I Never Knew Happily Ever After Would Hurt This Much

I Never Knew Happily Ever After Would Hurst So Much

And they lived “happily ever after.”  The ending words of fairy tales have become our expectation for real-life marriage. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that a “happily ever after” marriage is easy. You walk off the altar with such joy and think that this marital bliss will last forever.  That it will come automatically and be pain free, because we are sooo in love! But the words, “Darling I never knew it would hurt this much to live happily ever after,” are much more realistic. The words are written by my good friend Cinda DeVet in a poem she authored.

With World Marriage Day on February 11th, and Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I thought it would be fitting to reflect on the splendor and the challenges of marriage. In celebration of the beautiful Sacrament of Matrimony I am sharing Cinda’s poem, In-Between Anniversary. It is full of truth and hope. Cinda and her husband Joe know quite a bit about marriage. They have been married for over fifty-one years! Cinda speaks not only of the struggles and pain of marriage, but of the glory too!

Read through its entirety and experience the beauty of a grace filled marriage that lives out the vows of “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, and…until death do us part.”

In-Between Anniversary
By Cinda DeVet

My hand slides towards you
across the bright, white cloth,
and yours is already there.
We’ve learned some steps,
you and I, over these years of love.
We don’t trip as often,
nor fall as far.

This is one of those in-between years
When few are inclined to ask
if we have special plans for our anniversary.
People in the early years
think you need a five or a zero
to make an important anniversary,
but we know better.
This year is imperative.
People outside cannot fathom
the tiny fragments of time
that comprise forever.
Like this moment,
when your hand closes over mine,
covering the ring you gave me,
one evening, long ago,
when we were playing dress up
and stumbled into forever.

What did we know then?
Two little children,
we dressed appropriately for wedding
and behaved well.
We stood on the brink of eternity
and spoke solemn, weighted words,
exchanging rings of gold,
and we knew not what we did.
What miracle occurred that evening
in the far away past,
as we stood in God’s presence

speaking solemn weighted words,
exchanging rings of gold.

We promised forever,
but we were speaking words
unknown to us, unlived.
We said them with conviction,
purposing forever,
but I, at least, had no idea
they would bring us to today.

On the altar,
bread and wine became Christ.
Before the altar,
two little children
(appropriately dressed and well-behaved)
became Christ,
but we knew not what we did.
(There were words in our heads
that spoke of sacrament;
they came from books
and our book was not yet written.)

Father spoke words I can recapture,
words you know well
because I’ve recaptured them for you,
over and again.
You remembered only shaking knees
and a vision of loveliness,
that was a little girl playing dress up,
coming down the aisle of the big, big church
to join you in becoming Christ.

If we had known,
would we have feared to take
the awe-inspiring step we took?
We moved into a new universe,
with new laws and a new language,
on that lovely spring evening.
And we didn’t know the laws, nor speak the language-
and didn’t know we needed to.
We wasted years, love,
trying to make the old laws and language serve forever,
trying to avoid learning the new.
Years fraught with conflict and competition,
with hurt inflicted, and hurts sustained, and hurt hoarded.

When did we learn,
how did we learn,
the language,
the laws of love?
When did we stop trying to work out a compromise,
recall whose turn it was,
make sure each of us did a fair share?
It began long ago,
even that same evening, I suspect,
but the beginnings were so tentative
and the change so cosmic,
and the way so uncharted, unthought-
who could imagine?
Eye has not seen, nor ear heard.
Now we have begun to see and hear-
and to forgive.
Darling, I never knew it would hurt this much
to live happily ever after.
I never knew either,
it would be this glorious,
an explosion of glory between us.
I try to speak this across the table
in the very lovely restaurant you chose
for the celebration of this in-between anniversary.
Words won’t come-only tears,
and a deep silence between us
where Jesus walks

and raises His hands in blessing.

II

I look back over the years,
wondering again how it has happened;
when did we learn (or begin to learn),
when did the steps become more apparent,
the voices quieter, less harsh,
the movements gentle and healing
instead of fierce, self-centered,
tension-provoking?
I see the shadow of the cross over the years,
absorbing and healing the little crosses we’ve carried,
and fought about carrying,
and threatened not to carry any longer
without adequate support and remuneration.

The covenant is unfair! Strike!
And we did strike,
and He felt the lash, falling upon Him.
(When did I see you in need of comfort and caring, Lord,
and leave you in your pain?
As often as you did to one another, you did it to me)

Tonight I see those times
in the pure light of His forgiveness and yours.
One day we began to forgive
i
nstead of totaling up points
and waving overdue accounts at each other.

Light came in.
Jesus walked with us and taught us,
every time we gave Him the slightest chance.
And the shadow of the cross healed us.
Tonight those times are part of the story,
part of the symphony,
a backdrop against which the light of His presence
within us, between us, even just as us,
shines forth,
miraculous and glorious.

III

We did so many stupid things!
It’s overwhelming to look back and see,
where and how, and, dear God, how often,
we attempted to push each other off narrow mountain paths
along precarious cliffs
because neither of us wanted to give way, to go second.
How could we have so undervalued
the incredible, unmerited gift of person
with whom to share life, to share God,
to celebrate His goodness?

He sent one prophet after another;
some died.
How long it took us to hear their prophecy
instead of trying to use the old law,
the old language,
to remake the prophets.
Little, helpless prophets,
speaking with wails in the night,
needing us.
We served them many years
before we began to listen deeply,
to the Gospel spoke
in the image of God.

(A little child shall lead them.)
Now, I ask myself,
what lessons did we miss that He sent us?
Unanswerable question.
I have to let it go,
turn to you in love,
and go on with open heart to listen to them now.

When did I last ask you how this happened?
We were just two little kids, playing house,
and now our children are visions of loveliness,
approaching other people’s children
before other altars
to become Christ.
And you said, “I don’t know,
but I’m glad it did.”

IV

Sing a psalm to our God!
Rejoice in His presence forever!
Moments and days that add up to forever,
Bless the Lord!
Unfolding promises, lived out in faith,
Bless the Lord!
Husbands and wives, called to show forth His love,
Bless the Lord!
Sons and daughters, sent as prophets and messengers,
Bless the Lord!
Bless Him in rejoicing and sorrow!
Bless Him in pain and joy!
Let all the earth bless the Lord!

 

blessing-rings-2

Make a New Year’s Resolution with the Holy Family

Holy Family into Egypt

If you haven’t made a New Year’s resolution yet, or even if you have, the Holy Family has something to offer you. This year, New Year’s Eve happened to fall on the Feast of the Holy Family, which provided an excellent opportunity for me to reflect on this humble family, and to consider what they can teach us regarding the resolutions we usually make.

As I thought about the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph and all they went through, one thing kept coming back to my mind over and over again. A virtue that I noticed they all possessed. A quality that seems to be lacking in our world, and something that God has challenged me personally to work on. It is something most people don’t like, and it is usually considered a vice rather than a virtue. What is it you may wonder? What trait did all members of the Holy Family have, but we need to work on? Obedience. It is the virtue of obedience.

Ouch! The word has a bite to it I know. Mainly because we value our individual freedom and independence. We want to do things our way. We ask selfish questions such as “Is this in my best interest?” Or “What’s in it for me?” Imagine if Mary told the Angel Gabriel that becoming pregnant before she was married to Joseph was not in her best interest? Or if Joseph told God after the angel visited him in a dream that there was nothing beneficial for him in this big mess and that he was bailing ship? Even though what was happening to them didn’t make sense, they trusted in the Lord and obeyed.

Mary’s words, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to our word.” (Lk1:38) is a beautiful example of obedience. She obeyed “blindly,” having faith that God knew what was best. And Joseph gives us a good example of immediate obedience. After Jesus was born, an angel came to him in a dream at night and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you: for Herod is about to search for the child and destroy him.” (Mt 2:13) Joseph rose and took Jesus and Mary immediately out by night on the long journey to Egypt.

Jesus also showed obedience in his childhood- to Mary and Joseph, and then on into his adulthood. For example, when Jesus was experiencing tremendous agony in the garden before his crucifixion. He pleads with his heavenly Father “If you are willing, remove this chalice from me; nevertheless, not my will be done, but yours.” Lk (22:42) Not my will be done, but yours. That was the prevalent motto of the Holy Family. Accepting the will of God with total obedience to their Father.

The Holy Family is a model for us to imitate. Obedience is something we can all work on. So, I invite you to join me in working on obedience in 2018. It won’t be easy, but with help from the Holy Family we can grow in this virtue. One way to bring the virtue of obedience with you into this new year is to reflect on something that you struggle with obeying. Maybe you struggle with following a teaching of the faith. You just don’t “get it,” or you think that following the teaching is not really in your “best interest.” Your prayer can be God, it is hard for me to be obedient. Please help me to trust like Joseph. Help me to say yes like Mary, and help me to do your will like Jesus.

Or maybe this New Year instead of asking yourself, “What can I do to become a better person this year?” Why not ask God, “Lord, what do you want me to do this year to become a better person?” Yes, ask him to let you know what New Year’s resolution you should make! Then listen; be attentive. He will let you know.

Truth be told, saying YES to God’s plan and saying no to your own plan is difficult. It is a yes to love, but also a yes to sacrifice and hardship. It will be hard to confront our seemingly unyielding defiance towards obedience. So prayer; the quiet listening kind, like in silent adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, is paramount in this undertaking. If we allow ourselves to be vulnerable to God’s grace, then amazing things will happen. For his plans for us are way, way bigger and better than any plans that we can create or imagine for ourselves.

Know that if you make a New Year’s resolution with the Holy Family regarding obedience, you will have the best teachers in the world as your companions through these next 12 months. And though it will be a demanding and challenging journey, take to heart what the angel told Mary-it is a message for all of us. That “nothing will be impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37) With God being the key words. We can’t do this on our own.

May God shower us with grace as we strive to grow in this virtue.

Have a blessed (and obedient) New Year everyone!

THE Job of a Husband and Wife

Saints Louis and Zelie Martin

Did you know that husbands and wives have jobs? I don’t mean that they each have their own a place of employment, I mean that they have a job together. Regarding the ‘chief end’ of the sacrament of matrimony, the Baltimore Catechism states that the husband and wife should “aid each other in securing the salvation of their souls.” That means the primary job of a husband and wife is to help get each other to heaven. Continue reading