I think back often to my engagement, and to its many hours spent at Eucharistic Adoration. During that time, I would beg Jesus to make me into a good wife and, someday, mother.
I didn’t know then that those many hours of prayer would carry me through the smooth and bumpy parts of married life my husband Bill and I would encounter. Five years into our marriage, a strong prayer life remains a gift and refuge in the midst of full, enjoyable--but busy--days of family life and work.
Introducing Lectio Divina
Lectio Divina is a type of prayer I return to often. Latin for “divine reading,” it is a Benedictine form of prayer, traditionally done by reading a short passage of Holy Scripture and choosing a word, phrase, or image that stands out to you. The passage should be read several times in its entirety, once aloud if possible. Then, whomever is spending time in prayer meditates on her standout word, reads the passage again with new eyes, and engages in an exchange with God about what he wants to reveal. This prayer can be individually, as a couple, or in a small group.
We can do the same thing with any text, whether thoughtful prose or poems, song lyrics, or liturgical rites. In that spirit, I want to share with you a way to use lectio divina to meditate on the Catholic Rite of Marriage.
Below, along with the text of the Rite, I offer my own reflection questions to help you enter more deeply into this encounter. Whether you pray this on your own or in the presence of your fiancé or spouse, first take a moment to ask for the Holy Spirit to guide your time in prayer. Breathe deeply and savor the silence around you.
(Name) and (name), have you come here to enter into Marriage without coercion, freely and wholeheartedly?
Is there anything I need to surrender or let go of before entering into this Sacrament? What does it look like to make a free gift of myself to my spouse?
Are you prepared, as you follow the path of Marriage, to love and honor each other for as long as you both shall live?
Who are some holy couples whose marriage I admire? What can I learn from their witness?
What will be the building blocks of a lifelong marriage? Is there a particular virtue I need to cultivate now that will allow me to love and honor my spouse for the rest of my life?
Are you prepared to accept children lovingly from God and to bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church?
How do I view my fertility? Have I learned Natural Family Planning and been diligent in trying to understand the Church’s teachings on the dignity and purpose of sex in marriage?
Have I considered the possibility of infertility? Of an unplanned pregnancy? How would I love my spouse through these situations?
Which dimensions of my sexuality need the Lord’s healing touch (Consider spiritual, physical, intellectual, creative, communicative, emotional)? Is there a dimension we are very strong in already? Is there one we need to grow in as a couple?
I, (name), take you, (name), to be my husband. I promise to be faithful to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, to love you and to honor you all the days of my life.
Where am I spiritually with this vow: does it make me nervous? Excited? Does it seem like it will be difficult? What fears or anxieties do I have in committing myself to this purpose?
Depending on your wedding liturgy plans, additional text for your prayer time can be found in the language of the wedding Mass, wedding outside of Mass for two baptized persons, and a wedding between a Catholic and unbaptized spouse.
Check out the Nuptial Blessing and the Blessing at the Conclusion of the Wedding, as well, to find more liturgically rich and beautiful language which is great for lectio divina.
I hope this exercise in prayer helps you take any inspiring, holy text and use it to enter into a dialogue with God and with your spouse in marriage. Whether you utilize lectio divina to prepare for your wedding day or to savor the graces of your marriage in the weeks, months, and years afterward, may it bless you and encourage you to continue in prayer.
About the Author: Liz Escoffery is a Certified FertilityCare Practitioner and Birth Boot Camp Instructor with Indy FertilityCare. In May 2017, she earned her Master of Arts in Theology from St. Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology. She enjoys working with engaged couples and newlyweds (both in Indianapolis, IN and virtually) and has helped over 175 women and couples learn the Creighton Model. She and her husband Bill have two children and another due in March 2018.