When I left everything and everyone I love from my home country the Philippines to be with my husband in New Zealand, I thought that was the only sacrifice I had to make in the name of love. But God proved me wrong. God taught me in a painful yet beautiful way that the sacred covenant of marriage calls for a daily sacrifice – an everyday decision to love without limits and forgive unceasingly even during the toughest of times. Through my darkest moments, I realized that true love is the willingness to sacrifice with joy for the ones you love. “Great love can change small things into great ones, and it is only love which lends value to our actions. And the purer our love becomes, the less there will be within us for the flames of suffering to feed upon, and the suffering will cease to be a suffering for us.” – Saint Faustina
To the singles who are reading this, marriage is beyond what the romantic films and cheesy fairy tales portray. If you are single who feels broken and unhappy, marriage is not a quick fix towards finding happiness and being complete. You have to allow God to fill your heart with His joy and love because you cannot expect your spouse to fill in all the empty spaces of your heart. There will always be an emptiness in everyone’s heart and only God can fill it to the brim. Deep within each one of us is a deep yearning and longing for Him. When we respond to that yearning, our heart will find rest in Him. A heart that rests in God is a joyful heart.
Marriage is hard work. It’s not a workshop where the husband works and the wife shops :p It is teamwork. It is lifting the other up when one is down, encouraging one another in times of weakness, and the will to not give up no matter what. There will be times when your marriage will be tested in ways you both never thought possible. My husband never fails to remind me, saying, “Elly, you are my cross and I am your cross” to which I reply laughing, “Oh my God honey, you are such a heavy cross!” Well, who am I not to carry the cross God gave me as a precious gift? Jesus Christ carried a far heavier cross on the way to Calvary.
I often heard that the honeymoon stage wears off within 2 to 3 years and couples are left wondering if they each married the wrong person. I believe this happens when one or both start to seek happiness only from the other person and lose heart due to unmet expectations. God’s plan for marriage is not just to make us happy but to make us holy. God put two people together in a sacred covenant of marriage to reveal areas needed to work on to grow closer to sanctification. Ironically, when couples start to embrace this fact, both will discover that it is possible to have joy despite many setbacks. I am still striving to engrave this beautiful truth in my heart as sometimes I tend to focus on what is lacking rather than being content with what God has blessed me with.
I love how today is not just Valentine’s day but Ash Wednesday as well. What a beautiful combination! Catholics open the season of Lent with Ash Wednesday, a day devoted to fasting, reconciliation, and prayer. The ashes symbolize the dust from which God made us. As the priest applies the ashes to a person’s forehead, he speaks the words: “Repent and be faithful to the Gospel” or “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. I love how our local parish priest, Fr. Manoj, highlighted in his homily in today’s Mass that the season of Lent is our way of walking with Jesus Christ towards Calvary; a time where we conform our hearts to the suffering heart of Jesus. I believe it isn’t a coincidence that Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s day fall on the same day. When I think of love, Jesus Christ comes first. Isn’t He the perfect definition of pure love? A love that saves! “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5
May your heart be filled with joy and love today! Allow me to end with a list of suggested items for fasting this Lent from Pope Francis which was read by Fr. Manoj during his homily today:
P.S. To those who are in a relationship and are not yet married, show your love to your partner by respecting his/her body as the temple of the Holy Spirit. I saw a trending photo where a man is chasing after a beautiful woman on February 14 and then in November 14, it’s the other way around, the pregnant woman is now chasing the man who runs as fast as he could, beyond the woman’s reach. Many people see it as funny, but it happens in reality. Why is Valentine ’s Day often associated as booking a hotel room to “celebrate” love by giving each other’s body? The best thing you can do to show love to your girlfriend/boyfriend is to reject sin. Journey with your partner towards righteousness.
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