A Catholic Jeweler Shares the Scriptural Heritage of Precious Metals in Wedding Jewelry

JESSE ROTH

 

The average American spends an average of about $6000 on an engagement ring. As a third-generation jeweler, I designed my own wedding ring about fifteen years ago, using precious metal and diamonds, and being in the business I was able to spend considerably less than this figure.

But this isn’t about how much to spend on a ring. The reality is that your budget determines that for you. If the cost of your wedding jewelry seems steep, consider this perspective into why we should use precious metals, which are particularly significant for sacramental Catholic marriage.

In Exodus, the Lord gives Moses very specific instructions on how to create the vestments, the Tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant, and more. The Lord’s chosen materials? Gold. Silver. Bronze. In fact, gold and silver are each mentioned approximately 200 times in the Old Testament. Similarly, wife is mentioned 228 times.

What does this mean for us? To start, it means the inherent value of certain physical materials is something that the Lord pays attention to. It is part of his vocabulary of creation.

This is because he created everything. And among those created things are the chemical elements of silver and gold. An entire star has to explode in a supernova for Him to make them! When speaking to Moses, God chooses these materials specifically and calls them by name, in Exodus. He even gave the artisan Bezalel the special talent of creating “artistic designs in gold, silver, and bronze.”

In Genesis, after Abraham’s wife Sarah died and their Isaac had yet to be married, Abraham must have experienced tremendous considering that Isaac was the son of whom God had promised countless descendants. So Abraham sent a servant to his own land in order find a wife for Isaac. The servant followed dutifully and took 10 camels to the city of Nahor.

The servant prayed to the God of Abraham:

...if I say to a young woman, ‘Please lower your jug, that I may drink,’ and she answers, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels, too,’ then she is the one whom you have decided upon for your servant Isaac. In this way I will know…”

Enter Rebekah, carrying a jug on her shoulder with which to draw water. The servant “ran toward her” and the prayer was answered in exactly the way he asked God to make it clear, at which point he presents her with a ring. Of course, it’s made of gold.

That’s the depth of the heritage of wedding rings in precious metal.

Deep down, we all know precious metals mean something. That some things are sacred.

A Styrofoam cup, for instance, isn’t used for a chalice during the liturgy of the Eucharist, but silver or gold. We participate in the sacrament of Eucharist regularly; it is sacred yet it is commonplace. We honor and revere this sacrament, and our choice in materials shows this. As Catholics, our marriages are first and foremost a sacrament. So similarly, our choice in wedding ring materials is an opportunity to honor and revere this everyday sacrament.

Admittedly, the cost of precious metals can certainly be a financial sacrifice. Yet marriage itself is a sacramental sacrifice. The precious metals we choose allow us a unique way in which to offer thanks and praise to God for our spouse. The metals we choose can reflect a fitting expression of our view of this sacrament.

They allow us to look at the meager 118 elements God created and choose the same precious materials he chose. To co-create alongside him something that is both old and also new, a precious symbol of love and honor and tradition. Something universally precious.


About the Author: After a consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Jesse Ross was filled with the Holy Spirit "to create artistic designs in gold, silver, and bronze," as prescribed in the Book of Exodus. He decided to leave a tenured position to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather as a jeweler. Jesse and his wife, Angie, are Co-Founders of 31:Four Artisan Jewelry, an all-Catholic design and manufacturing studio based in the Orlando area. They are teaching the trade to their four children, who will be fourth-generation jewelers.

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Melissa + AJ | Romantic Marian Wedding

Melissa and AJ met in 2016 at the same church they would get married in two years later. During their courtship, it only took a couple months for them to both discern a call to marriage.

As they traveled the road to the altar, one constant remained in their relationship: the intercession of the Blessed Mother. They consecrated themselves and their relationship to Jesus through Mary the December after they met.

They consecrated themselves again on their wedding day.

And since then they have renewed that consecration a third time.

Their wedding day would be marked by abiding peace, the presence of the Holy Spirit, and a joy shared by everyone who attended.

From the Bride: I was introduced to AJ one night at church by a good friend who knew both of us well. A few weeks later on the solemnity of the Assumption of Mary, after a Latin Mass at the oldest and most beautiful Catholic church in Miami, he asked me on our first date.

Kneeling together during the Eucharistic liturgy during that Mass, AJ says an image came to his mind of his cousin’s wedding, when she and her husband presented flowers to Mary. It was then he decided he better ask me out.

We began seeing each other regularly and from the very beginning prayed together each night.

Two months later we had already started talking about marriage and the good things the Lord might have in store for our future.

After that, on the days leading up to the feast of the Immaculate Conception, we made our first consecration to Jesus through Mary, using Fr. Michael Gaitley’s 33 Days to Morning Glory.

The next January, our first trip together was with friends from our community to Washington, D.C. for the March For Life; it was an incredible weekend to experience and passionately defend life in the womb together.

And following my graduation from my master’s program, we set off to explore the national parks and celebrate finishing school. AJ proposed at Arches National Park in Moab, Utah, on the feast day of Sts. Anne and Joachim: the parents of the Blessed Virgin, patrons of marriage, and now our personal patron saints.

It was time to plan a wedding.

While I was in charge of the logistics, aesthetics, and reception planning, AJ took the initiative planning our Mass. There were many precious aspects included in this, and he thought through each detail with love and care.

We had four priests concelebrate our wedding Mass: one from AJ’s dormitory at the University of Notre Dame, one who served AJ his first communion, another who has been his spiritual director over the years, and one involved with our young adult community.

We knew from the start that we would include the presentation of flowers to Mary in our Mass. In fact, it had been at that same church, in front of that same statue of Mary almost two years earlier that AJ and I received the Eucharist kneeling together before he asked me on a date.

I think back now to our wedding day, entrusting ourselves to Jesus through the intercession of our beautiful Blessed Mother, when we brought her flowers and consecrated ourselves for the second time.

Another addition we both felt strongly about was a foot washing ceremony. This was something we had never seen during a Catholic wedding Mass, but after getting the approval of our priests, we were thrilled to include it.  

For us, marriage is about a willful choice to love and serve the other by giving the gift of ourselves. In order to display that gift of self, service, and humility we each got down on our knees in front of the altar and washed each other’s feet.

This was just as Jesus said:“So if I, your Lord and teacher have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example that you also should do as I have done for you.”  

The two of us have also served as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion in the past. We knew that in addition to serving each other throughout our marriage, we also desired to serve our family, friends, and community on our wedding day. Thus, we decided to serve as Eucharistic ministers at our nuptial Mass and distribute communion to our guests. This was a beautiful moment, getting to serve the Bread of Life to those that we loved most.

Our nuptial Mass was not only the best part of our wedding day; it was the most special event of our lives.

It meant so much to us to hear similar sentiments not only from those attending our wedding who were practicing Catholics, but also from those who did not regularly attend church or who may not even believe in God. Each person we spoke with shared that our Mass was special, deeply meaningful, and touched them in a unique way.

My sister-in-law sang two songs during our Mass. One of our lectors was the same friend who first introduced AJ and I. We were able to include so many loved ones, aunts, godparents, grandparents, cousins, nieces, nephews, and others in our wedding day.

The music was absolutely beautiful, the church was stunning, the flowers added a feeling of life, and our guests filled the place with joy. And yet, more than all that, the Holy Spirit was what illuminated our nuptial Mass and made it the divine event it was.

We both truly felt it was just the two of us there with Jesus, vowing ourselves to the other on the most important day of our lives.

Before the event, I was concerned I would be distracted with so many loved ones there to celebrate or by trying to remember what came next. I was afraid I would not be able to appreciate living in each moment during the wedding ceremony.

But that could not have been further from how I felt during those ninety minutes. I have never been so fully present to any event, Mass, or moment in my life.

I was filled with more peace than I have ever felt. On my way down the aisle, my eyes locked with AJ’s and did not wander away.

During the Mass the world seemed to become still and present with us, to allow us peace to soak in every second of this time. I was completely present in each moment, not paying attention to what anyone else was doing. It was such a gift.

The rest of the day absolutely flew by.

With so many family and friends visiting from out of town, and even out of the country, we tried to enjoy them all while remaining focused on each other.

Now, we are so thankful to live around the corner from Gesu Catholic Church, where it all began at that Latin Mass on the feast of the Assumption several years ago. We were married there, and it is currently our home parish where we serve as Eucharistic ministers and lectors.

This year, on August 15, 2018 we consecrated ourselves for the third time to Jesus through Mary during the Latin Mass of the Assumption at Gesu, now as a joyfully married couple in our home parish.

We have our families to thank for raising us to be who we are, supporting our decisions and desires, helping us plan our big day, and hosting the most wonderful wedding for us.

Looking back as a bride, planning a wedding can be extremely stressful and overwhelming. As a marriage and family therapist, I know the engagement period is typically the most difficult time in a couple’s lives. The pressure of such a big life event and the constant input they get from everyone around them can be overwhelming.

My takeaway is that it all would have been meaningless without Jesus.

He brought us together, made our relationship good, and helps us to love each other in a life-giving way. I am so thankful for my husband’s faith and dependence on God. Without that, our marriage would not be the good, selfless, sanctifying one that it is.

Although AJ and I have different interests and strengths, we use those differences to compliment one another, just as we did with our styles on our wedding day to create our perfect aesthetic.

When we experience difficulties, as every couple will, we have a greater understanding of how to handle those times and tackle them together because of our faith. I am so thankful our wedding day set us up for a lifetime grounded in the rock-solid foundation of Christ.




Photography: Tara McGovern | Church: Gesu Catholic Church, Miami, FL | Reception Venue: Club of Knights, Miami, FL | Videography: Creative Fox Films | DJ: Miami DJs | Vintage Furniture Rentals: Mi Vintage Rentals | Day-of Coordination: Le Blanc Events | Makeup: Cristal Allure | Dress: Belissima Bridal | Flowers: Simple Rustic | Hair: Styles by Renee

Creating Advent Traditions in Your New Family

LARABETH MILLER

Advent has always been a season that puzzled me, especially when it came time to create my new little family with my husband. Lent has always been so clear to me because it involves serious contemplation and structure. The challenge with Advent is being able to make time for happy contemplation, while distinguishing the spiritual and material aspects of the season.  

  Photography:    Leah Muse Photography

When I spent my first Christmas with my husband, I had no idea what kind of traditions I wanted to create. I did want to keep a few from my own family, but I had every chance to build something of my own. I wanted to incorporate details that would leave lasting impressions on my children as they grew up. But I also wanted these details to shape how we interacted with one another and the Church as we developed as a family.

It's been a work in progress, especially with a toddler who doesn’t even know what Advent is, let alone Santa Claus. Last year was the first time went spent Advent and Christmas away from family, so we haven’t had much time to experiment. I wanted to share a few of the thoughts I put into my Advent planning this year.


Personal prayer time


It’s a new liturgical year, which means it is a time for me to approach God’s mercy once again and examine my relationship with him in a deeper way. Primarily, I view Advent as a time for me to consider God’s will for me and to do so with patience, since this is the time of waiting. How does he want to shape my heart this year? What sufferings and challenges can I accept? What new efforts can I make in order to be open to his voice? This is the most important part, not only because it nurtures my soul, but also because I want Christ to make me into a better wife and mother for my family.


A celebration with my spouse


When it comes to my husband, I want to be intentional about creating moments for the both of us, especially since we have already seen how life sweeps us in all directions. I’ve found the easiest way to do this is by putting extra care into our lives during Advent. I incorporate more comfort food into our menu and buy little Christmas decorations to cozy up the house. After our baby goes to bed, I’ll surprise my husband with a batch of cookies and we eat them in front of a movie. It may seem like nothing, but after the general chaos, it really holds so much value. I use these goals to draw myself out of my crazy Christmas plans for everyone else to show my husband he is the most important person at the end of my day.


Together, we are still figuring out Advent as a couple and as a family. For now, we both look forward to each Sunday, where my husband  lights the Advent candles before dinner. Even that simple act makes our prayer more meaningful and draws us both into that time together. Whenever we talk about building on this, we consider the best memories from our childhoods and remember  details that highlighted past seasons.


For him, it was revisiting the family Advent calendar, especially when it yielded chocolate. For me, it was setting up the nativity scene, with the exception of the baby Jesus--who was usually hidden in someone’s sock drawer until Christmas Eve.


Feast days


One of the best things about Advent is its abundance of feast days. Even if you cannot observe each one, they provide ample opportunity for pre-Christmas celebrations. If your family has cultural ties to certain feast days like Our Lady of Guadalupe or St. Lucy, it can make this time extra special. For me, this was usually the time when our parish would come together for a celebration. Depending on your region, many parishes plan events around these feasts. This is a perfect time to be involved in the Church community. For our family, I know it will be worth the effort to experience the special Masses and practice the traditions attached. Our plan is to learn about one feast day each year and to incorporate our favorites as our family grows.


The best advice I can give for this season is start small and simple. These traditions are supposed to hold special meaning for the new family you make with your husband. They are there to provide the comfort of familiarity and togetherness. Most importantly, they are there to point each member’s hearts towards Christ. You don’t have to do everything. Even one small thing means everything if it is rooted in Advent graces.


This is the very thing we want to build on as our family grows; just as the joy and anticipation of Christmas grows with each flame that is added to the Advent wreath.


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About the Author: Larabeth Miller is Spoken Bride’s Associate Editor. She is the owner of Graced by Color. Read more


Why a Christmas Octave Wedding is a Beautiful and Unique Choice + How to Plan One

MARIAH MAZA

 

On December 30, 2017, I entered into a mystery, the sacrament of holy matrimony, with my high school sweetheart and love of my life--only five days after Christmas and one before New Year’s Eve!

I never thought I would get married during the Octave of Christmas, the period of eight days after the second highest solemnity of the Church: the Nativity of our Lord.  

In fact, the end of December was far from my first choice. I had begun blissfully imagining a spring or summer wedding, since winter was my least favorite season. Unfortunately, my college schedule and that of my fiancé, who went to school two hours away, made it one of the few available weekends. So I reluctantly agreed. Our engagement was already going to be 18 months long, and after seven years of dating I couldn’t wait any longer to finally be married.

At first, I was afraid that a “Christmas” wedding would feel like one more holiday event for my family members to drag themselves to after the exhausting celebrations at the beginning of the same week. My wedding, the happiest day of my life, was about to be sandwiched uncomfortably between Christmas and New Years.

Fortunately, I was very wrong! And as my nuptials loomed closer and the planning progressed, the more excited I became about my winter wedding. In his generosity, almost like a divine wedding present, the Lord surprised me with a gift I didn’t even know I wanted.

So if you are still trying to settle on a date for your big day, and the Christmas season is one of your only possibilities, here are five reasons a Christmas wedding is a beautiful option:

The holiday cheer and festivity.

This one element of the season, which I thought would most distract myself and everyone else from the actual wedding, was ultimately one of the best parts of getting married right after Christmas. As I opened presents, feasted, and spent amazing quality time with my family and soon-to-be in-laws, the excitement of my wedding coming only a few days later heightened the Christmas joy to a level I had never felt before. I celebrated knowing our families would soon be united forever by my marriage, and that thrilled me.

I drifted from the celebration of the Incarnation, Jesus Christ made flesh, to the celebration of another kind of incarnation: my husband and I made one flesh.

Advent.

The liturgical season leading up to Christmas is a time of preparation and joyful anticipation. What better way to spend the last weeks before your wedding than in a spirit of stillness and anticipation with the whole Church?

When wedding planning gets stressful and chaotic, take this time of Advent with your fiancé for extra spiritual preparation and intentional silence. This prayer time and reflection will benefit you greatly the day after the wedding is over, and the lifelong marriage covenant begins.

The church is already decorated.

Who doesn’t love to save money? Decorations are a major part of wedding planning that can easily cost thousands of dollars, especially between beautifying a church and a reception venue. When you choose a church, keep in mind that during the Octave of Christmas, a lot of flowers, lights, and trees (and possibly a beautiful Nativity scene) will still be up for Christmastide. Besides Eastertide, this is one of the weeks the inside of a church is most beautiful.

If you are beginning to plan more than a year before your wedding, go check out how the local Catholic churches are decorated for Christmas. You may not only save on flowers, but someone else will have done the work of decorating days before your wedding! Scratch that off the list.

Christmas music!

There is something about Christmas music that is both incredibly special and nostalgic. Most people have at least one or two Christmas hymns that they look forward to singing and hearing every year. If you are planning your liturgy during the Octave of Christmas, you may have the unique opportunity to choose favorite Christmas hymns for the nuptial Mass.

What would it be like to hear a rendition of “What Child is This” played after communion? Or “Joy to the World” as the recessional song, as you walk out of the church as husband and wife for the first time? Some other ideas could be “O Holy Night,” “The First Noel,” or “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” Check with your pastor or musicians to find out what kind of music is allowed or possible.

Winter and Christmas color schemes.

I admit my first choice for wedding colors was something more pastel and softly pretty that would go with the feeling of a spring wedding. But when I set my date for five days after Christmas, I felt like a spring color scheme would feel very out of place in a season of red and green.

I decided to do some research into deeper, more wintry color combinations, just for fun.

Think deep maroons, wine reds, emerald greens, dark navy blues, rustic browns, off whites, and silver and gold accents.

These colors together, in the right shades, were strikingly beautiful in a solemn and elegant way.

We decided on wine red, emerald green, navy blue, rustic brown, and gold accents. For a girl who prefers silver over gold in almost everything, I was surprised how much I loved the look of the glittering gold pieces in my decorations and wedding ensemble.

It is true, there are some drawbacks to planning a wedding during the Octave of Christmas: some guests may have been traveling, for instance, or maybe you live in a state where the end of December and early January is unbelievably cold, and a wedding during this time would mean being buried under feet of snow.

And yet, I have no regrets about my December nuptials. Looking back, I would not want to get married any other time of the year. Almost everyone we invited was able to attend, and nobody froze to death at the reception.

The day after our wedding was the Feast of the Holy Family, an extremely fitting celebration. On this day, my husband and I celebrated the miraculous creation of our new, little holy family for the first time.

Two days after our wedding, we started the new year as newlyweds. It was powerfully symbolic of the end of the first chapter of of our lives and the start of our vocation together.

Even if it never occurred to you before, consider the Christmas season for your I dos. I pray that as you discern the date for your wedding, you’ll be filled with the joy and peace that God loves to grant his children--should we seek it--every day of the year.  

Are you planning a December or January celebration? Find more inspiration here:

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About the Author: Mariah Maza is Spoken Bride’s Features Editor. She is the co-founder of Joans in the Desert, a blog for bookish military wives. Read more

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Jessica + Brian | Classic Winter Manor Wedding

Jessica and Brian met at college in 2010. At that moment, they had no idea that seven years later they would walk down the aisle and enter together into the sacrament of matrimony.

It only took a couple months of dating to realize their mutual desire for marriage, but different career paths and an uncertain military schedule kept Jessica and Brian apart. This only grew their desire to be united in marriage, and Brian finally proposed to Jessica in March 2017.

On a magical, snowy day in a beautiful chapel, the happy couple celebrated a winter wedding.

From the Bride: Brian and I both attended Mount Saint Mary’s University and were both business majors. We were in some of the same classes during our freshman year, but we didn’t meet until sophomore year in September 2010.

Brian introduced himself after my presentation during one of our business classes, and we spent some time together that weekend. We became quick friends, but he wasn’t looking for anything more than friendship at that time. As for me, I was open to the possibility of a relationship! So we continued to spend time together as Brian prayed and reflected about our future.

Three months after we met, he gave me a letter conveying all he had reflected on and asked me to be in a relationship with him. After only two months of dating, we knew one day we’d be husband and wife.

Over the next six and a half years, our love steadily grew through attending weekly Mass, praying together, and sharing countless memories.

We also identified our lay vocations and began our careers. As Brian started his time in the Marine Corps and I pursued a career in finance, we were separated for months at a time. This transition was extremely challenging, and I leaned heavily on prayer as I learned to trust in God’s plan.

Being separated by geography and Brian’s irregular schedule taught us not to take our relationship for granted. In March 2017, he proposed to me on the front steps of Mount de Sales Academy, my alma mater.

As we began planning, Brian and I wanted our wedding day to be centered on our love for God and each other. And we wanted each of our guests to feel this love coming through every detail.

Our celebrant, Father Thomas Haan, had been Brian’s college lacrosse team chaplain, a close friend and spiritual guide throughout our relationship. He celebrated our nuptial Mass on a beautiful, snowy December day at Mount St. Mary’s in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception.

This was our favorite part of the day: the nuptial Mass and exchange of vows. As Catholics, making a commitment to God and each other in front of our families and friends was very important to us.

We also felt blessed to have our families involved in our wedding day in big ways. Brian’s aunt made the invitations, and my loving godparents provided my entire wedding ensemble. My godfather bought my veil, headband, and dress, and my godmother made my faux fur shawl.

Everything put together made me feel truly beautiful as I married Brian.

From Elizabeth, the Photographer: Shooting a lot of Catholic weddings, I hear a lot of homilies. But every now and then one of them forces me to stop and listen instead of moving around the church wondering what shot I should capture next.

Father Haan nailed it for Brian and Jessica! There was something so personal about his sermon. It was evident that he knew the couple well, and that he and Brian had a great relationship.

He highlighted how the Lord favors their union, specifically through the Blessed Mother's constant intercession for them.

Brian was born in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, and Jessica developed a strong devotion to Our Lady in high school at Mount de Sales Academy. Both Jessica and Brian chose to attend Mount Saint Mary's University. Then on December 9, one day after the feast of the Immaculate Conception, they were married in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception at Mount Saint Mary's.

Father explained that it wasn't a coincidence their faithfulness to the Lord and his Blessed Mother was made visible in their union as husband and wife.

It was beautiful.

Photography: Elizabeth M Photography | Church: Chapel of the Immaculate Conception at Mount Saint Mary's University (Emmitsburg, MD) | Reception: Springfield Manor (Thurmont, MD) | Make-up: Autumn Estelle | Hair: Erica Noccolino Thorowgood | Bride’s Veil: Mon Cheri, purchased at The Bridal Boutique | Bride’s Headband: Morilee, purchased at The Bridal Boutique | Bride’s Dress: Stella York, purchased at The Bridal Boutique | Rings: King’s Jewelry, Alexandria, VA | Bride’s Shoes: Tieks by Gavrieli | Bridesmaids Dresses: Dessy, purchased at The Bridal Boutique | Caterer: The Carriage House | Cake/cupcake baker: Kupcakes &; Co. | DJ: Jack Seghetti | Planning: Ida Rose | Flowers: Shelly Black Custom Floral | Videographer: Jon Sham

On Advent and Waiting

ALEXA DONCENCZ SMITH

 

It’s no secret: Advent is a time of waiting.

As a kid, I always looked forward to the week at Mass when the Little Blue Books would appear in the vestibule for Advent, free for the taking. In the weeks that followed, I was diligent in reading the reflections each night before bed, carefully absorbing every saint quote or nugget of spiritual wisdom. I was kind of a nerd, truth be told, but I loved the aura of waiting and preparation that always surrounded the weeks leading to Christmas.

As an adult, waiting can be a bittersweet subject. While anticipation breeds excitement, waiting for the things we desire isn’t always a pleasant feeling--especially if their eventual arrival isn’t guaranteed. Waiting for anything--from a vacation, to a promotion at work, to meeting one’s future spouse--is filled with a vulnerability that can give way to doubt and discontentment.

After spending a bit of time reflecting on Advent, it seems like no coincidence that the Church dedicates a whole season of the liturgical calendar to the meaning and purpose of waiting. Though it may not seem like it, waiting can be a blessing in disguise that can help guide us along the path to Heaven. Here, five ways we can benefit spiritually from this season:

Waiting provides the space for God to work.

Life can get so busy that it becomes easy to get caught up in our own plans, wrapped up in a universe of which we are the center. We have our days scheduled down to the minute and our calendars booked up for weeks, so it can definitely be frustrating when the unexpected comes in and messes with our carefully laid plans.

With our days are booked solid, spent constantly running from one obligation to the next, this doesn’t leave a lot of room for God to work in our lives. We might even find when we’re too busy, our meaningful attempts at prayer fall to the wayside. While God is always present, he often chooses to speak to us in the silence.

And if there’s no silence, or if our lives are just too hectic, we may miss our chance to hear him. Waiting has a way of slowing us down. The resulting pause can produce a helpful reorientation of priorities.

Waiting is an invitation to trust.

When our plans get stalled and things don’t happen how we think they should, it can cause disappointment and even helplessness. This is an opportunity to humble ourselves, remembering God is in control--not us). That there is a greater plan we cannot see; even if we’re confused about how things are going to play out, we know that the one in charge loves us and always wants the best for us.

Waiting forces us to be present.

Frustration with waiting can indicate that our minds or hearts have gotten ahead of us, and we’re trying to live in the future. Two years ago--ironically, during Advent--I was not-so-subtly waiting on a proposal. My fiancé and I had been dating for several years, and we’d had countless talks about moving toward marriage.

We both agreed getting engaged was our next step. But I felt this to the extent that I failed  to appreciate our relationship in the present moment. I had myself convinced nothing more could be accomplished in our relationship or preparation for marriage until we were officially engaged.

Waiting pulls us out of our daydreams about the future (sometimes not so gently), and challenges us to ask, what does God want me to do right now? 

As I  anxiously awaited my proposal, I believed--whether I realized it or not--that engagement was the next thing God wanted me to do in life. But maybe engagement and marriage were a few more bullet points down on the list, and he had other gifts and blessings in store for me first.

I could have easily missed how God was working in my life during that time because I had unconsciously tuned out the present, preoccupied with what I thought should be my next endeavor. Waiting can be a gift that keeps us living in real time.

Waiting is a reminder: our time is precious.

When we’re stuck in line at the grocery store or sitting in traffic, we have two options. We can either grumble and complain, letting our annoying situation get the best of us, or we can remember those very minutes are an irreplaceable gift from God. It might be challenging to view being trapped bumper to bumper on the highway as a gift, but these instances serve as a reminder that all our time is borrowed: it all belongs to God, and we should always use for good the moments of life he has given us.

Waiting gives us hope for a bright future.

When we are so stuck on achieving certain desires that we end up devaluing entire periods of our lives, or we begin to feel as though we are killing time to get to a particular accomplishment or milestone, we are called to remember something: God’s plans are higher than our own. God can give us gifts we never would have dreamed of. And yes: they’re even better than the things we’re pursuing for ourselves.

The feeling of waiting sometimes indicates our timeline doesn’t quite match up to God’s. Rather than giving ourselves over to despair, this is an opportunity to realize that God may be saying no or not yet to our prayers.

Because he might be about to give us something even better than what we imagined.


About the Author: Alexa is a 2013 graduate of The Catholic University of America, where she earned degrees in biology and psychology. Since 2014, she has served as the Assistant Coordinator for Youth, Young Adult and Family Ministry for the Diocese of Allentown. Alexa and her husband Patrick got engaged in December 2016, and were married in June 2018. Together they’ve enjoyed Cracker Barrel breakfasts, long walks around Barnes & Noble, and deciding which bridal expos had the best cake samples. Alexa's hobbies include writing, photography, and drinking coffee. 

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How to Practice Mental Purity in Your Marriage

LARABETH MILLER

 

One of the things I appreciate so much about marriage is the complementarity of men’s and women’s brains. Our mental habits, influences, and motivations are so beautifully designed to support and unite.

Marriage has deepened my understanding of the male brain, and I’ve come to realize my husband often views the world from a single-track, logical perspective. In turn, I have also learned to understand my own mental habits. Though there so many beautiful strengths in the female brain, I have come to recognize the dangers that can arise with how I perceive my husband.

Early in our marriage, I wanted to do everything in my power to ensure our relationship grew. I wanted to understand him and give my husband everything (I thought) he needed as a man. But this became difficult when it came to discovering all the things about my new husband that I didn’t care for.

Before long, frustration crept in as we spent the next year learning more about each other. At times I wondered what was wrong with his brain as he shared some solutions, desires, and perspectives that were, frankly, foreign to me. Because I was a terrible communicator, I attempted to analyze him instead of talking to him. I came to my own conclusions fueled by strong emotions. Then something happened that I thought never would: I came, at times, to despise my new husband.

Whenever he did something his way, I thought he was being ignorant. If he was honest with me during one of our arguments, I immediately labeled him uncaring and selfish. If he didn’t make efforts to make me comfortable or happy, I would tell myself he didn’t really love me. I always made every attempt to determine what he needed from me, so why didn’t I get the same treatment? I went deeper down this rabbit hole, until gradually we weren’t on the same side anymore.

You see, this is an easy entrance for Satan to attack your marriage. We, as companions to our spouses, are gifted with the ability to consider our surroundings and relationships and come up with ways to make it better. Even if that is influenced by our need for control. But our husbands are not the same as we are.

My husband is driven by his desire to provide for me, even if that means using the most efficient and logical solution. He provided honesty in order to get to the point and come to a clear understanding. And he had no idea how to make me happy or comfortable because I had never told him! He thought he had taken care of me already by paying the rent every month and helping me with the grocery budget. But I was too deep into my own concocted contempt for him to see that he was trying to learn to love me the best he could.

So as Scripture says,

“With all vigilance guard your heart, for in it are the sources of life.”

Proverbs 4:23

The best way to ensure a sense of mental purity is to seek encouraging outside sources that draw you outside yourself. Whenever we bump heads or are both are going through a stressful times, I look for solid reminders of our path in marriage. I read books on marriage, I listen to good podcasts, or I journal how I’m feeling and look at it with a prayerful perspective. I reserve time, without distractions or stress, to have a conversation with my husband, making sure I put aside my assumptions and opinions. Above all, I take it to Jesus in prayer.

Consider, as well, that many women find it radically helpful to be able to speak about their struggles with a friend or family member, but there is a major trap that lies in this. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen one man torn apart by a large group of women who joined and supported the wife in her emotional misunderstanding. I’ve seen marriages torn apart  by a mob of supposed friends who convinced a woman her husband was a monster.

When considering a confidant, it’s important to choose someone who supports you and your husband as a couple. They should wish to see your marriage flourish the way God intended it to. This adviser should be able to take an objective, prayerful approach by considering the influences, strengths and weaknesses of each person. In my own life, I have carefully chosen a mentor who has been married much longer than I have. Each time we speak, I can recognize her deep love for Christ and her husband. I’ve come to trust her deeply because her advice leads me to regard my husband with holy empathy and self-sacrifice.

We are called to look upon our spouses with the same eyes God does; to recognize his goodness and talents. To forgive when mistakes have been made and allow for the situation to sanctify you both. You know well the reasons you chose your beloved. Remind him of your admiration as often as you can. Consider a devotion to the Divine Mercy or Mary, undoer of Knots, and trust the graces of the sacrament of marriage will support these challenging seasons of growth.   


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About the Author: Larabeth Miller is Spoken Bride’s Associate Editor. She is the owner of Graced by Color. Read more

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