I was filling out marriage papers this week with a number couples who intend to get married in the course of the next few months.
As part of their preparations they’re required to fill out pre-nuptial enquiry forms with the local priest in the parish where they have been resident for six months or more before the wedding.
Each of the parties to be married has to be interviewed separately to ensure they are free from any outside pressure thus enabling them to answer the questions as honestly as possible.
What you’re trying to establish for the sake of the couple and for the proper celebration of the sacrament is the basic reality that both the candidates have been baptised, confirmed and are free to marry in the Catholic Church.
During the course of discussions you have to confirm that each of the persons wishing to marry is entering into the celebration of the sacrament freely and without pressure from anyone else.
Getting married is a major decision and event in anyone’s life and like any significant celebration it requires a lot of preparation and reflection.
It is necessary for each of the persons to be married to have a solid understanding of what is expected and involved in the celebration of the sacrament of marriage and the living out a lifelong commitment. In one of the sections in the pre-nuptial enquiry form they are asked have they and their partner discussed future married life seriously?
Yet this question could be asked of all of us at any moment of our lives, do we reflect seriously on whatever vocation or situation in life in which we find ourselves?
How much thought or how much questioning do we consider in relation to the present state of our lives and the future path we hope to follow? Deliberation and discernment are necessary requirements to living in a more focused and honest way of life. In this manner we’re enabled to learn from the past and prepare for tomorrow and the next day.
Only through examining our lives can we hope to become better people, only then can we learn the lessons which history and past experiences reveal to us.
By acknowledging and examining the previous events which have shaped who we can we better appreciate our involvement in the world.
To be able to engage with those around us in a more fulfilling and satisfying way we need to understand better our basic motivations and what at the heart of our lives shapes our values and goals. Yet into this mix, we soon realise, despite all our questioning and reflection, the answers to the most fundamental and important issues are often before us.
On our own we have a limited capacity to comprehend the complex reality in which we find ourselves, there are many experiences of suffering and death which leave us speechless and unable to explain the nature of people’s pain and grief.
We find ourselves helpless on these occasions unable to offer explanation, struggling to find comfort and meaning.
We have often heard how Mary pondered things in her heart. On the surface when faced with all the sufferings she endured this paints a very placid and accepting picture, yet Ron Rolheisier argues differently.
What they are describing when using the notion of pondering ‘is that painful wrenching of heart, of soul, that you feel when you stand helpless in the face of suffering, sickness, death, misguided sincerity, or anything else that is so overwhelming, so as to let you know that you are no longer in control.
To ponder is to stand begging for God’s insight and strength when things overwhelm you.
It is what we do when we are unable to offer words of consolation to someone who has suffered the loss of a loved one, and it is what we should do at all those times when we are inadequate to the task of love and forgiveness.
Pondering, in the biblical sense, is not so much active as it is passive, when we speak of “the passion of Jesus Christ”, what he endured, what he submitted to and what he carried in silence during his last hours on earth. Isn’t the carrying of tension the key to love and family life?
Isn’t it only when we admit our helplessness that God finally enters? We will find it precisely when we ponder in the biblical sense, namely, when we stand helpless, muted, and frustrated, but listening, before a pain, an illness, or an injustice that so overwhelms us that we are unable to rely on any power save that of God. What is taught us there holds the key to everything.’