Day 3: 50 Day Lenten Giveaway: Late for Valentine’s Day?

If you’ve asked for something…you just might get it. Unless….

I love my wife and my dog more than anything. So my goal is to really weed out what takes me away from them and bring me into closer relationship with her and give the dog more time to play and romp with me.

Today ask yourself who needs more of your attention and what gets in the way of giving them a bit more of your time.

Now THAT’S Love

So my day has really been lousy today, but there were three very striking examples of love mixed in to the pain and sorrow of a day that I’d like to forget.

But first the bad news, My 82 year old father tried to adjust a curtain rod by standing on a chair. The chair slipped out from under him and he fell. The results a fractured hip and wrist with surgery to follow most likely tomorrow.

Now that’s no fun. I’m far away from my parents but will travel there next week, but being this far away is never comforting when they fall ill or an accident happens.

As many readers know, my mother is not in good health and my father is her primary care giver. So when my father fell, my mother had to try to help him up–with a bad back and legs. She went and got the wheelchair that she used primarily and got him into the chair somehow. (I know, first aid experts, never move an injured person). There was 15 inches of snow falling and let’s just say that paramedics weren’t all that quick to respond. When I talked with my mom, she replied through many tears, “I had to get him out of there. He was in pain because of the position he fell in. He would’ve done the same for me.”

And he has. My dad has stood by my mom through a lot of illness, which just isn’t a whole lot of fun. But he wouldn’t think about doing anything else. He has loved her and she, him–for over 60 years now. And his first words to her in the hospital over the phone was: “I’ll feel a lot better when I can see you again.”

Now that’s love. The guy’s got a broken hip and wrist but all he wants is to see his wife. Dude’s got it bad. And you’ve just got to love that.

My second example is my own wife, who has filled my day with supportive messages and even sent a quick email today:

Bun (her pet name for me), I’m so sorry for your Dad. I will say a prayer for him to get his spirits up.
Love, me

She’s planning to take care of the dog next week while I travel to tend to my parents and sister for a day. Something I asked her to do because I don’t want Haze the Dog to get stressed, which happens when we’re both away. Her patience and support is always unwavering. And that’s love.

And lastly, I was sitting in my office, generally feeling sad about the whole situation. Distance has made this a bit worse for me and the flood of feeling helpless was washing over me. As the tears of feeling overwhelmed came in walked an 85 lb. fur ball named Ripley, Fr. Jack’s old english sheepdog. She’s one of two parish mascots, Quigley, being the other, but Ripley and I have a much stronger bond. (Full disclosure: Ripley’s never met a man she didn’t like)

Well Ripley pranced in and nuzzled right up to my lap and whimpered. I swear she said: “Yeah, I know.” And I nuzzled that dog right back. She licked my face and I buried my face in her warm white coat and she would have none of that. She shook me a bit and began to lick my face. I began to laugh as she wouldn’t quit and she lifted me right out of the doldrums. I sat on the floor and just hugged that dog, a senior now, herself and we just sat together for a long time. She knew just what I needed. And I’m sure when I get home, my dog, Haze, about 70 pounds lighter will do the same. Now that’s love too.

So today, as I ask prayers for my dad’s recovery (his spirits are up and he generally seems to be OK), think about the love that gets shared with you from those who support you in rough times…

And be grateful…all is grace…all from God…feel gratitude.

Now THAT’S love. Amen.

A Child on Marriage

My friends Marcy and Dan Zicari weighed in yesterday via facebook on the “How to Stay Married” post yesterday. You can’t make this stuff up:

Marcy was reading my post and her son, Laurence comes in and looks over her shoulder.

“Wow! How to stay married.” he offered.

“Yes. It’s not easy, you know, Laurence.”

“Yeah! Especially with Dad!”


Apologies to Dan in advance and continued prayers for the family and their new adventures across the pond. You are missed.

How to Stay Married

Yesterday my wife and I went for a romantic boat ride out on the bay here in Clearwater Beach. She’s joined me for a conference and we spent a nice few days before visiting her friend Dawn and her new husband, Matt. I mention this because as we departed the boat one of the crew said to us, “Here come the honeymooners.”

Well, Marion and I have been married for nearly 9 years! You can only imagine the shock on that guy’s face when we told him that.

At our parish’s 160th anniversary party my wife and I took to the dance floor. We usually just do swing dancing and some slower dances. I’m OK at those dances but am clearly a stiff white guy at anything more. My colleague, Dr. Bill Barba said to me the next night how much he and his tablemates enjoyed watching us dance together. It clearly wasn’t a dancing with the stars moment but in Dr. Barba’s words, “There was a couple that had some real intimacy between them.”

Now I say this not as a braggart or even because I love my wife. I say this because our marriage has not always been a walk in the park. We’ve had family disasters to deal with, financial and employment struggles, the loss of not being able to have children, medical issues to face (our own and our parents), a rascally dog and the usual knock-em-down-drag-em-out-fights that anyone who lives in close proximity to another inevitably has. In fact, one of the reasons I married Marion was because when we had an argument she wouldn’t simply turn away and end our relationship, she’d be committed to stay and work things out.

So here are five simple tips that I’ve found as a husband that have helped me stay married to my darling wife. These have helped me grow in intimacy and love for her.

1) Value Commitment, Not Happiness: One of the most valuable things I learned in marriage prep sounds counter-intuitive: “Marriage is not about happiness. Marriage is about commitment. Happiness may be a result of being committed to love one another.” It’s not about being a friend it’s about being a partner. I wake up each day knowing that this day could frankly, be challenging. I could get bad news, or get fired, or injured. I could just be in a bad mood or depressed over some sadness. Something tragic may indeed befall us. I can rest easy in knowing that I have a wife who is going to be there unquestionably. There are no games, no deals. We are in this for the long haul no matter what comes. That doesn’t mean that things are easy, or that we won’t disagree from time to time, but it does mean that despite things being uneasy we have committed to work things through and not run away from the relationship because things get hard.

2) Pray Together: Admittedly, we don’t do this every day with great formality. Sometimes it’s a simple grace together at dinner. But even then we try to listen to each other’s needs that we present to God confident that God gives us what we need. When we do this more formally we hear the words of scripture (we often use the liturgy of the hours in Magnificat or more often the daily readings from mass in the same publication) and let them touch our lives with their meaning. We present those pressing needs to God and realize that we need to hear each other’s worries. Sometimes we have one that surprises the other and allows us to give concern and comfort for that to each other.

3) Reconnect During the Day: Honestly, this one grated at me the first year. It’s important to check-in at least once throughout the workday. Who knows what happens during the day? It allows me the opportunity to listen to what kind of day we both are having and prepare myself for what comfort Marion or I might need once day is done. “The dog’s been acting out?” OK, I know I need to take him out for a run when I get home. I’ve had a stressful day at work? Marion knows it might be a good idea to make a favorite meal or let me watch the hockey game instead of something she’d rather watch. And honestly, when I’m grumpy, I’d rather us do something we’d both like to do, so it gets me out of the dumps–or better we invite some friends over and change the climate entirely.

4) Have Friends Who Value Marriage: We’re part of a new marriage ministry at St. Joe’s and I think we’ve already seen our number of friends who value that commitment grown in Buffalo. Forty couples stepped up to be part of this ministry and I was flabbergasted and happy to see that we have lots of people here who have been married for some time and even some who have just married who indeed value the commitment that marriage brings with it. Even longtime friends like Jeff and Beth who have been married just a smidge longer than us are always good to see together, to understand that there are others our own age who are valuing their married lives together.

5) Forgive and Recommit: There is something about being Catholic that calls us into forgiveness. Married people would do well to take the sacrament of reconciliation seriously enough that they not only humble themselves in the confessional but also are brave enough to forgive each other, even when the other has hurt them badly. I know I’ve hurt my wife on many occasions. I’ve been angry and said mean things. I’ve walked away in a huff. I’ve taken things out on her. And she’s somehow forgiven me. Jesus’ washing of the disciples feet about says it all and is a good model for us married folk. Jesus understands that these disciples are weak and broken and will not always pass the test of being committed to Him. And yet he washes their feet anyway. He is comfortable with the dirtiest parts of themselves and touches them and washes away all the grime anyway. We all have parts of ourselves that get pretty dirty. Can we not only forgive one another for our faults but also wash away the pain that the other has caused us? Sometimes that takes time, but committing to it is the key and well worth the reminder. Jesus always serves us as a reminder of that kind of self-giving love and forgiveness.

These are just starters. I’m sure we all could come up with a bunch more. I’ll roll out 5 more each week as time goes on and maybe even have some guest posters come up with a few more. So subscribe to the rss feed and some back soon.

How to Not Be Al and Tipper Gore

Therese Borchard, whose blog on depression and mental illness is quickly becoming a must stop for me during the workday, offers this piece that asks why Al and Tipper called it quits after 40 years.

“We’ve simply grown apart” is the reason the Gores give. And, even if something else did happen that the media hasn’t yet uncovered, that reason is one of the most common listed by divorcing couples among some others: money, infidelity, poor communication, change in priorities, lack of commitment to the marriage, addictions, and physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.
Let’s face it, even with two well-adjusted adults who care about each other, marriage involves a ton of hard work, sacrifice, generosity, selflessness, and other virtues that don’t come naturally to most of us. If we don’t diligently work on our relationship, it will decay. Quickly.

Bingo. Marriage is work. Relationship is work. Love is actually difficult. Or better stated CHOOSING to love and to REMAIN in relationship takes a strong commitment. It doesn’t just happen. Some days we indeed need to temper our expectations because what we expect life to throw us and what we expect our partner to act like doesn’t always meet with our hopes of an ideal scenario.

And it’s all too easy to quit. Perhaps the Gores worked at it, but just couldn’t do it. Let’s remember that Al was out of the house for years campaigning and being in Washington. Perhaps this couple led separate lives and when they came back together indeed they didn’t recognize one another. In essence, they literally “grew apart.”

My wife is great about the reconnecting elements of our marriage. While apart most of the day she will make several attempts at reconnecting throughout the day. If I’m honest, I’ll admit to being annoyed at a call at an inopportune time. Or when I’m on the road, she might wonder why I haven’t taken the time to call her. Two wonderful women in my life, put me wise to looking at this a new way.

Sue Donovan, who was the head of Paulist Media Works (which no longer exists) saw my frustration when Marion was angry once when I didn’t call while I was at a conference. I think her reaction was something like “WELL OF COURSE, SHE’S ANGRY! (big sigh) Mike, you have to make some time for her when you’re away, even if it’s just a quick call.”

The second, Sr. Christine Wilcox, OP, a wonderful friend who I’ve done much work with over the years, said it simply.

“You’re a lucky man. She could not call you at all. She could not care if you’re home or not.”

And since Christine said those words to me, I smile almost every time my phone says that it’s my wife calling.

I said almost…

Because marriage is indeed challenging. When I’m writing and need quiet, or with students on spring break, or when a conference comes and it’s our anniversary, I have to choose between reconnecting my marriage or tending to other matters. The good news is that most of the time we both can give each other the space to be ourselves with a promise to reconnect later and we stick to that. I’m probably the one who fails at this more often but I’m getting better.

It’s only taken me 8 years to learn. 10 if you count the pre-marital dating.

Reminding one another of what it is that we love about each other and what our evolving passions are is actually a moment of seeing God working in our marriage. God shows us new glimpses of one another as we each grow passionate about our commitments and desires. God also stays with us as we struggle at times with sickness, finances, situations and reminds us that we are all together and this unity of God and couple is what provides us with strength for the journey.

Perhaps this is why they make us take vows? And these reconnections, made by my wife and I, remind us both of those vows throughout the day.

Last week, Marion and I were asked to be a “support couple” for the Catholic Charities Volunteer Service Corps. This reminds me of how great Marion has been for my ministry and how we are better together than apart. I bring her on retreats, to mass, to events and she’s always helpful and giving. Another person might not have that commitment to MY ministry. But somehow Marion has made it part of her life and our marriage.

Talk about a blessing.

There’s a great line at the end of The Prince of Tides which says:

It is in the presence of my wife
and children…
… that I acknowledge my life,
my destiny.

I am a teacher…
… a coach…
… and a well-loved man.
And it is more than enough.

So when the dog acts out, or a relative needs help, or when a grumpy morning gets the best of me…

When I forget that this woman simply loves me, or that I’m annoyed by something she’s done or she’s rightly mad at my own inadequacies…

I pray that God reminds me that my wife is so much more than I could have ever dreamed. And as we grow older, may we not just grow without noticing the ways that we are growing, but rather celebrate those new ways that we each grow and celebrate our response to each other in those new areas of growth.

And may we commit to be happy not just for one another, but rather to a happiness that brings us together in choosing to love one another.

For in that choosing, we find God.

And who could ask for anything more?

Read more from Beyond Blue:

What Happens When the Love of Your Life Marries Someone Else?

Looks like that happened to Andrew Cohen, the legal analyst of Politics Daily who writes a wedding toast that took a lot of guts to write.

The great love of my life marries today and I am not the groom. I had my chance, a few years ago, but did not realize until too late how fleeting my moment with her was meant to be. Whether it was my fault or hers, and, let’s face it, it was probably mine, I will wonder always about the life I might have had with the most loving and loveable woman I have ever known. Sometimes, I finally now understand, love, even crazy love, is not enough. Sometimes, as the romance novelists know, timing is everything.

I want to believe that that’s not true. Timing can’t trump love, can it? It seems to me that love goes beyond that and to think otherwise simply is a misunderstanding of what offering one’s self to another really means in marriage.

The woman I dated before Marion, a woman who ended up being bored with the likes of me (Gasp! Could you imagine!?), said that same “sometimes love just isn’t enough” phrase. And as my wife wife sleeps soundly in bed next to me as I type I can profoundly say that this woman was wrong.

Love is always enough. And while I’m sure this woman loved me, at least at some point, I’m also certain that she didn’t love me completely, accepting me in love with all my foibles, insecurities, craziness. It’s tough to write this but clearly I was not enough for her, or more appropriately and kindly, she preferred another that fit her standards enough to give all of herself to.

Now lest you think I am pining for a love lost, as Mr Cohen is with eloquence and class, I can say with certainty that I married the love of my life and neither hell nor high water would have kept me from doing so.

Marion never lets me believe that she won’t love me. Even with all of my faults. One of the lines in our self-written wedding vows is:

“I accept you just as you are.”

And that is what our marriage is always based on. Commitment, no matter what comes, no matter what disappoints us, is our call to each other. And let me tell you, commitment is never easy, but it is what calls us into deeper and lasting love for one another.

For Mr. Cohen perhaps this was the woman who opened him to the possibility of love once again, who opened his heart just enough to risk getting hurt and to consider committing his life for another again. One of the foundations of the spiritual life is gratitude. Cohen grasps that well here today.

I want to thank her, mostly, for rescuing me from hopelessness. When we met, back in the spring of 2005, I was nearly 40 and had been dating off and on for two years following an unexpected divorce. I had lost faith in relationships. I had given up on love. She arrived, unexpectedly, and showed me what was possible. She raised me up from the emotional dead. She drew out of me the poison of divorce and betrayal. Eleven years younger but already more mature than me, she was dazzling, brilliant, funny, and sweet; she both gave and taught me patience and devotion and sacrifice. No woman before or since ever made me feel as desired, needed, beloved, appreciated as she did. No one has yet made me want her more. Some men live their whole lives without this kind of love. At least I had it for one brief, shining moment.

Beautiful. Gracious and even prayerful. Thanks be to God for what we had–seems to sum it up.

Read the whole article. It’s quite moving. And in many ways very classy. I wonder what this woman’s husband thinks of this very public letter?

I wonder if, as Jack Nicholson, says in As Good As It Gets, it makes him “want to be a better man,” to be blessed with this woman who seems to have been a profound partner for someone else at one time or another.

Andrew Cohen seems to think that he blew it and his column today, tinged with regret, is going to resonate with a lot of people.

But for me, it has simply evoked gratitude that I know that I married the love of my life and am glad that I was smart enough not to settle for anyone less.

A Picture is Worth…

Much more than 1000 words. It can be what provokes peace, contemplation and a deepening of love. Take a gander:

After seeing this picture of me from my friend’s wedding last week, I have to say one thing:

I really love that woman I married.

And I know of her great love and sacrifice that she makes each and every day. Marriage is about waking up each day and being content in your commitment and if you think that’s easy–then you’re nuts.

We all can be grumpy and difficult and pig-headed and simply nasty sometimes. I know I can be that way and I know there have been times in my marriage that I have been particularly all of these things towards my wife.

And she has become perfect in being able to forgive me. And I her.

I think that’s really what we mean when we talk about marriage being a sacrament. We are given to each other freely. And that gift, blessed by God and God’s people, when we nurture it and are mindful of it, is all that we will ever need. We are more than enough for each other and yet, without God at the center of our marriage, prodding us to love–especially when it is all too easy to become un-loving and concerned about our own selfish ways–we can settle for being that “clanging gong” that St Paul writes about when we have not love.

1000 words could never sum up all that is held together in this one photo. For here I see my love, which is more than contentment, more than commitment, more than kindness.

It is my everything. And it is more than enough.

Thanks to Alnie Figueroa for capturing this photo.

What One Couple Loves About Each Other

Ginny Kubitz Moyer the esteemed author of Mary and Me: Catholic Women Reflect on the Mother of God (St Anthony Messenger) had this cute column in San Francisco’s Archdiocesan paper on how her and her husband end their day together by naming positive attributes of the other before bed. Here’s a snip about how it all began:

Several months into dating my husband, I thought of a way to celebrate our relationship. “Let’s each make a list of what we love about one another,” I told him. “Then you can read me your list, and I’ll read you mine.”

Weeks later, on a mild San Francisco afternoon, we spread a blanket on the scraggly grass at Alta Plaza Park. We took turns reading each other our lists. Hearing the specific things that Scott loved about me, gathered in one place, was flattering, enlightening, and moving all at once.

When we’d finished, I gave him my list to keep. He didn’t return the favor. “My handwriting is terrible,” he said, tucking the folded list firmly into his pocket. “I’m going to type this up for you.”

The following Thanksgiving, he gave me the list, but with a twist: he’d turned it into a book. Each page featured something that he loved about me, illustrated with photos. The second-to-last page said, “Will you …” and the last page asked, “Marry Me?” Needless to say, it was a very thankful Thanksgiving.

We’ve now been married for almost eight years. Every night, before going to sleep, we each share one thing that we love about the other. It might be a personality trait (kindness, intelligence) or a physical characteristic (smile, blue eyes). Sometimes it’s intimate; sometimes it’s funny. We have never run out of things to say.

Indeed this is a practice that is well worth doing and is also very Ignatian. Gratitude is at the heart of the spiritual life, or at least Ignatius seemed to think so. In my own life, finding one moment of grace per day is indeed a way to keep our spirit out of the doldrums at minimum and a way to connect with the idea that God always gives us what we need. I would even say that doing and being go hand in hand here. We need both–when we recognize gratitude in our lives, we might be moved to in turn give that same grace back to others.

Yesterday wasn’t the best day for me. I received the news that a conference that I’ve done a lot of work on would need to be postponed. My wife always has a way of getting me out of my pessimistic moods. She sent me an e-card telling me how proud she is of my work–complete with a little cartoon dog who looked a lot like our little guy, Haze. Needless to say, I was suddenly no longer in the dumps and saw that in fact it wasn’t the end of the world. I ended up calling the board president of the organization I was working on the conference with and we had a great conversation about possibilities for down the road. I also wrote a letter to our board which was well-received by the director.

Sometimes the things we notice in our lives are small but they mean so much when we bother to look at them. A smile, a joke, a kind word, a breeze, no traffic or maybe something unexpected. Do we take the time to notice and to tell others how special the moments we spend with them are? This need not be a sappy, syrupy exercise in romance either. Rather it could be a serious look at how we are growing in relationship with each other, dreaming together and admiring someone else’s tenacity that has helped get through some tough periods.

Ginny was able to awaken me to that sure simplicity that I all too often miss.

So what is your moment of gratitude today?

Read the rest of her articlewhich coupled with my wife’s e-card is my moment of gratitude today. Be forwarned, get a happy hanky out and go and tell your loved ones one thing each day about what you love about them.

Can You Hear Me Now?

Today is Good Shepherd Sunday and the gospel contains the line…”My sheep hear my voice, I know them and they know me.”

Many people have chosen to take the time to use this as a day to concentrate on vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and for religious life for women. But I’d like to take two steps further.

The first is that we can’t just leave our religion to the auspices of the priests. We all need to hear that same voice calling us to serve the people of God. How we choose to do that may be by becoming a priest or religious–which indeed is a good thing for those who are called to that life. But how do the vast majority of us hear God’s call working in our lives?

This weekend I attended the wedding of my dear friend Marc Adams and his lovely now-wife, Lexie in Washington, DC. These two people have lived their lives for others and have been a sign to all of us individually and now collectively as a couple of God’s deep love to the world. They met in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. The legend of the story was that Marc met her at a JVC retreat and that Lexie had gotten on a bus to head back to her community before Marc had the chance to pursue getting her phone number.

So he ran after the bus, shouting…”You’re the nicest person I have ever met! What’s your name again?”

It seems that Lexie heard Marc’s call. At the wedding Lexie stole the show by saying “I”d like to introduce you to my family. She then started with her parents and her sisters and brother and then she ended with the touching line:

“And this is my husband, Marc!”

And we heard that call loud and clear. Lexie had chosen Marc to be her own. More importantly, these two people offer themselves as gift to each other in love and in that love they are able to be gifts to the world.

Their pastor, Fr. Patrick Smith, at St Augustine’s Church, in Washington, DC reminded us of that and more importantly that Marc and Lexie need to remember that all of their love stems from God’s love for them. That they are not enough for one another even in all of their love that they so clearly have in marriage–they will need God who is the only one who gives us everything we will ever need.

I think there are many priests and more importantly many seminarians who need to hear that message. Too many seminarians place the idea of the priest as an “all too holy,” vocation. That their calling is somehow “better” than other callings that they could have chosen.

In truth, I think these men who act in this fashion, (dare I say) are probably not called to the priesthood at this time. In fact, before they can truly be called, they need to learn a bit of humility. Before they can hear that voice they need to hear the struggle of loving beyond boundaries, of choosing celibacy so that they can be truly free to give themselves to the world’s needs, of things not being about YOU.

I fear we have too many priests and seminarians who haven’t heard that call. The call of being an obscure shepherd–always chasing after love and not caring about one’s own ego.

And there are often too many married people who haven’t heard the call that Marc and Lexie have. The call to place our own needs behind those that we freely choose to love for a lifetime. I know I don’t always do that–and I need people like Marc and Lexie to remind me of that call.

“My sheep hear my voice…I know them and they know me.”

Do we let God really see us for who we are–without all of the pretentions? Can we offer all of ourselves to God in love and not in our own arrogance. Rather can we hear Jesus’ voice calling us to be Christ for others even if that means that we have to continually go running after love, after that sheep that nearly got away.

Can we run after God in the same way that Marc ran after Lexie –offering all of ourselves, being unafraid and even risking embarrassment?

Because that’s how the Good Shepherd runs after us.

Advent: All About Commitment

I recently did an evening on discernment at Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee which about 40 young adult attended. I mentioned briefly that fidelity was a virtue that we can use to give ourselves a self-check on our desires. That when we think we’ve landed on the thing that we are called to be we might want to ask ourselves if this is “all about us” and what present commitments we might have to maintain before we head off to take on this new venture, or even if we should.

A young person in the audience asked a great question: “What if you’re married and you’ve discovered that you want to head career wise in a new direction but your partner doesn’t support your decision? “

Wow! It gave me pause to just think about that possibility and also provided me with my moment of grace for the day. When I decided to start to pursue some new options my wife, Marion was so supportive. She was afraid to be sure because BustedHalo® and the Paulists were so generous to us over the past 9 years, that indeed that made any decisions very difficult. But Marion knew that I was called to minister to young people. She would watch me come alive on retreat or when I’d be through with a spiritual directee or when I’d preach a reconciliation service. She knew that this was what made me feel most alive and that “most alive” person was the man she fell in love with.

Talk about someone who knows about what it means to be committed to someone else. Fortunately for me, Marion was also able to re-capture some of her desires in her new job teaching deaf children again after years of teaching special ed.

But what if you are not in the same boat? What if your partner thinks that you are not called to your vocation or to an avocation? I think there are two schools of thought here:

1) Perhaps you are not called to what you think and this person who knows you intimately can see that better than you can? Perhaps they are providing a wake up call and that this calling is only about your selfish needs? Maybe you failed to take into account how your actions would impact your partner? All this is good fodder for reflection.

Or 2) Maybe your spouse doesn’t have your best interest at heart? Maybe they never did! Maybe they don’t understand what it means to be committed to someone else and they have only their interests at heart? Maybe they don’t want someone who is fully alive because it makes them look bad or “less than”. Perhaps they don’t want to share the spotlight?

Regardless, in both cases an examination of commitment comes into play and advent is the perfect time to re-examine our commitments. God re-commits to humanity at Christmas by giving us Jesus. God indeed chooses to give His very self to us in the person of Jesus, who in turn, experiences all of our humanity, including death. But many times we forget about what a great commitment that is. We get caught up with our own feelings of how cute the Christ child is in the manger but we often forget that the wood of the manger also comes along with the wood of the cross.

What evidence has my partner giving me that they are indeed committed to who I am becoming? Do they want what’s best not just for me, but for US as a couple? What do i have to compromise to maintain a healthier marriage relationship and yet retain an individual identity as well?

To not make that commitment, or to not take it seriously is to not understand the sacrament of marriage and may even be grounds for Annulment, depending on the case.

For those of us who do understand marriage and who live it, each day….

May this Advent be a time where you rejoice not only in your commitment to one another but also in God’s commitment to all of us.