Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Marriage, Sacrifice, and Mother Angelica

I can't tell you how much I love Mother Angelica. She is so full of spunk and wisdom. I know she is not doing very well health-wise, but I listen to her old broadcasts, "Mornings With Mother Angelica" when I'm able and enjoy her teachings immensely.

Today, I heard her speak about marriage and sacrifice. She observed that not many people seem to stay married anymore because they haven't understood what sacrifice means for their relationship. I know that may sound a little too "black and white" for some, but it reminded me of why I was frustrated when I'd learn about a well-known Christian's divorce. It would cause me to think of Catholicism and sacrifice.

After I left the Catholic church, I remember relishing the variety of teachings I'd hear. No more stories about suffering or sacrifice. No one admonished me to "offer it up" when things got rough. Instead I heard sermons on following Christ so that I could enjoy an "abundant life." Abundant seemed a pretty good alternative to suffering!

I know we are offered abundant life through Jesus Christ, but has non-Catholic churches so focused on this that they've lost sight of what sacrifice really means? Sacrifice means you have the opportunity to deny yourself and place someone or something as a priority. Then Jesus told his disciples, 'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." (Matt. 16:24)

Marriage can be used by God as a cross to purify us. If a Christian is running away from that, there will be another cross to be carried. God's purpose is to sanctify us and make us holy. That doesn't come easily and only by His grace can we be aware of the countless opportunities He gives us.

Maybe this is why I'm saddened by divorce. Marriage is one of the best ways God can confront us with our own selfish nature. Parenting is another way. When we seek someone else's happiness above our own, we are expressing an agape kind of love, the kind of love that does not seek its own satisfaction.

I pray that I can be a good example of this to my own husband. When Christians walk in this type of sacrificial love, it is a powerful witness to the world that seeking one's own happiness isn't the best path. When this doesn't happen, the Gospel loses. I want to see the Gospel win, both in my life and in the lives of my fellow brothers and sisters. May God give us the grace we need to carry our cross.