When I was a little girl, I was entirely convinced of the imminent return of Our Lord. I believed that it was only a matter of moments before the sky would rip open in glory and he would ride in upon us, angels and horses flying through the sky. The idea was thrilling and made me impatient for heaven.
I can remember sitting at the top of the stairs, looking at some childhood Bible storybook and asking my mom if she thought the end of the world would happen that year, in 20 years, or within 100. How I hoped she would say that year! “Probably within the hundred,” she responded. My hopes were dashed.
I can’t say I have totally lost hope in the sooner-than-later Armageddon (in the most Catholic sense of the word, of course). The year 2018 was one of ups and downs, but many of those downs worked hard to overshadow the ups. Of course, this might be typical of many years, but with the seemingly ever-growing abuse scandal within the Church, the Pope’s less than satisfying responses, and the domineeringly satisfied sneer on the faces of atheists, critics, and Satan, I find myself often whispering: “Come, Lord Jesus.”
I think many of us feel an inner exhaustion. I fight the fear that Christian witness is a thing of the past and ask myself how I can possibly evangelize in a world that no longer takes faith seriously. New Year’s Eve ended a long year of questions and sighs.
But one event of 2018 contradicts that doubt, brings joy, and is a witness to faith and Christ’s ever-conquering reign: my mom’s wedding.
I have written before of my father’s tragic death when I was a baby. My mom, her hand asked for more than once since, stayed a widow for forty years. Her heart belonged to God, and her joy was evident to those who met her.
On weekdays, my mom would sometimes go to Mass at St. Luke’s Parish in Maple Ridge. The regulars would have coffee together afterwards, and this is where my mom met Jean-Marc, a widower with two daughters and another in heaven. He would go for regular walks on the dyke, and somehow my mom got invited along. This became a regular occurrence, but whenever we would tease her about this mysterious Frenchman, my mom would respond: “Oh no! We’re just friends!”
Nearly a year passed and they were still “just friends.” Then one evening, as my mom sat beside me, she started giggling. I looked at her weirdly.
“He says he loves me!” she giggled.
“What?! Who?” I asked. At this point I had only met Jean-Marc twice, I think.
“Shhhhh!” she whispered. “Jean! He said he loves me!”
I smile even as I write it. My mom, a teenager in love!
Who did this Frenchman think he was, telling my mother he loved her, without asking for my permission? My sister-in-law and I quickly decided to take action. We interviewed him.
“Holding hands during the Our Father, yes or no?”
“Who did you vote for in the last federal election?”
“Margarine or butter?”
The questions lasted 20 minutes. We even had ink blots. The time came for our last question: “What exactly are your intentions with my mother?”
He replied: “I love your mother and I want to make her my wife. I look at all of your children running around, and I want to make them my grandchildren.”
That is what he did. In August, the power of the sacrament of marriage joined my mom and Jean. She became his, and he became ours. Their joy, faithfulness, and love for Christ and one another overpowered the darkness of my sorrows within the Church.
It is the highlight of 2018 because, like all sacraments, it is a sign of God’s victory. In the midst of the discouragement and filth that we are witness to everyday, God put a holy love in the hearts of two unsuspecting widows. God is here, and he is victorious. Come, Lord Jesus.