A few weeks into a new liturgical year, and a few days away from a new calendar year, are you feeling inspired to refocus or recommit to worthy habits? Whether or not you’re the resolution-loving type, it’s always timely to identify small--or big--concrete ways to enrich your spiritual life. And doing that through the lens of your engagement or marriage not only helps hold you accountable, but draws the both of you closer to the source of all Love. Here, a few ways to deepen your faith and shake up your spiritual routine:
Drop by the chapel at the start of your dates.
Most parishes offer confession on Saturday afternoons. Before heading out for a dinner or date night, commit to visiting the confessional first, or even attending the vigil Mass afterward. At our wedding, my husband and I invited our guests to write us notes containing marriage advice or date ideas in lieu of a guest book. One couple’s recommendation has stuck with me more than any other: “Keep going to confession regularly. If you keep your relationship with the Lord clear, you will be able to see better how to relate to each other.” Clarity is a gift; honesty is a gift. God’s mercy and the eyes he gives us to see are constantly, abundantly on tap, waiting only for us to choose them. Alternatively, make a holy hour or attend daily Mass together before a Saturday morning brunch date.
Implore the intercession of a new-to-you patron saint.
Creating your own litany of saints who’ve accompanied you on your spiritual journey--individually and together--is personal and special, offering comfort during hard times and and great joy during good ones. This couple’s devotion to Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati, for instance, shaped their relationship so fully that their bridal party commissioned an icon of him to be blessed during the wedding Mass. If you’re looking for inspiration, try starting with our list of patrons for engagement and marriage; holy men and women whose lives bore witness to the married vocation’s particular awe-inspiring call to holiness.
Consider Marian consecration.
Our Lady, the purest, most radiant bride, invites women to see their strength, dignity, and the fullness of their life-giving femininity. She invites men to lay down their lives before beauty and mystery and to learn how to love a woman. Marian consecration, a formal promise of entrustment and devotion to Our Lady, is intended to tether us to our mother in heaven and, in turn, to the heart of her son: ad Jesu per Mariam.
I consecrated myself to Mary on the Feast of the Annunciation, according to St. Maximilian Kolbe’s prayers, in college and renewed it with my husband using Fr. Michael Gaitley’s 33 Days to Morning Glory a few years ago. The language of consecration speaks to themes of abandonment of one’s own will and of a holy slavery to the Blessed Mother, which might sound intimidating. Yet truly, the fruits of surrender to her will for us, a loving protection that wills only good things and intimacy with Christ, have borne such abundance and deeper trust in my life and my marriage--in good times and in bad.
Choose a spiritual book to read together.
Spiritual reading is sometimes best digested in small portions and through conversation. The Church is rich with both theological and practical classics on love, marriage, and virtue that can be worthy companions for your engagement and beyond. For starters, consider one of Elise’s hand-picked book recommendations for couples.
Plan a pilgrimage.
Sometimes, a beautiful new spot, and the anticipation of visiting it, is just the ticket for shaking up your routine and awakening a spirit of renewal in your prayer life. This directory of shrines and holy sites in the U.S. is a fantastic resource for getting started, and after you’ve chosen a destination, spend some time researching nearby cathedrals, chapels, restaurants, and other stop-worthy locations in the area to add dimension to your day. Bring along a journal to write in together, create a special playlist for the drive, and consider going social media-free for the duration of your visit.
If spiritual resolutions have been on your mind, as well, we’d love to hear what they are in the comments! Tell us; what are your plans for your relationship and prayer life in 2017, and are there any practices you’ve already adopted that have blessed your romance?