It’s Valentine’s Day, a day when young and old alike will exchange cards, chocolates, and other tokens of love. But do you have a Valentine that you’ve actually held on to? Or do your cards and heart-shaped candy boxes wind up in the trash on February 15th?
Recently on St. Joseph’s Workshop, Fr. Matthew Spencer, OSJ shared that his grandmother still had a Valentine that his grandfather had given her more than 80 years earlier.
He explained, “My grandmother met my grandfather, I believe, in the second grade. And my grandfather played, as my grandmother says, the bass fiddle. Which I think is a cello, right? So they were in the sixth grade and my grandpa had gone away for a short time and sent my grandmother via snail mail a Valentine’s Day card.”
My grandma showed this to me today. My grandpa gave it to her on #ValentinesDay when they were in the 6th grade. My grandpa went to the Lord in 2002, and my grandma turns 95 tomorrow… What a #blessed pair they are. pic.twitter.com/ObNfhEoWnR
— Fr. Matthew Spencer, OSJ (@FrMatthewOSJ) February 12, 2019
Though his grandfather passed away in 2002, Fr. Matthew shared how blessed he felt to have the example of his grandparents’ marriage in his life, and how grateful he was for their married fidelity.
“The fidelity that my grandmother and grandfather showed, the fidelity that they shared, is such a strong contrast to the world in which we live,” he said. “This is hard for me to talk about. I get depressed when I see statistics to the contrary of the fidelity that my grandparents showed.”
“And do you know why we’re bringing this up?” he continued. “Because we’re in the middle of National Marriage Week. We’re in the middle of this week that the bishops have given us to reflect on marriage and God’s plan for married love and fidelity.”
Some may hear the phrase ‘God’s plan for marriage’ and doubt that God cares much about marriage at all. It’s an institution that both believers and non-believers enter, so why should God care? Fr. Matthew pointed out, “One of the most amazing aspects of marriage is that it is a direct reflection of God’s fidelity to His people. This is why marriage is meant for life, because the covenant that God makes with His people is meant for all time.”
If you have never seen an example of life-long faithfulness, of unconditional love, how can you believe that such a thing exists? This is why fidelity in marriage is so important, for your marriage and for the world. Because it is a reflection of God’s covenant with His people.
“He loves you with an everlasting love. He will never be unfaithful to that love. He will never go back on His word toward you,” Fr. Matthew said. “So, it’s an awesome incredible responsibility that husband and wife have to image that same fidelity and love to the world.”
But maybe you hear a priest talking about the importance of fidelity in marriage and balk. What can a priest know about being married? He couldn’t recognize how hard it is.
“You’re right,” he admitted. “I don’t know from firsthand experience how that feels. But I do know how difficult it is to be faithful to the Lord. And yet, how important it is and how important that witness to fidelity, to monogamy, to God’s plan for marriage and family is.”
So how can spouses remain faithful, despite the difficulties that life throws at them? Fr. Matthew stressed that, just as he is unable to live out his vocation as a priest on his own, married couples can’t live out their vocations on their own.
“If we’re trying to live God’s plan, and if we’re trying to image God’s covenant of love to the world, we need His help. We need His grace,” he said. “We need to turn to God. It’s impossible for me to be a faithful priest without God’s grace. It could never happen by my own strength. Just plain and simple. It would be completely impossible for me to be faithful to the call that God gives me without His grace. So the same is true when it comes to marriage. It’s really, really impossible without God’s grace working in your life. It’s really hard to be faithful with God’s grace, and it’s impossible on your own.”
And just as we need God’s grace to live out our vocations, we also need the prayers and support of those around us. Why not celebrate Valentine’s Day by offering up a prayer for all married couples today?
Listen to the full reflection below: