Sep 19, 2014
Earlier this week, Pope Francis celebrated and witnessed the marriages of 20 Roman couples. The couples and their families attended Mass with the Holy Father, and he received their vows: their holy commitments to God to live the joy and the sacrifice of married love.
Some of the couples were young. Others were older. A few had children, or had lived together in cohabitation, or had received annulments—declarations of nullity—from previous unions. In short, Pope Francis performed the ministry priests perform around the world—he brought couples into a new kind of relationship with one another, and with God, through the holy sacrament of marriage.
I was ordained a priest in 1985. In nearly thirty years of ministry, I’ve celebrated countless weddings. I’ve learned that some couples who come for marriage preparation come eager for a sacramental union, and some come with very little formation in the faith. And all of them come with history—with the histories of their families, their relationships, and their lives in Jesus Christ. Many of the couples who come to the Church for marriage preparation have never heard or understood the meaning of Christian marriage—of generous, committed, sacrificial love in union with Jesus Christ.
The daunting task of a priest is to ensure that no matter the history or the motivation, those who stand before the altar to profess the vows of marriage are prepared and committed to a vocation of self-sacrificial, holy, and sacramental love—committed to becoming saints together.