When Love is Difficult
by David Gibson
When it is difficult to love, to get beyond hurt and resentment, couples are invited to be like Jesus, to choose to love, to trust and to reach out again, Archbishop Albert LeGatt of St. Boniface, Manitoba, told participants in the March 19-20 national marriage congress in Canada hosted by the Diocese of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. In a homily, he spoke of loving a spouse under difficult circumstances.
Archbishop LeGatt is Saskatoon’s former bishop. He was named archbishop of St. Boniface in July 2009.
In his homily, the archbishop spoke of the “long lingering look of love” exchanged in old movies by couples in love. He said that Jesus also has a look of love for each child of God, including the woman caught in adultery in John’s Gospel. “Jesus sees her for what God calls her to be, sees her for what she is in God’s eyes: the beloved, as all God’s children are the beloved,” said Archbishop LeGatt.
“Jesus has trust” in the woman, “he has faith in her and what her life can be if she allows the love of God to be the truth in her life,” if she agrees to “go and sin no more.”
When married couples live this way, they become “an icon, a reflection of God’s unending love for us,” Archbishop LeGatt said. “You do it again and again and again as couples in the way in which you continue to trust in each other and choose to reach out to each other in love.” In that way, he suggested, “you are truly a sacrament within the church.”
It is the Word of God that gives a spouse “the strength to choose” to see and to trust the other in this way, said the archbishop. “The crucified and risen Lord” is alive in the hearts of the spouses and is with them in their marriage.
A pastoral letter titled “Rediscovering Marriage” was published in 2005 by Archbishop Emelius Goulet, who preceded Archbishop LeGatt in the St. Boniface Archdiocese. Archbishop Goulet wrote:
“How difficult it is to truly love another! The destructive force of selfishness can so easily penetrate human relationships! However, thanks to sacramental grace, hearts are purified of selfishness and a connection is established between human love and Christ’s love for the church: a selfless and total love which gives of itself without reserve.”
Archbishop Goulet insisted that “there is no authentic love without renunciation, without self-sacrifice. Such is the kind of love that spouses are called to replicate in their married life!” Their love is such that it “surpasses solely human possibilities,” he said.
A couple’s “close rapport with Christ nourishes and makes possible the unity, indissolubility and fruitfulness of Christian marriage,” Archbishop Goulet wrote. He said that “through the sacrament of marriage, authentic married love is caught up into divine love and is governed and enriched by Christ’s redeeming power.”
It could be said that “the sacrament of marriage is a baptism that applies to the marital state,” said Archbishop Goulet. “In actual fact,” he added, “Christian spouses experience at the center of their lives the mystery of the death and resurrection of the Lord.”
About the author
David Gibson served for 37 years on the editorial staff at Catholic News Service, where he was the founding and long-time editor of Origins, CNS Documentary Service. David received a bachelor’s degree from St. John’s University in Minnesota and an M.A. in religious education from The Catholic University of America. Married for 38 years, he and his wife have three adult daughters and six grandchildren.