In 1921, a young Italian who would someday be the prime minister of Italy, Alcide DeGaspari, wrote an impassioned letter to the woman he intended to marry, Francesca Romani. It was a marriage proposal in artful prose.

In the letter, he invited the woman he dearly loved to join him on a journey of faith. Together, they could embrace the call of Jesus to follow Him wherever He may lead.

His heartfelt words are worth recalling: "The personality of the living Christ pulls me, enslaves me and comforts me as though I were a child. Come, I want you with me, to be drawn to that same attraction as though to an abyss of light."

DeGaspari clearly understood that the road Christ bid him and his beloved to follow was a hard road. Indeed, many go astray and prematurely end their journey. But it is the royal road that leads to heavenly Jerusalem, the final destination for the baptized.

How long must the disciples of Jesus travel on the long and winding road? He could not say with certainty. The young Italian could clearly see that he had a purpose in life and a vocation to embrace marriage.

Less than 20 years after he penned his remarkable letter, his country went to war.

One of the great themes of sacred Scripture is the journey. Recall the Gospel story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus, which was proclaimed in our churches a few weeks ago, and the long journey of the Chosen People to the Promised Land.

In many fairytales, the journey is also an important feature of the story: the yellow brick road in the classic "The Wizard of Oz," for instance.

On the way to Oz, the heroine, Dorothy, is exposed to great dangers. Together with her three companions, she must confront the Wicked Witch of the West and the witch's flying monkeys. But, as we read the story, we are aware of an invisible hand that guides them to their destination: the hand of the Good Witch of the East.

If Dorothy had not embarked on her journey, she would have lost the opportunity of meeting the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion. In order to "return home," she had to be ready and willing to embrace the challenge of the journey.

Dorothy learned an important lesson: There is indeed no place like home!

In a secular culture heavily influenced by the entertainment industry, the Christian teaching of marriage is mocked. It's often the butt of jokes. In the world of the unbeliever, marriage is not "a gift of Christ," as Pope Francis called it; nor is it a sacred calling, a vocation.

To suggest that the family home is a domestic Church is likely to bring words of derision. To claim that the husband and wife have a common destination only makes matters worse!

The path the secular culture recommends is a path leading to nowhere! It leads to oblivion.

Recently, I visited the home of two of my parishioners: a couple married more than 50 years. They are devoted to each other. Joe, a husband and father, has been confined to bed and suffers from a loss of memory. His wife, Louise, has over the last few years assumed the responsibility of caring for him.

One day, she entered her husband's bedroom after he had just made the sign of the cross. An uncomfortable silence ensued. Clearly, he was searching for the words of a prayer he had known for virtually his entire life.

Seeing him struggle, she took him by the hand and said, "Joe, let me help you." She began praying the Lord's prayer -- and he remembered! They prayed together as husband and wife.

On a couple's wedding day, they begin a lifelong journey. This journey can be exhilarating for those blessed with a deep faith in Christ. The couple knows that they do not walk alone.

Embracing the challenge of married life is a good first step.

(Father Yanas is pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Troy. He delivered this homily at a recent wedding.)