Simply put, marriage spirituality is the encounter with God in the sacrament of marriage. Sacramental theologians could define it with great detail, I’m sure. But I’m no theologian. I’m here simply to give it color and life through art and verbal depictions based on my happy witness to the love I have for my family.
Nevertheless, here are some questions for all of us:
- What is the grace of marriage beyond the strict definitions of theology? How does it transform the routines of married life into transcendent, meditative experiences?
- What is the source of our sanctifying love in marriage that leads us to salvation? How is this sanctification equivalent to lasting joy in marriage?
- What is true happiness/beatitude in marriage? How does marriage spirituality foster happiness in marriage no matter the external stresses acting upon us?
- How does the grace of marriage produce profoundly heroic relationships in our marriages and between families?
To be honest, I’d love to give answer to each of these questions right now for you. It’s nice to think that we have full knowledge that can be dissected and listed in bullet points. But I’m not convinced that these answers are easy to produce unless the drama of married life is portrayed intimately and candidly. Straight answers are thin in substance; witness is rich and detailed.
So that’s one reason why The Marriage Abbey exists. I hope you find not just answers but a beauty that describes the depth of goodness on why we persons of the married vocation all ought to practice marriage spirituality of the highest order.
All this said, the marriage spirituality I speak of is somewhat different from what theologians and clergy often teach. I’m more interested in the mystical spiritualities of the Carmelites and other religious orders, and I have long wondered how marriage looks as a mystical vocation. Hence the use of the term “Abbey”. Marriage spirituality is not just grace/sanctification/salvation: it is communion with the living God, a dynamic thing that helps us see Him whose love precedes our marriage love. But I’m also not trying to recreate religious life in the marriage setting. I think marriage spirituality is its own thing, has its own power, and is ordered toward different intermediate ends, even though all spirituality has a final end in God. So consider The Marriage Abbey to be more of a discovery process than an authority: I’m simply a husband and father, and the only thing God has asked of me is to know Him.
[Photo: My son after his first Mass]