Saint Clare, Matchmaker

In 2010, on Saint Clare’s feast day, I entered the Dominican Sisters.

In 2016, on Saint Clare’s feast day, I entered the Dominican Monastery.

In 2020, on Saint Clare’s feast day, I decided to try a Catholic online dating service to see if maybe I was being called to marriage after twice being formed as a religious sister. I considered it a sort of marriage postulancy.

Saint Clare, my confirmation saint, has thus become my postulancy patroness! And I have not had any complaints from one of my oldest saint friends! It is impossible to express how very much I grew during the almost five years I spent with my first community of sisters! The healing and insights I gained during three and a half years of formation with the nuns are equally wonderful gifts of grace. And within just a couple weeks of online dating, my good patroness had found me a future spouse.

He proposed on the Solemnity of another of my favorite saints, and his confirmation saint, Saint Peter. Sitting in an almost empty monastery chapel, the ring was presented and the question whispered during the third psalm of vespers (this was not exactly his plan, but I thought it exactly perfect, and, like Saint Peter, overwhelmed on the mountain of the Transfiguration, whispered some nonsense before giving my very happy yes!)

After vespers, we ran to Mass at the Church across the street from the monastery. About halfway through the homily, Father, seeming to look right at us, began preaching directly to engaged couples! I wondered if my sparkly new ring was sparkly enough to be seen halfway across a Church (or maybe it was our sparkling smiles). Fortunately this wondering did not keep me from listening. The circumstances were so amazing that I felt I had better listen extra closely.

The message was this: You are not marrying an angel. The number one way to have your marriage fail is to think that your future spouse is an angel. Rather we are both weak human beings, and we need Jesus. Like Peter who gets nervous out there walking on the water, we need to look together to Jesus for his helping hand.

You are not marrying an angel.

Strikingly, this was remarkably similar to the first lesson I learned as I entered religious life: Sisters and Nuns (not to mention Priests and Brothers) are real people. They are not angels, but real people who have to strive for holiness and nourish their love for God. Religious life is a supernatural life of grace, a life to which we must be called and which we cannot truly live well, or even at all, if we cannot allow grace to raise us above the purely natural. So also with marriage. Marriage is a sacrament and thus confers grace, a grace which we need because the couple is called to be a sign of Christ’s love for the Church.

Like Saint Peter, we may get discomfited by the storm and the radicality of what we are doing and take our eyes from Jesus. When we struggle, which we will being a pair of weak fallen human beings, we must call out to our Lord and take his hand to walk on water again. (I presume that Jesus and Saint Peter had to walk on water a bit more to get back into the boat. It occurs to me just now that the boat represents heaven, in this interpretation at least.)

I once heard the ideal of marital love described not as looking at each other, but looking together at Jesus. Together, an imperfect, weak woman and an imperfect, weak man allow God to show his power in weakness by trusting in his more than sufficient grace (of course, it is Saint Paul’s solemnity too!).

We're looking at Jesus :)

As you can expect, it is likely that most of my posts for the next several months will be on the theme of getting married. The next will be about what happens when a lover of Lady Poverty is given a diamond to wear every day for the rest of her life, a really, really pretty diamond ring.

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