The vows of Catholic marriage are based on the qualities of God’s love. As those vows are lived out everyday, the couple becomes a reflection of God’s love to each other and to those who know them. The call of all Christians is to be a mirror of God’s love. The vows of marriage, whether we are married or not, can show us the way to reflecting God’s love.
The first vow is the declaration that a couple’s love is given freely and unconditionally, like God’s freely given and unconditional love. This means that we love others because we believe that we are God’s beloved. It means that we do not love out of pressure or if certain conditions are met. Our love is our freely given and unconditional response to being God’s beloved.
The next vow is the couple’s promise to be faithful to each other, like God who is faithful in loving us. Faithful love means that we are constant, dependable and trustworthy. It means that people can count on us. Fidelity means that we are true to our commitments, actually doing what we said we would do.
A couple promises to be married for life. They declare a love that is eternal, like God whose love for us is eternal. Eternal love is a love bigger than ourselves and more profound than we could ever imagine. In the midst of the turmoil, complexity and frenetic activity of our lives and world, there is a profound eternal love surrounding all of it.
Finally, a couple promises to accept children lovingly from God and to bring them up to love Christ within the Church, like God who created us and cares for us. This is a love that is generous and creates something new. Every day we have the possibility of creating something new for someone, like hope, security, comfort, enthusiasm or inspiration.
God’s love is unconditional, faithful, eternal and generous. Consenting to reflect this love every day, as a couple does on their wedding day, is the beginning of a world filled with God’s blessings.