As you ponder the word of this week’s message, I will be on one week’s leave. Allen and I are taking some time to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary.

We were married on 4th April 1975 at St. Anthony’s Church at Marsfield, in Sydney, by Fr. Maurice Sullivan CM. In today’s world, I as a very young woman said the following words of commitment:

I Teresa, take you Allen, to be my husband
I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad
I will love you and honour you all the days of my life.

We both made this commitment to each other during a Nuptial Mass, in front of and with God, our family and friends in our parish church where we had both been members of the parish youth group called Natovi, so named after a Vincentian mission in Fiji which the parish supported.

We trusted God and each other and the grace that the sacrament would confer on us. Somehow through our marriage, God would show God’s love to the world through us. Of course we did not know much, but knew we were in love and that seemed like enough at the time. I certainly could not imagine that this love would grow and change and that we would grow and change by forming each other and by being formed by the experiences life placed before us. I think the most challenging part of this journey was the transition in the realisation that love can and does look and feel different at different stages of your life. Love as a commitment is different from romantic love.

After our honeymoon we lived in Bathurst and then went onto live in Bowral, Penrith, Tweed Heads and now Newcastle. We were blest with five children who are now giving us further blessings with grandchildren.

Because our love had much of its foundation in the life of our Catholic faith and parish, this faith has been pivotal in our lives as a married couple. While, as individuals, we have lived this out very differently, our faith has been the glue of our lives as a couple. We are both committed to our faith and we have lived it according to the gifts given to us, while being supportive of each other.

We chose the following reading as one of the readings for our wedding, and interestingly each of our children who have married has had the same reading.

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

(Colossians 3:12-17)

What great words of wisdom to live as companions on this great pilgrimage called life – let the word of God dwell in you richly. We were married the week after Easter and it is good to be listening to the readings that we would have been hearing when we were first married. From John’s Gospel (15:9-17) we hear on the Sixth Sunday of Easter the following:

You did not choose me, no, I chose you; and I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last; and then the Father will give you anything you ask him in my name. What I command you is to love one another.

In this vocation of marriage we were chosen for each other and commissioned as companions to go out into the world. One of the good things about this commissioning is that we can go out into the world but we also have a great world to come back home to. I have been allowed to explore God’s call in my life with the full support of the person who loves me unconditionally. It has been in our family context that we have explored ourselves and each other, and our children have discovered themselves. This vocation, like any vocation, has required us to work and to serve each other and to overcome the challenges placed before us.

I certainly would not be the person I am without having lived in the context of the faith, hope and love of the Sacrament of Marriage. Our image of God as the Trinity, of persons in relationship gives us a wonderful model of how to live as a wife/husband, a parent, a child, in community and in parish. We are inextricably linked and a breach of that link destroys us and the community.

So having shared the blessings of the past forty years, I hope you are similarly blest with good relationships following the theme of family, that I have been exploring in these messages over the past few weeks. This message follows our annual celebration of Mother’s Day and no doubt this day was celebrated by you. This day is about acknowledging those who have given generously in nurturing us.

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Teresa Brierley Image
Teresa Brierley

Teresa Brierley is Director Pastoral Ministries of the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

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