SAVE THE DATE ...our Social Media Coordinator, Elise Crawford, is marrying Hunter, her college sweetheart, on August 12, 2017. We're overjoyed for her and are thrilled to share with you a peek into one bride's real-life wedding planning. Over the next year, we'll feature monthly pieces from Elise on marriage prep, choosing wedding details, and her spirituality as a bride-to-be. Join us in praying for Elise and Hunter during this sacred time of anticipation!
Photography by: Meaghan Clare Photography
When Hunter and I met in college, we were both undergoing a deep spiritual renewal in our faith. We were studying theology and philosophy at the Catholic University of America and fell in love with St. Thomas Aquinas, the Patristic Fathers and the wide variety of spirituality possessed by the saints.
My sophomore year, I helped establish a charismatic prayer group at CUA. Hunter attended and became a part of the community. We also had the blessing of living across the street from the John Paul II Shrine and the Dominican House of Studies, which hosted various talks and events. Needless to say, we were both greatly enriched spiritually during our college experience.
As we've moved on from Brookland to graduate school and into our careers, our spiritual lives have continued to develop and change. We've noticed over the last few years that Hunter and I tend towards varying forms of spirituality. I've continued to love charismatic prayer and meet the Lord most deeply when using the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Hunter encounters the Lord through intellectual pursuits and quiet meditation in front of the Blessed Sacrament.
Through the busyness of life in our early twenties, we've had to work through our developing faith practices and decide what they looked like with our changing and filled schedules. It has by no means been easy or perfect, but we've figured out several ways to blend our spiritualities so that we both feel like we are being spiritually fed. Below is a list of steps you and your future (or current!) spouse can take towards building a spiritual practice together that fits both of your personalities and needs.
Assess Your Own Spirituality.
Our spiritual tendencies change over time. What you once enjoyed a couple of years ago, or even a few months ago, might not be how you encounter Christ now. Through the lay and married vocations, our roles in life are almost constantly changing. You might have taken a new job or become a mother.
Take some time to evaluate your current spiritual needs: do you have less time for reading than you used to and need something that isn't quite as time-intensive? Have you moved and no longer live as close to an Adoration chapel as you once did? I found that after college I no longer was within my regular charismatic community, so I had to adjust to my circumstances. I became comfortable with praying by myself for shorter periods of time at the beginning of my day and found a group of young adults who occasionally gathered for praise and worship. Before you and your spouse try to combine spiritual practices, first know your own spirituality.
Discover What's Out There.
There are as many ways that one receives Christ as there are as people on this earth. We each encounter Christ in our own unique hearts in a personal manner. The Rosary and Liturgy of the Hours are incredibly powerful spiritual practices, but there are many others out there as well! You and your spouse could join a lay community, begin the practice of reciting the Divine Mercy Chaplet or discern serving your local parish through volunteering.
Invest time in exploring the possibilities of how you two can practice your faith together. Take a look at your Diocesan website and see if there are groups or events you can attend to meet new people in your surrounding faith community. There's more out there than you think!
Find Spiritual Directors.
It is your responsibility as a fiancée to assist your soon-to-be spouse on his journey to heaven. This means learning of his struggles, joys, best qualities and worst qualities. As much as we are meant to walk alongside our significant other, it's also wise to note that sometimes you both need guidance from an older, more spiritually developed mentor.
Take some time to find individual spiritual direction for the both of you. You can ask a local friary, religious community or your parish, if there is a religious or priest who would be willing to be your spiritual director. Don't be intimidated! Start off by meeting once a month, get to know each other see if you are a good fit, and take it from there.
Learn Where Your Hearts Intersect.
Once you and your fiancé have spent some time getting to know your own spiritual tendencies and where you'd like to improve in your faith life, it's time to see where your spiritualities intersect and differ. Hunter and I joke at times that if we had turned to the religious life instead of married life, I would be a Sister of Life and he would be a Benedictine monk. I'm all about the spirituality of John Paul II, and Hunter loves monastic spirituality. I prefer community prayer, and Hunter likes solitude. However, over the years we've learned that we both love the Liturgy of the Hours and the Rosary. Our prayer life together has also been enriched through prayer over one another, something we do before we part ways. It's a beautiful way to bless your beloved with God's grace and pray for his or her intentions.
Attend Mass Together.
Of course, attending Mass and receiving the Eucharist together is the most important part of creating a shared spiritual life. Even if you are not able to physically attend Mass together every weekend, there is a unity that you will find with your fiancé in the Eucharist. No matter if your spiritualities are very similar or they differ greatly, the Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith. It's the perfect common ground where you and your fiancé can worship the Lord as a couple and be enriched by his body and blood. Although Hunter and I strive to attend Mass together every Sunday, I always offer the Mass for our relationship and our future marriage even when we aren't able to attend together.
What about you? Do you and your fiancé have similar spiritualities or are they polar opposites? Are you married and have discovered ways that you and your beloved have connected in your spiritualities?