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Archive for the ‘Marriage Philosophy’ Category

Just under five months ago, I asked Casey to marry me.
That’s going to happen today.
Almost immediately after I proposed, we talked about how we didn’t want to wait too long and that we were ready to be married to one another.
We just didn’t realize how quickly five months would go by.
Even up to today, we’re making last minute adjustments and prep. No matter what’s ready, we are crossing the finish line together by 5:30. We’ve come to realize that today isn’t the finish line, however. It is the start of the longest, most life-giving marathon there is: marriage. Along the way, we know there will be faith, family and friends with figurative water cups to help nourish and sustain us. We will never be thirsty without those things in our lives.
I know one thing: I am emotional as I type this. As a boy, I dreamed that I would marry a sweet and smart woman who brought me joy, made me laugh and made me better. As a man, I will stand in front of the altar and know I’ve found her and much, much more.
I will aim to be her equal.
A look at Cassandra Michele Anderson puts the world in perspective. All of its possibilities come into focus.
I don’t know where life is going after today, but I go into the unknown with great joy, anticipation and humility.
This blog will continue beyond today and become our marriage and family blog.
When I proposed, I asked Casey if she would be interested in doing a blog with me. As a professional writer, this was a natural outlet for me, but I figured Casey could use it as a teaching tool for the teenagers she works with. They would see the Sacrament of Marriage is something truly special. I may be the writer, but Casey is this blog’s best contributor and I learn something each time I read her musings. She makes me laugh and think at the same time.
Thanks to you, the reader, who has followed along. You’ve contributed so much to our journey and we hope you continue with us.
The journey is only starting. Bring the water cups.

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One of my favorite faith-themed websites is Busted Halo, where articles, blogs, and videos explore young adult faith lives.  One of their most creative features are annual Advent and Lent count-down calendars.  Each day, there is a new reflection and prayer reminder that sheds unique light upon the season….

I think that their take on the meaning of the Advent season is just fantastic!Take two minutes to get the synopsis:

I have always endeared to the Advent season… the anticipation of Christmas and all its seasonal glory speaks to my sensibilities and my spirituality.  Both religiously and secular-ly, every aspect of Advent makes me a little bit giddy (the first snowfall! the lessons and carols! the blessing of the manger scene! the lights and decorations! the music! the Charlie Brown Christmas Special!).

This year,  our last month of engagement is almost entirely during Advent (25 out of 30 days, anyhow), and all of the meanings and themes of Advent take on a whole new meaning for me personally.

Christ is entering our world … and Advent is the expectant waiting… hopeful anticipation… and cheerful preparation of God breaking into our lives!

Oh my goodness, have I developed a new appreciation for hopeful anticipation!  Five days after Advent ends, December 30, Matt and I get to receive a brand new (for us) sacrament — and God will break into our lives in a new way.  And the connection between the spirituality of Advent and my spirituality of engagement go even farther than that.

When we celebrate Advent, it is meant to be a quiet time of reflection and preparation for Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.  Our Lord chose to enter the world as a human being… submitting to our restrictions of time and space… out of pure love for humanity… in order to communicate that love to us in new and definite ways.  We look at the Virgin Mary’s obedience to God’s will as our supreme example of discipleship.  We look at the presence of the shepherds at the birth to demonstrate God’s preferential option for the poor.  We look at the gifts of the Magi for their forshadowing of the sacrifice Jesus would make for humankind. Personally, looking at nativity scenes in art and in decorations, I find myself prayerfully pondering the wonder and mystery of God’s existence as a helpless infant. We were not expecting the Messiah to arrive in such an unassuming way.  We hoped for a superhero of sorts, or at least someone born into nobility or a warrior-leader or a legacy rabbi…  but a humble family of a carpenter?!?  This defied conventions.  The day Jesus was born, God showed us the beauty and value in humility, vulnerability, and purity. 

To me, engagement is just like Advent because we are anticipating and preparing for the presence of Christ to enter our lives in a new way.  Jesus is present to us in the signs of the sacrament, and the sacramentality of our marriage will carry out beyond our wedding day for years to come.   God is love, and so every time we share love with each other and with our family or community, we are experiencing God’s presence — even when that experience is mundane, like taking out the trash, or meek, like offering forgiveness for mistakes, or quiet, like taking time to pray for each other.   Each encounter is no less loving, and no less holy — God’s incarnation in the small and unexpected.

Like Mary and Joseph, we’ve come to realize that God has a plan for our lives, and that our faithful partnership will offer something special to the world.  Like the three wise men, we seek to follow Christ and to offer generously of our own gifts and talents.  Like the humble manger where Jesus was born, we will encounter God in simple, unassuming, and unexpected ways throughout our marriage. We have hope and delight in knowing that Jesus is near…

Advent reminds us that there is joy in the waiting.

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A little more than a week ago, I packed up all my earthly belongings (except those Star Wars toys my mom promised to not throw away) and moved to Catonsville to the house Casey and I will share for at least the first year of our marriage. With the help of my mother, my friend George and Casey’s family, we also moved Casey’s stuff into the house during the same weekend.

One thing that hasn’t moved in is Casey.

I’m there alone until Dec. 30, the day she becomes my wife. Sure, she comes over and we have dinner or watch a movie together, but right now it’s mostly just me in there. While I was covering the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) for The Catholic Review, Casey spent an extraordinary amount of time unpacking boxes, putting things in their proper places (which I’m still trying to figure out) and getting the house in order. All of it was preparing the house to be our home.

And, that’s the thing. While I have adjusted to living in Catonsville, it’s not home yet. The most important piece for me – Casey – isn’t there yet. All of the material goods in the world make a home fun to be around, but love fills it.  I look forward to New Year’s Eve morning, when I can look across the bed and see the face of my wife and know I get to spend every day of  my life growing with her, supporting her and loving her.

The cliché goes, “Home is where the heart is.” My heart will be full Dec. 30 and each day that comes after.

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Appropriately, today I stumbled upon this inspiring true story about Danny and Annie (thank you, Life Teen!), who speak to the ability to make every-day married life profound.  Totally worth 6 minutes.

Cheers,   Cassandra

 

For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—oracle of the LORD—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

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Recently in the news I’ve been hearing about a saddening law proposal in Mexico.  Apparently:

(Reuters) – Mexico City lawmakers want to help newlyweds avoid the hassle of divorce by giving them an easy exit strategy: temporary marriage licenses.
Leftists in the city’s assembly… proposed a reform to the civil code this week that would allow couples to decide on the length of their commitment, opting out of a lifetime.
The minimum marriage contract would be for two years and could be renewed if the couple stays happy. The contracts would include provisions on how children and property would be handled if the couple splits.
“The proposal is, when the two-year period is up, if the relationship is not stable or harmonious, the contract simply ends,” said Leonel Luna, the Mexico City assemblyman who co-authored the bill….

What the what?!?

As someone preparing for marriage, I cannot comprehend what could possibly be going on in the mindset of someone who would choose to opt for a temporary license.  How could I ever look at Matt and say, yes, I agree to offer my total commitment to you, and to make vows before God and my community to love and support you for better or for worse, in sickness and in health…  but I’m going to put a time-limit on our relationship.  This marriage is conditional, and my love could be finite… we’ll have to see how we feel about it in a few years.

Seemingly, I’m not alone in my scoffing at this news.  The radio morning DJ’s I heard this week were commenting on how decidedly un-romantic this concept was.  Stephen Colbert wagged his finger at Mexico City for this in his Oct 5 episode.

Yes, I understand that the divorce rates in our society are disturbingly staggering… and just as so many people seem to be regarding marriage as disposable, these lawmakers are claiming that temporizing licenses would help avoid the complications of eminent divorces… it still alarms me that if our society accepts ideas like this, then they have lost touch with the point of marriage.  This rant could go in a hundred different directions here, but the point I will focus on today is that of discernment.

Discernment is about taking the time before we get married to prepare for our commitment to be life-long.  We need to acknowledge that unless we prepare for the best and the worst case scenarios now, our future marriage could be endangered.  Discernment begins early in a dating process and involves courting, getting to know one another’s family backgrounds, learning about your personalities, strengths, weaknesses, and compatibilities.  This means not only getting to know your partner, but also truly knowing yourself.  Before being ready to commit my life to loving and honoring my husband, I needed to take the time to contemplate my own values, my life goals, and my own insecurities.  Discernment means having the courage to open up lines of communication and having the toughest conversations about touchy issues (finances, family, religion, politics, personal values). Most importantly, discernment includes prayer… and listening to what God is telling each of you through quiet meditation, through the conversations with each other, and with family and friends, and even in those intuitive gut-feelings that the Holy Spirit gives us.

Discernment is a slow process.  I was dreaming and praying of the kind of wife I could be long before I even met Matt… and then even as our friendship began to develop, we were carefully examining our dynamics, looking for the compatibilities that came naturally as well as the challenges that would take work to overcome.  In our case, discernment was gradual and casual at first.  The closer we became as a unit, the more deliberate our discernment conversations of marriage became.

When you’re this careful… this intentional  about considering making a commitment to marriage, you can’t help but acknowledge that at some point in the future, things won’t come so easily.  You know beforehand that there will be stressful days and years which most certainly will offer challenges that obscure your focus on each other and will test your marriage.  But you enter into the covenant anyway, because you know that this is a commitment worth the effort it will take to last.

Finally, the engagement period itself is an important part of the discernment process.  Just because a beautiful diamond ring is on my finger, does not mean that we are past the point of figuring out how to deal with potential issues before we make our eternal vows.  The difference between saying “I will” and saying “I do”, is that getting engaged was a statement of intention and betrothal… and getting married is a covenant.

Why does it seem that those lawmakers are ready to allow marriages to be made with an escape clause?  I’d speculate that all too often, people could be making the decision to marry too hastily, too quickly, too rashly, and without taking the time to really weigh the consequences of their decision.  Of course, some rational judgment is lost when you are young and in love… those awesome feelings of twitterpated butterflies are all you want to care about, and it’s so darn romantic to be infatuated!  But if marriage were designed to have a shelf life of butterflies and puppy-love, then none of us would have grandparents celebrating wedding anniversaries after 50 years.

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Being single often, not always, means you can afford to be a little selfish. OK, a lot selfish.
While I’ve always been conscious of others and want to help those in need, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about me. That means going to the movies and spreading out. A 5-foot-9 guy can go big sometimes.
It’s amazing how quickly you get used to sitting alone in a movie theater.  I watched couples file in over the years and guessed which one was likely to talk and not let the other person watch the movie. I thought about how bad they had it off because I could use the empty seat next to me to store the Industrial-sized popcorn bag, candy box and drink. One of them was going to wind up butter in their lap.
Have you ever had two cup holders? It’s how the kings live.
As a young man, I used to think about marriage in an idealized fashion, but as I got older, I got used to being single and love seemed less appealing. Answering to no one ruled.
I now know, thanks to the presence of Casey in my life, that I was kidding myself.
One of the recurring themes for our Engaged Encounter weekend was that marriage isn’t a one-day thing, but a lifetime partnership. In our Catholic faith, it’s rooted in Christ’s love.
Casey and I currently live about an hour away from one another. When she’s working late, I’m faced with the same options I always had when I was a single man and bored. I’ll check out Fandango and go to the movies, get my snacks and plop down. Then I’ll look at the empty seat next to me and the word “bonus!” doesn’t come to mind. Instead, I think “Dagger!”
Love’s to blame and I’m not putting up a fight.
I look forward to having Casey by my side, not just when the theater lights dim, but for life’s journey ahead.

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1 + 1 = family

It’s funny the way our society and culture shapes our ideas.

Back in August when Matt was with a prayer group, describing his hopes and prayers for our future, he used a particular phrase, something along the lines of, “I pray that God blesses us as we begin as a new family”… and someone immediately responded, “How exciting! When is the baby due?”  It made for a funny mis-understanding, careful-what-you-say-people-will-assume type of anecdote, but it also made me wonder, how many people would as easily jump to that conclusion?  The standard definition of family in most people’s mind automatically includes parents and children.  But what does that mean for a childless married couple?  Are they really any less of a family, without the blessing of a baby? No way!

From the moment they say “I do” on their wedding day, a married couple is a family already — no children required. Yes, of course most couples will want children to become a part of their new family, and Catholic couples pledge to welcome children during their vows… but they are not waiting for those babies to be an official family.  God takes care of that as soon as the bride and groom are united in matrimony.

One of the many gems we heard on our Engaged Encounter retreat last weekend was this concept about marriage and family.  The presenters noted was that within the sacrament of marriage, the bride and groom become each other’s primary team, and that they are unified as a family. This is Matt’s and my philosophy as well.  When we exchange rings and vows, our personal definition of our families will change, and although I will always be a member of the Anderson family, I will always be my parents’ daughter… my immediate family will become Matt.  On December 30, our new family will begin as soon as we walk down the aisle!

So you know that misguided definition of a family needing at least three people?  I blame the verse about it from my favorite Schoolhouse Rock song…. (starting at 1:13 in the video)

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