Return of the Prodigal Son by Pompeo Batoni - 1773

Evolution for the Catholic Student

Order 'Evolution for the Catholic Student' - Click on the image above

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Real Sign of Love

The Real Sign of Love

When I got married I made vows to love my wife and be faithful to her ‘till death do us part.  As a Catholic with a Sacramental marriage, I take that very seriously.  I believe that “what God has joined no man can put asunder.”
          Pat Robertson, though not a Catholic, is a Christian, a preacher in fact.  And yet Mr. Robertson said recently in answer to a question that Alzheimer’s disease is justification for divorce because “it is a kind of death.”  This is terribly disturbing coming from the mouth of one with a desire to spread the Gospel.
          Before I go on, I should say a couple of things.  First, as appalled as I am by Mr. Robertson’s statement, I do not cast judgment on him as a man.  I suspect he is a good man who loves Jesus.  Heaven knows if I were to be judged by all the stupid or mistaken things I’ve said, I would not come off looking too good.  Also, I do not know whether Mr. Robertson has since thought about it and amended what he said.  So I do not wish this to be about Mr. Robertson, but rather the philosophy behind what he said since I think it is prevalent in our culture.
          At the heart is a lack of understanding of what a marriage is supposed to be, but even more fundamental than that is a lack of understanding as to what love is.  We are taught by our culture, from the time we’re children, that love is about romance.  From Cinderella to Titanic, movies have given us a warped impression.  And the culture very often seems to speak that word with one voice.
          But the truth is, if we want to understand love we need to look not at movies but at the Cross.  There Our Lord hangs suffering, dying for love.  He cries out in a strong voice, “It is consummated!”  And the Divine Bridegroom gives His Body over to His Bride so that she may bear fruit.  This is the image for marriage and for all love.  The sign of love is not romance, it is sacrifice.
          Don’t get me wrong, I pray that I will never have to deal with the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease and my prayers are with all those who courageously do. 
          But they are a light in this world.  The tender touch of a husband who has not abandoned his wife but bathes her, talks to her, takes care of her needs although she can give very little back to him, is the touch of Christ.  When we see anyone we love suffering and in such need, we see the Face of the suffering Christ, and when we love them we love Him.
          Life is never a kind of death and no life is ever without value.  That is the lesson our culture needs to rediscover most of all.  And our relationships are not about what we can get out of them.  They’re about how much of ourselves we can pour into them.  I heard a wise priest once say, “Marriage is not a ball and chain, it is a cross.”  True, it brings great happiness and great joy, but it is a call to follow Christ, and no one who does not take up his cross is worthy of Him.
          So let us embrace the cross of love, with whatever sacrifice it may bring.  And may we be able to say on our wedding day, “My beloved, I will love you always, in good times, but even more so in bad.  I will walk this journey of life by your side.  With your help I will carry my cross, and I will help you carry yours.  And when our journey here is over, I will love you forever in the Kingdom of God.  Amen.”