Thank you for the unconditional love with which you graced me from my birth. You were the lap I could always run to, with whatever hurt or fear or sadness that troubled me. It was my first experience of the kind of love God has for His children.
Thank you for your continued love throughout my adult life. You have accepted and loved my wife as a daughter, and you have been to my children the kind of grandmother I always knew you would be. Thank you for moving here to be close to them and to us. We are truly blessed to have you in our lives.
Thank you for raising such a wonderful daughter. You planted within her a faith that is strong to this day, and that faith has saved our family more than once. You raised her to be a loving, courageous, and strong-willed woman who will do anything for her kids.
Thank you for welcoming me into your family. You made me feel at home and stood by me during my difficulties.
Thank you for being a wonderful grandmother to our children. You are always there for them and shower them with love.
Thank you for being such a wonderful mother to my children. You are an amazing example of Christian self-sacrifice, always putting my needs and the needs of our children before your own. Your faith in God is an inspiration to your whole family.
Thank you for guiding me to the faith. Thank you for being the loving heart at the center of our family. Thank you for always seeming to know the right thing to say or do when one of our children is having difficulties. You are so insightful I sometimes wonder if you can read minds!
Thank you for managing motherhood, marriage, and business without batting an eye, even when the schedule seems impossible. Thank you for making the sacrifices necessary to see that our kids have never seen a daycare and that their mom is the first person they see when they walk out of school.
They are devoted to you in a way that humbles me.
The Blessed Virgin, My Heavenly Mother
Thank you for saying “Yes” to God, and bringing forth our savior, Jesus Christ. Thank you for raising Jesus and guiding Him as He grew and became a man.
Thank you for standing at the foot of the cross, and offering your motherly sorrow in union with Christ’s great sacrifice. Thank you for staying with the Apostles in the upper room, and helping them as they began our church.
Thank you for appearing to us La Salette, at Lourdes, at Fatima, and at so many other places. Thank you for the warnings and encouragements you brought.
Thank you for the rosary, and the scapular, and for listening to all our prayers.
Thank you for being Our Mother.
If the answer is to love God more, the question then becomes, “How do I learn to love God more?”
God teaches us how, through the sacrament of marriage. As I discussed before, marriage is supposed to be hard, because in marriage we are learning how to love, and in particular, how to love God. So by looking at how we learn to love our spouse, we learn how to love God.
- Knowledge of our beloved
To love someone, we must know them. Dating is all about getting to know someone, but it doesn’t stop there. Throughout our married life, we continue to share ourselves with our spouse. We talk about the present and the past, learning about our spouse as he or she changes and grows.
Likewise, we must continue to learn about God. To know Him more and more intimately. We do this primarily through the reading of sacred scriptures, but the writings of the Church and of the saints are essential to understanding what we are reading in the scriptures, fallible creatures that we are. Just as in a marriage we must learn about our spouse every day, in our faith life we must learn about our Lord every day, and if we do so faithfully, we will be shocked at how much there is to know.
- Spending time with our beloved
Time together is critical for a marriage. We spend time together every day, to make sure we are connected. We have dates every week, show how important we are to each other. We have longer, special times monthly or at specific events, to celebrate our love.
We must do the same with God. We must spend quality time with Him daily, in prayer. We must have that more special extended visit with Him, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, at least weekly. And then there are the feasts, whether they are days of obligation or not, they are opportunities to celebrate with our Lord.
- Defending our beloved
Would you ever spend time with someone who disliked or even hated your wife? Would you stand casually by while a “friend” spoke badly of her? We must give God at least that much courtesy. At least that much devotion. We must make friends that share our feelings about God, and we must stand up to those who would disparage him. Otherwise, we will be prone to assimilating the negative attitudes of those not close to God.
- Finding couples to emulate
If we want a good marriage, we find couples who have good marriages already. We watch what they do and how they treat each other. Likewise with faith. If we want to grow in our love of God, we must surround ourselves with those who love Him, and we must try to emulate them. Otherwise, we will be emulating someone else.
- Reflect frequently on how much our beloved loves us
When we think how much our spouse loves us, we feel emotionally compelled to love them back. This is even more true when it comes to God. When we realize how much God loves us, truly loves us, we can become overwhelmes at the infinite nature of that love. It is love that can bring joy even to a life of great suffering. In the face of that love, how can we not love Him back?
Remember this: love is not a feeling. It is a decision and an action. It is something under our control. If we decide to love, and we act with love, the emotions will follow, in their own time. So, to love God more, we simply have to decide to do it, and then act on it.
After the long somber and penitential season of Lent, it may be difficult to transition to the joy of Easter. Even the apostles had difficulty accepting it. But transition we must, because in the end, it all comes down to the resurrection. We can fast all we want, we can repent of our sins as much as we want (and yes, these things are necessary), but without the resurrection, it would all be for naught.
And we are not called to be a somber and sorrowful people. When we fast, we are not to let the world know. We are called, especially as parents and spouses, to exhibit the joy of the gift that Christ has given us.
Through His sacrifice, Christ has opened up Heaven for us. Yes, we still have to accept His gift. We still have to carry our crosses and enter our own little Calvarys in order to reach that gift. But He gives us the graces we need to do that.
So in spite of our suffering, in spite of our struggles with sin, we are right to be joyful. Our spouse needs to see it; our kids need to see it; and especially the world needs to see it from us as a family. Let them see the truth of the resurrection in everything we say and do. It is our duty and our privilege.
Posted in Children, Culture, Daily Life, Easter, Joyful Christian, Lent, Love, Marriage, Resurrection
Tagged catholic, Easter, Resurrection
When we struggle to accept a difficult situation, the answer is to love God more.
When we battle with a sin that we just can’t shake, the answer is to love God more.
When we want to do God’s will but just don’t know what that is, the answer is to love God more.
When we cannot forgive our neighbor, the answer is to love God more.
When our prayer life is dry, the answer is to love God more.
When we are angry or hurt or afraid, the answer is to love God more.
When our suffering is more than we think we can bear, the answer is to love God more.
When we love God more, we love ourselves less.
When we love God more, we love the world less.
When we love God more, we see Him in the eyes of those around us.
When we love God more, we find joy in unlikely places.
When we love God more, we come to understand His love for us.
When we love God more, we learn to love our neighbor.
When we love God more, we open ourselves to His abundant graces.
When we love God more, His will becomes our will.
The answer is to love God more.