Grief + Grace: Suffering a Miscarriage as Newlyweds

KATE THIBODEAU

 

As newlyweds, we approach our first years of marriage in a blissful state of faith and hope. We make vows to our spouses to remain with them for better or worse, richer or poorer, till death do us part.

I specifically remember the utter happiness of my wedding day--the very best day of my life--with no thought that sadness could so easily creep into these early days of joy and peace.

God gifts to married couples a specific store of grace to carry them through the learning curves and the hardships of creating a life together. These graces  help us to learn sacrifice and charity and to offer ourselves and our desires up for the better of our spouse.

It is through these graces we are able to heal from wounds given to each other, the daily hardships we encounter, and for my husband and I, the greatest trial of all--the loss of our children.

 A few months into our very ordinary and blissful marriage, my husband and I suffered the miscarriage of our first baby. We had not planned for this little one; in fact, we had prayed for clarity in our decision to start our family and discerned that waiting was in God’s plan for us. However, the short duration of our unexpected baby girl’s life tugged at our heart strings. Despite God’s prudence to call her home so soon, we grieved the loss of his gift.

In our sorrow, I remember both a spiritual darkness and an overwhelming shower of grace that affected not merely my personal grief, but our marriage. My husband and I were called to grieve together; to openly suffer and mourn in a new way.

I remember thinking the honeymoon phase was officially over as I sat speechless, watching my husband sob for our baby girl.

There was no more need for blithely skirting around each other and putting on a happy face, confident our love would overcome hardship. Our strength now was found in experiencing, together, God’s change of plan for our lives.  

Sorrow and tears were followed by anger with God, frustration with my body, and an overwhelming sense of questioning our loss. I found myself sitting in the confessional, telling the priest through tears that I struggled with doubt in God’s decision, failing to understand how his sense of timing could be just or correct.

I fought fears that my husband could not suffer in communion with me, as he did not physically carry our child as I did. I listened to songs that made me think of my girl. I wrote letters to her that she would never read, bought a Christmas ornament to suffer through the holidays without her, and I cried through the Joyful Mysteries of the rosary, searching for the joy in my life.

My husband and I sought out the sacraments for graces and worked together to grow through our loss. We prayed a novena for answers, we picked a name for our little one (Charlotte Rose), inspired by St. Therese, who gave us great peace. We asked Charlotte’s intercession in her closeness to Jesus, that she may petition for the safety of her brothers and sisters to come. My husband and I prayed together through the tears and questions.

Our miscarriage journey is the greatest test of our faith as a couple so far: faith in our strength as a team, faith in our Catholic family, and most importantly, faith in God’s ultimate timing in our lives. 

We are daily showered in grace upon grace. We are gifted humility in trust of God’s plan and his full control of our family. We are gifted patience as we yearn for another child following baby Charlotte Rose. We are gifted contentment in approaching our newlywed existence sobered and stronger to pursue God’s mission for our family.

In sharing our loss with other newlyweds, I hear a common cry of families who suffer their losses both in silence and in community. Their relationships are tried by fire and strengthened by God’s infinite store of grace given through the sacrament of marriage. God calls couples to the joy and pain of marriage together. He does not give us tasks that are beyond our reckoning.

While there is no deadline to the grief that comes with the loss of our child, my husband and I are still learning to grow as one in our suffering, having found a new depth in dependence on each other and God’s mercy.

With the blessing of our “rainbow baby” to come this fall, I am daily reminded of the gifts of life and love to marriages, and those that are taken too soon.

May we always keep those couples suffering in our prayers, that they may not lose faith in God’s timing, but to be encouraged to look for the grace and strength that follows the storm. May we ask our angel babies to intercede for us from their blessed seat with God. May we ask Mary to bring joy into our newlywed struggles and fill us with restored hope.


About the Author: Recently married to her best friend and partner towards salvation, Kate Thibodeau is learning how to best serve her vocation as a wife while using her God-given talents. Mama to angel baby, Charlotte Rose, and soon-to-arrive Baby Thibs, Kate has an English degree from Benedictine College, and strives to live in the Benedictine motto: that in all things, God may be glorified. Kate loves literature, romance, beautiful music, pretty things, wedding planning, and building a community of strong Catholic women.

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Love and Sacrifice Say the Same Thing.

STEPHANIE CALIS

 

What is beautiful draws our senses to the sacred. At a recent wedding I attended, a harp, organ, and choir lifted their melodies to the heights. The groomsmen wore tailcoats; the bridesmaids, embellished gowns the color of jade. Even these breathtaking details, however, were nothing compared to the radiance of the liturgy, or the couple themselves.

After a tear-filled procession and Liturgy of the Word, the celebrant’s homily illuminated an essential truth of our vocations, one embodied in a particularly tangible way through the call to marriage: love and sacrifice say the same thing, but only to the extent that we embrace them.

“You love,” he said, “as much as you sacrifice, and you sacrifice as much as you love.”

What does this mean?

As a wedding guest, I took these words as a prayer for the couple about to become one, that they might spend their lifetime willing one another’s good and fulfillment.

On a personal level, I heard them as a call, insistent and clear: along this path, my husband’s and my pilgrimage to the eternal wedding feast, our vows merit that we love with the entirety of our hearts, even when emotion runs dry and when we’d prefer not to make the effort. That we embrace the good times and bad, knowing that in making a gift of our actions, time, and entire selves to one another, we’re free from enslavement to self-serving desires.

I often consider the link between the words integration and integrity when it comes to relationships. That is, the times when the complementary parts of who I am--body and soul, reason and emotion, and more--are well-integrated and not in conflict with each other, are the times I find myself treating my husband with the greatest sense of integrity.

These are the times when my love for him and the sacrifices I’m willing to make for him--taking on extra chores when he’s busy, respecting our budget, putting our kids to bed on the nights he has to bring work home--speak a language of wholeness and good will.

When our hearts are integrated, love and sacrifice say the same thing: I give of myself to you, I place your present wants and needs before my own, I enter into your burdens and carry them alongside you.

In the times I turn to my own selfishness, preferring personal convenience or comfort above what’s best for my marriage and family, I see our relationships being chipped away at. I see them quite literally dis-integrate.

Thanks to grace and mercy, these breaks can be restored to something like their former wholeness, and only in eternity will they be brought to perfection.

Only in eternity. The words of this wedding homily, an occasion of such heavenly rejoicing, drew my attention down to earth and to the tension we live out in our vocations. We are earthly and imperfect, yet our call is focused on eternal life; on bringing our spouses and children (biological or spiritual) to the banquet by way of love.

And how to pour out that love? Through our acts of sacrifice. Saint John Paul II said, “There is no place for selfishness and no place for fear! Do not be afraid, then, when love makes demands. Do not be afraid when love requires sacrifice.”

By praying for your spouse, by serving and assisting him without keeping score, by keeping your shared goal of each other’s fulfillment and salvation at the forefront--even when it feels too hard--you become living icons of self-emptying love, bearing Christ to the world.


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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5 Saint Thérèse Quotes to Help You Live the “Little Way” in Marriage

What could a cloistered Carmelite nun who lived in the 1800s and died at the young age of 24 teach anyone about marriage—especially marriage in the 21st century?

If you look at marriage through a purely secular lens, as a civilly-sanctioned union between two consenting parties who share great feelings of affection—and tax benefits—then not much.

But for Christians, marriage is so much more. And through the Catholic sacrament of matrimony, two individuals become a living sacrament.

There is a spiritual reality in the spousal union that knits souls together for life, “God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother [and be joined to his wife], and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.”

There is unique marital grace that God reserves for those living the sacrament, and there is a mission given to the spouses that transcends time: help each other become the saints you are called to be. Walk with each other to Heaven. Cultivate your family as a ‘domestic church’ that overflows with life, love, grace, and Christ.

But what does marriage have to do with a young Carmelite nun?

Her name was Thérèse Martin—a young, fifteen-year-old girl who petitioned the Holy Father to enter Carmel; her plea was granted. During her remainder of her life in the French convent, Thérèse adopted a philosophy and a spirituality that reflected her own “little soul.” It was a way of simplicity, sacrifice, and, ultimately, love.

In 1997, she was officially declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul II. In her much-loved autobiography, Story of a Soul, she writes, “overcome by joy, I cried, 'Jesus, my love. At last I have found my vocation. My vocation is love!’” Saint Thérèse’s spirituality, her most enduring legacy, is affectionately known as the “Little Way:” a simple and direct path to Heaven. Although written by a young nun who never married, this spirituality is a beautiful rule of life for the married home. Through her own words, we learn the little way as a guide for our own vocations to love, through the vocation to marriage.

 

“My whole strength lies in prayer and sacrifice, these are my invincible arms; they can move hearts far better than words, I know it by experience.”

Saint Thérèse’s religious life revolved around constant prayer and sacrifice, especially little daily sacrifices like cleaning dishes or helping other sisters in need (especially those she found to be the most difficult). How strong marriages would be if each spouse filled every day with tiny sacrifices and deaths to self, each offered as a little prayer of love to Jesus!

“Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice,” she admonishes. “Here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right thing and doing it all for love.”

When you begin a burdensome chore, do it joyfully; offer up the urge to complain as a small sacrifice for your beloved and for Christ. Your joyful “yes” to making the bed each morning becomes a small fulfillment of the call to your vocation of married life. Each little labor becomes a prayer. After all, “when one loves,” Saint Thérèse says, “one does not calculate.”

“I know now that true charity consists in bearing all our neighbors' defects—not being surprised at their weakness, but edified at their smallest virtues.”

Is there anything about your spouse that drives you nuts? When you attend confession, do you feel like you could do their examination of conscience for them?

“How could he leave his clothes on the floor by the bed again? Haven’t I asked him ten times not to do that?” St. Thérèse’s little way notices faults of others through a different lens. The bad habits in your spouse, and in yourself, do not change easily or quickly; that’s the nature of a habit.

When your spouse does something that annoys you, again, refrain from acting shocked. Expect a healthy amount of imperfection or inconsistency from your spouse, and reflect, instead, on even his smallest virtues.

This minor shift in perspective curbs disappointment and hurt of failed expectations. Choose joy. Choose to notice the strengths of your spouse that made you fall in love with them in the first place. There may be profound suffering in marriage, but, as Thérèse says, “It's true, I suffer a great deal—but do I suffer well? That is the question.”

“I understood that every flower created by Him is beautiful, that the brilliance of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not lessen the perfume of the violet or the sweet simplicity of the daisy. I understood that if all the lowly flowers wished to be roses, nature would no longer be enamelled with lovely hues. And so it is in the world of souls, Our Lord's living garden.”

Do you ever look at another wife and wish you could be as good as her? Her beauty, her talents, her home, and even her marriage seem better than yours.

Envy destroys souls and marriages. But confident humility and gratitude for the gifts and beauty in your life destroy envy. Saint Thérèse wisely notes the perfect beauty of every person’s unique soul and vocation in God’s “living garden.”

“If a little flower could speak,” she explains, “it seems to me that it would tell us quite simply all that God has done for it, without hiding any of its gifts. It would not, under the pretext of humility, say that it was not pretty, or that it had not a sweet scent...if it knew that such were not the case.”

Make a list of all the little things that bring you gratitude about your spouse and the life you share together. Present these things with love to the Lord and praise him for crafting you as the beautiful flower you are. “Holiness (and happiness) consists simply in doing God's will, and being just what God wants us to be,” Thérèse says.

Another woman may have been created as a rose, but your life as the simple daisy adds necessary color and beauty to God’s garden.  

“God would never inspire me with desires which cannot be realized; so in spite of my littleness, I can hope to be a saint.”

In one of the most courageous sentences she ever wrote, St. Thérèse confidently hopes in her own sanctity, despite being acutely aware of her weaknesses and faults. She knows that her vocation is love, so “without love, deeds, even the most brilliant, count as nothing.” It is not always the grandeur of holy actions that make a saint, but the grandeur of love in every little action.

On your wedding day, you vowed to love your spouse “until death do us part.” Only then is your vocation complete, when you and your beloved enter eternal life as saints who helped each other through a lifetime of growing in sanctity.

In your own littleness, do not despair. Ask God for the theological virtue of hope to thrive in your marriage. Trust that your desire for sanctity in your vocation is never in vain.

In spite of your faults, in spite of the flaws of your spouse, in spite of the imperfections of your marriage, you can always, confidently, hope to become a saint. Walk the little way of simplicity, sacrifice, and love. Grow through the graces of marriage and the deep, abiding love of God—just like a little French nun who became a Doctor of the Church.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux, pray for us!

My Daughter's Storybook Wedding--and How it Helped me Grieve

LIZ GORRELL

 

I am a bride, a mother, and a grandmother. In anticipating my eldest daughter’s child (my 6th grandchild), I am eager to share the story of our mother-daughter relationship amidst the planning of her wedding day last year. Celebrating her storybook wedding, and reflecting on that season of life, was a precious spiritual gift to me. I pray that sharing this story will be a gift to a young bride-to-be, new bride, and her mother.

In the midst of planning my daughter’s wedding, I was grieving the death of my mother. The process of mourning my loss filled my soul with emotion and clouded my ability to express myself. It wasn’t until after the wedding when I was finally able to sit and reflect upon my mother’s death, my daughter’s beautiful wedding, and the prayers my mother would have offered--for my daughter, her new husband, and their life together. Ultimately, the moment of pause helped me recognize how her wedding was my “good grief,” a gracious gift in the midst of sadness.

A mother is an integral part of a young woman’s life when she is getting married. Regardless if the two are on good terms or not--whether the relationship is filled with intimate stories and laughter over a girls’ night or strained from wounds and incompatible temperaments--the mother-daughter relationship is emphasized during a transition to marriage.

I believe every mother longs to be close to her little girl as she moves from her parents’ protection to the loving shelter of a kind man. And I believe each young woman yearns for her mother’s support as she enters her new vocation.

I go back in my mind to a year ago when my daughter, Kate, and I were in the middle of reception detail planning and dress fittings. There was so much to decide upon, and of course, I was so excited to bring all my crafty talents to the table and make her storybook wedding a reality. At the same time, the shadow of grief from my mother’s death followed me as I hadn’t adequately processed the transition in my own mother-daughter relationship.

Kate and I often argued about wedding etiquette. More than once I heard, “Mom, people don’t do that anymore!” Eventually I responded, “Well, if I’m paying for it, I want it to be done well and be a classy event.”

The tension and anger were followed by apologies and compromises. The “Please, Mom, understand I want my wedding to be what I envision, not your vision,” was almost always answered with, “I understand, honey, but please don’t steal my joy in giving you something beautiful.” Despite our challenging conversations, we were able to come together to create a lovely and memorable day.

“Stealing joy” was an echo of my mother’s words from years prior--when I had denied her opinion and financial support in my own wedding preparations and newlywed life. I was the youngest of fourteen children, her eleventh daughter, and I shudder at the memory of my reaction to her efforts to help me.

The dual-perspective as both a daughter and a mother allows me to identify these offerings of help as a sincere gift. I wish I had been more gracious and hadn’t “stolen her joy.” Simultaneously, I can empathize with my daughter’s longing for independence and freedom in some of our conflicts of opinion.

I recognize the perspective as a young bride, unable to realize how much emotion a mother experiences as her daughter prepares for marriage. A mother’s emotional investment stretches beyond monetary costs, aesthetic details, and various other niceties. In her daughter’s wedding, a mother comes to terms with the reality that her young girl is becoming a woman, making decisions of her own, and preparing to leave home in order to cling to another. Such a transition is difficult.

When a woman first finds out she is having a baby girl, she holds close to her heart all the expectations of what kind of mother she will be to her little girl. She hopes to be a good example in femininity, holiness and motherhood, and to cultivate a true friendship that goes beyond being a mother and daughter. Every mother has expectations for her daughter, in what kind of woman she will become; as I look with love upon my daughter, I can honestly say she has always exceeded mine.

As a homeschooling family, I had been a long-term support to my daughter--and she to me. Yet, witnessing her maturation and growing independence through the college years was difficult. Though she became the lovely independent young woman and friend I had hoped for, there is an experience of grieving, of “losing” my little girl. Such a bittersweet transition is not easy.

My daughter’s wedding was truly a storybook wedding. I was touched by her and her fiance’s desire for the wedding to be a deeply sacred event. The afternoon of the Nuptial Mass was indeed a true expression of Faith which included she and her guy meeting our pastor to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation minutes before they would line up with their bridal party in the back of the cathedral.

With the classic sacred music, stunning musicians, and reverence of the whole Mass, many tears of joy were shed that afternoon, however, surprisingly, I didn’t cry. In total peace, I looked upon my little girl all grown up, as she stood arm in arm with her new husband presenting, with love, her bouquet and entrusting their marriage to our Blessed Mother Mary. My own mother lived her life devoted to our Blessed Mother, so I imagine she was probably smiling down from heaven.

The fairy tale continued at a most exquisite reception venue with simple elegance planned into the details. The details were very personal from the place setting favors to the gorgeous dessert table spread of homemade pies and cheesecakes compliments of her sister-in-law, Abby and myself. My humble effort at making the wedding cake was a labor of love and satisfaction even if it was a bit crooked! From the Father-Daughter dance to “Isn’t She Lovely” by Stevie Wonder, and the Mother-Son dance to “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong,

all the joy was bit by bit healing my grief.

Everyone celebrated loudly, danced the night away and gathered under the stars sending off the happy couple under a shower of sparklers.

In the grieving of my little girl’s growing up and the grieving of my mother’s death, I lost my familiar positions in relation to the women who know me best. But in my loss, I gained a new level of intimacy with both my daughter and my mother, I gained a new perspective and compassion for how the mother-daughter relationship changes over time, and I gained the love of God to guide me, gently, through a major life transition with peace and joy.

I often think of my daughter and my mother, Edith, as my two closest friends. When I think of the virtues my holy mother possessed--strong love of God, His Blessed Mother and the Saints, humility and patience--I see those same virtues in my daughter; so my mother lives on.

My advice to the young ladies planning a wedding is to seek a better understanding of the gift you are to your mother, and that regardless of the state of your relationship with your mother at this time, know you are a gift from God to her. Your love and joy may help her grieve a loss, heal a wound, and grow in holiness.

To the mothers out there, I pray for grace for you to enter into a better friendship with your girl as she prepares for her vocation of wife and motherhood. Give her your time and love, but most importantly your prayers so she may glorify God with her new life--a life you helped to provide, and nourished the best you could.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Liz Gorrell is a wife, mother to five living children and three little saints in heaven, and grandmother to 5 sweet kiddos. A Midwest transplant to Austin, Texas, she loves gardening, creating mosaic patio stones with Catholic themes, all-things decorating, wedding and party planning, baking, and celebrating big her Catholic Faith. Liz has spent the better part of the last 20 years homeschooling her last four children, creating a domestic Church by way of her love of sacred art, liturgical celebrations and cultivating an environment of goodness, truth and beauty. She enjoys helping young mothers and other homeschooling mothers through her ministry, Heart of the Home. She has a devotion to the Blessed Mother, and strives to emulate Mary and the Saints in living a simple life. Her goal is to hear, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant,.. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."

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Comprehending the Cross

CARISSA PLUTA

 

Death to Self. That doesn’t sound particularly pleasant, does it? Not only that, but it also seems to stand in direct opposition to our human instinct of self-preservation. We were made to survive.

And yet, we are asked to lay down our lives for our spouse not just once but daily for as long as we both shall live. It just doesn’t make sense.

We remember today the greatest of paradoxes--the Cross, an instrument of death that became a symbol of eternal life.


Beaten, bloodied, hanging naked before all, for a crime He didn’t commit. Christ’s body emptied for fallible creatures who would deny Him. His heart spilled out for the imperfect Beloved who would reject Him.

Hours before, He sweated blood in the Garden while asking that this cup pass from Him. In that moment, we see fear of pain, fear of death.

He didn’t have to undergo that suffering. He didn’t have to stay on that cross; He is God after all.

But He did so to show us that, despite the difficulty we may face, despite the moments where our love isn’t perfectly returned, the sacrifice is worth it.

He was held on the cross by the same force that has the power to unite two broken, flawed humans in the sacrament of marriage--Love.

Love makes the suffering of the cross comprehensible.

We look today in a special way upon the cross, upon the perfect Lover. The example set before us on our wedding day of self-gift at its best. The cross offers an honest look at what we are called to in our vocation-- an emptying of oneself, a rejection of the primal instinct of self-preservation to be brought into the greatest of glories. Death and resurrection.

Suffering doesn’t make sense when taken alone. We want our happily ever after, and God-willing, one day we should have it. But we don’t want the mediocre version of happiness the world offers us. Instead our heart longs for the fulfillment of all our desires and we will never be satisfied with anything less.

We enter a new leg of our journey to our heavenly homeland as we enter into our vocation; the heat of the crucible is turned up and there will be moments when we feel the pain of our impurities being burned away.

There will be joy in your marriage, and those moments will be some of the profound moments of joy you will ever experience in this life. But in order to receive what we were created for, those imperfect parts of ourselves must undergo a crucifixtion of sorts, and brought to new life.

As we clear our hearts of our selfishness, we make room for something that is more beautiful than we ever could have imagined--God Himself.

This is what He vows to us on the cross today. This is what He promises to us with His dying breath. I love you, he whispers in the depths of your heart and I want you to spend eternity with me. So, together with your husband, take up your cross and follow me. Lay down your life alongside me, and I promise you will rise with me. I will show you what it means to Love.


Carissa Pluta

About the Author: Carissa Pluta is Spoken Bride’s Editor at Large. She is the author of the blog The Myth Retold. Read more

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Our Origins Point us to our Destiny

STEPHANIE FRIES

 

The latin root of the word ‘origin’ is oriri, meaning, ‘to rise.’

We study our origin to know the root from which we rise. This truth is simplified in the common saying, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” The apple is precisely what it is and where it is because of what and where it came from. Though related to the origin, each fruit carries its own dimension of unique characteristics.

Reading and studying the beginnings of human nature help us more deeply understand our supernatural purpose and eternity in heaven. I imagine studying our origin is like firing a slingshot. The further back you pull the sling—or the deeper you explore your origin—the higher the shot will launch upon release.

Our shared identity as Christian women offers a common foundation. Each of us can say, “I am a human. I am a child of God. I am a woman.” We could explore the roots of our role as daughter or sister. Many of us can say, “I am a wife.” With each piece of our identity, we rise with a beautiful complexity of strengths, graces, skills, weaknesses, and experiences into a wide variety of individuals, called to glorify God in a variety of ways. Let’s begin exploring our shared identity together to strengthen our foundations of self-knowledge and communion with God.

I am a human.

We hear the fulfillment of the universal human heartache in Scripture, when Adam sees Eve and exclaims, “This one, at last, is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” He received her as his own, she was seen and loved in her pure existence; in that moment, Adam and Eve experienced the fullness of perfection, in unity, without shame. Following the fall of humanity to sin, our ability to achieve perfection on this side of heaven faded. Nonetheless, every person’s desire for pure companionship and reciprocal love with others remains a part of our human origin.

I am a child of God.

For an understanding of our supernatural destiny, we study the origin of creation by God. He creates every natural element on Earth as an overflow of his love. He is love. Every piece of creation is a fruitful act of love, made to reflect and share his glory throughout the world and to offer love back to him. As a child and image of God, our origin—and, thus, our destiny—is to love others, to receive love, and to be fruitful.

I am a woman.

Saint Pope John Paul II offers several beautiful texts on the origin of our identity as women. In his 1988 Apostolic Letter, Mulieris Dignitatem, he encourages women to explore the origin of their femininity in Christ in order to know their destiny, “In the spirit of Christ, in fact, women can discover the entire meaning of their femininity and thus be disposed to making a “sincere gift of self” to others, thereby finding themselves.”  

In summary of Mulieris Dignitatem, four qualities inherent to the feminine heart and soul are receptivity, sensitivity, generosity, and maternity. As we identify the specific roots of our womanhood in these feminine attributes, we rise with confidence in our vocations by nurturing these qualities in ourselves and the women around us. We grow in self-love and develop a greater ability to fruitfully share that love through our specialized feminine gifts.

I am a wife.

Marriage, as a social institution, is rooted in legal, structural and financial benefits to society. Through a historically secular approach, marriage functions to offer foundational assets to a community for the greater good of all.

Supernaturally, or from the perspective of the divine, we are taught that men and women who share life in a covenant are empowered to reflect the image of the creator in a special way. Beyond reflecting God who is love in their individual lives, married couples reflect the inextricable union between Christ and the Church. We look to Christ on the cross to begin understanding the calling of married couples.

As Jesus carried his cross in a journey of salvation for all, husbands and wives are called to carry the burdens and pains of their spouse in their journey towards sanctification. As Jesus died on the cross for the sins of humankind, husbands and wives are called to surrender themselves for the sake of love of another. As Jesus’ side poured out blood and water as a sign of his purifying mercy for the Church, husbands and wives are called to forgive and be strengthened through their marriage to become an overflowing of love and mercy to each other, and their community. As Jesus’ death bore the fruit of grace through the offering of his body and blood, celebrated bodily through the Eucharist, husbands and wives are called to be fruitful through the sharing and offering of their own body and blood in creating new life.

We study our origin to know the root from which we rise.

What is another piece of your identity? I invite you to trace back through your life’s journey of memories, experiences, and callings to solidify your origin in that role. How can a deeper understanding of your origin teach you about yourself, God’s presence in your life, or where God may be calling you? How do your passions, desires, and gifts enable you to love others, to be loved, or to be fruitful in the world?

Reflecting on the origin of your personality, joys, passions, fears, and experiences will undoubtedly pull you to a deeper understanding of your roots so you may rise to the highest heights of your destiny. Ultimately, the ways in which we fulfill our vocations point us to our desire for the ultimate and infinite union with God in heaven.


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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Where Love Dwells

CARISSA PLUTA

 

Then the Angel departed from her.

A friend of mine recently gave a talk that emphasized this line from Luke 1. This, he said, was the scariest line in Scripture. The words that proceed it are the words most of us have heard over and over again: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”

PHOTOGRAPHY:    Laurentina Photography

Mary was invited into something so much bigger than herself, which in itself is frightening. Then she makes this bold statement of faith, and then the angel departed from her. No more questions, no explanation, no other answers.

Mary wasn’t given a roadmap, or a glimpse into the future. She didn’t know that she would have to give birth in a stable and then flee to Egypt to save His life. She never would have guessed that she would eventually watch her son suffer and die on a cross, only to come back from the dead three days later.

But it didn’t matter. When Mary gave her fiat, she said yes to everything that was to come, whether she knew it or not. She willingly said ‘yes’ God and in doing so, said yes to whatever would demand of her.

Like Mary, our “I do” at the altar contains a mysterious and sometimes messy reality.

When we make those promises of love we can’t know everything that will happen between then and that moment when death does us part. We don’t know how those vows will take shape. While we can dream about those good times, the bad times will inevitably come. While we can hope for health, sickness may still find its way in.

The promises I made on a spring afternoon almost three years ago look very different after two moves, big decisions, and a toddler later. And it will look even more different fifty years from now as our lives continue to unfold.

On that special day I, in a sense, made a promise to the unknown. I joyfully and willingly said “I Do” to a mystery.

And, similar to the Annunciation, it is in this mystery that Love dwells.


Love, a radical outpouring of self, is not found in knowing what is to come, but in the present. No matter how hard we try, love cannot be planned; it can only be chosen when the moment presents itself.

It is formed in those times of surrender, of joy, of consolation, and of desolation. It takes root among the laundry and dirty dishes, among the moving boxes and new jobs.

It is strengthened in the sleepless nights and early mornings, in the baby cries and smelly diapers. In wounded pride and tearful apologies, in laughter that makes your stomach hurt.

Heaven and earth intersect in a unique way when a man and woman promise themselves to the other. These earthly vows make room in our hearts for the divine, for eternity itself. Our minds cannot comprehend the depths of this Divine love we are promising. We may not understand what the words fully mean until we reach Heaven.

But like Mary we are called to say “I do” with our entire being. And like Mary, we can trust that God will give us the grace to be faithful to our call and make our “yes” truly life-giving.


Carissa Pluta

About the Author: Carissa Pluta is Spoken Bride’s Editor at Large. She is the author of the blog The Myth Retold. Read more

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