In honor of today’s Gospel, I would like to share a poem I wrote for my wife and first posted here in 2012.
In that Gospel, Jesus says: “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” The Church’s teaching on the vocation of a married couple is unambiguous: Whether your spouse is a difficult unbeliever (1 Cor. 7:17) or you are both saint-aspirants (Eph 5:21ff), your primary path to intimate union with God in Christ is found in and through loving your spouse and — from that center — loving any children God may have gifted you with. St. John Paul says in Familiaris Consortio:
Christian marriage is in itself a liturgical action glorifying God in Jesus Christ and in the Church. By celebrating it, Christian spouses profess their gratitude to God for the sublime gift bestowed on them of being able to live in their married and family lives the very love of God for people and that of the Lord Jesus for the Church, His bride.
Every little or large act of love in sacramental marriage and family possesses the whole power of the world-transfiguring divine liturgy, as your covenant bond extends the Cross and Resurrection of Christ into the nooks and crannies of that portion of the history God has entrusted to your influence.
And Pope Francis most recently said in Amoris Laetitia:
Those who have deep spiritual aspirations should not feel that the family detracts from their growth in the life of the Spirit, but rather see it as a path which the Lord is using to lead them to the heights of mystical union.
I believe this is one of the most profound statements on marriage and family life ever made by the Magisterium. This is the “nuptial mysticism” appropriate to the vast majority of Christians. Let’s develop a new spiritual literature that unfolds these depths! May this be the century of canonized saint-couples who found their mystical perfection in the imperfect tangles of domestic life and amid the vibrant passion, mundane routines and varigated colors of till-death marital love.
To all of you married men and women, look today at your spouse’s face — on your children’s faces — and see your royal Way into the abyss of Trinitarian life and love.
To my wife, Gift
O Gift overflowing, poured lavish grace
God-art etched in your lovely face,
for you are His constant gaze on me:
May I the same for you always be!
O Gift held reverently in my trembling hand
you are a thousand callings, myriad sand
beckoning my love be faithful and true;
for to love God best, I must first love you.
O Gift of royal service, my only Crown
for you I daily live to lay my life down
as once for all did our greatest King
whose Passion – pray! — my life can sing.
O Gift stolen down from heaven’s immortal Fire
for you my heart burns with deathless desire,
as you drench my world in melodies sweet
singing into my winter’s cold a lover’s heat.
O Gift, the Father’s daughter entrusted to my care
with you may I never once risk or even dare
to seek God apart from your joy-giving face
or fail to make our love His dwelling place.