For the Love of the Church - Day One: How We Met

Monday, October 17, 2016

This week I'm running a series, For the Love of the Church, written by my friend Jacob Boddicker, SJ.

Jacob is a Jesuit scholastic originally from Iowa, and is currently studying at the Jesuit School of Theology in preparation for ordination. He has an academic background in archaeology, history, and philosophy, and his interests include music, science fiction/fantasy, and writing.

So my friend Dave Rafferty asked me to do the #loveyourspouse challenge. How, you say?
"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish." (Ephesians 5:25-27)

As a (future) priest, I am giving myself in love to Christ by giving myself to His Church, much like Joseph was espoused to Mary who was, in truth, wed to God (the Father of her Son, after all). Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the Church; priests are to love the Church as He does. So, for the next seven days I'll be posting pictures and thoughts to show my love for the Church, even though we haven't quite "sealed the deal" yet.

Day One: How We Met

Was it her beauty that first caught my eye, or the sound of her voice, her kindness, her way? I have no idea; I don't remember it one bit. You see, the Church is somewhat of a cradle robber; she had her eyes on me from before I was born. Thirty days after that there I was in her embrace, being washed of Original Sin in her tears of joy. After that she played hard to get; or, rather, I was just too darn ignorant of her to notice the fact she was everywhere in my life. While I was doing the zombie walk through high school and enduring heartbreak-after-heartbreak, one rejection after the next, there the Church was, waiting for me to notice her, to listen to her, to love her. She and I were more alike than I realized; she was the good girl that was always being passed up, just as I was always the good guy that would hear a friend out as she complained about the jerk she was dating, one of the many who would say, "Oh Jake, if I weren't dating jerk X I'd date you in a heartbeat."

That's the story the Church has gotten for centuries. "Oh, if the world weren't so enticing, I'd give myself to you in a heartbeat!" Me, I was just ignorant. I had no idea she was even interested in me. Sure I visited her every Sunday morning, and eventually I even helped out around the table when she'd make breakfast (she made a big deal about bread and wine; I didn't understand why at the time) not because I was a nice guy but because I was bored and it was better than just sitting in a pew listening to her boring stories.

I didn't realize until many years later that she'd been crushing on me ever since I was a baby, how she watched me grow up, how she listened to me sing as a little kid and then longed to hear me sing as a teen (but I didn't; I was so self-conscious of my voice, and I was bored), and how she LONGED for me to tell her how wonderful her meals were, but I never did. To me, it was just a snack and a break in the monotony; if only I knew then how hard she'd labored to bring me that nourishment! Oh Church, my dear! How did you endure my callous heart all those years!

Generally, I'm not all that keen on arranged marriages or betrothals, but I have tell you: every year for the past several years, on the anniversary of my baptism, I call my parents and thank them for setting me up with my gal. Sure I was pretty apathetic about it for those first years, but I can't imagine how my life would be without her today.

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