Love Never Fails

You might say that I have always been partial to weddings. As the proud father of two exceptionally brilliant, beautiful, and talented daughters—and naturally I am totally and completely without bias when I speak of them—I have had the wonderful privilege and the distinct honor to give their hands, their hearts, their bodies, and their souls over to become one in heart, mind, body, and soul with another in the blessed and holy Sacrament of Matrimony.

I have come to know you both over the past few months as we have met and spoken of this moment, of your dreams and hopes for the life you will now begin to share, and of all that God has in store for you. It has been a wonderful gift to have become acquainted with the two of you, to learn more about you, and to walk with you, if only for an hour or so, as you begin to fulfill the promise of a lifelong journey together.

In a few minutes you will state your intentions and voice your mutual self-giving love to and for one another. The sad truth is that we live today in a culture and a society that finds all too little value or merit for the virtues of commitment, fidelity, and mutual self-giving love. Without God in our lives, marriage is no longer seen as a life-long sacramental union of two kindred spirits but a legal fiction, nothing more than a contract between two consenting adults, which can be broken or dissolved whenever it is deemed convenient.

Ours is a society that increasingly bows to the false and self-serving ideology that has reduced love to lust, replaced morality with feelings, made the sublime mundane, and exchanged intimacy for passion. Relationships have become nothing more than physically noisy affairs, filled with lots of perspiration and passion. Without thought or understanding as to its true purpose we are taught to act upon our impulses, merely for the momentary pleasure gained.

Your love must reach for far greater heights than mere passion for it to survive and it must be nourished and sustained for it to endure. You must provide real food to feed your love, for perspiration and passion will never satisfy. True love will feed the soul; selfless, self-giving, forever love will sustain you.

I believe that you do understand this because when we met we spoke of it but I would be remiss if I did not remind you of it once again. God made us, male and female in his image and likeness and he commanded us to come together, united as one and in that unity to be fruitful and multiply. God instilled deep within our hearts the need and the desire to love as he loves us, without condition, without pause, never ending. By that love and through the selfless life-giving procreative act he gave us the means to generate new life, to bring children, created in the image and likeness of God, into this world.

During one of our meetings we spoke of what will be required of you for your marriage to last: I said that you must first like one another, respect one another, be proud of one another, encourage one another to reach for the stars. You must come to know the soul and not the body that attracts, for the beauty of the body fades over time but the soul will always be the light of love.

Remember those things that attracted you to each other and hold onto to those when times get tough—and believe me there will be tough days ahead. We have spoken of this before. Only God knows what lies in store for you, the good times and the bad, and the challenges you will face. Know that he will never leave you even if you choose to leave him. When times are dark, go to him and he will lift you up and carry you into the light.

Speaking for myself, I have always been proud of my wife who I know is much smarter than I and far more capable. She is simply irreplaceable to me. You have to feel that way about each other. In a very real sense when you marry, you lose yourself and become one body, one spirit. Just as parts of your bodies are irreplaceable, so must you be to each other.  Take care of that which is irreplaceable and your love will be well-fed and complete.

You will find that as the years roll by your love for one another will change. It is both inevitable and true. You will find it less necessary to speak, to touch, and to look for moments to connect emotionally or physically and yet you will discover that your love for one another has become ever more intimate.

If ever you are in doubt about your love for one another, remind yourselves of Saint Paul’s poetic verse on love. Keep it close and reread it often to remind you of what love is and what it must remain:

Love is patient, love is kind.
It is not jealous, is not pompous,
it is not inflated, it is not rude,
it does not seek its own interests,
it is not quick-tempered,
it does not brood over injury,
but rejoices with the truth.

It bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.

Love never fails.”

just one breath away

Some years ago I was introduced to a small book with a rather odd title: The Great Divorce. Written by the marvelous English author C. S. Lewis, it is an extraordinary meditation upon good and evil, grace and judgment; a beautifully woven allegorical tale of a bus ride from hell to heaven.

In the preface, Lewis begins with mention of William Blake’s book The Marriage of Heaven and Hell and thus explains his own rather odd title.

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Before Augustine became a priest, bishop, Church Doctor, and saint he was a pagan, heretic, thief, and according to his own confessions, a profligate scoundrel. At seventeen he fathered a son Adeodatus out of wedlock by a woman with whom he had a long-standing relationship.

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