Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Celebrating Eileen's Birthday

Yesterday was Eileen's birthday.

I have known this remarkable lady for more than half my lifetime. I am so grateful that, by the grace of God, she is my life's companion. I cannot possibly pretend that I deserve to have such an outstanding person at my side, day by day.

Last year was a "significant numerical birthday" (😉) for her (I'm still not saying what number). This year adds a "+1" but that's not so important in our time of life.

We're not getting any younger, but birthdays aren't really about counting years. They are about celebrating people's lives. They are about saying, "It is good that you exist." We remember the unique, unrepeatable and beautiful gift of a human person when we celebrate their birth.

I am glad for the chance to celebrate her. I don't want to take her for granted. Happy Birthday, my dear wife!💗

John Paul is in Rome this semester, but Agnese is home for Spring Break, so we had most of the family under our roof. This year, Teresa took charge of the dinner and baked that delicious, lovely cake pictured above.

I put a lot of labor and effort into my graphic-designed, hand-colored birthday presentation for her this year. Artistically I found the result frustrating. It looks too "simple" for something that took so much work. In the afternoon, Josefina and I were working on our gifts together, and I was flustered and she said, "Coloring is supposed to be fun, Daddy!" Well, it was fun, overall.

And if it really is "the thought that counts," then this should count for quite a bit. It took a lot more thought and time to draw one flower than it would have to buy a dozen at the grocery store. I'm glad I took the time, even if flowers from the store would have been prettier.

Marriage and raising a family are not easy. We have been given so many material advantages, but it's still been hard in more ways than I can count. I suppose we could say about our family life that it has taken a lot of thought and labor and effort (and suffering) to "put something together" that "looks pretty simple." And it's a work in progress.

I am so grateful to God for Eileen Janaro. I don't know what the future holds, but I'm so glad that whatever it is we will face it together.

Above all, in this very unique relationship that is marriage—that sees much change and much sacrifice and some sorrow and many joys—there is the bond that holds us together with a strength greater than anything of this world, the bond consecrated by a great sacrament. It is the power of Jesus Christ's love that holds us together and enables us to grow.

Pope Francis notes that, in marriage, "the common life of husband and wife, the entire network of relations that they build with their children and the world around them, [is] steeped in and strengthened by the grace of the sacrament. For the sacrament of marriage flows from the incarnation and the paschal mystery, whereby God showed the fullness of his love for humanity by becoming one with us. Neither of the spouses will be alone in facing whatever challenges may come their way. Both are called to respond to God’s gift with commitment, creativity, perseverance and daily effort. They can always invoke the assistance of the Holy Spirit who consecrated their union, so that his grace may be felt in every new situation that they encounter" (Amoris Laetitia 74).

In the challenges and the daily effort and in the very simple joys, we are drawn by that love of God that we hope for, the eternal glory that is our destiny in Christ.