This is a F&PB series we started to speak truth and love to all those single, in relationships, and discerning to help live in light of eternity. Perhaps a man or woman has captured your heart, but ultimately we are all meant to look upon Jesus Christ and say, “He has my heart.” Join our friends as they speak on marriage and the greater wedding feast: heaven. We hope it’ll inspire wherever you’re at. The introduction can be found here and post #1 can be found here.
Before we dive in, check out this post from Jason & Crystalina Evert entitled, “Marriage Prep starts when you’re Single.”
It’s no coincidence that we’re sharing this next guest post on Joe’s birthday! Happy birthday Joseph Saint Jose! And thank you Joe & Marion for being so open with us…
I first met Joe several years ago at a CCO Spring Banquet. We became good friends and I grew to truly respect his love of the Lord, donuts, and music. We had this ongoing pun that still continues today about donuts! Texts like “Do nut take the Lord’s name in vain,” were common vernacular. I remember the first time he told me about this beautiful girl and fellow worship leader, Marion. We were sitting in Buchanan Block D basking in the sun between classes and I could just tell by how excited Joe was that this was something different, exciting, and of God. Fast forward a couple years and it made me so incredibly joyful to read their full story reflecting back. I’m equally ecstatic to celebrate their marriage this coming May.
Please keep Joe & Marion in your prayers as they prepare for this awesome sacrament!
1. Share a brief bio about you as a couple.
Joseph and Marion have been dating since September 2012, and don’t intend to stop anytime soon. We both really want to help each other get to Heaven, and maybe sing a few songs and eat some Panago along the way.
2. Do you have any words of wisdom as your prepare?
When you’re planning your wedding, don’t forget to remember what’s really important: the Sacrament you are about to partake in, and how you’re called to be an outpouring of God’s grace to each other, to your potential children, and to the world.
3. How did you know you were called to marry this person? Did you always know this person was ‘the one’?
JOE: The biggest thing for me was the desire; only that the desire was much greater and deeper than I had ever experienced before. There was definitely a physical desire, an emotional desire, and as the relationship progressed, a spiritual desire. It was difficult for me to discern at first because I was at a bit of a crossroads in terms of vocation. I had always really respected and valued and also been attracted to the priesthood so when Marion came along, I was a little anxious as to the decision I had to make. Eventually I made the decision to commit to growing in relationship with Marion and to see if I was called to marriage with her. Ignatian discernment and Marian devotion helped to clarify my call to marriage with Marion. At one point, I was experiencing serious doubts about whether or not I was still supposed to date Marion, and so I surrendered it to the Lord. She and I went to Mass together and right before Mass, we prayed the Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. There was an opportunity during the prayer to ask for one thing of Our Lady, and so I asked a risky question of the Lord through Our Lady: “Are you still calling me to be with Marion? Or do you want me to end the relationship?” Mass began, and the Liturgy of the Word proceeded. The Gospel reading for that day was about St. Joseph in the Gospel of Matthew 1:20: “Joseph, Son of David: Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife.” There, I thought I had my answer, and decided to commit to it.
MARION: It was a little less obvious for me than it was for Joe. It was definitely a process of coming to know if he was the one; there was also a sense of deep desire with Joe, and not just a casual sense. While the relationship began and progressed very quickly, we were very intentional and approached it with a lot of reverence. Right away, I definitely approached the relationship “as if” we were supposed to be each other’s future spouses, and throughout the relationship, it never really became clear that we weren’t supposed to be each other’s spouses.
4. What are some things you did while dating that helped you get to where you are now?
We found that having a lot of critical, serious, difficult discussions about our relationship were very helpful in moving us to where we are now. We talked about everything significant: the future, vocation, prayer, sexuality, faith, our opinions, our politics. In having lots of those difficult conversations, we definitely grew in trust and intimacy.
Though it was sporadic at first and though it still requires a lot of patience and perseverance, having a daily prayer life as a couple was really important. Even if it was a quick, informal prayer in the evening together, it would somehow bind us even closer to each other, even if we had argued that day or had a sour conversation. We found it especially helpful to hold each others hands (both of them) while we prayed.
We definitely took the time to go on excursions and make sure we had a lot of new shared experiences together; going on day trips, hikes, and small little adventures were surefire ways to test ourselves as a couple, and grow and react in new ways that we wouldn’t otherwise had discovered if we had just decided to eat pizza and watch movies the rest of our lives. (Though there’s nothing wrong with that necessarily…)
We felt that having a sense of intentionality while dating was really crucial. We were both on the same page, in that we had an end in mind while dating each other: that we were always moving towards either getting married or eventually breaking up. While it seems a little crazy and too “purposeful” for some people, it definitely helped us progress as a couple and discover new things about each other. Taking the leap into engagement helped us unfold even more about our relationship: it was as if we discovered a whole new layer as we deepened our commitment!
As we continued to grow deeper in our relationship and our commitment to each other, we definitely started growing in our sense of wonder and amazement of each other. We kept finding new things about each other that we loved. We definitely got a huge sense of mystery about where our relationship was going to take us, and of the new things we have yet to discover about each other.
5. What is the best piece of wisdom that you have received or want to give those called to the vocation of married life?
MARION: Marriage is not the end, but only the beginning.
JOE: Marriage is meant to bring the best out in both of us. “Once you’ve invited everyone to your wedding, don’t forget to invite them to your marriage.” I definitely want to encourage couples called to the vocation of married life to look outside of yourselves as a couple, and really challenge yourselves to see how you as a couple can be of service to your community of friends, believers, families, and even strangers. There is something about the two of you as a couple that is greater than either of you ever were as single people, and you were meant to be a gift as a couple to bless the world.
6. What are you doing to spiritually prepare for your marriage?
The Archdiocese of Vancouver has a nice marriage preparation program that helps anchor the conversation on our relationship development. We have also maintained a regular prayer and sacramental life as a couple, in addition to pursuing a sacramental life as much as possible. We also began the process of planning our wedding in the Holy Spirit and asked God to be more involved with the process of making the 1,000,000 decisions involved with a wedding. We also lead worship together on a monthly basis at CCO’s Summit.
7. What has been something or someone that has spurred your growth as a couple?
Early in our relationship, as we were learning about each other, we began to reveal aspects of ourselves that we found really difficult to share. It was extremely hard to be vulnerable with each other and it took a lot of prayer, the Sacraments, and the grace of God to work through, but in the end it made us a stronger couple. Out of that difficult crucible, we emerged having grown in intimacy and trust.
8. What is one of your greatest hopes for your marriage?
That we’d both get to Heaven. That others would be able to be blessed by our marriage, and encounter and come to know God and His Love through their encounter with us as a couple. We really believe that as a married couple, we are supposed to image the love that Christ has for His Church, and so if we live out of that love, we can only help others encounter that love, whether it be each other, our children, our families, our friends, our community, or complete strangers!
9. Do you have any fears surrounding marriage?
We definitely fear being complacent or being too comfortable and getting lazy and lax in our relationship. Someone once told us to never stop dating each other, and we hope to try to follow that well into our golden years! We also definitely want to raise good kids.
10. How do you keep Christ the centre and focus of your relationship?
We think that even though we are going to be equally yoked in our relationship as a married couple, our individual relationship with Christ isn’t going to be obliterated or eliminated. We both have to have Christ at the centre of our own hearts, and pursue holiness as much as possible in our own lives, and from that place of intimacy, support each other’s pursuit of holiness. It also means intentionally pursuing a relationship of authentic love, out of love, not simply out of duty, but out of desire. Marriage for us is a mission that God has given us, and so we pursue it as a mission of love and desire. It’s our commitment to God that has ultimately brought us together, and so it’s our commitment to Him that will keep us together.