Men of God: Are you seeking Holiness Part Three

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Are You Seeking Holiness Part Three

As the spiritual leader in your family, you are called to exemplify holiness of life to your wife and to your children, to walk, as a shepherd, guiding them on their journey to holiness and providing opportunities for them to be spiritually nourished.

Your first duty is to your wife. In your marriage vows, you promised to honor, respect, love and cherish her. The way to honor her is the way Jesus honors his Church, through laying down his life for her, by accepting her as she is, with blemishes and shortcomings, by seeing her as the beloved, yet imperfect, daughter of God, as you are the beloved, yet imperfect, son of God. In this way, you will create the atmosphere for her to be able to grow in her relationship with God. And as you so treat your wife, you are teaching your children how to also honor and love their mother.

On the other hand, if she is not treated with dignity, respect and love, there will be evident tensions between you. These tensions will lead each to say and do things that are not loving and respectful to the other. The result of these negative moments in your relationship will not be conducive to a life of prayer and a journey towards holiness for either of you. Instead, resentment, anger, bitterness, non-love and unforgiveness will create a state of separation between you and between both of you and God.

Paul tells husbands that they should love their wives as they do their own body. It is natural for the husband to want his body and life to flourish. At the same time, you are to strive to enable your wife to experience the joy and peace as you desire for yourself. If you truly loved your wife prior to marriage, your love for her in marriage should be even more tender and unselfish. You sold her a bill of goods in the pre-marriage that you need to honor in the marriage. She fell in love with this person and needs to see this same person, treating her in the same loving ways, in marriage. Again, this is what you promised before marriage and in your vows to her before God. So, not only does she expect you to keep your promises, but so does God..

St. John Chrysostom, a Father of the Church, said: "Observe that Paul has exhorted husbands and wives to reciprocity to love…… If, then, each one contributes his/her own part, all will stand firm. From being loved, the wife too becomes loving; and from her being submissive, the husband learns to yield." Mystery that is truth!

As you seek to grow together in love before God, you should make it a priority to pray for her and with her on a regular, if not, daily basis. Your personal and marital relationship with God is your highest priority. For the most part, the wife looks to her husband to show spiritual leadership. Though your devotions may be different, the need to find a common ground in prayer is essential.

As part of prayer, when either of you hurt the other, both must forgive and ask forgiveness. This is a pre-requisite for effective prayer, as Jesus himself indicated. This mutual forgiveness is what you promise God each time you pray the Our Father. Without true and consistent forgiveness, prayer is empty before the Lord.

Seek to go to Mass more than just once a week. Encourage each other to do so, even if means at different times. When you do go to Mass together, at the offertory time, when the priest offers the bread and wine to God prior to the Consecration, hold hands and renew your marriage vows in the silence of your hearts to one another before God..

Try to make a retreat once a year and make it possible for your wife to do the same. Time with God has eternal dividends.

All this may sound unrealistic and too idealistic. If you do not have high goals for your marriage and your response to mutual holiness, then you will settle for lukewarmness and apathy in your marriage. Though you may never reach the ideal, hopefully through the years you will grow together in love, union, and holiness. The union God envisions for you is not just physical and sexual, but emotional and spiritual.

Remember that one of the questions God will ask of you is: "Where is your spouse in relationship to me because of you? Is your spouse closer to me or further away because of you.?"



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