Freedom in Marriage and in Christianity.
Father Richard Veras
Freedom is essential to the Sacrament of Marriage; even for Catholics who marry non-Christians in the Church, freedom is necessary for the marriage to be valid. This is fitting because Jesus is the Bridegroom of the Church, and he did not force anyone to follow him. He simply proposed himself, and his call was always subject to the freedom of the one he was calling. Recall that he allowed the rich young man to walk away; and he took time to answer Nicodemus’ questions, but gave Nicodemus the freedom and time he needed to come to his own conclusions and decisions regarding Jesus. The importance of this freedom was brought into relief for me one year when two men and one woman in the RCIA process were recounting the stories of their conversions. The woman said that she knew that her husband very much wanted her to enter the Church, but he never pushed her in any way. As time went by, she was moved by his restraint and the respect for her freedom which it so beautifully expressed. Immediately, the two men chimed in, because they had each had the same experience in the relationships with their wives.
For these three, the RCIA was their proximate preparation to enter the Church, but their evangelisation had begun long before. Through the faith and the silent witness of their spouses, Jesus discreetly and lovingly called them and allowed them all the freedom and time they needed.
Father Richard Veras is director of pastoral formation at Saint Joseph’s Seminary in New York