The sacrament called marriage

The legendary Henry Ford, the eminent American automobile industrialist and the founder of the Ford Motor Company was celebrating his golden wedding anniversary. A reporter, who saw the happy couple, asked the secret of his 50 years of successful married life. Without batting an eyelid, he replied: “You see, it is very simple. The formula I use in marriage is the same I use when making cars. When you find a good model, you just stick to it!”

Last weekend, I was invited to attend the wedding ceremony of Rommel, a businessman, with his beloved Nazneen, who worked at Infosys, at the beautifully decked up St Patrick’s Cathedral in Pune. The most important part of a Catholic wedding is what is commonly known as the exchange of vows. Vows are the sacrament of marriage, which forms the covenant that establishes the couple’s marriage. It is an act of will by which a man and a woman give themselves to each other, and accept the gift of the other. The marriage can’t happen without the declaration of consent. And so Fr Wilfred Fernandes and Fr George Cordeiro SJ proceeded with the laid down ceremony of the marriage, according to the rules of the Catholic church.

They solemnly proceeded with the spiritual ceremony by asking three questions: 1) Have you come here freely and without reservation to give yourselves to each other in marriage? 2) Will you honour each other as man and wife for the rest of your lives? 3) Will you accept children lovingly from god, and bring them up according to the law of Christ and his church? After saying yes, the couple exchanged the golden rings as a sign of their love and fidelity. They also promised to be true to each other in good and in bad times, in sickness and in health and to love and honour each other until death did them part.

Marriage is many things to many people. Marriage is a rainbow of colours. Marriage is a mystery. It is an opportunity to love as well as a challenge to gift yourself to the other unconditionally as you cannot predict what the future would be. But marriage is, above all a sacrament, a gift from god. Therefore, the famous Bible quote: What god has joined together let no man put asunder!


Michael Gonsalves