October 27, 2006

Seeking the Face of the Lord

Love of wife and husband for each other like God’s love for us

I am surprised how often my parents come to mind. They have been deceased for years, yet dates such as their birthdays and their wedding anniversary are still special.

My mom and dad both had September birthdays, and so at this time of year I always think about them. Their wedding anniversary was Oct. 24.

I owe them much because they gave me so much. I owe them the most thanks because they taught me to live the faith.

They did as much by how they lived as by what they actually said about God and the Church.

Mom died in July of 1982, just months before she and Dad would have celebrated the golden anniversary of their marriage. I was so glad that we had celebrated their 40th anniversary in a big way.

I still chuckle because my brother and I gave them a large portrait of themselves taken at that time. It was larger than we had expected, so large that it embarrassed them. Mom kept the framed portrait under the bed for a long time. It finally made it to the living room wall.

My mom was confined to a wheel-chair the last two years of her life. Dad took care of her day and night, with the nearby watchful eye of my sister-in-law and brother. After she was gone, it was clear to see that his life seemed empty.

I remember that a year after Mom died, I asked Dad how he was doing. He said he missed her. He said a lot of times he would sit in his recliner and look at that large portrait in the living room. He said he liked to look at the picture and think of all the blessings they had shared together. Dad was able to go home to God and to Mom in June of 1996.

I don’t think my mom and dad were much different than most of you parents and grandparents. Like yours, theirs was a story of faithful and generous married love “in sickness and in health till death do you part.”

The story of our mom and dad is so much your stories. How beautiful is the real life, love and patience you husbands and wives show each other. How blessed you are to have this time together, especially in the evening of your lives, even if in sickness.

Maybe more than we, your children, tell you, your lives touch us profoundly. You show us how to live in an imperfect world.

And isn’t the love of wife and husband for each other—however imperfect—like God’s love for us? Isn’t it true that no matter how ravaged we may be physically because of illness, or even from the sin and weakness in our lives, no matter how weak and sick we may sometimes feel spiritually, in God’s eyes we are beautiful?

The real, down-to-earth love of wife and husband mirrors God’s unconditional love for us. A faithful marriage with its ups and downs, sadness and joy, is a sacrament of God’s love for us.

In an age when so many marriages come apart, your married lives are special gifts. As you may have loving memories of your parents or grandparents, someday you will leave a legacy of faith and love for your descendents. If times are difficult, perhaps you can take solace in the fact that you are a legacy of hope for a culture seeking what matters in life.

Even in sickness and suffering the effects that come with aging more than many of you will ever know, you are a silent witness of faith and love for all of us.

For those who have suffered the brokenness that comes with divorce or the pain of betrayal, maybe as you keep the faith, you also can offer a special witness for so many others who share your experience. God’s love is for all of us, especially in times of suffering, perhaps even in our moments of failure.

When I get the opportunity, I like to encourage you parents, especially you aging grandparents, whether single or still together, to continue to be an example of people who pray.

God bless you couples that pray together. Besides your children and extended family, pray for our archdiocese and our priests and all of those who help carry on God’s work.

Pray for vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life. Pray for those who feel they have no one to care for them. Nothing is more powerful in the ministry of our Church than prayer.

It doesn’t have to be complicated or taxing prayer. We just do it, and the Holy Spirit turns it into something beautiful.

Praying in any circumstance builds our trust in God.†

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