June 19, 2009

The Joyful Catholic / Rick Hermann

Husband discovers new love for his wife

Rick HermannRecently, a friend of mine said, “I’ve discovered that I enjoy being a great husband more than having a great wife.”

Puzzled, I asked, “What do you mean?”

“Well,” he continued, “I used to think the best part of marriage was being married to a great woman. You know, having a gorgeous, sexy wife.

“I still think she’s beautiful, but I’ve come to realize that I find more pleasure in being a great husband than in having a great wife. You know, like doing special things for her and taking care of her.”

He smiled as he spoke and his eyes glistened.

“She’s been sick for three years now, and I’ve discovered I like being able to help her. I actually enjoy being the one who is there for her, even when she doesn’t realize it or appreciate it.”

He concluded, “I’m not bragging or anything, it’s just true. I’ve discovered a much deeper love for her and a new outlook on life.”

As I listened, it dawned on me that I was hearing something special. His words brightened my mind like sunbeams on a stained-glass window. I marveled at his discovery and shared his delight.

Here was a grown man being born anew, in full view. He was being transformed by the love of God into a new creation.

Here in the body and blood of my friend was a new awakening, a new beginning.

This is love in the flesh, love incarnate, the re-incarnation of Christ.

This is the love of God, “agape” love, in which the lover seeks only what is best for his beloved.

This is the passionate love of Jesus, totally self-giving. In it, we both lose and find ourselves. It overflows in us with pure joy.

We find this love only if we seek it with all our heart, like children searching for buried treasure. Once we discover it, we joyfully sell everything to possess it.

Those who find this love are truly blessed, and they bless everyone around them.

Whoever finds this love is radically transformed. Like the weary traveler who climbs the mountain and gasps at the sight of the Promised Land, or the sinner who stumbles into the cathedral and is astonished by the majesty inside, we discover a love more wonderful than we ever imagined.

The man who loves this way is the greatest warrior. He is greater than any general who conquers a city for he has conquered himself (Prv 16:32).

In my friend, we see the reflection of Christ, who sacrificed himself for the sake of his bride, the Church. As St. Paul says, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church” (Eph 5:25).

This man is a priest to his wife for he is devoted to her and lays down his life for her. His life is consecrated, set apart from the world and other women, given to her alone.

How many women yearn for a lover like this? How many wives would gladly submit to a husband who loves her so completely?

By giving himself entirely to his bride, he sanctifies her and redeems himself. In return, she may give herself completely to him, as to the Lord.

This love is perfect, and reminds us that we can indeed “be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly father is perfect” (Mt 5:48).

This man shows that marriage is more than sexual pleasure and creating babies. He reveals deeper dimensions of marriage in which we glorify God and help each other get to heaven.

“This is a profound mystery,” says St. Paul. “I am talking about Christ and the Church” (Eph 5:32).

When a man loves his wife like this, he loves her the way Jesus loves us.

(Rick Hermann of St. Louis is a Catholic columnist and speaker. His e-mail address is RH222@sbcglobal.net.)

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