kathy, married 32.5 yrs


      1. pouredmyselfoutingift Avatar

        Most excellent thoughts and I love the quote 🙂


    2. pouredmyselfoutingift Avatar

      Thanks Mindy- if it were just a feeling- where would marriage and relationship be? Good stuff and so simple


  8. Gema + Michael Piatkowski Avatar
    Gema + Michael Piatkowski

    Wonderful article Barb! We have been married 7 years. Some of the best advice we’ve been given: Love your partner in THEIR love language (even better communicate and learn about your love language). I know people throw this out like a joke but saying “happy wife happy life” is not the greatest advice, we are a team and we both deserve to be happy.


  9. Anne Kiley Avatar
    Anne Kiley

    We received this advice on our wedding day. A priest friend of ours said “I hope something goes wrong at your wedding, because nothing is perfect, especially marriage”. The thing that went wrong, was his microphone wasn’t working for the blessing at the reception, but just before that, my husband had to yell at the DJ to remind him to introduce the priest! We have laughed about that many times. Seriously, a good piece of advice came after our daughter was born, so we had been married for under 2 years. I had taken her to Dan’s office so his co workers could meet her. One of his co-workers said to me, if you ever need to decide what to do first, ask yourself if it will matter 100 years from now. This advice has helped us so much in many ways. With regard to communicating, it has taught us patience when we have our issues pop up. The Love is Patient, Love is Kind from Corinthians is really true, but to have that extra emphasis puts a more visual on it, for me especially. Yes, we have gone to bed mad and hurt, but after a day, or sometimes two, things soften and the forgiveness happens. Talking in stages about the incident and allowing some time to get over it has been our way of communication with the negative stuff. Knowing our marriage is going to matter 100 years from now, even though we will be gone from this place, has helped us to settle things and move forward and forgive one another. The classic phrase, Time heals old wounds, was never said to us. It just came to mind writing this, because for us and our marriage, the time of one or two days, an excruciating long period of time has healed the wounds, with love and patience.
    We are keeping all the couples in our prayers. The joy we have in our marriage is amazing, and we wish the same for the couples you are preparing now.


    1. pouredmyselfoutingift Avatar

      Thanks Anne- wonderful perspective. Will it matter 100 years from now? I also like “chose the hill you are willing to die on” that helps me also put things in perspective as to importance and priority.


  10. Sarah Avatar

    Thank you for this Barb! It’s great to take time to reflect on marriage. I don’t remember getting any advice on the day of our wedding that impacted me.
    During our marriage prep retreat, we discussed a number of different topics. Doug and I wrote down a list of all these topics we wanted to keep revisiting. So every 3 months we do a “marriage check in” where we go through the list and discuss how we stand on things like finances, parenting, volunteering, faith building, etc. We write down our thoughts and goals so we make sure we are getting better with time and it gives us an opportunity to always make sure we are touching base and on the same page. It’s been really helpful to make sure we are growing together and understanding each other!
    Sarah and Doug, 5 years in August!


  11. Nic L Avatar
    Nic L

    Great piece, mum! I’ll have to rack my own brain for some solid advice, but at the moment the one that comes to mind is “don’t keep score.”


    1. pouredmyselfoutingift Avatar

      Absolutely don’t keep score- excellent, thanks boy


  12. Glenn & Barb Waterkotte Avatar
    Glenn & Barb Waterkotte

    Neither Glenn nor I remember any specific advice being given to us by our parents or relatives before we married. However, the priest who married us told us to attend Mass weekly, or more, pray and raise our children to do the same. We also remember dear Fr. Joe Hennessy’s sage advice to not “date/marry someone you can’t pray with!” Such true words spoken by these men of God who had seen the effects of not praying together on relationships. There were Sundays that tension was present between Glenn and I as we prepared for Mass, but by the time we got to the “Our Father” the tension was subsiding. Our turning outward to God at Mass by participating and listening to the Word of God, the priest’s homily and receiving Jesus in the Eucharist, created a new perspective on whatever the issue had been and we returned home with new resolve to work together to make the situation better realizing that God was with us every step of the way. Glenn & Barb–almost 52 years


  13. Stephen Barber Avatar
    Stephen Barber

    After I proposed to my wife, we waited a full year before we got married. Some of our friends said not to wait that long because we would break up before the year was up. But we decided it was best to find out in advance whether we were made for each other. During that year we discussed several things about life, love, and a relationship and we spoke to our Priest, Physician, and counselor for their advice. We made all our wedding plans together. Each of us realized that we had to work at our marriage, plans were made together and in some cases were broken together. When we disagreed, we gave each other time to think about our differences and ALWAYS, one of us would concede. It is one of my most memorable journeys and we are still living it after 55 years.

    I guess I would recommend to those looking to get married to spend a lot of time together and discuss all facets of life, love and family before getting married, no surprises. IT IS A LIFELONG COMMITMENT AND THEY MUST REALIZE THAT WE ARE ALL INDIVIDUALS WITH OUR OWN PECULILARITIES WHICH NEED TO BE RESPECTED.

    Stephen & Judy


  14. Chris Avatar

    Good article Mudder!

    The best advice I ever got was that marriage is not 50-50 it’s 100-100. No matter how tired we may be after a long day or how crazy work is, we always try to help each other around the house, spend as much time as possible with our four year old, help each other out with whatever we are working on or make the extra effort to say/do something nice for each other. When this happens we are very rarely not satisfied with the state of things or what we could be doing better.

    It will be five years for us next month and it feels like we are still in our honeymoon stage! I feel very blessed to be married to Trisha and knowing that we give it our all as much as we can each day.


  15. Gisele Germain Avatar
    Gisele Germain

    Gisele and Ray, married 37 years!
    Advise I received from my parents was never go to bed angry at each other.
    If you are too upset just say goodnight and let the night take care of it. Say prayers to feel better. God has his way of helping us fix things.
    When you wake up less tired, you can talk it out at a less emotional moment. It’s easyer to forgive and get a more rational perspective of what really happen.
    I often find that if you ask God to guide you, think more rationally and take time to analyse.
    Things are often blown out of proportion or perseve in the wrong way. I personaly don’t like confrontation but force myself to have a healthy discussion and find a compromise or solution.
    My big thing is compromise but stay true to yourself.
    Love is everything


  16. labrn94 Avatar

    Love it. Yes Matt and I have gone to bed upset. Sometimes not even in the same room! Couple things…. Forgiveness and and Love can’t exist without each other and marriage is a garden to tend and care for. Keep the weeds of bad Influence out, feed it with time and attention and your relationship with your beloved will feed you, your children and everyone around you! Matt and Laura- married 27 years


  17. Avatar

    Nice article Barb. I would have to say the best advice I heard was from Monsignor Peter. He said we all “love” Pizza and we throw it out when it doesn’t taste good anymore. When it comes to marriage and when we use the word “Love” it has a completely different meaning then our “love” for pizza.

    Also, my advice would be entering a sacramental marriage is for life. Its a vocation till death do you part. Serving your family is like prayer and its a sacrifice. That sacrifice part brings us closer to God. So, when your not in the mood to always give so much and not get much back in return. Think of what Jesus did for us on the cross.


  18. Aarthi Avatar

    Great article Barb!
    To answer your question one great piece of advice I received when we got married is that the first two years of marriage are usually hard for everyone and so when you encounter those initial hiccups see it through that lens. That perspective helped keep the drama low.
    Unhelpful advice – keep to myself and not tell my spouse any negative feelings or experiences with my in laws.


    1. pouredmyselfoutingift Avatar

      Thanks Aarthi- very helpful advice. And keeping it to yourself only builds resentment I have found 🙂


      1. bea Avatar

        +JMJ Thanks, Barb for the nice post. Appreciate it. Great wedding picture! 🙂 Your working with the engaged couples is so crucial in their building a solid faith foundation. It’s a very important ministry that cannot be taken for granted. In the name of everyone, our heartfelt thanks to you and Deacon Mark for all the good that you’ve done and continue to do to help the couples remain “on track” with the Lord.

        Very sorry for the delayed response. For some reason, every time i start to reply, i get called to do something else. Better late than never! On my part, i don’t recall any advice during our wedding day. What i remember is that when Chito and i were engaged, we were both inspired to ask the Holy Spirit to be our Wedding Coordinator and He, in turn, changed our priest, the church etc… and gave us the Scripture verse to confirm which date we’re supposed to get married.

        Prayerfully considering July 23rd Feast Day of St. Bridget of Sweden so just waiting for “confirmation from the Lord.”

        While watching the movie Joseph with the multi-colored coat one night, i just randomly opened the Bible during the break. It opened to 2 Chronicles 7:10 “Then on the twenty-third day of the seventh month, He sent them to their tents rejoicing and happy of heart because of the goodness the Lord has shown to David, to Solomon and to His people Israel.” Both very thankful to know the Lord’s Will on this matter…We knew we had to include the Scripture verse in our wedding invitation to glorify the Holy Spirit!

        Looking back, there was an elderly white-haired priest who came into the sacristy one day after the weekday Mass that we were coordinating at our former parish. The mysterious priest just started to teach us how to pray for each other as a married couple. He explained that since the man is the head of the family and the woman is the heart. He proceeded to put Chito’s hand gently on my head and quietly got my right hand to put on the heart of Chito and we did pray. Thank You Lord for this lesson!

        So not just praying with each other’s spouse but we were also shown the importance of “praying over” each other’s spouse as the need arises.

        Another advice we got from someone at the prayer meeting we used to attend when we were newly married was this: Let JESUS be the “glue” in your marriage!

        And yes, we hold on to what we have learned that we need to help each other get to heaven. And to always humble ourselves and apologize and make amends as needed. Love is not a feeling but a “total commitment to the Lord and to Our Lady and to each other”…AMDG 27 yrs going on 28 God willing by July…


Marriage, God’s Idea

“Then God said: Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the tame animals, all the wild animals, and all the creatures that crawl on the earth. God created mankind in his image; in the image of God, he created them; male and female, he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them: Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.” 

Gen 1:26-28

Marriage is God’s idea, and everything God does is for our good. You might think of it this way, says Dr. Mary Healy, “when God wanted to make an image of Himself, He made a man and a woman and called them to marriage.” In this passage, God teaches us something about His Divine Nature; it is Trinitarian. The “us and our” points to the invisible mystery of who God is, a communion of Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is a relationship of the eternal exchange of love. Our marriages are supposed to mirror this Trinitarian love to the world. 

Pope Benedict XVI framed it this way, God the Father, who is Love itself, freely pours Himself in totality, eternally, unconditionally to the Son. In turn, He receives all of that love and returns it fully, unconditionally, to the Father. That love between Father and Son IS the Holy Spirit. How is marriage supposed to image that mystery? (I’m glad you asked) 

Being a husband means pouring yourself out in love to your wife, freely, totally, unconditionally. She is to receive the full outpouring of his love without condition or reservation, joining her love to his and returning it to him. With God’s creative consent, nine months later, this exchange of their unconditional love needs a name. Love is more significant than the two of us. It is lifegiving, in imitation of the Trinitarian God. Mind-blowing, right! Our marriages are supposed to image to the world a little peek of God’s unconditional, irrevocable, never gives up on us, kind of love. 

Sadly, many of us never knew or were ever taught this. Not to worry, God is very patient in waiting until we are ready to receive this truth. Sadly, there is a shortage of witnesses who embody happy, faithful, fruitful, mutually satisfying marriages. Our experience of heartbreak in our marriages may cause us to doubt that happy marriages are achievable. The good news is this, God is faithful, and likewise, we should never give up on each other. There are many excellent resources available that can turn things around for your marriage. Check out, Worldwide Mariage Encounter or Retrouvaille to jump start your marriage again.

Spoiler alert! Men and women are different, and it is part of God’s plan. Our complementarity should not cause competition. Like ballroom dancers, grace transforms our work together by leading and being led in unison. We need to make space for our spouse to “lead” us ladies, requiring patience, respect, and encouragement. Gentlemen, we want to be led, protected and feel confident in your leadership. God works in different ways through each of us, but together. Equal does not mean the same. Deacon James Keating says we need to appreciate our differences and recognize how God made men and women different. It is intended to be a great gift to our families and us. We are on the same team in a partnership for life.

Marriage takes work because it is two imperfect, sinful people learning to die to selfishness and become one.

Venerable Bishop Sheen reminds us it takes three for our marriage to succeed. God, husband, and wife praying with and for the other. 

It is easy to commiserate with others when our spouse hurts or irritates us. Their sympathetic advice isn’t always wise or helpful; leaving a spouse that doesn’t “make you happy” will not make you happy. The purpose of marriage is not to “make you happy; it is to make you holy.” Happiness is a byproduct of holiness. God can use our spouse to bring us closer to Him and grow us in holiness. Healing cannot occur if we walk away. Marriage is for life because it takes a lifetime to learn to love our spouse in the way he/she deserves. It took both of us to consent to marriage, and it will take both of us and God’s help to live out our vows. We must often pray for and with our spouse.

Finally, one last reminder that we must be aware of, Catholics are bound by Canonical form when it comes to Sacraments. If you are a Baptized Catholic, you are bound to follow the proper form for the Sacrament of Marriage. This means going through the Church to prepare for and marry in the arms of Mother Church. If a Catholic chooses to marry outside the Church and does not have the proper dispensation, they put their marriage in an irregular situation. You may hear couples talk about getting their marriage “blessed/recognized” in the Church, a process that is a great grace to their marriage relationship. Frequently I am told how it “transformed their marriage.”

In an irregular marriage, one is encouraged to attend Mass; however, avoid receiving Communion until the situation is corrected. Additionally, it impacts eligibility to be a godparent or Confirmation sponsor until corrected. This often comes as a surprise to couples and seems unfair or hard to understand. Yet the Church, in her wisdom, joyfully invites couples to correct the impediment, and in the process, the marriage receives all the beneficial graces necessary to flourish in married life. 

Sunday, February 13th, was World Marriage Day. Sister Lucia dos Santos, one of the three children of Fatima, predicted that the ‘final battle’ would be over marriage and family. Marriage and family life are under attack and at the heart of the battle and becoming casualties daily.

What will you do to fortify yours?

Holding Fast

“Hold fast to the word I preached to you” 1 Cor 15. Have you ever asked yourself, how do I “hold fast” to the Gospel that I hear at Mass? It sounds easy enough on paper. However, as each of us knows, remaining faithful 24/7 is a full-time job. It takes deliberate, attentive work to resist temptations, love when we do not feel loved, and spread joy and peace when we are struggling. The fight we fight is not always against flesh and blood, and more times than not, it is a supernatural spiritual battle for our soul.

Come on, Barb, really? The old “blame it on the devil excuse?” Well, yes. What happened in the Garden so long ago with our first parents impacted us more than we will often admit. Fr. Mike Schmitz says that while we were made in the image and likeness of God when Adam and Eve consented to disobey God, our intellect and will became “darkened.” That original sin has consequences for all of humanity. In other words, we can use our intellect to make decisions; but we don’t see clearly. We can exercise our will but not always choose wisely. And finally, no surprise here, “we are attracted to sin.” The fancy word for that is concupiscence.

Fr. Cantalamessa, O.F.M. C.A.P., “preacher to the papal household,” writes, “If the enemy continues to make war against you, this might mean that he has still not obtained what he set out to achieve; otherwise, he would stop tormenting you…If you have no struggle at all, rather be afraid and question yourself.” Succinctly stated in one of my favorite quotes attributed to St Irenaeus,

“The devil doesn’t trouble himself with things he has already won.”

St Irenaeus

All that said, holding fast takes effort and beseechs heavenly reinforcements for help: remaining in a state of grace, frequenting the Sacraments, prayer, and weekly Mass, which keeps evil at bay and allows for an increase of grace. 

Fr Chad Ripperger, an American Catholic priest, theologian, philosopher, and exorcist, offers these suggestions for remaining steadfast and protecting yourself:

        1-Never lose the state of grace. It is the principal protection against the devil.

        2-Never commit a mortal sin. One willingly places him or herself under the devil’s authority in this state by rejecting God as Supreme. He noted a rise in people receiving communion in the condition of mortal sin. “Nothing you do is meritorious in the state of mortal sin, and you cannot protect yourself.”

        3-Maintain custody of the senses. Don’t let the bad stuff into our minds and hearts. What music, television, images, and movies do we let inside? “The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light; but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness. And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be.” Matt 6:22-23. 

Be aware that evil can influence our senses, memory, and imagination. Hence the critical need to receive regular healing in Sacramental Confession.

         4-“Give consent to all of the teachings of the Catholic Church; otherwise, you place yourself under the authority of Satan.” I never thought of it that way. I have met many Catholics in my life who tell me, “I’m Catholic but, I don’t agree with all the teachings.” I have found great value in doing the homework on the issues that challenge me and finding out what Mother Church teaches and why. When I took the time to do this, I enlightened my mind and increased my understanding. I challenge you to do the same. Either one believes that Christ Jesus established the Catholic Church (Matt 16:18-19, Jn 20:22-23). By His authority, is governed, or somehow, one presumes to be wiser than the Omnipotent God.

         5. Humility, prayer, sacrifice, and fasting- the “humbler you are, the less demons can hurt you.” The adage, “offer it up,” holds. Unite your prayers, suffering, inconveniences, and difficulties to the Cross of Christ. This action is meritorious and makes reparation for sin. Finally, demons cannot stand a body that fasts. (Here is where I need to do more work.)

Finally, bless your home and family often. 

All of us can say with St. Peter, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” Look what Christ was able to do with his humility, recognition of his weaknesses, and need for a Savior. The same is true; God loves a repentant heart and a receptive soul longing for His healing Presence.

A dear friend of mine got me this sign a few years back, 

Be the kind of woman, who when your feet hit the floor each morning, the devil says, “Oh crap, she’s up!”

I love it! I pray that all Catholics realize the strength we have in surrendering to Christ and letting Him form us into a holy, fearsome demon-fighting force. For the glory of God!

A More Excellent Way

There is a vast misunderstanding of the four-letter word St Paul writes about in his first letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 13:4-8). He chooses to give the reader concrete examples to understand better. What is authentic love, and what does it require? The brilliant St. Thomas Aquinas tells us, “To love is to will the good of the other.” Love is an act of the will, a choice we make. We choose to love or not to love. We often get confused because we think love is simply an emotional feeling like “falling in love.” The error in that kind of thinking relies upon “feelings” as an indicator of the presence of love. Feelings change. The giddy emotions will fade, and we wrongly assume we are no longer in love. Sadly, this same excuse can end a marriage. One cannot “fall out of love,” instead, the choice is to no longer love. Even that language is misleading. “Falling” is something we try to avoid at all costs. I know this personally because my falls usually involve an ambulance and brain surgery to repair. St. John Paull II reminds us that the “opposite of love is not hate but use.”  

If we truly understand what love is, we should also realize that it demands something.

God will not ask us to do what we are incapable of doing on our own.

We must understand love’s sacrificial nature; it always puts the other before the self. I once heard it said this way, “love is not give and take; it is just give.” This statement may seem utterly exhausting and unbearable. Yet we have examples all around us. Look at the mother who continues to pour out love for the life of her children with little sleep and negligible rewards. How about the father who works long, tiresome hours in a job he hates to provide for his family? The teacher, nurse, and priest give their best for the good of the people they serve daily amid complaining ungrateful hearts? I saw in my mother a woman who woke up one morning to a paralyzed husband who never walked the rest of his life ten years into her marriage. Her loving, devoted care grew significantly in the later years when she, too, was ill and aged. The tenderness in which she poured herself out daily for my father was heroic and exemplified love.

We are so accustomed to measuring and keeping the score of the little we do for one another. St. Paul reminds us that there is no room for that in authentic love. It appears nearly impossible to love one another selflessly and adequately, especially when we may not even like one another. Yet, God’s second greatest commandment is to “love our neighbor as ourselves.”

It requires heroic virtue to choose love. God commanded that loving our neighbor is the means whereby we grow in holiness and prove our love for Him. Love forgives because that is what Christ showed us on the Cross, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” (Lk23:24) Forgiveness, like love, is not a feeling but a necessity. It releases the other and ourselves and is conditional to God forgiving us. There must be generous, merciful compassion and forgiveness in love.

Love is patient. “Patience is not proved except in suffering, and patience is one with charity.” (Siena) Patience requires endurance. We must learn to endure the faults of others and pray for their conversion. God readily sent His Son because of His love for us. He willingly suffered for the sins he did not commit and paid the ransom due to our sinful choices. Why would God the Father ask something so seemingly cruel of His Beloved Son? His Infinite love and mercy. That is how much we matter to our Father in heaven. We choose sin instead of obedience and virtue. We do this to ourselves and could never be free from the punishment owed, nor make enough restitution for them to God who is ALL GOOD. 

Sin is poison. Love is the antidote.

The visual par excellent is the Crucifix-after all, that is what love looks like and what our sins cost our Lord Jesus. We must try and emulate this level of forgiveness as we seek to love one another.

This generous love poured out on the Cross is given to us at every Mass in the Eucharist. It is supernatural food and the gift of Love Incarnate that has the power to transform our hearts and conform them to Love Itself. There is nothing else more powerful. Nothing else so necessary.

“You test the virtue of patience when your neighbor insults you. Your humility is tested by the proud, your faith by the unfaithful, your hope by the person with no hope, your justice is tried by the unjust, your compassion by the cruel, and your gentleness and kindness by the wrathful. Your neighbors are the channel through which all your virtues are tested and come to birth….”  St Catherine of Siena


A month ago, I was introduced to the Surrender Novena. In practice, I realize the importance of surrendering everything to God, and letting God be God. What prevents me from abandoning myself to the Omnipotent Father when I know He can do everything well? This is easier said than done. Hence, the Surrender Novena has become a timely gift helping me to let go of the reins and surrender completely to God’s plan for my life. I recommend you do a test run yourself and let “Jesus take the wheel.” 

A novena is simply a prayer prayed for nine days and is often asking intercession through a particular saint. Why the mediator? Because we believe they are closest to God and can better aid us through their constant presence in heaven.

You may agree or disagree that God is in control. Perhaps you hold the Deist view that believes that God put things in motion a very long time ago and now just sits back and watches it all play out like a bad movie. Yet, the Christian perspective trusts that God is always close and attentive in our lives. Every single person is precious in His eyes, believer or not. We are His children, the work of His hands, willed into existence by His love.

Many of us may have never realized or experienced God’s all-encompassing love, so we doubt He exists or its transformative power. 

We are given freedom from above to choose either for or against God. We are not puppets being manipulated for some sick cosmic entertainment. This freedom gives us the right to choose good or evil, to take a path for our lives that leads to ultimate happiness or unhappiness, misery, and pain. We are not hapless victims, much like dead leaves floating on the current of life heading downstream. We are active, intelligent players on this journey; that is only a journey and not the destination. We can choose to believe that there is something more than this life and pay attention to all the signs left by our loving Father, which steer us towards a greater purpose and destiny; or we can peer inward, focusing on ourselves in a self-made tiny narcissistic world. It is our choice, after all. 

There are certain things within our grasp and control, but we can erroneously believe that everything is in our power to control. There is, however, much that is entirely out of our control, and that is the rub. Anxiety and stress come from wanting and expecting control over all things which realistically are simply outside our control. Our expectations for people, situations, and events further complicate the matter. It all feeds the delusion that I can be in control if I just work hard enough, pray long enough, or constantly worry. Not so. Whether we wake up tomorrow or not is entirely out of our control. It has taken me decades to learn to let go, to surrender to the One who is Lord over everything and has a immensely better plan than I.

Have I mastered surrender? No, of course not. I am a work in progress, but it is sweet progress indeed. What I have experienced thus far is greater peace, clarity, and less agitation. It has freed me to let certain situations and people that in the past made me nuts slip by me with nary a blip on my radar. 

God always has a better plan.

 I believe it all boils down to trust. Do I trust that God is supreme, all-loving, merciful, and in Whom all things are possible, or do I think that little old sinful, selfish, mortal me knows best? I dare say we can look no further than our own families, nation, and world to see that we as humans will mostly tend towards self-interest, flawed ideologies, greed, and power. We are kind of predictable that way. It is a matter of physics, what do we let take up our days and hearts because it will leave room for little else.

So, I invite you to try something different. Let go, and let God be Lord of your life. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain, but it is up to you. You cannot simply go through the motions; you must believe with your whole mind and heart that Jesus will “take care of everything.” If all this sounds frightening, small-minded, archaic, or futile, go ahead keep running on the crazy hamster wheel to hell. I hope it works out for you. Afterall, how many of us have fallen for the delusion that “if I just work harder, I can gain control of every aspect of my life.” I prefer instead to place my future in the hands of the Almighty, all-powerful, all-loving God, and it is rather remarkable.

I wrote this down recently after praying the Novena for the third time. By personalizing it and writing down those issues and challenges that take up space in your head, helps you begin to release control of them, thus relinquishing them over to God. I cannot begin to tell you how pertinent and helpful this Novena is. I literally pray this repeatedly because I need to be constantly reminded to let Jesus take care of everything. I invite you to do the same.

Every situation. Every frustration. Every event. Every encounter. Every family member. Every co-worker. Every decision or lack thereof. Everything, I surrender to you.

Every insane tactic of evil in our nation. Every year. Every tear. Every moment. Every failed expectation. Every breath. Every morning and evening. Everything!

Every minute of every day. Every unanswered prayer. Every Mass and Eucharist.

Every whispered prayer. Every exasperated situation. Everything out of my control.

Every faulty decision of mine and of others. Every time I fail at remaining holy and choose instead the easy path. Every desire for the good of another.

Every hurt and exhausted moment I pour myself out for you through another. Every ingratitude and thoughtless word. Everything!

Jesus, I surrender myself to you ….TAKE CARE OF EVERYTHING!

Liquid love