As I’ve been praying today about what to write, one thing keeps coming to mind. It’s not particularly related to living the liturgical year, but I think I’ll go with it anyway.
Two years ago, my 80-year-old father-in-law suffered a major stroke. He spent much time in the hospital in immediate recuperation and extended time in rehab. Eventually, he came home where my mother-in-law and sister-in-law care for him. It is demanding and exhausting work. A few months after she had been caring for her husband at home, I said to my mother-in-law , “You’re living the vow.” She replied, “I made a promise, and I will keep it.” Tears filled our eyes.
Yesterday, I took her to an appointment with a rheumatologist, as she’s been in severe pain for a couple of months. Her number one concern through all of it has been the care of my father-in-law. “Who will take care of him if I get sick?” Fortunately, she was diagnosed with something treatable, and, in time, she will return to full pain-free duty.
I once heard a quote from Fulton Sheen on divorce. It goes something like this, “It isn’t that marriage is harder these days. It’s just that people aren’t keeping their promises.” I have two friends whose husbands decided to call it quits one day. They just wanted out. Keeping the vow was too hard.
We must not forget, however, that all baptized have a taken foundational vows, promises, which we must keep. At our baptism we promised:
- to reject sin so as to live in the freedom of God’s children.
- to reject the glamour of evil, and refuse to be mastered by sin.
- to reject Satan, father of sin and prince of darkness.
- to believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
- to believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died, and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father.
- to believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.
If we bring our children to the baptismal font or if we are godparents, we make that vow on their behalf. Therefore, it is our responsibility to bring them to church and to teach them the faith. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us of baptism that “the two principal effects are purification from sins and new birth in the Holy Spirit.” (CCC 1262) Our relationship with God is restored in baptism, removing the stain of original sin; we receive the three theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity; and we receive sanctifying grace. They are promises of utmost importance.
Faithfulness to our vows, no matter which ones we take, keep us in right relationship with God and with each other.
So today, I invite you to reflect on the vows you’ve taken in your life and to pray to the Holy Spirit to strengthen your resolve to keep them. I invite you, too, to pray for those whose marriages are suffering, especially those marriages suffering as a result of the economic hardship of our time – for faithfulness to the vow.
My Jesus, I trust in You! Anne