Of all the maxims credited to the renowned Mother Teresa, one rings particularly true: ‘If You Want to Change the World, Go Home and Love Your Family.’ Yet, in a world where dysfunctional families or a lack thereof seem to be the norm, chaos often ensues.
Recently, while snowbound in Colorado and surrounded by my beloved grandchildren, I was reminded of the joys and challenges of family life. Witnessing ordinary parents in action, who remained steadfast and cheerful amidst the chaos, was truly remarkable. They managed to keep chaos at bay, redirecting the energy of their little ones. It takes both skill and heroism to maintain such an environment of love and laughter, effectively creating entitative habits.
The commitment to family often involves sacrifices, such as changing diapers in the middle of the night to allow a spouse to rest. Although it may not always be enjoyable, the commitment to one’s family is paramount. As Winston Churchill responded when asked how he managed to lead the war effort while consuming large quantities of alcohol, ‘Practice.’
Love and dedication in a family are choices made by imperfect individuals unwilling to give up on one another or the children they are raising. St. Augustine affirmed that ‘Love is my gravitation,’ implying that we must follow wherever love leads us. Choosing to love rightly and faithfully is always a matter of our will, refusing to be absent or apathetic.
During my stay, I noticed a sign in the guestroom where my wife and I stayed, which encapsulated the commitment a couple should have for one another:
‘I Choose You. And I’ll Choose You, Over and Over And Over and Over. Without Pause, Without Doubt, In a Heartbeat. I’ll Keep Choosing You.’
All of this, however, is not possible without grace. Grace sanctifies the love between spouses and nourishes it. It is the invaluable fuel that keeps a marriage alive, enabling sacrificial choices dictated by good reason and habit to flourish. Without grace, our lives are void, lacking the essence of true humanity.
Evelyn Waugh, a man often compared to the fiery St. Jerome, recognized the significance of grace, stating that without faith, he would scarcely be considered human. He understood that grace can transform our fallen nature and guide us towards virtue. Although it may take time, the transformative power of grace is undeniable.
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