Love Beyond Words
“A voice is calling, ‘Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; make smooth in the desert a highway for our God’” (Isaiah 40:3).
This “voice” was prophesied in the Old Testament by Isaiah and foretold through John the Baptist in the New Testament. This declaration is a cry for repentance and preparation of hearts for the revelation of Christ the Good Shepherd. Preparing a way for the Lord is “the way to holiness.” And the way to holiness is not easy!
This voice still cries out for us today! The hearts of the disobedient must be transformed through the love of the just. This is challenging, especially when our own hearts may be broken. The world we live in is sometimes like a wilderness, and we occasionally travel a desert highway in life’s journey. All human beings struggle, yet the Christian life offers opportunities for difficulties to be removed in love when our sins are pardoned. What an incredible gift we have in the Sacraments of the Catholic Church!
My husband Dick and I sponsor couples in our parish, helping those who are engaged and preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage. This “call” to holiness in married life expresses God’s truth and love to the world. We enjoy sharing our experience of 40 years of married life, and we are inspired by the willingness of couples who plan their marriage by following the requirements of the Church. The commitment and time involved with this process often prevent young people from getting married in the Church, which is unfortunate.
I was organizing material for our discussion with couples preparing for marriage when a very special person asked me to review an annulment questionnaire with her. In studying the information needed by the Church for both the preparation and dissolution of this beautiful Sacrament, I could see clearly how important it is to “prepare the way.” Falling in love is the easy part; keeping God in the center of your marriage takes more effort than we realize. God created the union of man and woman in marriage as a priority for all that is good so that human life would continue. The goal of each couple is to help one another get to heaven. If this is not understood, then hearts will be broken, and so will their covenant with God. Through the ministry of the priesthood and the Sacraments, God’s love is always there to comfort and heal. It is important to mend any betrayal of a promise made to God. The Catholic annulment process is important to the Church because your soul is important to God!
In 2015, the National Study of Youth and Religion at Notre Dame reported that only 16 percent of Millennials self-identify as Catholic. However, the survey seems flawed because it does not ask the question of church attendance. If you are not actually participating in church culture, how can you understand the faith? Canon Law 204.1 states that a Catholic not only has to be baptized, but also “share the profession of faith, the sacraments, and ecclesiastical governance” to be “considered in communion with the Church.”
We all share in the responsibility of helping young people understand the significance of a lifetime commitment to God – wherever and however they are called to serve. There are many resources available for anyone who has slipped away from their catechesis and, ultimately, their relationship with God and the Church. May you know the voice of the Shepherd and follow Him because His love is everlasting! Amen!