February 25, 2022

Spring Marriage Supplement

Church provides resources to grow and strengthen marriages

By Gabriela Ross

Gabriela Ross“… in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, I will love you and honor you… .”

These wedding vows are put to the test for every couple during the course of their married life. You might say that a greater percentage of us have been faced with sickness and health concerns over the past year-and-counting.

Whether your family has experienced physical illness (perhaps more than once) or the mental strain of coping with constantly changing dynamics and wrestling with the unknown for so long, it would be few who could say their marriage has been left unscathed by life’s experiences of late.

While we might be tempted to put our heads down and try to outlast the storm, we are invited to lean on Christ in the midst of the chaos and make him our stronghold: “The Lord is good, a stronghold in a day of trouble; he protects those who take refuge in him” (Na 1:7).

Communicating with God through prayer, individually and as a couple, is sure to keep us grounded in the love that is the source of our married love.

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The sacraments play an important role in maintaining that communion of grace with God. The Eucharist renews our union with God and reminds us of our call to lay down our life for our spouse like Christ did for the Church.

Penance gives us the opportunity to ask forgiveness for falling short in our call to love and reminds us that we are not perfect. We need God’s help to love others like he intended, including our spouse.

Marriage itself as a sacrament comes with the graces to live the married vocation. When we encounter times of trouble, we can ask God in prayer to stir up those graces we received on our wedding day and renew our commitment to our wedding vows.

These are some of the spiritual supports available for married couples going through difficult times. There are also pastoral and professional resources available that couples are encouraged to take advantage of, as needed. Because God has created us a union of mind, body and spirit, we do well to tend to all aspects of the human person when challenges arise.

(Related: Resources for married couples in challenging times)

Pastoral resources include local and virtual marriage retreats, both for couples looking to nurture their vocation and for couples experiencing the strains of life on their relationship.

Resources are available for parishes that wish to start a faith-focused marriage small group. And workshops are available for couples who need more tools to help in areas like improving communication, conflict resolution and building trust.

Thankfully, couples do not have to do this alone. In addition to spiritual anchors and support from clergy and pastoral leaders, there are Catholic therapists in the archdiocese who are ready to offer their professional support to couples who are seeking forgiveness and healing, or to reconnect after a challenging or traumatic experience. (Yes, this past year qualifies as a challenging experience.)

I hope this supplement of The Criterion inspires you with stories of married couples who are not perfect but are seeking holiness. I hope you are better informed of the many resources available to help you or a loved one during difficult times. And I ask that you join me in praying for all married couples to be renewed in the grace of their sacrament so that they may lean on the Lord as their stronghold in the day of trouble and take refuge in him.

(Gabriela Ross is the director of the archdiocesan Office of Marriage and Family Life. She may be reached at gross@archindy.org or 317-592-4007.)


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