Magazine article U.S. Catholic

My Funny Valentine

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

My Funny Valentine

Article excerpt

Society celebrates young love, but there's a special holiness in love that's lasted over the years.

Good Pope John blessed my parents marriage. Not at St. Peter's, of course, but at St. Leo's, as in St. Leo's in Corona, New York. Well, sort of at St. Leo's. My parents, like many Catholics of that time, sent off a request for the Holy Father's apostolic blessing on their marriage in 1961. They got the blessing, which came in the tangible form of an official-looking document affixed to a nice wooden plaque.

The plaque isn't in such good shape now. The parchment of the actual blessing was covered in plastic, which is now fraying a bit and peeling. The wood is worn in a few spots. A couple of the edges are chipped off. Taped near the top are two name badges from their honeymoon at Honeymoon Haven in Pennsylvania.

My parents were great romantics, the kind we don't often hear much about now on Valentine's Day or other times.

Certainly there's much to celebrate when it comes to young love and all the wonder of discovery when you're a newly-wed or fleshly engaged. But there's a special holiness, I think, in love that's lasted over the years. I mean the kind of love that's been tried by time, challenged by children, or darkened by death. Love that shines amid the ordinary and extraordinary, literally in the good times and the bad.

My parents taught me many things, of course, but I wonder if they ever realized how much they taught me about love.

They adored each other. He treated her as if she were the greatest treasure a man could have, and she showed him that he was the best thing to ever happen to her. They laughed a lot and were always affectionate with each other. They held hands all the time, even after 20 years of marriage.

That's not to say that there weren't fights. There certainly were, and some explosive ones, too, the kind that came close to realizing the stereotypes of Irish-Italian unions.

I wonder now if I'm aware of being a good model for my children. I wonder if any of my peers think about this, too. Most of us in the mid 30s and early 40s age group are often struggling to balance the demands of jobs and rearing young children. And so it isn't always easy to find time for date nights with your spouse or quiet time that doesn't involve sorting laundry, cleaning dishes, or paying bills. Maybe that's the point.

For my parents, love wasn't something bottled up and uncorked once the kids went to bed or after they left us home with a sitter. …

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