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A Little Change

"Marriage is an act of will that signifies and involves a mutual gift, which unites the spouses and binds them to their eventual souls, with whom they make up a sole family – a Domestic Church." Saint John Paul II

The year was 1967 and I remember being in the back of Holy Rosary Church in Washington D.C. getting ready to walk down the aisle as the flower girl in my very first of many weddings. I was scared half to death. Staring at the Pieta in the vestibule in back of the church, fooling with the rose petals in my little basket, I tried to fight the panic. And when the time came – I just couldn’t do it! That is, until one of my relatives gave me a great big push, and there I went, nervously swaying down the aisle to the organ music, dropping the petals, so proud to play such an important role--to be the flower girl--for a marriage that was supposed to last forever. When it didn’t, I was devastated! Hearing of their divorce, I remember thinking at the time, “Something must have been wrong with the flower girl!” And thus began my sensitivity to marriages that end in divorce.

Summer is a popular time for weddings. Nobody walks down the aisle hoping to join the statistic of 50% of marriages that don’t make it. I think that those who go to such great lengths to get married do so because they intend for it to be a life-long commitment and are excited about a bright future together as a couple and, then, as a family. I am fully aware that many marriages can’t be saved, and that, for the health and safety of either spouse, some shouldn’t be.

“A Little Change” speaks to the marriages that can be saved-- the ones that have lost their spark or sense of direction due to the inevitable twists and turns of life; those in which one or both spouses gets so busy and even perhaps self-absorbed that he/she stops paying attention and forgets to nurture that most life-changing, substantial commitment made during the wedding!

One of my favorite miracles is the following story from the Gospel of John. Notice that it didn’t take much-- only for Mary to notice that the wine had run out-- to induce the Lord to perform a miracle. That’s all it may take in our marriages --just a little attentiveness and a simple prayer...

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; and both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, ``They have no wine."And Jesus said to her, ``Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come. "His mother said to the servants,``Whatever He says to you, do it." Now there were six stone waterpots set there for the Jewish custom of purification, containing twenty or thirty gallons each. Jesus said to them, ``Fill the waterpots with water." So they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, ``Draw {some} out now and take it to the headwaiter." So they took it {to him.} When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom, and said to him, ``Every man serves the good wine first, and when {the people} have drunk freely, {then he serves} the poorer {wine; but} you have kept the good wine until now." This beginning of {His} signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.

John 2:1-11

Like Mary, we too can ask for a miracle, but not if we’re too distracted or not paying attention. “A little change” can come when we simply notice that something essential to our marriage has run out or is dangerously close to doing so. And then, like Mary, we say a short prayer or reach out to our spouse, or both. Maybe instead of giving 50/50 in marriage, or even giving 100% each, one spouse will have to give 200% when the other is incapable of giving anything at all. Maybe God is asking us to see our spouse through a difficult time or support him or her through a grave disappointment or struggle, such as the humiliation, worry, and stress of unemployment; the death of a loved one; depression; caring for an elderly parent; addiction; etc. Maybe we have to be strong when our spouse is unable to be, or forgive and really mean it, or become vulnerable again instead of building walls.

Ah, yes…those walls! What a gift it is to recognize the walls we've put up that can hide from us the memory of what we once had together. That ability to see the wall is often the first of many steps to climbing it, or – better yet – breaking through it.

Reinvigorating your marriage can really can be as simple as the lyrics of “A Little Change” suggest. In the song, the wife says a prayer as she and her husband are riding along, and God answers that prayer almost immediately when He inspires the husband to do something unexpectedly sweet for his wife and their relationship.

If we watch closely enough, God really does perform miracles, sometimes instantaneously, in our marriages, but we must be open in order to see them! And we must hope! We can't give up hope. Discouragement is the greatest tool of the devil. When we start thinking negatively, it all snowballs, rather quickly.

So whatever your circumstances call for, if you are in need of a little change, or you can be the change, you know who you are and I urge you to go for it! To those who have experienced divorce firsthand, I pray that God will give you the desires of your heart, giving you the grace and the strength to see His presence in your struggles. To those whose marriages are at a breaking point, a point of no return, or headed in that direction, I pray that you hand your situation over to God and ask the Holy Spirit for guidance, patience, and strength to persevere. And for those who cannot relate, I pray that you seek the compassion necessary to comfort those – either in personal conversation or through prayer – who are in need of support.

I would like to thank Harpeth Meadows Music and Vincent Bonvissuto for writing such a hopeful and inspiring song: "A Little Change".

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