For Better or For Better

My husband and I were recently interviewed on a local television network called GNN (Global News Network) for the show called LIFE hosted by Marlyn Feliciano Lopez. Our episode was entitled Love, Courtship and Marriage. To be honest, each word in that title is a load to talk about for just 45 minutes. The beauty about it was that we didn’t have to exhaust every single topic. Instead, we revolved the topics around what we know best… our love story. 

On set with the host

On set with the host

Many things we shared to the host were actually everyday habits that we developed and never actually exposed to each other. They were like known secrets that made us more aware of what we were doing for the other person. These habits revolved around the theme of always being better persons together. 

Throughout our dating, courtship and especially engagement, I had to always take the time out to reflect and look back at all the conversations, events and fights that we went through and wonder: Am I a better woman than I was before? Am I closer to God than I was ever before? Am I looking for ways to reach out to others more? Am I a better daughter to my mom? Sister to my siblings? Friend to my friends? Student? Employee? 

My husband also stressed the point that while in a relationship, your relationship isn’t the most important part of your priority list. It’s the fourth where number 1. is God 2. is Family 3. is Work or School and 4. is Friends and Boyfriend/Girlfriend. He warned against making your relationship #1 because when you’re young there are so many opportunities that may be missed if you make your boyfriend/girlfriend your top priority. He had a simple gauge that he mentioned to his guy friends one night: “Dudes, if you don’t see me anymore. I’m probably in a bad relationship.”

Not to mention, there’s a lot to discover about yourself – from being a college student to a member of the workforce.

My husband and I knew each other when I was in my last year of college and he was working. He revealed (only) during the interview that he was watching how I was growing as a working woman.

There is a lot of wisdom in what he did.

In college, you’re exposed to people who you would see everyday and end up sharing the same values as you do because of the classes that you took together and every other shared experience within that university. But when you’re in the workplace, you’re forced to engage and deal with people of completely different backgrounds and consequently, perspectives and world views. Although it’s a wonderful experience to see things in a different light, there is also a huge possibility for you to change those values you once held so close in college. And eventually become a totally different person from who you were just a year ago. It’s the awful truth that your (college) values could just be fleeting feelings…

Which is why we were always on our toes.

The way we changed would always change our relationship, whether for better or for worse. For better was the gauge of how we knew we were “meant for each other.” (A lot of hard work, huh?)

Our relationship during the engagement period brought it to a whole different level where we had to tackle the daunting topic: finances. There were also those serious talks about living space and dealing with both families mixed in with the excitement of the wedding and marriage preparations.

Now that we are married, we not only see whether we are becoming better people together but it’s intertwined with learning about each other and learning to delicately deal with each other’s quirks, habits and moods well each and every day.

My husband talked about how he sought advice from a priest on how to begin the first few weeks of marriage and one was to:

Learn about each other, meaning, do not get annoyed by something new you discover (in her) but use it to learn (about her). Delight in it and learn how to deal with it.

This learning business is something we will never fully exhaust until the day we die. It’s something that allows us to delight in the positive and see the milestones amidst the difficulties. Just as what Pope Francis said during the audience with the families here in the Philippines: Do not stop dreaming (about your love, your spouse, your children and your family) or you will stop loving. It will remain difficult if all you see are the rocks and humps but when you see beyond it like the endurance muscle you will be strengthening for you and your marriage then… that’s dreaming. That’s loving.

After making our vows

After making our vows

A snippet from our honeymoon is Siena

A snippet from our honeymoon is Siena

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A Day for Forever

only a dream

only a dream

Getting married is an absolute dream. It’s only been nine days since the start of our married life and I am ever so slowly leaving the memories and feelings to fade into the background of our photographs.

As I recall, it was a perfect night.

The imperfections made it all the more perfect – at least for me.

To name them: In the middle of the day, the rain poured HEAVILY. When I was walking down the aisle, my wedding gown snagged at the bottom and hit the points of my stilettos that I had to kick my dress to be able to walk steadily down the long aisle of our parish church. I didn’t read our vows well that I went onto saying “Yes, I do” before I should have and it was caught on video… See our on the day video by the great Bob Nicolas here.The reception program was already delayed and it was delayed even more because of a MAJOR glitch in the lights and sounds system.

It may sound like any bride’s horror story but the bounty of love and happiness overshadowed and covered all of the pains of the day’s apparent mishaps.

To continue: When our photographers saw my worried gaze at the intense rain, all they said was “This will work for you.” I put my trust in them and now that the photographs are out (by the uber talented team of Toto Villaruel), the day looked beyond beautiful in the photos. It looked as if it didn’t rain at all.

The dew drops sparkled for us.

In the bridal car while I was waiting for my turn to march, guests saw me and greeted me. One of them took time to whisper that this weather couldn’t have been more perfect. While I was tripping through the aisle, all I saw was Lance’s look wanting to give me a bear hug.

After making our vows and our priest declaring our marriage, Lance and I looked behind to see the parish almost full with our family and friends hooting and cheering. It was the most spectacular sight I have ever seen.

Finally, the major glitch in the lights and sounds system turned out to be a moment for intimate conversations between our guests and the roving bride and groom. After around thirty minutes, the lights and sounds miraculously went back on.

The program was knotted with the feeling that I wanted to bring to our guests – filled tummies, happy tipsiness and unending laughter. Most of all, I wanted the guests – even if they have never sat and chatted with us – to feel like they have gotten to  know Lance and I in our celebration! All thanks to Lance, his best man and my maid of honor who dedicated their time and effort to surprise me with the spectacular reception program.

Until now, I still cannot get the wedding out of my head. All the more since I wake up with the man I got married to everyday now. I am filled with boundless gratitude. I even told Lance that one of the best things about being married is the relief that it’s done and we can move on with married life! Call me traumatized but with all the crazy natural calamities and wars around the world, I now have such peace that I’m married to this man.

I know the high will fade into the oblivion of married life. Lance reminded me yesterday of this when we were talking about the unsexy topic of finances, he said: “Let me look into the future for us, my love…” While he does that, I’m still flipping through our wedding photos and repeatedly watch our wedding videos until both websites hit its fifteen thousand view.

Sharing with you my man’s ultimate surprise video during the reception that I cannot get enough of.

I don’t know how I will tread through married life but I’ll probably take from our wedding day – do my best and have a lot of trust in my husband, most especially in God who made His presence felt in the Sacrament of Marriage and who allowed the imperfections to happen for the beauty of real love to shine.

Love More with Your Head than with Your Heart

I was struck when my mom told me that a friend of mine loves more with her heart than her head.

All of a sudden a spillover of cartoon illustrations of couples in thought bubbles started to pop up in my mind. A huge heart that overpowers the brain when she sees her crush. Her almost drunk-like state in his presence. Her willingness to sacrifice everything for his sake! The images are a bit much but the truth is that this is something very real for us girls.

I was quite the opposite when I was in my teens so much so that I brought my “objective” mindset to my one and only relationship. To illustrate my point, I once (proudly) told my fiancé: “In our relationship, I’m the cerebral and objective one while you are the emotional and subjective one.”

I believed 100% in this. I badly wanted to contradict the popular belief that the One will ‘just come’ and I will fall madly in love with him and I’ll just have to “follow my heart.”

Lies, I tell you.

What is true about catching the One? All you ladies – Independent. Throw your hands up at me.  I’m not referring to the making money and buying my own diamond rings bit of  Destiny’s Child’s independence. I’m talking about the quality of independence in knowing what a girl wants and deserves and working on and for it. 

Why was I like that in my teens already? You can say I was way too busy working on my self-esteem to even think of guys –  let alone welcome a relationship. Now that I look back on those years, I was unconsciously working on myself for him and while I was meeting boys I already started to come up with a formula of  who the One was for me.

I didn’t have 50 boyfriends and I certainly didn’t need to test drive any man to know if we were compatible in a relationship. Neither did I have to party every night to meet men. I never dressed to reveal and shock any man just to catch their attention – if I did, then I probably didn’t know any better.

Here’s my formula. There were only five things that would run through my mind and work on overdrive to analyze a man I would meet for the first time and even more to the guys who were already my friends – granted I was also working on perfecting these qualities myself.

  1. He has a vision of who he wants to be and is trying his best to follow it. He can humble himself to know God and to trust in God’s plans.
  2. He knows how to treat a woman. He knows and shows me what I’m worth. With acquaintances, this means I don’t need to call or text him first and I don’t need to catch his attention any other way other than trying to get to know me as a person.
  3. He teaches me new things and is open to learn new things from me. (this usually comes after being #1 to begin with)
  4. He makes me laugh (not roll my eyes.)
  5. He’s genuine. (just to echo #2)

These qualities are difficult to detect when emotions of wanting that cute guy to like you are in the way. It’s even more difficult to deal with this when he’s desperately trying to be the guy with all those qualities – but is not. This next thing I’m about to say is also rather difficult to do when you’re a teenager and you question your self-esteem day in and day out while in a relationship with a teenage boy.

Here I go.

I made sure, I was not afraid to get disappointed. In short, I never settled. I didn’t mind getting disappointed one guy after the other if I knew there were red alerts pointing to problems, I might encounter in the future if we did end up in a relationship. I was always the forward thinker and in the end was completely disappointed in myself for being way too picky. Eventually I stopped being afraid to get disappointed in myself because I knew I didn’t want to be in a relationship for the sake of being in a relationship — which was sometimes so hard admit.

For a while, I believed that I was a solid rock and had no romantic feelings at all  even when I was slightly considering a possible relationship with a guy. I made sure I didn’t feel any butterflies and rainbows when a guy was so obviously showing his affection towards me. Obviously, I took every relationship – even the hypothetical ones – very seriously.

All for the good.

When the One arrived, I was on my knees in front of God everyday asking Him WHY? Is it him? Is it really him? In the equilibrium of my mind and emotion, God reigned and said: “Well, yeah, aren’t you happy? I want this and I know that this relationship you will have with him for the rest of your life will not just be good for you but the best for you – the both of you to get to Me.” Awesome.

Thank God, God gave us both mind and heart – He lives in both. But see, the great thing about God is He wants us to know before we love and know while we love. That’s why ladies, please, when you love, love more with your head than your heart.

Yup, ditto to the quote below:

ditto

ditto

Young Love, Old Love

I was amused to read this from my friend’s Facebook wall:

Spent today with le Chinese elders… One lady in particular amused me *she’s old and spoke in Chinese*

“Rich?! Who cares about being rich? As long as you live a life that makes you happy, then you are rich! When my eldest son was born, all we could give him was Carnation milk! A little Carnation, mix it with water! Pity! Sometimes, we didn’t always have food, so what did we do?! Did I fight with my husband?! No! I just looked at him and I was happy. We loved each other. He worked hard, and that’s why I didn’t mind the money. Money does not matter. You think money matters? No. Money does not buy you over 60 years of marriage, LOVE does.”BABAM!!!

Love is abound! When has it not been? It’s all the more evident now that the summer revealed its sweltering days. Oh gosh, the heat is insane in the Philippines. I mean, I nursed a headache with coffee this mid-afternoon because of the heat. (I really don’t know why but coffee has that effect on my migraines.) Love is like this immense heat! It affects everyone.

But there’s a quality of love that we long for. It’s the kind of love that lasts forever. I’ve talked about it before in this post and I can’t help but bring it up again in even more anecdotes about old couples. I know that not a person with a heart can resist videos or stories about couples who have been married for 50-80 years and still show how they are madly in love with each other. The quality of their love is so much like good wine and aged cheese that their constancy has made their love so compelling and has gotten journalists to talk about them. The way they have grown together gives their relationship such a distinct personality that compares to no one and at the same time shares the same three-fold meaning of marriage which was that they had children together, between a man and a woman and they are clearly in it for as long as they live – sometimes even beyond the lifetimes of their spouses.

One such story is in this very charming Humans of New York video of Shirley and Moe. Watching this video brought tears to my eyes when I saw Shirley’s look of distant memory as she was trying to explain to the camera about the final days of her husband. With her raspy yet strong voice, she told the camera about the conversation she had with him when she asked “What would I do without you?”

And he gathered up all the energy he could and said: “Take the love you have for me and spread it around. A love spread around there beauty is found.”

I don’t know about you but that’s the kind of stuff that romance script writers rack their brains out to come up with.

Sometimes, these couples were made so much for each other that the world cannot bear to see them separated. That’s exemplified by this headline that reads Married Couple for 70 Years, Die 15 Hours Apart. Many other elderly couples have died the same way throughout all human history.

Everyone wants this kind of love – precisely because we were made from love! On the eve of St. John Paul II and St. John XXIII’s canonization, I would like to quote St. John Paul II’s insightful and understanding perspective on the search for love from his book Crossing the Threshold of Hope:

Young people are always searching for the beauty of love. They want their love to be beautiful. If they give into weakness, following worldly models of behaviour…in the depths of their hearts they still desire a beautiful and pure love.This is as true of boys as it is of girls. Ultimately, they know that only God can give them this love. As a result, they are willing to follow Christ without caring about the sacrifices this may entail.” 

In this quote, I’m particularly moved by how he addresses the youth. I would guess it’s because of our tendency to understand the mystery of life in all its colors – the black, the gray, the white and the mesh of every color. It was his way to tell us that hey, I know what you want, I know it behind your confused eyes. I know it behind the urges of your passionate soul.I know what you want because I wasn’t just in your place. I am still an adolescent well, an old adolescent to be exactly, but I want exactly what you want too. I know where it lies and best of all, He wants us more than we want Him. Please don’t wander off another way because your search will just go awry. I know love in its truest color and it’s more beautiful that your mind can ever imagine…

It’s true. We’re always confused about why things happen. They say you have to go through something life changing to be thrown out of our horses all called pride. They say we have to love ourselves first before we get into any serious relationship. What does that mean exactly? Loving ourselves isn’t the kind the succumbs to comforts and likes 24/7 that this world subscribes to. It starts with the gratefulness of the love we already have.

I realized this after my dad passed away. Although I didn’t understand why it had to happen… I think about him everyday. I sought a father. If not a biological one, I searched for the man who loved me more than I can ever know. I didn’t know it at that time but I met Him everyday when I went to daily mass. There I realized more and more God’s immense love for me. All the good present in my life was made clear amidst the misery of no longer having a father. More than that, I saw God’s intense love for me that through a desperate situation, He asked me to look at and know Him.

Out of all the love stories born out of the heroic elderly couples, the oldest love would be God’s love for us and its constancy is present until this day.

Christian, non-Christian of all colors and races, we all know the power of old love. Even if some of the youth seem to be hopeless, they know the profundity of old love only, they don’t know where to seek it or how – but it’s possible really, I was only sixteen years old when I found that peace, in the oldest love of all.

Our Mysterious Sexuality

Experience bears out the definition of purity as reverence for mystery.

No one is scandalized at seeing people eat in public, or read in buses, or listen to music on the street, but they are shocked at dirty shows, foul books, or undue manifestations of affection in public. It is not because we are prudes, nor because we were educated in Catholic schools nor because we have not yet come under the liberating influence of a Freud, but because these aspects of a mystery so deep, so personal, so incommunicable, that we do not want to see it vulgarized or made common.

You heard it from our dear Bishop Fulton Sheen, it’s clear as day. This wondrous virtue of purity (that no one seems to care about anymore) is that one thing that reveres mystery. Our sexuality which is so personal and intimate when revealed to the world as if it were for show is a cause for scandal because we know from the depths of our souls that we don’t want this beautiful mystery to be bastardized!

Because our sexuality is  so inexplicably mysterious every person can be awe-stunned by the mystery revealed. It’s no wonder that our sexuality is the easiest marketing tool.

What can we do about it?

Allow me to quote my fiance’s Facebook post realization which he composed after we watched Jason and Crystalina Evert speak to us in the Philippines last 7 September 2013 (which incidentally is exactly a year and a day away from our upcoming wedding on 8 September 2014):

What is a great deception for our sexuality?

Our sexual desire and passion is a call to action, a call to real love, a call to service and self-giving, but instead because of our weakness and Satan’s cunning deceptions, it leads us back to ourselves, only to find it empty, dry, and lifeless. Then it becomes a downward spiral as men and women continue to search for real love only to get imitations and fakes.

What we should do is not to repress this sexual desire…this “call to action”, but to channel it to the right direction, to spur us on to real love, service, self-giving, and life. It is only then that we can truly find real and lasting joy, pleasure, and happiness through our sexuality.

Jason Evert: Being passive is wrong, for a man is an initiator and the one to take action, while a woman does not become passive as well but receive actively as man gives.

This simple quote from Jason Evert is echoed by Bishop Fulton Sheen when he commented ironically about the youth, about man and woman:

In youth, this awesomeness before the mystery (of sex) manifests itself in a woman’s timidity, which makes her shrink from precocious or too ready to surrender of her secret. In a man, the mystery is revealed in chivalry to women, not because he believes that woman is physically weaker but because of the awe he feels in the presence of mystery.

Let’s zero-in on man and woman respectively:

Men are meant to be chivalrous to women to respect to the mystery of sexuality. On behalf of the women all over the world, I hear you, bro! We’re begging you to have a lot of respect for us women. Feminism is asking for respect in the form of this “equality.” When there is chivalry, there is respect for the differences of men and women.

Women are asked to be “timid from the precocious” or to be timid in surrendering her secret. To clarify, using the word “timid” is not to emphasize the woman’s lack of power.

On the contrary, women HOLD that secret which asks men for chivalry from. Women need to safeguard this secret with all of their being! This incredible secret is the intermingling of love and life. There are no synonyms to this secret. A thick book series couldn’t possibly be enough to describe and study this secret. It’s so completely beyond us, mere human beings, that  the explanation of the mystery is in the bearing of new life in the mother’s womb. It’s the actuality of bringing to this world a new and unique human being.

Women are meant to value the grand power that they have in their entire makeup. Women are meant to thrive in what makes their secret a part of them. Women are meant to hold onto their secret and never reveal it to anyone, to any man, until she reveals it to just one man in the name of God.

It's better when we work together

It’s better when we work together

with the inspiring Everts

with the inspiring Everts

How “You Just Know” You’re Ready to Get Married

I’m engaged to get married on the onset of the -ber months next year. *Insert unceasing silent squealing*

I count by the months and can’t wait to count by the weeks and eventually by the days – not just because I’m marrying my best friend, the man of my dreams and all other cheesy things people would describe their fiances but because I genuinely want to begin this surely challenging yet fulfilling rest of our lives together. I can’t wait to pepper our lives with cheer and hope and have children and just… give. But before I came to this conclusion I was asked several questions – from my friends and my personal mulling over the new chapter I’m about to step into.

I recently read an article about the Five Things Every Newly-Engaged Girl Will Get Asked on the Brides Blog.

Due to cultural and moral reasons, only three to four of these questions that are applicable to me.

They are the following in order:

1. When’s the Wedding Date?

2. How did he propose?

and probably when me and the asker seem like we’re getting close enough…

3. Are you going to have kids soon?

I would include another question in between 2 and 3 and it would be “How did you meet?”

Only occasionally do I get a: “Can I see the ring?” (as in the article)

Out of all the questions that I receive, there is one that I believe takes time and a lot of reflecting to answer and that’s:

How do you know you’re ready?” 

Usually, I would hear this certain question asked to couples who have been together for years. Surprisingly, they always answer with a stern and confused “You just know.”

If you’re a frustrated person who desires to know the exact details of this three worded sentence, you would forcefully shake that couple into telling you the real answer. But we too have to understand… they’ve been married for so long that after decisively jumping that bridge to the Merryland of Marriage, Singledom became way too far for them to even describe its silhouette.

Since I’m a few steps closer to that bridge (and I can opt not to cross it), I always feel like I have to defend myself to everyone who asks this question. In a sense, I still need to.

Every time, I’m asked this question, I’m forced to dig deeper and deeper into the recesses of my soul and refine my thoughts through examining my very little experiences and each time I answer… these are the common trails that I see.

Him

Like many couples, we’ve been through a lot in that meager two years together. There was a lot of adjusting, a good number of fights and even more laughter and excitement. Since we got together, he made it known to me that breaking up was not an option (even if secretly, that was my fallback.) But when he said those words, I knew I was in good hands. I was with a man who was not willing to give up and is more than willing to fight for us.

When I was proposed to, I was shaking uncontrollably and couldn’t utter a single word out of shock and thoughtlessness. The only person I saw in that moment was him. That gesture of my boyfriend proposing was when I realized he decided on me for his forever. That very gesture of wanting the commitment impressed me because I know that nowadays commitment is such a feared realm to dwell in.

There was really only one way our relationship was going… It was up to me to decide whether I was willing to take that leap of Faith or doubted our forever together.

Me

Now that I can tick the “Man of my dreams” box from the imaginary list of ‘Things to have before you get married,’ what about… me? Am I really ready to get out of the mother nest and be my own mother in my own nest?

This is when I usually feel like that the belief that those who do get married later in life are justified to be more capable of running a home.

But I beg to differ.

I am a firm believer that while young, it’s a lot easier to adjust and to learn new ways of doing things better everyday. I’ve realized that I’m going to learn mountings of things along the way,  I’m going to have lots of questions and I’m also going to screw up… a whole lot! That’s all ok! Like a good friend once told me… you don’t have to have all your ducks in a row. That saying especially goes for marital adjustments, home skills, child rearing and personal achievements.

Ok, so maybe there is no list of prerequisites for an engaged gentleman or a lady to be “ready” for marriage but I believe thoroughly in the desire to learn, that loving foresight of what marriage entails for the gentleman or lady and the willingness to sacrifice.

Even though things can be learned, an environment I desire for my home begins with me. Everyday, I make it a point to reflect and work on some habits or attitudes I have that may be bothersome to my future husband.

It’s only fair. Besides, I love the guy more than myself.

When

Why is NOW the right time?

Oh gosh, they say that the timing is always just right. Well I can’t say I wholeheartedly believed that saying to begin with.

I definitely didn’t think I was ready at all.

Just imagine, you’re a 23-year-old not a girl not yet a woman. You’re only wading in the pond of the professional world and only getting tastes of the ‘real world.’ You’ve got your dreams of studying this and that and wanting to get to know this and that hobby. You’re traveling with your friends and just enjoying. You’re in a great relationship with a wonderful man and one fine day, he went down on one knee with his starry eyes looking at you. He presented this sparkly ring. With all the beauty of that moment, it was just that, THAT moment.

After all that…  I was on my own.

I was angry that nobody gave me a heads up that I would be all alone on this. It translated to that real sinking feeling of “Now, what?” – a confusion of many if not all engaged girls.

Thankfully, I don’t look to myself to find the answer to that question. I leave it up to God.

Soon enough, this was answered by many essential life experiences that just happened one after the other. I don’t mean to put too much meaning to the happenings but these have been very personal experiences that are both terrifying and struggling. But I know each one of them has and is shaping me and my fiance to become the people we should be for marriage.

To summarize the answer to the question: “How do you know you’re ready for marriage?” – everyday, I’m made to be more ready for marriage.

…withlot of guidance from above and a dash of loving willingness.

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The Promise

Being engaged is a promise to marry.

It’s all so exciting for the engaged lady because now the reason to browse through wedding blogs, create a viewable Pinterest board of wedding inspiration and follow wedding-filled Instagram accounts are justified! The dream wedding can finally materialize!

I am a proud engaged lady who does just that above! Although I have to admit, I was never for anticipating how my wedding would look like because I never really knew if I was going to get engaged or married. So… I never had a “must-have” theme or color or a dream dress or a dream venue. I just know which church I wanted to have it in. Even for the little things, I was never a big fan of anticipating really, just because it causes me a lot of disappointments in the mind and in the soul that are NOT in line with reality at all. This cycle of disappointment in the mind is something I find to be a sickness among us women. But apart from too much anticipating, I know that there is no harm in dreaming. So, at the same time, I somewhat regret not having a full-fledged wedding plan because now that it’s actually going to happen… I don’t know where to begin! Allow me to reserve the discussion of the two camps for a separate post.

Any person in a relationship or anyone coming in from a relationship can attest to the bounty of hardships that they go through. Granted that both parties have kept the relationship clean, they experience a world of different topics to discuss, things to consider and the nearness of the new beginning when they are engaged.

With that said, I found it appropriate to have our engagement… blessed.

The Inspiration

A couple in my alma mater had a very simple betrothal ceremony in our university chapel before they got married. I didn’t attend the ceremony but I never forgot it either – all I thought was: “When I get engaged… I’m SOOOO going to have a betrothal ceremony! It’s so cool!” – the excitement was that of buying a new pair of shoes.

Once I did get engaged, it didn’t take me long to bring up the idea of having the betrothal ceremony to both my fiance and my confessor.

Betrothal Ceremony?

Like many people, I thought, what the heck is a betrothal ceremony anyway?

For me, it’s always best to go through the etymology:

Let’s go to the word BETROTHMENT (from where the words betrothal and betrothed come from):  Please refer to this source for the complete article. Here are some definitions and significances of betrothment to summarize things:

From Roman law sources:  “the mention and promise of future marriage.

Pope Nicholas I defined them as “pacts of promise of future marriage.

St. Thomas referred to the engagement as a “quasi-sacramental.

Just like the Code of the Canon Law, engagement is normally understood that the two parties either (1) mutually agree with being engaged or (2) mutually agree with being engaged once the party being proposed to by the proposing .

I hope that made some sense.

There is no correct template for the betrothal ceremony. We had a blessing of engagement gifts – engagement ring for the woman and another wearable object for the man (ring, watch etc.) and there were no exchange of words. There is another article that I’ve read about an engaged couple who said their promises out loud. Another married lady mentioned to me that when she had her betrothal ceremony with her husband they even had to sign a contract!

Simply put, the betrothal ceremony is a short blessing of an engaged couple with the priest who presides over the couple.

After all the research, we realized that betrothment is a huge deal! Although it’s a tiny speck next to the caliber of the Sacrament of Matrimony, I can’t help but delight in the idea that even the engagement period can be a gift to heaven instead of just a mere fury of preparations.

Our Betrothal Ceremony

We had our betrothal ceremony on a sunny Saturday morning the day before Our Lady’s birthday. We held it in the chapel of my high school alma mater. We celebrated alongside another engaged couple and just a couple of friends behind us.

The chapel was empty until we came in. The ceremony was setup in the right most side of the chapel.

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The massive prayer book was on a wooden rest was open. There was a bottle of holy water to its right.

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Our priest serenely brought out the Blessed Sacrament to be the Ultimate Witness of our ceremony.

The candles by the tabernacle were lit.

Once the ceremony began, the readings sweetly rang in my ear:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

image_1Father gave a short and meaningful commentary. He said that on his way to our ceremony, he contemplated on the betrothal of St. Joseph and Our Blessed Mother. In Jewish tradition, bethrothment was equivalent to marriage. The only difference was that they didn’t live together yet. It was in marriage when they could formally live as husband and wife together in a home.

He gave that couple as the prime example of how they met hardships one after the other but was facilitated by the loving advise and guidance of God. The first hardship was when St. Joseph found out that Mary was pregnant. When St. Joseph thought of quietly leaving Mary, God made known to him His plan in a dream. When that was all figured out… then there was the problem of the flight to Egypt. And then in a couple of years… they lost Jesus in the temple. It was ONLY when they went back to the temple to pray did they find Jesus. Father said: during this engagement period, you will be going through a lot of hardships but to no avail even during married life you will be going through even more hardships but — not without God.

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This was an awesome reminder that hey, no one can truly love without God who is Love Himself.

I quote Fulton J. Sheen from his fantastic book Three to Get Married:

The basic error of mankind has been to assume that only two are needed for love: you and me, or society and me, or humanity and me. Really it takes three: self, other selves and God; yo, and me, and God.

Love of self without love of God is selfishness; love of neighbor without love of God embraces only those who are pleasing to us, not those who are hateful. One cannot tie two sticks together without something outside the sticks; one cannot bind two nations of the world together except by the recognition of a Law or a Person outside the nations themselves. Duality in love is extinction through the exhaustion of self-giving. Love is triune or it dies. 

The meaning of the above mentioned quote was captured by this beautiful ceremony.

I do hope that more and more couples become open to having a Betrothal Ceremony when they get engaged.

Although the preparations are what is normally highlighted, married life is ultimately what a couple gets themselves into. In the bustle and pressures of life and the life to come, we could use all the help we could get.

All photos courtesy of our dear friend, Jake Morales.