Today (sniff! sniff!), we arrive at the end of our four-part series of exclusive excerpts from the Catholic marriage advice book The Four Keys to Everlasting Love: How Your Catholic Marriage Can Bring You Joy for a Lifetime. If you take away only one lesson from the book (or from this series of excerpts), I hope it’s this: God, who is madly in love with you, is yearning to shower your marriage with graces from above the second you ask him. Human love has such a powerful pull on his heart, and he wants to turn that human love into divine, everlasting love.
The four keys to this amazing supernatural, sacramental love are:
- Faithfulness — staying faithful through forgiveness
- Freedom — serving freely through wise stewardship
- Fruitfulness — physical and spiritual fertility, and
- Totality — a complete outpouring of self that will impact generations to come
Today’s fourth and last excerpt is the introduction to Part IV of the book, which covers parenting, prayer, and the example of the Holy Family. I hope you’ve loved this series, and please feel free to visit Can We Cana for free chapter-by-chapter downloadable worksheets to use with your spouse or in meetings with your prayer group or book club. May God bless your marriages with everlasting love!
Called to Love Totally and Forever:
Nurturing Faith from Generation to Generation
The final key to everlasting love is a willingness to give every part of yourself (totally) for the rest of your life (forever). Just as God wants to shower us with every good thing, we are called to spend our earthly lives sharing all we have and all we are with our spouse, our family, and our God. We are called to a total, radical gift of self.
As a reminder of this call to self-surrender, our relatives Fran and Nancy inscribed the Latin words Totus Tuus (“all yours”) on the inside of their wedding bands. This motto of John Paul II’s pontificate expressed his desire to dedicate himself totally to Christ through the Virgin Mary. What a beautiful way for a married couple to show their ardent desire to dedicate themselves totally to Christ through each other, to say, “Here I am, and I am all yours!”
Even the best marriage will last only a lifetime. But through our children, our love can extend generation upon generation. We pass on our values, ethics, and faith to the children we raise. They, in turn, are witnesses to the broader world. In our mission as parents and spouses, we can look to the Holy Family to show us the way. Joseph and Mary had a true marriage with all the characteristics of everlasting love. They freely consented to God’s plan, they were faithful to each other, their marriage bore immense spiritual fruit through their son, Jesus, and they never abandoned one another by divorce (Redemptoris Custos [RC], 7). They surrendered themselves totally to each other and to the amazing power of God.
When you give your all to God, he alone can give you everything in return: all patience, kindness, gentleness, and vitality. He alone can fill you with a divine spousal love so you can love one another the way that he has loved you. When you give yourself totally to your spouse in your joy and in your sorrow, and when you accept your spouse totally with his or her strengths and flaws, then you have learned the final key to everlasting love.
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Excerpt reprinted from The Four Keys to Everlasting Love with permission from Ave Maria Press.
Image courtesy of Ave Maria Press.