Sense of Life. Articles in English. The Grace of Being Engaged.
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The Grace of Being Engaged

October 20, 2008. Zakopane-Górka. A wooden chapel in the retreat house of the Jesuit Fathers. My friend, Fr. Stanisław, has invited me here on the pretext of introducing me to certain woman. I greet her; we start a brief conversation. Father asks me to approach the altar and suddenly calls out, “Darek!” My boyfriend walks out of the sacristy. He is all spiffed up in a suit and holds a bouquet of nine roses in his hand. Now I know what is in the wind. That day I became engaged to an exceptional fiancé.

Among my fellow students I often encounter criticism of marriage and what it entails, including the formal process of engagement. Many are of the opinion that one does not need a piece of paper to be happy. They claim that pledging one’s fidelity and love at the altar changes nothing, since they declare their love every day at a café or party–and often in the presence of friends. All these arguments strike me as funny and immature, totally unsuited to twenty-four-year-olds who, come May, will be receiving their master’s degree. It strikes me as odd that people should attach so much weight to a superior education, a good profession, and an expensive car, and yet dismiss so important a matter as family life and an authentic relationship with another person.

Darek and I have been together for over five years. Never have we enjoyed as deep a bond as the one we are now building as an engaged couple. Since the day he asked for my hand in marriage, it is as if our relationship had risen to another level. Now we enjoy the certainty that we will always be together. Because of this, we can talk honestly and openly about our weaknesses and how we intend to live our life together. We want to make special use of this time in order to perfect ourselves. In the presence of the other’s love, it is easier to see and overcome those flaws in our character, which prevent us from developing a friendship with Jesus and each other. At the same time we can develop a spirit of acceptance and unselfishness, which enables us to be a gift to Another. Our engagement is a great grace, and this is why we have also taken certain steps, which, while bringing us closer together, enable us to better prepare for marriage. Above all, these concern remaining pure in heart. We try not to arouse immodest actions and thoughts in each other. Remaining pure in our relationship has been much easier since we were engaged. That same day we decided that on the day of our wedding we would say to Jesus at the altar: “It is for You that we waited. Our pure hearts are our wedding presents to You–our common Bridegroom.”

Chastity enables us to see each other in a different way–with greater love. The tenderness we express toward one another is innocent of sexual overtones, and this gives us a great deal of joy. We also try to talk to each other more often and openly. We have decided, for an hour every month, to share our recent achievements and things we still find difficult, which hinder us in developing our common bond. Another important element in the whole process are the pre-marriage courses we took in high school and the more intense and immediate sessions we are currently taking at spiritual retreats of the Movement of Pure Hearts. We have been members of MPH for five years. That is where it all began: building our friendship with Jesus, meeting interesting people we can count on, and getting to know each other. MPH put us on the right path. Our engagement was the next step in the process.

We have had crises in our relationship. One was particularly serious and threatened to break us up. But then everything our friends had taught us, their prayers and support, helped us to weather the crisis.

Ignatian retreats have been another way of perfecting our friendship with Jesus. The Jesuit Fathers have a retreat house in the peaceful precincts of the Tatra mountains. There we are able to take part in meditative and contemplative forms of prayer. This discipline helps us to build a personal bond with Jesus, upon which we can subsequently ground a relationship with each other. Our friend, Fr. Stanisław, is very helpful in preparing us for the great day of our wedding. We can always count on him in time of difficulty and when we need to make a confession. I think it is very important to have someone close by who can direct us in case of need. He advises us, sometimes reprimands us, but he always approaches us with a father’s love and warmth.

Through the grace of engagement God is bestowing upon us all the gifts we need to build a good and loving marriage in the future. These gifts are: strength, endurance, the will to improve, openness, unselfishness, deep love, understanding, and acceptance. I trust we are making full use of these gifts, and that our marriage will bring us great satisfaction and joy.

M. & D.

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The article was published with the permission from "Love One Another!" in June 2016.

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