The second part of the blessing ties the Sacrament of Marriage into God’s plan as a sign of the love that Christ has for His Church (something we have already spoken about in a previous article). It prays, “O God, who, to reveal the great design you formed in your love, willed that the love of spouses for each other should foreshadow the covenant you graciously made with your people, so that, by fulfillment of the sacramental sign, the mystical marriage of Christ with his Church might become manifest in the union of husband and wife among your faithful.” This is a reminder of the call that married couples are to reflect the very love that God has for His people by the way they love one another which, as has been stated before, is faithful, permanent and fruitful.
After a calling forth of the Holy Spirit (“graciously stretch out your right hand over these your servants, we pray, and pour into their hearts the power of the Holy Spirit”), the blessing now asks God to bestow certain gifts on the couple. The first is that they may be able to “share with one another gifts” of God’s love and that they may be “for each other a sign of your [God’s] presence,” and that they become “one heart and one mind.” This part of the blessing points out the intimate union that they have with one another, but also with God Himself as a couple married in His presence. Then follows these prayers for a blessing of the couple, a blessing upon the home that they will form, and the call to Christian parenting, “May they also sustain, O Lord, by their deeds the home they are forming and prepare their children to become members of your heavenly household by raising them in the way of the Gospel.” We see here clearly pointed out the fact that the married couple will be the foundation of the home that they are forming and the first teachers of their children in the way of the Faith.
Having called forth a blessing on the couple and on their home and future family, the nuptial blessing now blesses the bride individually, that she may be “a good wife and mother” and one who brings “warmth to her home with a love that is pure,” and that she may “adorn it with welcoming graciousness.” Following this there is a blessing upon the groom, that “he may be a worthy, good and faithful husband and a provident father.” Both of these specific prayers point out and draw attention to the various gifts that the bride and groom will bring to the formation of their household and ask God to strengthen them as they live out their marital consent as a husband and a wife, and as a father and a mother.
Finally, the blessing concludes by calling to mind the reality that married couples are meant to help each other to get to heaven. It recalls that the destination for the newly married couple is not in this world, but the next, that “as a couple joined in Marriage” in God’s presence, “they may one day have the joy of taking part” in His “great banquet in heaven.”
(This article is part of a series of articles on The Sacraments which will appear in the bulletin over the course of this year.)