Marriage and Sanctity: A Match Made in Heaven
By Megan Lacourrege
In July, the Church celebrates two sets of married couple saints: Sts. Zelie and Louis Martin, the parents of St. Therese, and Sts. Anne and Joachim, the parents of the Virgin Mary.
These are not the only married couple saints. There are quite a few others. (Even John Paul II’s parents have begun the canonization process!) Saints like these might make a current-day Catholic married couple feel both inspired and intimidated. We may desire sanctity but question our ability to achieve it, especially along with a spouse!
However, our vocations are an essential path to our sanctification. It’s not just priests and nuns who are called to holiness: It’s married people too. Before becoming overwhelmed by this idea, consider how the daily components of marriage actually lend themselves to spiritual growth:
- Checks and balances – All people have weaknesses and flaws, often leading us to sin. Spouses get an intimate understanding of the other’s virtues and vices. That makes them potentially excellent spiritual helpers. A spouse can lovingly correct the other’s sins with the sincere desire for them to grow. Spouses don’t just become better individually; they also become better leaders for their families.
- Children – Raising children is not easy, but it certainly provides spouses the opportunity to grow. Discerning together what is best for a child and enacting those decisions in unity requires prayer, communication and mutual respect.
- Challenges – For each married couple, the challenges look different and may change over time. Finances, jobs, extended family issues, infertility, the death of a child and illness are just a few.
It’s perturbing to realize that the road isn’t always smooth on the journey of marriage. Learning to lean on the graces of the sacrament and suffer in virtue together can be difficult, if not excruciating, at times. But it is in these challenges that we can reach the pinnacle of holiness, that of joining Jesus on the cross.