A Beautiful Friendship Between Vocations

There is something beautiful about friendship between a priest and a married couple. Not only do they support each other but their respective vocations are also mutually inspiring. The priest discovers in the Christian couple a community of love in which the sacred mysteries shine within the thick of human life. The couple, on the other hand, perceives in the life of the priest a reminder to keep God first among all the claims that compete for our attention.

The priesthood is a vocation designed by God to bear witness to the great mystery of salvation. But marriage is also a vocation designed by God to bear witness to salvation. These different vocations bear witness to the same ultimate reality; they do so, however, in different and complementary ways. Husband and wife model in their own spiritual/physical relationship the love between Jesus and his bride, the Church and the joy of sharing in God’s triune life in heaven. In important ways, the wife receives the healing grace of Christ through the sacrifices, prayers and forgiveness of her husband and she offers her sacrifices, prayers and forgiveness for him as well, in union with the sacrifice of Christ. Like the love between the Father and the Son, which love is the Holy Spirit, the self-giving love between husband and wife is open to life, and the life to which their love is open is both natural (i.e., babies) and supernatural (i.e., grace).

The priest gives up personal enjoyment of marriage and family life. He seeks the same ultimate good as the married couple but approaches that good in a more direct way. Marriage, for all of its great beauty and transcendental meaning, necessarily involves earthly entanglements that can distract from what is most important. The priest through his love of God and of God’s people, bears witness to the supreme good that is union with God. This supreme good is described as a heavenly wedding feast of the divine bridegroom and his bride, whose union brings us—the People of God—to spiritual rebirth through the waters of baptism. If married Christians especially reflect the Incarnation, the priesthood tends to point ahead to the Resurrection and the Ascension. These vocations together encourage us to look beyond the temporary and earthly image to the heavenly and eternal reality.