by Deacon Tony Zimmerman
I don’t know about you, but when I look forward to a weekend retreat, I hope for a message that will energize and challenge me.
Having just returned from a retreat for deacons and their wives with the theme “And the Greatest of These is Love,” I can truly say I was challenged and energized. While the retreat master and his words were a great source for personal reflection, it was the example of two married couples making the retreat that touched me most deeply.
The first couple has been married for over 50 years. They exude a joy in and love for each other that lights up the room. You want to be around them. The slowness of walk or lessening of strength that comes with the passing of years does not impede their love. They turn it into a gift of love as they support and care for each other in all the little things of everyday life. As I gazed at my wife before falling asleep that night, I prayed for the grace to bring that joy to her life.
The second couple, also married for some years, shared the current condition of their young grandson who was hospitalized for treatment of a brain tumor. They thanked us for our prayers and support. As they spoke, I sensed this quiet peace in the midst of the storm going on in their lives. That peace could only come from their deep faith and trust in God and in each other.
Look around you: Reflect on those married couples who inspire you. How we as married couples live out our vows of a free, total, faithful and fruitful love does make a difference! The studies about the exodus from marriage as a way of life by young people tell one important thing: They do want a happy and lifelong marriage. Sadly, they see divorce in their family or families of friends, and of the married couples they know, few seem happy.
Their hope and the hope for marriage lies in what a young couple in marriage preparation shared with the couple preparing them: They wanted to be like their 80-year-old grandparents who, when they looked at each other, still had the appearance of a young couple in love.
Married couples, like those on the retreat, or the grandparents of the engaged couple, are like neon lights that catch our eye. We are drawn to that light; it brightens our way and inspires us to heroic love.
God is entrusting the future of marriage and family to us. He calls us to preach the Gospel with our lives. How will we answer the call today?