March 7, 2008

Be Our Guest / Natalie Hoefer

Christ’s wedding day message offers gentle reminder to bride about sacrificial love

My husband of a few minutes and I were kneeling to the left of the altar and slightly behind the priest during our nuptial Mass. The priest had just consecrated the host. He placed the Eucharist on the altar and genuflected.

As I was gazing at the Eucharist, I had a very real sensation that Christ was gazing back at me. He seemed to speak in my mind: “Now we both sacrifice our lives—I for the world, and you for your spouse.”

There were no rays of light. No choir of angels sang. It was just a simple, private moment that Christ gave me as a gift on my wedding day.

And it was not tidings of “Congratulations!” or “Now will you stop bothering me?” It was a message of truth about the type of love to which spouses are called.

How relevant that his message on the sacrificial nature of marriage came during the sacrament of the Eucharist, the pinnacle of sacrifice.

How awesome and humbling it is that our Savior lifts us to his level through sacrifice: “Now we both sacrifice,” he said, as if the very act of sacrificing gives us common ground with him.

I know sacrifice is not unique to married couples. I know we’re all called to sacrifice in unique ways, whether single, married or religious.

But the special reminder that Christ gave me during the nuptial Mass brought home the essence of marriage: sacrificial love.

I know when our marriage hits difficult times or when we’re faced with day-in and day-out trivialities, I might forget to refer back to what we learned in our marriage preparation.

But I will try to call upon the graces received during the sacrament of marriage, graces given to help us succeed in our vows.

And I will never forget Christ’s simple but powerful wedding day message that I am called to sacrifice for my spouse as Christ sacrificed himself for me and the world.

(Natalie Hoefer is a member of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis.) †

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