Recently I had a conversation with a young man in the parish. We had just met moments earlier through a mutual friend. Off the bat I must forgive this lad. In the customary exchange of pleasantries that takes place when guys gather, he had incorrectly pegged my age as “50’s, I guess?” “No worries, smartass,” I said. “You too will one day have premature white hair in your beard… But first you have to have a beard.” The guy’s 23. Poor fella’.
It seems my new friend is unsure of his future but “kind of wants to get married and have a family.” Hey, I understand that. I was young(er) once. And from my perspective there’s nothing better than the holy sacrament of matrimony. Being a husband and father has been the greatest joy of my life. And I told him so.
As we continued talking, he sought out my advice. I began by advising him to check his food labels for soy content and also to start lifting weights. “Those whiskers will come in one day, son.” The question of what to look for in a wife came up. I indulged him with sentiments from my own charmed life.
“Looks are important but they will fade.” I said that and realized that my wife has only grown more radiant in the years we’ve been together. Being a mother has that effect on a woman. It certainly isn’t from being around me this whole time.
“A sense of adventure and openness to whatever God sends your way is also important.” I said that and remembered that, for all of our adventures – and they have been plenty and fun – my favorite times are when we’re gathered as a family in the living room at night watching a movie.
“Savoring the joy in life is key.” I said that and thought about some of the challenges we’ve faced – family deaths, health concerns, etc. – that were less than joyful but also strengthened us together and drew us closer to each other and to God.
“Anything else, o wise one?” he asked. Falsely sensing he was trying to be sarcastic, I replied, “Knock it off Gen Z. I may be old but I can snap you like a twig.”
There was an awkward silence for a moment. But then it hit me.
“Sorry,” I said. I’m from up north and that’s just how we talk.”
“The most important thing, really the only thing is this. Faith.” I said this and it was clear why I love my wife so much. I have never been at odds with her when it comes to our Catholic faith. She has taught our son the beauty and dignity of womanhood by her warmth. She has taught our daughter the virtue of modesty by her bearing. She has allowed me to experience the strength and humility of fatherhood. She is a woman of virtue. She is a woman of devotion. And she is a woman of deep faith. Our children see it when she drops everything to make the priests a meal. They see it when she joins me in a strict Lenten fast. They see a beautiful Catholic mother and I see a beautiful Catholic wife in every true sense of those words.
Today we all wish Mrs. Harvey a happy birthday. And Mr. Harvey thanks her for being who she is and sharing her life with me.
St. Maria Goretti, pray for us!