Whenever I have to assist a young couple getting married, at sermon time I make them evoke the day they met. What day was that, what month and year? It is clear that most of the time these clueless do not remember the exact date, but it is rare that they forget everything else. Was it at a party or a work meeting? And if it was at a party, how did they get there, at whose invitation? Or was she more like her at school, at recess, or even in the classroom?
When those who are minutes away from getting married think about these things, they are almost always so moved that their eyes begin to shine. “Ah,” they seem to exclaim each from their side or looking at each other, “how lucky to have met this person with whom I will soon be united forever!”
Then I make them see that, if they had searched, they would never have found each other. Left to their own devices, they would have done nothing but play hide-and-seek: one would have walked down one street, and the other down another, like two perfectly parallel lines that never meet. But fortunately Providence exists and it was she who caused what neither of them, by themselves, could have produced. It was God the Lord of life, the one who made them coincide, then meet and finally love each other. Now, what can be deduced from all this? That if it was He who caused the encounter and the love, He will gladly bless their union.
Finally, I usually ask them to give thanks to this wonderful God who led them to each other with such precision, and to do everything possible so that they do not stop wanting what He has wanted when routine tires them and fatigue overcomes them. .
What I propose when I tell you these things is to make you see that your love is a mystery that has its origin in the divine will and that it should always be treated as such, that is, with respect and reverence. If God has intervened in the birth of all love, if it has been thanks to Him that these two beings have come to love each other, then you have to take off your sandals and walk slowly because the ground they walk on is sacred.
On more than one occasion, when I have had to talk with spouses about to divorce, I have realized that when they evoke the times and circumstances in which they met, as well as the places they frequented, the conflicts soften and the tension eases. There are those who -I know- have overcome their conflicts by going to stay at the same hotel and in the same room in which they stayed twenty years ago, during their honeymoon, or by going back to dance the songs that they liked when they were young and walking boyfriends. How mysterious is the power of memory! A couple friends of mine, when things go wrong and they find themselves entertaining separatist ideas, they immediately run to the park where they met and secretly had their first kiss. Holy remedy!
All this comes to mind because recently, reading a book by Thomas Moore, I was pleasantly surprised to read on one of its pages the following expression that is not modern: respect for destiny. How! Finally someone dared to speak like this? How was such an expression possible in an age that only believes in the sovereignty of freedom? This author, a psychologist by profession, although very unorthodox, says that when difficulties multiply in a marriage, the spouses should learn the art of respecting destiny. «We must respect – he says – the inexorable spirit that brought us together in the beginning. From the point of view of the soul, nothing happens by chance. The fate that surrounds the beginnings of a deep relationship suggests an incomprehensible intentionality for the people involved.
This respect for destiny, continues Moore, can and should become a fundamental element of the couple’s spirituality. And only then “from there the relationship can be cemented on a foundation that is not entirely human, on a rock foundation firmer than anything human ingenuity can create.”
When we realize that it was not chance that made us meet this particular being, but Providence -continues Moore- only then can we create deeper intimacy and create virtually indestructible bonds.
On the day of his ordination, almost every priest thinks – and I say this knowingly – about how God was leading him to that day without him knowing how. All his personal history is then read by him in the key of call, vocation, mission. «How was it necessary – he says to himself while he prostrates himself on the ground at the time of the litany – for this and that to happen for me to be here today!». In this way the priest, who knows that he is called by God, no longer so easily, later, will renounce being what he is.
Well, that is what husbands should also think, because their vocation is as sacred as the priestly one. From the perspective of respect for destiny, everything becomes brighter. “God wanted it that way”: here is a thought capable of making us overcome any temptation, however great it may be. An acquaintance of mine – blameless husband – was literally persecuted by a woman until she told him with understanding and kindness:
-Look, if I had met you ten years before, maybe there would have been something great and beautiful between us. But I’m already married, and this means that you came late into my life. And if you were late it’s because you weren’t meant for me. If God had wanted there to be something between you and me, He would have caused the meeting at the moment when loving each other would not have been sinning!
Ah, if all husbands could speak in the same way! Well, this is what it means, already in practice, that respect for destiny without which everything becomes nebulous, chaotic and problematic.