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Chapter 21. The Sacrament of Marriage • 291


Exhortation Before the Sacrament of Marriage

Dear Friends in Christ,

As you know, you are about to enter into a union which is

most sacred and most serious, a union which was established by

God himself. In this way he sanctified human love and enabled

man and woman to help each other live as children of God, by

sharing a common life under his fatherly care.

Because God himself is thus its author, marriage is of its

very nature a holy institution, requiring of those who enter into

it a complete and unreserved giving of self. This union then is

most serious, because it will bind you together for life in a rela-

tionship so close and so intimate that it will profoundly influ-

ence your whole future. That future—with its hopes and disap-

pointments, its successes and its failures, its pleasures and its

pains, its joys and its sorrows—is hidden from your eyes. You

know well that these elements are mingled in every life and are

to be expected in your own. And so, not knowing what is before

you, you take each other for better or for worse, for richer or

poorer, in sickness and in health, until death.

These words, then, are most serious. It is a beautiful tribute

to your undoubted faith in each other, that recognizing their

full import, you are nevertheless so willing and so ready to pro-

nounce them. And because these words involve such solemn

obligations, it is most fitting that you rest the security of your

wedded life on the great principle of self sacrifice. And so today

you begin your married life by the voluntary and complete sur-

render of your individual lives in the interest of that deeper and

wider life which you two are to have in common.

Henceforth you belong entirely to each other; you will be

one in mind, one in heart, one in affections. And whatever sac-

rifices you may hereafter be required to make to preserve this

common life, always make them generously. There will be prob-

lems which might be difficult, but genuine love can make them

easy, and perfect love can make them a joy. We are willing to

give in proportion as we love. And when love is perfect, the sac-