In recent days, I have been re-reading a short book that I read years ago by Pope John Paul II entitled Gift and Mystery. It is an easy and enjoyable reading of his reminiscences of his 50 years of priestly ministry. He wrote them and had them published on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination. So much of his life was involved with the pastoral care of families and young people and preparing couples for marriage. He refers to this briefly in one place where he says that “I have identified these priorities in the lay apostolate and in particular in the pastoral care of the family…All of this has been reflected in my scholarly and literary activity. This was the origin of my study Love and Responsibility and among others, the literary work The Jeweler’s Shop, which is subtitled Meditations on the Sacrament of Marriage.”
In the Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes), for which Pope John Paul II was one of its principal writers and brought his experience of pastoral care of married couples and families, we find the words “Thus the man and woman, who are ‘no longer two but one (Mt. 19:6), help and serve each other by their marriage partnership; they become more conscious of their unity and experience it more deeply from day to day.”
As people of Faith, it is vital that the written words, which express what we believe and what we pray, find a reflection in the lives of those around us. On this day, which is the first anniversary of my mother’s entrance into Eternal Life, I would like to publicly thank and acknowledge my parents for all that they did for us and so many. They witnessed to many the vocation and calling of the Sacrament of Marriage, given to us by the Lord Himself. Whether it was by their care and raising of six children, or my mother’s dedication to the nursing and bringing into the world new life and caring for the mothers, or my father’s many early mornings at the Parcel Post station and working other jobs besides, and being involved in so many ways with our parish and community, I salute them for making the above words a reality for so many. As one of my family members said – and many others would say it about theirs as well – “they were the best parents.” My father, in this past year, continues to be a hero to all of us, in his continued faithful love for Mom.
As Gaudium et Spes continues “Let married people themselves, who are created in the image of the living God and constituted in an authentic personal dignity, be united together in equal affection of mind and mutual holiness. Thus, in the footsteps of Christ, the principle of life, they will bear witness by their faithful love in the joys and sacrifices of their calling, to that mystery of love which the Lord revealed to the world by his death and resurrection.”
Thanks Mom and Dad, and God bless you always.