What's in a Name? | Married Names, Maiden Names, and the Decisions We Make

STEPHANIE FRIES

 

As the dust begins to settle around the whirlwind of wedding planning, a new journey begins to unfold. Together, and with time, you and your spouse will grow into your identity as a married couple. In the midst of this exciting season, there is a vital decision to confirm your new family’s identity in choosing your last name.

When it’s time to fill in that blank on the legal documents, couples generally have the option to take either the bride or the groom’s last name, hyphenate both last names, or create a new name. Although the decision surrounding a married couple’s last name is morally neutral, many women are convicted in their beliefs on a wide spectrum between keeping her maiden name and taking his. If you are curious why a woman would willingly abandon her own family name or if you desire to articulate the reasons why you did, understanding the physical and spiritual nature of men and women may help.

PHOTOGRAPHY:   OCULI CORDIS MEDIA

PHOTOGRAPHY: OCULI CORDIS MEDIA

The history of a bride taking her groom’s last name is rooted in English common law. The practice for creating a thread of surname lineage was centered around establishing both a legality of marriage and set boundaries for couples in regards to acquiring property or business. These standards were eventually adopted in practice in the United States. With the onset of “family names” passed from a father to his newborn child or from a groom to his bride, additional laws, norms, traditions, and opinions began to take root throughout growing cultures both nationwide and worldwide.

Of course, from a legalistic point of view, an immediate perspective assumes that the man claims dominance over the woman when she officially takes his last name. This misguided belief has been the origin of women’s oppression, including, for example, a woman’s right to vote. Because we are a world of imperfect humans, a tradition with the potential to celebrate the gift of marriage and family has been twisted into oppression and abuse.

As a reaction to oppression or because of shifts in the secular definition of marriage, women identify several reasons to keep her maiden name, such as convenience, preference, personal identity or equality of power. Other times, academic careers or professional publications are the cause for a woman to maintain her identity through her last name.

Regardless of the history of societal wedding traditions or the secular, modern approaches to marriage, our legal actions cannot be separated from our spiritual being. Because a human being is body and soul, our physical actions and decisions—including changing our name—proclaim what we understand to be true about being a human.

Therefore, when a woman accepts the last name of her new spouse, she emphasizes the dignity of her femininity as she reveals the legal, physical, emotional and spiritual union with her beloved.

This statement may sound like a surprising contrast to the general “feminist movement.” Many feminists through decades past—and present—would argue that a woman should keep her maiden name in order to claim equal rights, stand up for herself, and maintain her independence. But if we carefully define “what is feminine,” we will find empowering support for woman to fulfill part of her femininity by receiving her husband’s last name.

To understand what it means to be woman through a Christian anthropology, we go to the story when woman was created: in the garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. “So the Lord God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. The Lord God then built the rib that he had taken from the man into a woman.”

Eve received life, physically and spiritually, by the rib of Adam and the hand of God. With her first breath, Adam received her as a gift to fulfill his desire for union with another. We hear Adam’s joyful relief when he says, “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” And as he accepted her, Eve simultaneously received man as a gift for her own fulfillment of self-knowledge. Saint Pope John Paul II explains, ”The exchange is mutual. In it, the reciprocal effects of the sincere gift and of the finding oneself again are revealed and grow.” This cycle of giving of self and receiving the other between man and woman is the epitome of holy, joyful, spousal union as God intended.

Scripture shows us woman’s initial receptivity to life and the love that followed. Although both man and woman are called to give and receive in acts of love, our bodies help define receptivity as a naturally feminine quality. Consider the intimacy of the wedding night and the bride’s physical receptivity of the groom. Or at the moment of conception as the woman receives a child in her womb.

This is not a gender stereotype, but a celebration of what it means to be woman and how we are called to love man: by receiving every part of him as a cherished gift.

Yes, when a wife takes the last name of her husband, she surrenders her maiden name and, perhaps, part of her identity which was secured in that name. The emotional struggle of letting go of a maiden name emphasizes the reality that a name has value to a person’s identity.

For a husband to offer a meaningful gift of his identity—his name—is a beautiful and masculine act of love. When a woman accepts his last name, she is not practicing an outdated, man-driven tradition; she fulfills her femininity in a selfless act of receptive love. In the way only a woman can.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stephanie Fries is Spoken Bride’s Editor at Large. Stephanie’s perfect day would consist of a slow morning and quality time with her husband, Geoff, a strong cup of coffee, and a homemade meal (…with dessert). Read more

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What Does it Mean to Belong to Your Spouse?

STEPHANIE CALIS

 

The song my husband and I chose for our first dance includes the line, “I want to belong to you.” The words resonated deep within, evoking something free, intimate, permanent.

As we said our vows at the altar I felt the weight of commitment and distinction, grace made tangible and distinctively binding us together. The very gravity of our promises made them romantic to me: faithful love forsaking all others, fruitful love that wouldn’t stop at the two of us, free love that willingly desired exclusive belonging, total love that saw all of me.

I thought I got it at the time. I thought my husband and I shared a healthy sense of vulnerability and a spirit of loving encouragement and correction. In many ways we did, and continue to.

But in the months and years since, I’ve seen the ways in which seemingly small matters make me fall short of letting myself belong entirely to my husband, calling me into communion over division.

There have been times I’ve clung to wounds received and inflicted in past dating relationships, allowing them to hold sway even after I thought I’d moved past them. It’s only been more recently, as I’ve waded fully into this pain for the first time, that I’ve shared the fullness of embarrassment over my past actions with my husband. I hadn’t intentionally withheld these thoughts earlier in our relationship; their magnitude and resulting unrest only surfaced later on, the fruit of deeper insight and self-examination.

Holding on to the past, I realized, was a distraction from my present.

I was sacramentally united to my husband and desired to rid my mind and heart of the past. He loved me still. He encouraged me to offer my humiliation--a true sense of being humbled--to the Lord, praying for freedom and interior peace.

There have been times I’ve retreated inward, too embarrassed and ashamed to admit fault in actions both minor and major. Yet each time I’m tempted to keep my mistakes to myself, I feel the restlessness creep in. The overwhelming desire to share, tempered by fear. Being seen in the fullness of who you are is thrilling, though terrifying. He loves me still.

Even in my shame, I am loved. Even in admitting the regrets and misjudgments I’m scared to bring up, my husband is gentle and forgiving. I’ve come to understand belonging to him as an invitation to take off my masks. An invitation to reveal who I am and who the Father calls me to be.

A healthy sense of belonging to my spouse has, for me, amplified an awareness of ways in which I ultimately belong to the Lord.

However imperfect in this life, the purpose of each vocation is to make manifest God’s love. My husband’s love—so patient, merciful, total, and accepting—shows this to me. I am known; I am seen; I am beloved. It’s not unlike the sacrament of reconciliation, in which we find ourselves tenderly embraced in our brokenness. We leave armed with the grace and resolve not to remain the same, but to stay the course in pursuit of greatness. The word reconcile, after all, is rooted in the Latin word for “to bring together.”

Are there small cracks and nagging divisions tugging on your own heart, drawing your attention to ways in which your relationship can grow in total honesty, trust, and intimacy? Though always a work in progress, I can’t attest more to the joy and freedom of transparency and accountability that embody the Father’s love. Saint John Paul II has interceded for us from the start, and I frequently recall his motto, totus tuus. This phrase, “totally yours,” expresses his trust in Our Lady to bring him to her son; in our marriage, we make this our same prayer.

If you find yourself, like me, suddenly seeing ways in which you can belong to your spouse more entirely, I encourage you to enter into them, even when you’d prefer to run. Sit with your mess, let yourself feel any pains of your shortcomings, and move forward--with prayer, practical steps, and, if necessary, spiritual direction or counseling--knowing you’re not just moving for movement’s sake, but toward a beautiful pursuit: being brought together--reconciled--with both your earthly and heavenly beloved.

“But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, Jacob, and formed you, Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine. When you pass through waters, I will be with you; through rivers, you shall not be swept away. When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned, nor will flames consume you.”


About the Author: Stephanie Calis is Spoken Bride's Editor in Chief and Co-Founder. She is the author of INVITED: The Ultimate Catholic Wedding Planner (Pauline, 2016). Read more

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Becoming Radically Available to Love

STEPHANIE FRIES

 

Nearly 18 months ago, my friend returned from her inaugural FOCUS missionary training with a palpable enthusiasm to build community, love others, and make her love for Jesus visible in the world. She returned with a suitcase full of books, business cards, pamphlets, and ideas. She was eager to fundraise her salary and move to a new college campus for the start of the school year with the undergraduate students she would come to know, mentor, and disciple towards Christ. She was ready to serve where God had called her.

Her selfless demonstration of service as a missionary has influenced and inspired my identity as a wife.

PHOTOGRAPHY:   MEL WATSON PHOTOGRAPHY

Although I admired my friend’s zest and zeal through her process of discerning missionary life, I was cautiously curious about the details of her new routines. What was it, exactly, that she would do once she arrived on campus? I have not forgotten her response to my question:

“It’s about being radically available for others.”

This use of radically enlists a sense of wonder and mystery. Being available for someone is standard, like answering the phone but calling back later if something is going on. But being radically available means clearing the schedule and committing the rest of the day to talking on the phone.

While she committed to a dating fast for her first year on the job, I discerned my vocation to married life. Months later, her commitment to be radically available for her students has influenced my understanding of what it means to be a Christian wife in service of God and my husband. All in all, we are talking about vocations to love.

A holy missionary is wholeheartedly committed to being a faith-filled friend, mentor, confidant, and image of Jesus. We can look at the way Saint Mother Teresa befriended families in India and how Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati gave the coat off his back to the underdressed stranger. We may recognize missionaries in our midst and see how they surrender their plans and expectations to answer a call from God to build community with others.

Although I am not called to serve as a missionary in the world, do I bring a missionary heart of charity, service, and friendship into my own home?

To be radically available to another reminds me of the standard “stop, drop, and roll!” response when a person catches on fire. Yet when a significant matter arises in someone’s life, it is the one who is radically available who lovingly stops and drops everything in order to roll to the other’s side.

Saying I do on the marriage altar opens a door to the daily invitation to love my spouse. To love is more than an emotion, it is an act of the will. There are a number of factors that affect our heart’s approach to service: external pressures, internal insecurities, hormonal mood swings, lack of exercise or sleep, political conflict, social conflict, and simply feeling overwhelmed (to name a few). But we make a vow to love--and to serve--on the good days and the bad days.

Yet, in truth, I wrestle with the tension between selflessness and self-care. Christ tells us, “love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Does this mean we can momentarily push pause on loving others so we can escape to love on ourselves? How much am I willing to surrender for the sake of my spouse’s joy? Or comfort? My God-given responsibility as a wife is to work for my husband’s salvation; is his earthly happiness worth sacrificing my own personal pleasures, comforts, and opinions on certain matters?

Consider decisions as small as keeping the thermostat at a certain temperature, agreeing on specific holiday traditions, or choosing between music, television or silence as background noise in your home. Then there are decisions to read a book alone or spend quality time together, to sleep in or wake up early to make breakfast for your spouse.

Even in meager moments of surrender, I am encouraged by C.S. Lewis’ wisdom to “submit to death of your ambitions and favorite wishes… and you will find eternal life.” I am increasingly intrigued by the invitation to be radically available than by the alternative to be content in my own pleasures.

In every decision to choose the other, our individual identities fade and we become more fully united through acts of love.

As Catholics, we are privy to the benefits of the sacraments—and prayer—as fuel to keep loving when our tanks run low. Christ also says to “love others because he loved us first.” He makes himself radically available so that we, too, may love with an everlasting love—on the good days and the bad days.

Living a life of service and radical availability can challenge both our human nature and cultural norms. Who do we look to as models of charity? How often do we receive God’s merciful love to refill our tank? Do we elicit affirmation from others as permission to turn inwardly or as encouragement to serve others with virtue?

My prayer is that you and I can make a choice to fulfill the call to love by being radically available to someone this week, with the persistent hope of establishing ever-deeper bonds of charity in our homes and communities.


Contibutor headshot MEDIUM 200px.png

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stephanie Fries is Spoken Bride’s Editor at Large. Stephanie’s perfect day would consist of a slow morning and quality time with her husband, Geoff, a strong cup of coffee, and a homemade meal (…with dessert). Read more

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The Gift of Tears.

STEPHANIE CALIS

 

“Well,” deadpanned the priest, “that was the most emotional rehearsal I’ve ever done.”

The details of the last wedding rehearsal I attended are blurry, obscured by the veil of tears that flowed freely from the minute I set foot in the chapel. Seared in my heart, however, are the memories of the bride and her father both weeping, exchanging joyful glances as they practiced their walk up the aisle for the following day, toward a bridegroom equally radiant and also overcome with emotion. The tears as the Maid of Honor presented the bride with a spiritual bouquet from friends and family; as the couple stood hand in hand, the words of their vows nearly ready to burst forth from their lips; as the priest showed them where they would kneel, saying, “this is one of the only opportunities of your life to be this close to the consecration.”

Photography:    Visual Grace

Photography: Visual Grace

A wedding feast is truly that--a banquet, a taste of heavenly joy. It wasn’t until this particular rehearsal that I considered the deep significance of the hours preceding the feast, as well: if a couple’s actual wedding day is anticipation of eternity, then the rehearsal has the potential to be anticipation of the anticipation. A few hours where the distance between heaven and earth seems not so far, and when excitement over the union to come is so palpably real. Quality time with the bride and groom in a more intimate setting than tomorrow’s reception; time to worship and rejoice.

My constant crying at this rehearsal was like being pushed out of myself to the very surface and heights of life.

I found myself surprised by how emotional I still felt the following day at the wedding Mass, struck all over again with beauty and tears. I hadn’t been emptied yet. I cried again during the procession, the vows, the dedication to Our Lady, their first kiss as man and wife. During their first dance to Matt Maher’s “Set Me as a Seal,” during toasts and during a bubble-filled departure. I cried the first time I visited their new home. I teared up again each time someone asked me what the wedding was like.

What is it about this love that made me constantly overflow, unable to contain myself?

It’s become my belief that every couple takes on particular charisms, gifts of the Holy Spirit, that develop and flow forth from their love: the gifts of hospitality, of empathy and suffering for others, of service, of creativity. At this wedding, for me and for so many other guests, there was the gift of tears. A love so visible and free, as if no one else were in the room, it felt nearly impossible not to be pierced.

The Gospels illuminate the significance of tears. The sinful woman who bathes the feet of Christ with her tears, whose sins are forgiven; Jesus’s own weeping over the death of Lazarus. Both instances convey a preconception shattered--that mercy is conditional, and that Christ’s humanity doesn’t show sorrow, respectively--and a wall come down.

Crying is an invitation; letting others see us as we are and inspiring resolve, a moving forward. Something raw, something anointed.

A wedding feast, then, where bride, groom, and guests find themselves in tears is an occasion of true seeing, of meeting each person where they are. Pure and holy love leaving a long-term imprint on those who witness it.

If the tears come on your wedding day, let them. Whatever charisms you and your spouse are gifted with, embrace them. Ask the Father to reveal to you the gifts he wishes to share with his children and your wedding guests, with you as the instruments. Cry out his love, outpoured and unfettered.


About the Author: Stephanie Calis is Spoken Bride's Editor in Chief and Co-Founder. She is the author of INVITED: The Ultimate Catholic Wedding Planner (Pauline, 2016). Read more

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3 Tangible Ways to Include the Saints in Your Wedding Day

CLARA DAVISON

 

For as long as I can remember, saints and their stories have played a huge part in my spiritual life.

As a child, I loved learning about Saint Fransisco, Blessed Imelda, and other children who achieved holiness at a young age. In my teenage years, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, Saint Dominic Savio, and Blessed Chiara Badano began inspiring me. Learning about holy men and women who related to my current stage in life strengthened and encouraged me on my spiritual journey.

Once engaged, I began considering ways to incorporate the saints into my wedding. They have been alongside me through every part of my life, and I wanted to include them as I entered this vocation. Here, three ways I have seen the saints’ intercession incorporated in Catholic weddings:

Wedding bouquet medals

During my engagement, I asked friends and family to pray for us in the weeks leading up to the wedding. I may have tentatively suggested--or not so tentatively, as my siblings tell me--that they ask the intercession of specific saints on my husband’s and my behalf. I then invited my prayer warriors to bring a medal of their specific saint to the wedding and tie it onto my bouquet before I walked down the aisle.

I can’t tell you how touching it was to receive so many medals on my wedding day and to feel the weight of my bouquet carrying the symbols of many prayers. Since the bouquet was too large to preserve, it became especially significant to have those medals long after the flowers and greenery faded.

Stories of married saints

As I planned my wedding, I began seeking out saints who were called to the vocation of marriage: Saints Gianna Molla, Elizabeth Ann Seton, and Jane Frances de Chantal just scratch the surface of many amazing married women. I found it incredibly powerful to study the lives of Catholic wives who lived out their vocation with such holiness.

I also learned of many married couples who are both saints! While Joseph and Mary are the epitome of a holy marriage, there are a variety of others to learn from: Saints Louis and Zelie Martin, Joachim and Anne, and Blessed Charles of Austria and his wife, Servant of God Zita, are just a few from whom I drew inspiration. Learning about these holy relationships is a great way to reflect on your hopes for your own marriage.

Litany of the Saints

When picking Mass music, my friend chose the Litany of the Saints to be sung while grandparents, parents, and bridesmaids walked down the aisle. She and her fiancé were able to pick some of their favorite saints to include in the litany, making it particularly personal. While not a traditional piece for a wedding, I found it a beautiful testimony to watch the couple’s closest friends and family escorted down the aisle as their closest friends in Heaven were called on to intercede.

Our brothers and sisters in heaven are such a wonderful aspect of the Catholic faith. What are ways you have seen them included in weddings?


About the Author: Clara Davison has worked as a whitewater raft guide, sex trafficking researcher, U.K. Parliament researcher, swim coach, and freelance writer. She currently works in independent school advancement and lives with her husband in North Carolina.   

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Editors Share | Participating in the Mass

At the start of a new year and a new season of the liturgical calendar, we consider ways to refresh our habits and live each day with intention. Today, the Spoken Bride team shares some of the practices that shape their preparation for and engagement during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

 

Stephanie Calis, Editor in Chief & Co-Founder

In this season of raising young children, my husband and I have had to adjust our expectations of what we hope to “get” from the Mass, and I think after several years we’ve reached something of a sweet spot. In doing so, my view has shifted to the reality that Mass is, in fact, not about getting, but about gift: Christ’s free, faithful, total, and fruitful sacrifice poured out and re-presented to us at every liturgy. I have to remind myself that even on days when I miss every other word of the homily or when my baby tries to escape under the kneelers over and over, Jesus is truly present and desires to enter into my life and vocation in such a specific, intimate way.

That said, I do make efforts to devote myself to worship and prayer. As I approach the altar for communion, the song “Sanctuary” frequently echoes in my head, underscoring for me the beautiful nuptial significance of the sacraments and helping dispose me to receive the Eucharist. The thought of humbly approaching the altar, walking toward the Bridegroom, is so moving to me.

My husband and I try to take turns handling and praying with our kids after communion, so that we can each have personal prayer and reflection time. We sometimes alternate taking them outside immediately after Mass, as well, to give each other additional time to pray in the chapel. Since college, I have always prayed after Mass the St. Michael prayer (which my parish now says collectively, before the final blessing), a prayer to St. Raphael for friends and family members and their future spouses, and have renewed my consecration to Mary.

 

Jiza Zito, Creative Director & Co-Founder

My family arrives early, brings missals, and says a prayer of thanksgiving after Mass. I try to go to confession at least twice a month with my husband or as a family, and to daily Mass at least once a week.

 

Andi Compton, Business Director

I meet with my Gospel Group weekly and we read the Sunday Readings and discuss the readings, upcoming feast days, and liturgical living. I am an Every Sacred Sunday drop out—at this season in my life with five kids, including a newborn, I just can’t remember to bring books and take time to write notes. But I do use the Laudate app to keep up with the readings whenever I’m in the cry area and a book isn’t available. Our goal is to make it to confession once a month. Our two oldest can now receive reconciliation and it’s so important to us to model us admitting that we are sinners in need of forgiveness by going regularly.

Honestly, during this season of my life, I constantly feel like I’m not doing enough because what I plan to do is interrupted by my actual life. I’ve learned to think of these interruptions as opportunities to offer up for our family’s salvation and any other intentions I can think of. At Christmas Eve Mass I was really wrestling with all my emotions of the process of bringing the whole crew to Mass (baths, getting dressed, leaving too late, parking far away, walking through the crazy parking lot, not finding seats, dealing with usherettes on power trips) but when the Eucharist was held up and the priest said “Behold, this is Lamb oh God…” a very clear voice in my head saying “This is why.” So even if you’re in a season where you can’t do all the things you desire in your prayer life, know that you can find Jesus exactly where you are.

 

Mariah Maza, Features Editor

There are many little habits I have started to acquire that allow me to prepare better and go deeper into the great gift that is the Catholic Mass. I am not perfectly consistent yet, but I find that my spiritual life is much stronger when I am more intentional about them.

Something new I am doing this year is using the Every Sacred Sunday Mass journal to pre-read the readings at home on Sunday or Saturday, take notes, reflect, and prepare spiritually for my upcoming week. I also use the journal to take notes during the homily! I haven’t received any weird stares yet.

In preparation for receiving the Eucharist again the next time I am at Mass, I strive to make daily (if not multiple times a day) spiritual communions. There are many different prayers you can chose from to “make” a spiritual communion. I pray, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

When my husband and I are driving to Mass together, we pray St. Ambrose’s before Mass prayer in the car. I keep the paper with the prayer on the visor above the driver’s side, so I never have to think about remembering it; it is always there. I also try to listen to Christian or sacred music or ride in silence.

Additionally, I find it much easier to focus my Mass time when I arrive at least 10 minutes early to say hello to Jesus and tell him what my intentions for the Mass are.

For several months now, I have been accountable for attending daily Mass on Thursdays. A dear friend agreed to go to morning Mass with me on Thursday, and then we get coffee together! This makes sure I show up instead of making an excuse or sleeping in, and it cultivates a beautiful friendship founded on faith and virtue (and coffee).

During Mass, whenever I am about to enter the communion line, I pray in my head, “Mama Mary, prepare me to receive your Son in a way that does not desecrate His most holy body.” It can be so easy for me to get distracted right before I get up receive the Eucharist or while walking in line. I forget that I am walking the wedding aisle to my Bridegroom. So I call upon Mama Mary to clear my head and keep me focused on the sacrament.

When the priest raises the Body and Blood after consecration, I pray “my Lord and my God, thank you Jesus.”

I try not to go more than two weeks to a month between confessions. Getting over the “public shame” of staying in your seat during communion if you are not properly disposed to receive has also been transformative for my conscience and my soul. It also increases humility and my desire to get to confession so I can receive in a state of grace at the next Mass.

And finally, I veil at every Mass, in adoration chapels, and in the church when I go to confession, because those are all places I am in the presence of the Eucharist. Veiling has been immensely transformative for me. It changed my interior dispositions during Mass and even transformed the outward way I dress inside and outside of church. I am in love with this tradition the Church offers us as women.

 

Stephanie Fries, Editor at Large

I love to volunteer as a lector at Mass as a way for me to serve in our community and to engage more intimately with the readings. I am re-building a habit of bringing a small notebook with me to Mass so I can note specific readings or excerpts from the homily that I want to reflect on again at home. I strive to consistently pray a prayer of Thanksgiving after Mass, “for the beauty of this day and the sacrifice of your son.”

 

Mary Wilmot, Social Media Manager

My family and I have recently started attending a Latin Mass parish. I know this is not the case for everyone, but we are blessed that we are relatively close to two parishes that offer the TLM (one of them is the parish we were married in!). My husband and I both have experienced great fruits since attending consistently.

We like to prepare by making sure we have the readings handy during Mass. We currently use the missal and leaflets that are offered at our Church since we don’t have our own Missals yet. It is one of my goals for 2019 to acquire our own though! In a pinch, the Laudate app on my phone has been helpful as it has all the daily readings and prayers of the Mass.

After communion, I like to pray the Anima Christi prayer, and I also try to kneel and pray in silence. It can be tough with two small children though. We each get up with one of the kids at least once during the Mass due to someone needing to go to the bathroom or getting too fidgety. When I get frustrated, I try to remind myself that this is just the season of my life right now. Quietly explaining the parts of the Mass or pointing our candles, the Crucifix, or statues seem to help draw their attention to the Mass. My kids also seem to prefer to sit closer to the altar so they can see. Getting to Mass a little early makes this possible and gives us some extra prayer time. We sometimes also bring in a couple books or quiet toys. We try to go to daily Mass a couple times a week at a few different parishes nearby, too.

Outside of Mass, we pray a family rosary together every night. It has become part of our routine before the kids go to bed and it’s so nice to have those 15 minutes of quiet and peace together. The kids definitely fidget and sometimes fall asleep before we finish, but it definitely feels like it brings peace and order to our day, no matter how the rest of the day has been. In addition, I try to go to the confession at least once a month. My goal for this year is to add in at least 20-30 minutes of spiritual reading in during the day, as well.

A Photographer's Encouragement for Engagement

SINIKKA ROHRER

 

Each day from January 13-20, Spoken Bride's distinctively Catholic wedding vendors will be featured through Instagram takeovers and written contributions on the blog.

Are you recently engaged? We invite you to learn more about the gifted wedding industry professionals who partner with us through the Spoken Bride Vendor Guide.


When he asked me to marry him, I started crying tears of excitement. I was ready to be united with the love of my life and believed that nothing could stand in the way. Little did I know that nine months of marriage preparation, wedding planning, and managing family expectations would present a journey of challenges before we could walk down the aisle.

Although wedding planning was one of the most materialistic and difficult times in my life, I chose to enter the wedding industry to bless couples as their photographer and as a source of encouragement. We offer both beautiful images and positive support; we remind couples to embrace the hustle and bustle of wedding planning tasks by slowing down and enjoying engagement.

Your time as an engaged couple can seem extremely long and difficult due to a multitude of new situations, pressures, and circumstances. But there are many reasons why it's one of the most formative times in your marriage. As a bride and a photographer, I have journeyed through many engagements with couples. I pray that my perspective may help you experience your season of waiting with intention and a grateful heart.

Engagement is a precious time when you are able to communicate, discern points of conflict, and problem-solve prior to married intimacy.

It's during this time you are making some of the biggest foundational decisions in your relationship, like where you will live, where you will work, and how you will celebrate the holidays. Take time to dive into every conversation and seriously begin working through obstacles as you prepare for marriage.

Engagement gives you the ability to slowly unite as one.

In other words, engagement offers a buffer of time to release old, selfish habits and to develop new routines for new life circumstances. Marriage is a vocation that immediately strips you of the ability to be selfish; engagement is a time to prepare your mind, body, and spirit for that kind of sacrificial love. It is important to consider how daily routines and household responsibilities will change after your wedding.

Engagement allows you time to focus on Christ.

It is this time of waiting that gives you space to communicate about your faith and pray together. Use this time to create a vision for a shared spiritual life and goals for your new family’s foundation of values.

Engagement can be a challenging time to balance physical temptation, external pressures, emotional distress, and deadlines for key wedding planning decisions. But this time won't last forever.

Years from now you will look back on this season and it will be a small dot on the timeline of your marriage. With this in mind, utilize this season to its fullest by discerning issues, growing in selflessness, and focusing on Christ. After taking this time to build your foundation, you may even find the first year of your marriage will be easier than you expect!


About the Author: Sinikka Rohrer is the founder of Soul Creations Photography. She is a go-getter and dream-chaser who loves to serve others well. She loves all things healthy and early morning spiritual reads. Most days you can find her walking hand in hand beside the love of her life, Alan, with their baby John David in her arms. On any given day, you'll find them taking hikes and planning vacations out West.

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