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I compose and post these articles with only one desire in my heart: to praise God and to offer modest help on your spiritual journey.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

LOVE`

As one of my parishioners recently reminded us, "Love is a verb, not a noun."

It is strange in our English language such a powerful word covers everything from one's favorite ice cream to an old man tenderly tending to his beloved wife with severe Alzheimer's while feeding her. This is not true of many other languages. It is the rule of language that the more words used to describe something, the more important it is to the people who speak of it.  To convey the meaning of love the Greeks have six words. Google search reveals at least five words for the Russians , and the Arabs have at least fifteen.


The popularity and commercialization of Valentine's day starts with grammar school kids passing out little paper hearts to their classmates and coloring hearts for their parents. Then comes the broken and swooning hearts of teenage years. Throw in the candy heart boxes, flowers and variety of stuffed animals and you begin to get the picture of love's indiscriminate meaning.


I often speak of my amusement at the tears shed on the wedding day by the bride and jocular banter of groomsmen and the soon to be husband. Contrast that with the tears of the husband on  a couple's 50th anniversary and jovial wife. The trials of a life of love never ceases to amaze me in how they transform people.


My favorite written instruction on love comes from the "Admonition before Marriage" in the no longer used Roman Ritual pre-Vatican ll (pre 1970).


Setting marriage in the context of having a "share in the greatest work of creation, the work of the continuation of the human race" it establishes marriage as a mirror of God's love for his people and the church. The couple is reminded of the seriousness of what they are doing with these very sober words: "because it will bind you together for life in a relationship so close and so intimate that it will profoundly influence your whole future. That future, with its hopes and disappointments, its successes and its failures, its pleasures and its pains, its joys and its sorrows, is hidden from your eyes. You know that these elements are mingled in every life and are to be expected in your own. And so, not knowing what is before you, you take each other for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death."


Looking into the eyes of the couple the priest then commends them by saying: "It is a beautiful tribute to your undoubted faith in each other, that, recognizing their full import, you are nevertheless so willing and ready to pronounce them."


What follows almost moves me tears: "This union then is most serious, the voluntary and complete surrender of your individual lives in the interest of that deeper and wider life which you are to have in common.


And whatever sacrifices you may hereafter be required to make to preserve this common life, always make them generously.


Sacrifice is usually difficult and irksome. Only love can make it easy and perfect love can make it a joy.


And if true love and the unselfish spirit of perfect sacrifice guide your every action, you can expect the greatest measure of earthly happiness that may be allotted to man in this vale of tears. The rest is in the hands of God."


The element of sacrifice is what is lacking in our songs and romantic images. The sacrifice needed by both parties, not just one or the other, is what too few are really prepared for. Prepared for the "long view" rather than being blinded by what is just today.


Finally, in the end, what is good for any of us? It is surrender. "The rest is in the hands of God."  


For those fortunate to have a hand to hold this Valentine's day, may you be enriched by these words. For those still looking, may you not settle for less. For those who mourn, may you be comforted by the blessing you have known, for so many have not had this happiness.


Fr. Leonard Walker, pastor of Divine Savior Independent Catholic Church

holds Saturday Mass at 3:30 in Trinity Church 425 E. Spring Street in

downtown Kingman. Additional info at http/KingmanCatholic.org


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