Allison’s desire to pray the rosary with me right after I proposed was the beginning of a thirst by both of us for increased spiritual rigor.
I didn’t have a ring yet. Allison asked for a special engagement present: “Join the confraternity with me.”
The confraternity is the Angelic Warfare Confraternity. Allison had mentioned it before as a means of obtaining spiritual support in my chastity battles. I had gone online and had read about it.
Up until the time that she asked for this present, though, I had put it on a mental to-do list…for later. Now my membership became a priority. I located a ceremony place and time and found myself growing more and more excited about giving this gift to Allison, to myself, and to our engagement.
The date of the ceremony happened to be three months to the day after our initial meeting online, and it happened to take place across the street from the National Shrine Of The Immaculate Conception, so I happened to have a ring in my pocket and a speech ready when we walked up the steps to the cathedral to make a visit prior the confraternity ceremony.
I told Allison that I had been reflecting about all that had happened in such a short period of time since we had dedicated our relationship to the Blessed Mother. When we had made that promise we were sitting in front of a grotto that held a small statue of Our Lady. Now we were standing before the largest shrine to the Immaculate Conception in the Western hemisphere. It was reflection of how much our love for each other had grown and an almost overwhelming monument to the power of grace in our lives. Graces seen and unseen, graces received and yet to come.
We stood at the mosaic dedicated to Our Lady Of The Immaculate Conception for a long time and whispered about how amazed and humbled we were by the shower of graces she had obtained for us. We lit a candle. I felt like lighting a bonfire.
We walked across the street for the confraternity ceremony, which was such a rich experience that I need to blog about it separately. Allison renewed her promises during that ceremony, and it was very meaningful that she was present when I became a member of something so old and so powerful.
So when people ask us where we’re registered, well….we registered in the book of confraternity members. My souvenir: a blessed cord worn by confraternity members. After a major battle for his chastity, St. Thomas Aquinas was girded with a cord with 15 knots by two angels. The cord is a sacramental presented to confraternity members upon their installation.
Something old, something new
In the eyes of this world, we are having a rather strange engagement. In fact, the eyes of the world glaze over when we talk about it.
There won’t be showers, engagement parties, wedding dress fittings, cake tastings, and we don’t feel the least bit apologetic. We are planning to be married on the Feast of the Archangels, and we are thrilled with the newest plan to incorporate the ceremony for St. Louis de Montfort’s consecration to the Blessed Mother into the wedding Mass. We both had considered this when we came back to the faith but had realized that we weren’t ready.
Now we are.
We are excited about spending the last weeks leading up to the wedding in a state of spiritual preparation.
I don’t think marriage ever made sense to me until I thought of it as a sacrament. Before it had always been two people coming together to make a life somehow. Someone to share the good times with. Someone to be there when things got tough. A person you could see yourself happy with. It is all those things, but it’s something else.
Coming together has not been two people meshing old lives, trying to find spaces for each other’s dreams and plans. It’s been the creation of a new life.
Allison’s profile described her desire to share her inner life with someone: “A sacramental union of two souls and that third life in Christ that comes with it.” We have found new dreams bubbling up, and we are watching old dreams die. “Behold, I make all things new.”
Allison described the speed of our engagement as an obedient response to God’s call. It didn’t take long for us to discover that much of what was surrounding us in our present lives needed to be chucked.
As we spend time consolidating things, we both strive to lead a largely spartan existence. “Let’s live like the Holy Family” she said to me one day.
We find that when our lives are free from “noise” our relationship with God and with each other improves. When we look at the stuff we have been holding on to, we laugh. Allison says we went from “whatever” to “forever.”
Allison points out that we should’ve been warned: “When you consecrate your relationship to the Blessed Mother, you’d better watch out!”
Recently, we heard that some saint said “Mary moves!”
This is the fourth and final installment of Erik’s Engagement Diary. Please leave him a comment and let him know your thoughts. And feel free to circle back to his first, second and third installments if you missed them before. Erik had been on CatholicMatch for nearly five years and was a few weeks from closing out the account for good when Allison contacted him.