Married on a Crucifix
Fr Michael Mullan, LC
Imagine a world without divorce. Imagine families without separation. Imagine no children or hearts torn apart.
People of one place in this world do not have to imagine.
In the town of Siroki-Brijeg in Herzegovina not one of the 13,000 inhabitants can recall a single divorce or broken family.
What is their secret? One look at their marriage rite says it all.
When the bride and bridegroom go to the church to be married they carry a crucifix with them. The priest blesses the crucifix and exclaims, “You have found your cross! It is a cross to love, to carry with you, a cross that is not thrown off but rather treasured.”
When they interchange the marital vows, the bride puts her right hand on this crucifix and the groom puts his right hand over hers. Both are united to the cross. The priest covers their hands with his stole while they pronounce their promises to love each other in good times and in bad.
Then they both first kiss the cross, not each other. If one abandons the other, they abandon Christ on the cross.
Afterwards, the newly-weds cross the threshold of their home to enthrone that same crucifix in a place of honour. It becomes the reference point of their lives and the place of family prayer.
In times of difficulty and misunderstandings, as all human relationships experience, they do not turn immediately to the lawyer or psychologist, they turn to the cross. They kneel, cry and open up their hearts begging for the strength to pardon and implore the Lord’s help.
The children are taught to reverently kiss the crucifix daily and to thank God for the day before going to bed. These children dream of enthroning one day a crucifix of their own.
The family is indissolubly united to the cross of Christ. Is this simply a morbid outlook on marital and family life? Or is it a piece of wisdom that few in our modern world can understand. Until our world does, it will continue to imagine and long for the unbroken hearth.
“The Sacrament of marriage comes as do all the sacraments from the wounded side of Christ as He lay ‘asleep’ in death, when Christ was pierced by a sword and blood and water and the Holy Spirit flowed out. At that moment the Church and all the sacraments came from the side of Christ as Eve was taken from the side of Adam. The Church is the Bride of Christ and the Catholic marriage is to be a living example of Christ and His Bride the Church. If the Catholic couple lives in a state of grace and has the sacrament of marriage they receive constant grace from God to love one another with the very LOVE of God. It is the vocation of the spouses to sanctify one another and be open to new life. According to Archbishop Sheen it takes 3 to get married: husband, wife and Christ. Marriage works in Christ.”
—my friend Kathleen Ann