A Beautiful Work
It’s so easy to forget the things we cannot see with our eyes; the supernatural realities working all around us. Despite the fact that we encounter them regularly, we often choose to willingly ignore the angels and demons fighting for our attention. Our marriage is a beautiful work in this world, and God desires it to bring about his work in the next! By the same token, the devil is threatened by good and holy marriages, and you can bet that he is raging terrible storms against us. For this reason, we must rely on grace at all moments, and look to the cross for consolation. Through this, we will begin to see what is unseen, and the true magnificence of the work of our marriage will be incomprehensible.
What Is Ordinary?
The picture of the family below cracks me up, especially coupled with the quote. I suppose at one point in time, this family would have certainly been seen to be “ordinary.” But, what is ordinary? What did Chesterton mean when he said these words?
I believe at the core of this statement is the truest recognition of the beauty of God’s work in the family. As ordinary as one man and one woman, saying “yes” to one another, in an oath sworn before God; an oath unbreakable until death. As ordinary as the children that come from that indissoluble union – eternal souls made in the image and likeness of God, carrying on the teaching of their childhood. The family is the extraordinary reflection of a Triune God, existing among us, and for most – through us.
The verse from Romans (12:1-2), has always meant a great deal to me. It is the verse I have clung to throughout each pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum period in motherhood. Really, I can think of no better way to experience these joyful sacrifices, than in seeing that in those moments I am called to be a “living sacrifice.”
It is the verse I see come alive through my husband; who himself is a daily living sacrifice to God, ever refusing to be conformed to this world. He sacrifices sleep each night to take turns waking up with restless or sick children. He sacrifices breakfast so that he can help get the kids fed and out the door in time for school. He sacrifices his own wants and needs day in and day out, always prioritizing the needs of me and the children. And through this, he has become stronger and more united to Christ. He is a firm leader and often challenges the ways of the world through his shining example.
This is the verse I want to see live on in my children, and their children after. I pray that they may always be brave enough to be like their father – to stand with Christ instead of the world, and to be willing to sacrifice absolutely anything for his will. This is our spiritual fortitude until the end of time.
The virtue of fortitude is the marathon that we run in bearing the burdens of those we are called to love – as St. Therese exemplified so beautifully at Carmel. How often she showed saintly patience to her sisters there, who challenged her calmest reserve. In marriage, we are also often called to bear the burdens of the other, with love. This is the challenge – the sacrifice with joy and acceptance with love, in spite of ourselves. The biggest impediment to our own spiritual growth therefore, is often ourselves, namely our own pride.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway my husband and I discovered through this Fortitude chapter, was that our inappropriate expectations are certainly a primary sticking point to mastering the virtue of fortitude in our marriage. We found that the setting of insurmountable expectations is often the cause of much of our frustration and lack of patience in the first place. For the two of us, who are both over-achievers, setting and maintaining constant and reasonable expectations is our greatest challenge on the road to fortitude.