Imagine you and your spouse driving down an open road and all you see out the window is an endless body of water, along with a beautiful beach and captivating sunset. What is your first thought? Is it the beauty of God’s creation? Is it the thought of how the water came to be? Does your husband want to go fishing? Or do you wish you could lie down and relax on the beach? Regardless of what your thoughts or desires may be, God created that image, even if it was a manmade body of water. He created the water, he created the sand, and he has complete control over the sunset. He may have even put those desires on your heart: the desire to relax and rejuvenate what may have been lost amidst the busyness of your schedule.
This lent, how will you and your spouse enrich and rejuvenate each other spiritually? Your job is to aid in your spouse’s salvation, so why not stop from the busyness of your life and work as a team this Lent to grow holier as a couple? Below are some practical exercises that could provide you and your spouse with the endless, life-giving water the Lord has to offer.
- Go to Daily Mass Attending Mass every day with your spouse can be difficult, but trying to go to an extra mass once a week is better than none at all. Of course the church merely requires our Sunday obligation, but going during the week will grant you innumerable additional graces. St. Padre Pio said, “Every holy Mass, heard with devotion, produces in our souls marvelous effects, abundant spiritual and material graces which we, ourselves, do not know. It is easier for the earth to exist without the sun than without the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.” Imagine the graces God must grant to couples who attend additional Masses together! And even if my husband cannot go with me, I find abundant strength in attending Mass on a daily basis.
- Go to Adoration When I was younger, we would go to adoration on Fridays as a family. Every time I went to adoration, I would pray for my future husband. Many years later after I met him, he told me his family would go to adoration for an hour every week. I know Eucharistic devotion within our families played a powerful role in our marriage today. Every time we go to adoration together, I know that God gives us so much strength, and that we are laying a foundation for each other as well as our future children. It also unites us in prayer and brings us closer together within the Sacrament of Matrimony.
- Pray the Rosary The holy rosary is one of the most powerful prayers of our times. In 1917, Our Lady of Fatima asked that we pray the rosary every day. Father Patrick Peyton, CSC, also known as “The Rosary Priest,” always said that “the family who prays together stays together.” Growing up, prayed at least two decades of the Rosary most nights. No family will ever be without its trials, but I assure you, if you pray the Rosary together as a couple and/or as a family, Our Blessed Mother will wrap her mantle around you and never let you go. I have seen the power of the Rosary and its graces throughout my entire family. As St. Louis de Montfort said, “The rosary is the most powerful weapon to touch the Heart of Jesus, Our Redeemer, Who so loves His Mother.”
- Practice the Corporal Works of Mercy The catechism states that Lent is a time to practice spiritual exercises, penitential liturgies, etc., but also to practice fraternal sharing, or charitable and missionary works. (Catholic Church 1438) The corporal works of mercy include feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, sheltering the homeless, and burying the dead (Catholic Church 2447). As a couple, you could volunteer at a soup kitchen, food bank, or local homeless shelter. You could visit a children’s hospital, or someone lonely in a nursing home. There are endless possibilities. This could not only help those around you, but could help you break through any personal selfish struggles, as well as provide a bond between you and your spouse.
- Meditate on Christ’s Passion Praying the Stations of the Cross is a common practice among Catholics during the Lenten season. But have you ever thought about going to a chapel and praying them with your spouse? As married couples, we are called to die to ourselves and give up our lives for the other. When we meditate on Christ’s passion, we should think of Him as the model we live by within our marriage. Our human nature oftentimes tempts us to live for ourselves, but when we model Christ’s sacrificial love, it reminds us that the salvation of our spouse is the reason for the sacrament. Today, decide to be more like Jesus and practice the selfless, sacrificial love you are called in the Sacrament of Matrimony.“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish, but might have eternal life.” Jn. 3:16.
Jacqueline Burkepile is a contributing writer for the National Catholic Register, as well as Catholic newspapers in the Fort Worth and Dallas Dioceses. She will also write for Catholic Modesty speaker Leah Darrow this spring.