Marriage and the Mass

By Christine Burrows

Last Saturday, Peter and I attended Our Lady of Mt. Carmel’s monthly Marriage on Tap event. This month’s speaker was Dr. Tim Heck who spoke, admittedly on a fresh topic for him, about how marriage reflects the liturgy of the Mass. I hadn’t heard anything like this before, so I took some notes. Here’s my summary of Dr. Heck’s message.

Sacred LoveThinking about the elements of the Mass, Dr. Heck took each one and drew a comparison to marriage. For instance, the entrance song at Mass is intended to be a joyful coming together. We sing with enthusiasm and anticipation. In our liturgy of marriage, we should seek to re-enter it with a joyful spirit, welcoming what’s to come. Ideally, we should do this on a daily basis, regularly reaffirming our marriages as a celebration of God’s plan for mankind.

Get it? It kind of works! So, here are the other comparisons he drew:

  • The blessing: As the priest does at the beginning of Mass, spouses should offer one another words and prayers of hope and encouragement.
  • Penitential Rite: As we acknowledge our sins and sinfulness before God, we should pray for the grace to be Jesus to our spouses by being able to forgive at all times.
  • Gloria: Here’s where we give praise and honor and thanksgiving to God. Let’s hear an Hallelujah for our marriages! Shout it out, or at least live it out with true thanksgiving for the sacrament.
  • Liturgy of the Word: Just as we seek to have the Word of God penetrate our minds and orient us toward the eternal, we should seek to use our own words (spoken and written) to inspire our spouses and seek Godliness in one another.
  • Homily: As we hear the Word of God in the readings and Gospel, we turn to the homily to educate and motivate us. Similarly, we should weave God’s language into our dialogue with our spouses.
  • Profession of Faith: When we stand to proclaim our shared faith, we present ourselves as a community of believers. So, too, should our marriage profess our devotion to the sacrament and to each other.
  • Liturgy of the Eucharist: This one requires a whole lesson on Theology of the Body, but, in an abbreviated sense, it’s about physical union. When we receive the Eucharist, we physically bring Christ into ourselves. In the sacrament of marriage, we unite sacramentally and physically.
  • Sign of Peace: We may see this part of Mass as a simple greeting, but it’s also a way of reconciling with one another. In our marriages, we should bring peace to one another; reconcile and forgive often. Say (and mean) “I love you.”
  • Silent Contemplation: As we end Mass, contemplating the greatness of God and the privilege to join with Him in Holy Eucharist, so, too, are we called to reflect on and give thanks for our marriage. Breathe in the grace of the sacrament. 

What do you think? Does it work as a way to consider your own marriage sacramentally? I’m thinking it might be another way to reflect on how our faith and the rituals within it transcend the actions of attending Mass or rote prayer. When we have parallels to think about that tie us back to our “real lives” it often gives us a greater sense of wonder in the routine. I hope next time you’re at Mass, you remember just one of these and think about your marriage, and maybe head back home with a re-commitment your spouse.

God is Love

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