|The Mystical Marriage of Saint Catherine of Siena|
As autumn rolls on, there are a great many feasts honoring many a woman who dedicated her life to serving Christ as a spiritual Bride of Christ. Whether they be virgin martyrs or cloistered nuns, we have come to know those who identify with brides of Christ as those women who have made some commitment to the religious or consecrated life. So it may come to many a surprise that spiritually, I identify as a spouse of Christ, even though I am male and I have not taken any formal religious vows.
First, let us back up and take a visit to my RCIA class in 2008, and in the midst of the instruction we had one guest speaker come in to teach us about Charismatic prayer, and I remember at some point during her presentation she said, "I am a Bride of Christ." I instantly took note: "I may be a married woman, but I consider myself a Bride of Christ," and after that I cant quite remember how the rest of the presentation went, but I remember saying to myself that I wanted to become a Bride of Christ also.
So, from that time forward, that's how my spirituality started to form as a spouse of Christ. Most male spirituality focuses on friendship with Christ, spiritual warfare (such as that of a Solider of Christ) or some other manly imagery. All of these images are good and fine, but for some, they lack. As I have stated previously, the soul seeks intimate union with Christ, and Christ desires the soul as if it were his beloved, his one and only love, and we as beloved are to seek complete union and sublimation into the person of Christ.
As Luis M. Martinez, the late Archbishop of Mexico, writes, "To love is to disappear, to efface oneself to the point of transformation into and fusion with the Beloved." And this is how deep Christ's love is for each individual soul, and how much our souls should delve into Christ's love and affection. As Scripture states, the two become one flesh. At the root of every Christian is union with Christ; it is that deep intimacy with Christ. Scripture uses the imagery of a wedding to describe this deep union, we see this union foreshadowed in the Song of Songs, and then shown in glory at the wedding feast of the Lamb in the Book of Revelation.
But even at the beginning of His public ministry, Jesus first chooses to manifest Himself at a wedding, a foreshadowing of His heavenly wedding to His Bride, the Church. In the mystical Tradition of the Church, this union is the first union of Christ with the whole body of the Church, but also extends itself to the individual soul which is seeking perfect union with the Trinity. We can see this individual union best exemplified in the person of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who in herself is the model for the whole Church and in a sense is a Bride of Christ.
It is in Mary's pure and unspotted love with Christ, and the deep union that she shares with the whole Trinity due in virtue to her most Holy and Immaculate Conception. But this union continued to deepen as Mary journeyed through life due in virtue to her humanity, Mary had to feel the Dark Night: She had to journey with complete trust in God, not knowing all the answers. She had to endure many pains on the road to her personal Calvary as she accompanied her son to His Calvary, and through it all, the perfect was made even more perfect, and Mary grew closer in unity with the Trinity, the Trinity whose depth of mystery knows no end.
As Mary is the model of the Church, but more important, the model for each individual soul, all that happens in the life of the Virgin Mary is the ideal of what will happen to each of us individually. Mary truly grew in love and union with Christ and the whole Trinity, until "the two became one flesh." As Mary journeyed through life, she continued to be even more immersed in God's mystery.
We share in this mystery by virtue of our baptism, as Brant Pitre points out in his book, Jesus the Bridegroom, Baptism is synonymous with the Jewish cleansing ritual before a wedding, In Baptism, we are born anew; we become, in a sense, an "Immaculate Conception," a new creation each individually prepared to meet our groom Christ, and this preparation is constantly being consummated in the Sacraments, especially and most poignantly in the Eucharist, which is truly the wedding feast of the Lamb.
All Christian life points to this mystical union. It is the reality of the Christian life, not some strange far-off concept. This is the corner stone of the Christian mystery, so I can truly say that I am a Bride of Christ.
O my God! I offer Thee all my actions of this day for the intentions and for the glory of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I desire to sanctify every beat of my heart, my every thought, my simplest works, by uniting them to Its infinite merits ; and I wish to make reparation for my sins by casting them into the furnace of Its Merciful Love.
O my God! I ask thee for myself and for those whom I hold dear, the grace to fulfill perfectly Thy Holy Will, to accept for love of Thee the joys and sorrows of this passing life, so that we may one day be united together in Heaven for all Eternity. Amen.
—Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face