Four years ago, I hoped and pleaded with God that I could be a religious sister – a nun.
Then, I started really praying “Thy Will be done.” I entrusted my vocation to St. Joseph, a man who obeyed God’s Will even when it was confusing, demanding, and seemingly dangerous.
This past Friday night, Dan took me out for dinner. Then, we drove to a local Catholic evangelization center where we’d spent a good amount of time together. We had private Eucharistic Adoration in the chapel. Dan asked, “Would you pray evening prayer with me?” He flipped through the pages of the Divine Office to the feast of St. Joseph. “But today is the feast of St. Cyril, right?” I was confused. Then, it clicked: Dan had waited until the most meaningful night possible – the vigil of the Feast of St. Joseph – to propose to me. After our Evening Prayer, he got down on one knee and tearfully asked me to marry him.
Of course, I said yes.
There was no ring. He’d known that I would have wanted to pick something out for myself. As I’ve been looking through different retailers, I’ve been having some trouble finding what I want, and have spent time weeding through lots of what I don’t want. That’s because I don’t want any diamonds. Or precious stones. Or fancy metallic designs. I just want a simple band – one ring for engagement and marriage.
Of course, nobody understands or believes me (except Daniel).
Nuns and the Feast
Sure, there are monetary benefits to having a single, simple engagement-wedding ring. I like saving money. But that’s not the sole or even the main reason why I want to stay simple.
Have you ever seen a nun’s left ring finger (in the U.S.)? She’s got a wedding ring on. Ever since the first centuries of the Church’s existence, consecrated women have worn plain rings signifying “their betrothal to their heavenly Spouse” (source). Such rings are also worn by priests and consecrated men. It is a signpost, pointing toward a greater reality.
As much as I love my fiancé, he is not my soulmate. Jesus Christ is my soulmate and his. Dan and I want to help each other reach the Wedding Feast of the Lamb:
“‘Just as of old God encountered his people with a covenant of love and fidelity, so our Savior, the spouse of the Church, now encounters Christian spouses through the sacrament of Matrimony.’ Christ dwells with them, gives them the strength to take up their crosses and so follow him, to rise again after they have fallen, to forgive one another, to bear one another’s burdens, to ‘be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ,’ and to love one another with supernatural, tender, and fruitful love. In the joys of their love and family life he gives them here on earth a foretaste of the wedding feast of the Lamb.”
– Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1642
Dan and I have strong desires to communicate this true meaning of the sacrament of matrimony to our families, friends, and community members. We believe in it wholeheartedly.
We also believe that our treasure is in Heaven. Why does our society have this silly idea that engagement rings need diamonds? In ancient Egypt, people began adding precious or semi-precious stones to wedding rings in order to demonstrate wealth (source). While there’s nothing wrong with being wealthy, showing off your wealth is another matter.
Dan and I would rather our rings speak more about our hearts than our pocketbooks. Diamonds may be “indestructible,” but the might of our God is stronger. When our rings are consecrated within the wedding ceremony, they become one-of-a-kind reminders that our loving union is a sacramental sign of the union that Christ desires with every person and with the whole Church.
Don’t Be Mistaken…
I am usually all for tradition – after all, I’m Catholic! And I’m not suggesting that traditional symbols used by millions of couples are wrong or bad.
I’m saying that Dan and I want to be different for a reason. Deviating from traditions or expectations earns the attention of others. Assuredly, the only time either of us enjoy getting other people’s attention is when we’re taking advantage of that attention to preach the Gospel. The thing is… that’s the point of all this marriage stuff.
In a world where marriage has become merely a ceremony, contract, or excuse to throw a party, Daniel and I want to be the messengers that our names convey. We want to slap some sense into this world and remind it that marriage on earth points to the ultimate marriage in Heaven – with one Bridegroom and one Bride.
See to it that no one captivate you with an empty, seductive philosophy according to human tradition, according to the elemental powers of the world and not according to Christ. (Colossians 2:8)
And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17)