This particular time of year is very special for me. While our secular world is preaching love, happiness, and all the other sentimental ideals that come with the arrival of Valentine's Day, I am pausing to reflect upon the journey Carmen and I made to Rome two years ago to participate in the Joy of Yes Forever event held in St. Peter's Square. The symbolism of this day in our lives is one that isn't isolated to February 14th, 2014, it is one that continually confronts me as I strive to truly live out the promises of my "YES" to God and to Carmen through the Sacrament of Marriage.
|Awaiting Pope Francis...|
The Joy of Yes Forever in a world that is all about happiness for the moment is truly a difficult task. To understand what joy means is to fully immerse ourselves in the will of God and the path of virtue. It is indeed a battle at best to persevere. I have never been more challenged or more faced with the reality of my own brokenness and shortcomings. I have never known the importance of true love and acceptance in regards to another until faced with the reality of married love. I am humbled time and time again when the cross appears within my marriage, it reminds me of the reality and foundation of our union. It reminds me that alone we can not attain the Joy of Yes Forever. Only with God's grace, the Sacramental Grace belonging to us as husband and wife can we strive, (even if ever so slowly) toward eternal joy.
Sacramental grace does not mean that we are "super-human" , it does not take our humanity away, our faults, our imperfections, or our difficulties. But as the Rite of Marriage reminds us we are "Sealed and Strengthened by God" It takes great virtue to maintain this perspective and I have such a long way to go until this is achieved....therein lies the beauty of journeying with another along this path toward sanctity. I have learned in my brief years of being married that the Sacramental Grace is present in accordance to our remaining true to our "YES". By acting in the favour of our union, by welcoming God into every area, especially when most seemingly difficult the grace of God does sustain us and provide for us. God labors with us to uphold our union when we strive to live our union seeking union with Him above all....it is here we can begin to have an experience of the Joy of Yes that God so willingly desires us to have.
"Let not, then, those who are joined in matrimony neglect the grace of the sacrament which is in them; for, in applying themselves to the careful observance, however laborious, of their duties they will find the power of that grace becoming more effectual as time goes on. " (Pope Pius xi)
Our joy is often limited because our gaze is set upon our desire for the fleeting reality of happiness. By keeping our eyes upon the visible and not entrusting ourselves entirely to Him we can not attain a true sense of joy in our lives. To be joyful is to go beyond what is mere 'happenstance' and toward the Source of our true joy found in God alone. It takes perpetual work and constant renewal of our desire to understand married love and to forfeit the desire to be temporarily happy. We must return to God time and time again renewing our reliance and need for Him in our midst. He fills us with the grace to endure, He alone provides the joy and grace to sustain us all our days.
In times when I fail, in times when my wounds and my faults become bigger than my surrender and sacrifice in my marriage, I meet God's mercy by kneeling before Him and commit again to the joy that He provides.
In order that our joy may be full we must first become empty and make ourselves humble before God. Our Lord's commands to us are designed for the purpose of our joy. If our gaze is limited to the things of this world and our perception of fulfilment rooted in our emotions, then we keep ourselves away from knowing true joy in this life. When we dismiss the path of virtue as one of destruction and embrace the inauthentic sensory pursuit of happiness, we deny ourselves the genuine experience of joy as God wills for us.
The enduring presence of joy in life and in married love depends upon the endurance of our hope, trust, and love of God in all things. As our faith teaches us, “... true happiness is not found in riches or well-being, in human fame or power, or any human achievement…or indeed in any creature, but in God alone, the source of every good and of all love.” In other words, temporal happiness is not enough to satisfy us; we long for the “joy of the Lord” (CCC 1720). Recognizing that God is our Creator and that we rely totally on Him is a “source of wisdom and freedom, of joy and confidence” (CCC 301)
I am joyful to not have settled for being happy. Most days of married life are not happy, and for that I am joyful! I can have the potential to know the truth of love only because I seek to know God and his design for love. In a world that tempts us with the allurement of happiness, let us be reminded that the Joy of Yes Forever, is built up of many small moments of surrender and sacrifice. The reward is beyond our understanding. (CC)