The Face of Christ: Join with Your Spouse in Faith

by Katie Sciba

I just attended my best friend’s wedding in Kansas City. While the entire occasion was lovely and exciting from rehearsal to reception, the wedding Mass itself stood out as most beautiful. One of the most powerful and meaningful aspects of Erin’s nuptials was that her big brother, a priest of the Diocese of Wichita, was the primary celebrant. As someone raised under the same roof as the bride, Fr. Ben was able to deliver a more personal homily and offer his kid sister and her new husband the mission they were now charged with living: their marriage should be the Face of Christ to the world and to each other.

And just like that, I was awestruck. The Face of Christ: when we use that phrase to examine our marriages it can only lead to the “peace that surpasses understanding” that St. Paul mentioned in Philippians. Being the Face of Christ through our marriages means that when people see us together – how we treat each other, how we interact with our children, how we speak of each other when one spouse is absent – they should encounter a reflection of Jesus, especially his mercy.

Marriage is hard. But we know that. We know it’s hard when life doesn’t go as hoped or planned, when our beloveds hurt or disappoint us, when we hurt or disappoint them. As imperfect people riddled with dysfunction, we have to know the pain is bound to come; but it’s when we choose to apologize, pardon and let go that we can allow ourselves to be an extension of Christian mercy – to say, “I’m sorry for hurting you,” and in turn be ready with “I forgive you,” following through with compassion and kindness. Jesus offers pardon to the penitent so many times in the Gospels and we’re simply short changing ourselves and our spouses when we don’t do the same.

How, how? How are we supposed to be a channel of infinite mercy as limited people? Simple: prayer. Pray together. Many might widen their eyes at the thought, but the surefire way to imitate Christ’s mercy to each other is to encounter him together; which is more accessible than you think and the effects are transformative. Begin by going one step beyond your current prayer life together – start with a brief “Glory Be” in the mornings, or try attending one additional Mass together during the week. Pray a decade of the Rosary or the whole thing. Pray together as a routine – an unbreakable appointment that you’ll hold each other accountable for attending.

When my husband and I pray together, I feel safe. I feel safely tucked into the heart of God and safe with Andrew. Because when we come together in prayer, we’re being both vulnerable and receptive to each other in a context that we mentally prepare for. We can admit faults, offer apologies and more importantly, forgiveness when we imitate Christ. And because we pray together daily, we make progressive efforts toward knowing God better and the ability to extend mercy to each other. And all that can result from our prayer together is the fulfillment of Fr. Ben’s charge – to be the Face of Christ to the world.

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