Recently Eric (my grandnephew) and Mary Ann were married. Mary Ann’s father Ron is a deacon at the nearby church and he presided at the service. Deacon Ron wanted to walk his daughter down the aisle in a suit—not his clerical clothes. This meant he had to change after doing that privileged task, so he asked me if I would like to say a few words to fill in the time. I had four minutes. Here’s the short talk I gave.
In honor of Eric and Mary Ann, I have decided to share five thoughts about love. Warning: there’s going to be a quiz at the end—but you, Eric and Mary Ann, do not have to take the quiz. You get an automatic A on your wedding day.
(1) God is Love. Everything we see—all of creation—is an expression of God’s love: Monarch butterflies heading to Mexico, green leaves changing to red, orange, and yellow, and juicy grapes being ripened by our magnificent sun. As children we might have asked, “What does God do all day?” The answer is: God loves. And we Christians believe the essence of Jesus’ message can be summed up in one word. Love.
(2) Everybody needs love. No matter our age (babies, teenagers, adults, and even the elderly like me)… no matter how much money we have… the state of our health… our religion… our ethnic background, we all need love. We need to receive love and to give love.
(3) There are many different kinds of love. Today we’re celebrating the love of Mary Ann and Eric—marital love. Other kinds of love include the love between parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren, friends, neighbors, co-workers, even the love we have for our pets. Love has many different forms.
(4) Loving is the hardest thing we do in life. It’s harder than running a marathon, being cooped up in a classroom with 25 first graders on a rainy day, or cooking a Thanksgiving dinner for twenty. In fact, loving is so hard, we don’t get it right every time. So we need patience with ourselves when we fail at love, and patience with others when they mess up too. That’s why we have those two little phrases: “I’m sorry” and “I forgive.”
(5) The purpose of life is to learn how to love. We’re all students in the school of love. And guess what! None of us ever graduates. We can never say, “I finally know all there is to know about love. I can move on to other things.” No, we’re always learning new things about love as life places new joys and new challenges before us.
Now here’s the quiz. Finish these sentences with one word:
- Everyone needs ___.
- There are many different kinds of ___.
- The hardest thing we do in life is to ___.
- The purpose of life is to learn how to ___.
- God is ___.
Mary Ann and Eric, we all wish you many years of happiness and love! Amen!
Did any of the five thoughts stand out for you today? If so, which one(s)?
Would you like to add a sixth thought about love to the list?
PS: Thank you for your prayers for last weekend’s zoom retreat sponsored by the Sophia Retreat Center in Atchison, KS. And special thanks to Donna for inviting me and to Mary Kay who handled the technology in such a professional way. And finally, special thanks to the wonderful women who shared this Autumn retreat with me!
A very important meeting is taking place in Rome from Oct. 4-29: “The Synod on Synodality.” It is a gathering of 464 clergy and laymen and laywomen to study and discuss the feedback from the parish group discussions held all over the world from 2021 to 2023. (Did your parish participate?) For the first time women have been included, and both laymen and laywomen will have the right to vote. The purpose of the synod is to learn how the church can better fulfill its mission to share the good news of the gospel in every place and culture. In other words, how might we, the church, better serve God’s people all over the world. The opening session will be live-streamed. There is much online about this important gathering. You might want to check it out. Meanwhile, Pope Francis has urged all of us to pray to the Holy Spirit for guidance on this important meeting.
It seemed fitting to have a video of a hymn to the Holy Spirit. I chose the traditional hymn, “Come Holy Ghost.” Let us pray this hymn for the gift of love for all people and for God’s special blessings on the “Synod on Synodality.”
I welcome your comments below!