We are beginning to live in a more virtual world than ever before. Online meetings, emails, and videos are the primary means of communication that we have. Amidst all of this craziness and isolation that we are experiencing I have realized that it has been tough for me to be present to my husband and ultimately to Jesus, even though I have all the time in the world to spend in prayer and community with my spouse.
Technology has become one of the main fillers in my day that allows me to get away (temporarily) from the anxiety this virus is causing. With this drastic increase in my time on devices comes a certain amount of passivity and laziness. Without a routine, I am lost as to how to go about my day. I have added various components into my day for routine (work, exercise, some prayer), but ultimately I am not going to my Advocate for my needs. I am not confiding in my husband and spending time with him as fully as I could be in the present moment. It has been discouraging for me to figure out how to be more present.
I recently read a book that I feel has helped me grow in my vocation called Marriage: The Mystery of Faithful Love by Dietrich von Hildebrand. He talks about how important it is to nourish love, how part of the vocation as husband and wife is to intentionally put your spouse first (and ultimately your relationship together with Christ). I would like to share a quote from his text below:
Because our laziness, our dullness, and our constant falling back into the periphery stultifies our vision, it is difficult always to keep before us in all its same clarity and splendor the image of the other person so wonderfully revealed by love. We should and must fight against this dullness, for it constitutes a sin against the temple which we erected in our marriage. (von Hildebrand, 1984)
After reading this passage in the text, I realized just what it means to truly put your spouse first. This pandemic has been a challenge in many ways, but the one thing I am thankful for is the gift to realize how much my spouse means to me and how I have been taking him for granted. With this realization comes the fact that I have not been loving Jesus the way I should be striving to love Him. I have been falling asleep in the garden, my laziness has taken over, and I am at the point where I am tired of making excuses.
With the grace of God, present and given freely to us all, I am choosing, as von Hildebrand states, to “fight against this dullness” and utilize the free will God gave me to love my husband and God the way it was meant to be from the beginning, looking to the state of Original Man in the Garden of Eden before sin occurred to know how I should act in our state of Historical Man. This choice of embracing the will, along with God’s grace will lead my husband and I to our state in Heaven, referred to as Eschatological Man by St. John Paul II in Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body. My flesh may be weak, and I know I will fall many times in the journey of life, but God will accompany my husband and I as we strive to love one another. No matter the ways you are struggling to be present to others and ultimately be present to God, know that if you ask for the grace to love others and love Him more perfectly, He will give you the strength to carry your cross. He will help you overcome your vices and look further into yourself, so you may then see His presence in yourself and those around you. Be thankful for the struggle – when we struggle, God is inviting us to accompany Him for greater adventures ahead. Through the struggle, He equips us with everything we need to love like Him in the vocation He has given us. No matter if you are married, single, or consecrated to Christ, know that we are in this together – our striving to be more present to Christ and our loved ones all comes down to our human vocation, and that is to love.
“My vocation, at last I have found it; my vocation is love.”
-St. Thérèse of Lisieux
Nathalie Shultz is a joyful convert to the Catholic faith and a competitive swimmer with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). She loves to share her passion for Catholicism with others, including her conversion story and how God continues to work miracles in her life through her OCD. She is the Director of Religious Education for the North Allegan Catholic Collaborative of parishes. Nathalie is married to her best friend, Tommy Shultz. Her favorite saints include St. Peter the Apostle, St. Teresa of Calcutta, and St. John Paul II. She is also a huge fan of C.S. Lewis. If you have any questions for Nathalie, or just want her to pray for you, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.