Light in a dark world

| Jean Stolpestad | July 17, 2015 | 0 Comments

Recently I read an article that began “marriage is not for you!” I have to admit that line really grabbed my attention. As I continued, the premise of the article emerged: Marriage isn’t about what the individual receives but rather what a person gives.

It isn’t about you; it’s about the ones you love.

The features of God’s love are orientated to becoming self-gift. The virtues of compassion, forgiveness, patience, humility, mercy, respect and justice are hallmarks of thriving marriages.

Do we live them perfectly? Never! But we strive to live them better day by day. In the struggle to live as a gift to a spouse and family, our hearts expand and God becomes the source of strength, joy and love. He becomes more evident in the lives of the spouses and the single life they forge.

We are all attracted to selfless acts of love. They are beautiful. They resonate in our hearts because they are of God.

While some acts are heroic, it is more often the small expressions of selfless love that endear us to each other. Those acts can include a spouse seeking out the other to greet them with a kiss upon coming home from work, speaking only words of praise of one’s spouse in public and complimenting him or her in private, noticing when the other is tired and assisting in the daily duties, or simply enjoying a dinner for just two.

Anything that says, “You are precious to me” can become a selfless act of love.

It is through the reality of everyday life that God is at work. He gives what we need to cast away our selfishness and lean into him. Just as marriage isn’t about the individual, so too is the family about something greater than itself. The family has a specific mission to be light and salt for the world, which is to love.

Society does not invent or found the family; rather the family is the foundation of society. When the true nature of marriage is damaged or misunderstood, the family is weakened. When the family is weak, we fall prey to our inherent selfishness and sometimes to brutal extremes. We lose the habit of gentleness and self-mastery.

When marriage is lived as a sacrament and vocation — indissoluble, faithful and open to life — the family thrives and lives the grace which vivifies the practice of self-giving love. God’s image is revealed and the family becomes a light in a dark world.

Stolpestad is director of the Office of Marriage, Family and Life for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

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Category: World Meeting of Families