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April 26, 2009

Talk to the third person in your marriage, tell him your needs

By Regis Flaherty


When my wife and I speak to engaged couples about the sacrament of marriage, I have one analogy that I always use:

Imagine a couple who invited a billionaire to their wedding. As a gift he presented to that couple a bank account with $1 million in it. Imagine further that he told them that the account was in three names — that of the husband, the wife and the billionaire. He tells them that they can access the account whenever they need money — nay, whenever they want it for a good purpose. He, as the third person on the account, will make sure that the funds never run out.

Now what would you think of that young couple if, having received such a generous gift, they went and lived in abject poverty, never using the treasure they had been given? Indeed, we’d question their sanity.

Yet, every married couple that enters into a sacramental marriage invites someone wealthier than any billionaire to their marriage. They also receive a gift far more valuable than a mere million dollars. The Lord of heaven and earth, he who placed the stars in the sky, and holds all of creation in his hands attends every sacramental marriage and he gives special and abundant grace to the couple.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church enumerates the effects of that grace: “This grace proper to the sacrament of matrimony is intended to perfect the couple’s love and to strengthen their indissoluble unity. By this grace they ‘help one another to attain holiness in their married life and in welcoming and educating their children’” (No. 1641, quoting Gaudium et Spes, 48, 1).

The invited guest

He, who is the third person in each and every sacramental marriage, is Christ. The catechism tells us of his role: “Christ is the source of this grace. ‘Just as of old God encountered his people with a covenant of love and fidelity, so our Savior, the spouse of the church, now encounters Christian spouses through the sacrament of matrimony.’

“Christ dwells with them, gives them the strength to take up their crosses and so follow him, to rise again after they have fallen, to forgive one another, to bear one another’s burdens, to ‘be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ,’ and to love one another with supernatural, tender and fruitful love. In the joys of their love and family life he gives them here on earth a foretaste of the wedding feast of the Lamb” (No. 1642, quoting Gaudium et Spes, 48, 1 and Eph 5:21.).

This is not a one-time gift. Indeed, Christ guarantees the availability of his grace. It is superabundant. It will never run out. It’s in the bank.

Tap the resource

As long as we are in a state of grace, we can effectively tap into a great resource when we call upon him. We can do so whenever we have a need — nay, whenever we want his blessings. And he wants to give us his grace and his blessing so we can live as godly spouses and parents — so that we can have that “foretaste of the wedding feast of the Lamb.”

It makes no sense to live in spiritual poverty when we have been given such a great gift. In fact, it is a form of spiritual insanity to do so.

Dip into your bank account today. Talk to the third Person in your marriage. Tell him what you need. Tell him what you want for your marriage and your family. He is waiting to hear from you.

Flaherty is author of “Last Things First,” which is available at