“A wedding anniversary is the celebration of love, trust, partnership, tolerance and tenacity. The order varies for any given year.” ~ Paul Sweeney
Seventy-seven. That is the magic number: seventy-seven. That is the number of years my parents would have been married had they still been alive. I am very thankful that they were able to see fifty together. That was a bittersweet anniversary for them as my mother was becoming more weak and we had not yet been given the diagnosis that would shortly take her life.
I saw the gamut of today’s quote in my parent’s marriage. Some days they appeared madly in love. Other times, they appeared to tolerate one another. Still other times they were not madly in love; they were just plain ol’ mad — at one another. Yet, they stuck to their vows because, as they often said, they made them “for better or worse” and “you can’t have better days”, my mom often said, “if you do not experience worse days.”
Their commitment to their marriage vows was impressive and helped to form me. When I looked at what they went through, I realized that there was much that was packed in a promise. I saw tenacity at its best — and sometimes at its not-so-best. I realized that if I ever committed to anything in my life, I would need to be just as all-in as my parents were.
Of course, when I was young, the commitment that I considered was the commitment of marriage. Yet, as I grew older and entertained the possibility of priesthood, I realized that the same commitment would need to be put into the priestly life. Boy, how right I was. Sometimes, my commitment is a celebration of love for God. Other times, my commitment is a testament to trust, especially when the bishop asked me to take some assignments that were not exactly my first picks. Still other times, tolerance or tenacity were needed.
In our spiritual lives, as in marital lives, we have to be open to God and, because of that, we experience the entire gamut as well. Sometimes our spiritual lives are a true celebration of love. Other times, they test our trust or need our grit and determination. Yet, the end result is worth the struggle since the end result is eternal life with God.
To my parents who now celebrate an eternal marriage in heaven, I say “Happy Anniversary”. To all who are married here on earth, I say “Keep doing all you can to make it work”. To those who have committed themselves to the Lord in ordination or religious life and to those who have committed themselves to various jobs, I say “Hang in there”. The product of your, of our, commitment will bring us satisfaction and joy.
FAITH ACTION: Pray for all married couples who celebrate wedding anniversaries, that the commitment that they made to one another may help them to grow closer to one another and more in love day by day. Pray as well for all who have other special anniversaries — priests, deacons, and religious — that they may grow deeper in love with God and the people they are called to serve.