Moments of Love with Mary
– The Spiritual Letter Box –
Family Problems – 1
I am in a most difficult situation and I am searching for some comfort and advice. But first I must tell you a little about my life.
As a young girl I dreamed of a happy home. I led an upright life. I got married, ready to give myself totally in order to have a happy life with him whom I loved so much. The children (3) arrived one after the other. But my husband did not shoulder his responsibilities in any way. Drinking kept him away from home and led to all the other inevitable consequences. He came of a good family and his folks helped him, but more and more, poverty took over in our home, sickness also, and I was quite ill.
One day, my husband departed, no forwarding address, leaving us in misery. The children were growing up, and I was so weak to look after them and to take care of all that their father had left undone – that poor father who was looking in vain elsewhere for the happiness he could not find.
Twenty years passed. I went through very difficult times, but Providence watched over us. Sometimes my husband would reappear, causing still more trouble. But I left everything in the hands of God. I was sustained only by my faith and by my love for this straying soul bound to me in a Christian marriage. I forgave him everything and God held me up with His marvelous graces. My morale remained good in spite of everything. I clung to the will of God, knowing that all our sorrows, our sufferings and our problems would one day be changed into joy.
And God, I repeat, sustained me with His graces throughout this painful calvary. How many things I could tell you, for, during those years when my husband gave us no sign of life, God remained my only companion, the one to whom I confided all my sorrows. How much He consoled me!
After all those years of solitude, behold, my husband has returned home, for he is very ill with cancer. He told me that it is this affliction which is going to save him, for a big step has already been taken in his return to God. But it is a terrible ordeal for me because his presence makes me very nervous, and I say things that I later regret. I beg you, please help me; pray for me that I may have the light to know and do exactly what God wants of me. I feel crushed under the cross. And my children are changing. They are having serious religious problems. And there is the poverty, etc. I cannot tell you everything. Happily, my health is improving. As for my husband, he suffers terribly.
Someone paid my subscription to your review and I read the Spiritual Letter Box. How much good you are doing us! I beg of you, helps us to bind up this deep wound of my husband. I want to continue on my way with Mother Mary. Help us!
A poor mother
Your touching story merits attention, sympathy, kindliness and understanding.
I am sure that you could tell us a great deal more concerning the sufferings you undergo day and night and which you bear with true love and with a constantly renewed “fiat”, just as you could relate much more regarding the graces which you have received and stored in the depths of your heart, and which have given you so much help in ascending this mountain of difficulties.
There can be no doubt about the many graces which have been strewn along your path, for the Lord never allows Himself to be outdone in generosity. And your morale has always been high in spite of so many crushing trials. Why? Because you have drawn on the infinite Source of all graces, clinging to God. This has given you the strength to carry on, the love to pardon, the goodness to understand and not to scorn, the interior joy of a life well lived so that you are able to overcome the melancholy which could have rooted itself in your life; the courage always to hope in spite of the repeated departures of your straying husband.
So when heartbreaks of all sorts were thrust upon you, when your children were so shaken, when your straying husband ran off, seeking in flight to be rid of his responsibilities, when you were left to stand alone at the foot of the cross, there was still hope, a supernatural hope, shining like a star above your home. This hope was for the return of your husband to the God of mercies.
So many tears, so much suffering could not but produce their reward. And be sure that your home, beset by so many adversities, is the joy of the elect, for in it there exists, because of you, a powerful force for redemption which certainly does not prevail in other happy homes, however edifying they may be. Has not the Church, in the past, proposed as a model for us a Monica of tears and prayers, of goodness and love, who led her husband and son back to the paths of righteousness? She suffered, yes, she suffered well, and won for the Lord not only these two beloved souls but millions of others who have profited from the virtues of this hallowed woman as well as from the fruitful apostolate of her son, Saint Augustine.
Are you surprised that after such a life your husband came back to his family? Humanly speaking, it is incomprehensible. Spiritually, it is maravelous. If God has given you the strength to endure so many storms, He will certainly help you to bring to a successful conclusion this spiritual work in the soul of your husband.
It is easy to understand why you are nervous. The mere presence of your husband brings back all the sorrows of the past. But you have accustomed yourself to regard everything from a supernatural point of view, and you know, for having lived it already, that your truly evangelical charity will be returned to you in a material help which will astonish you. Keep up your morale, and, above all, do not blame yourself if, in your nervousness, you let slip some words which you regret.
It is always the intention that counts. Your husband who has been maltreated by life to the point where he has had to return home, should be the first to understand your distress, and should indeed thank you for your greatness of heart in receiving him with so much understanding and goodness, and continuing to grant him your so precious aid.
You have suffered much, but you have found refuge in the Heart of Jesus, and your interior peace and happiness have never been taken from you. He, on the other hand, has never known anything but a multitude of deceptions, indescribable anguish, interior disillusionment in seeking in the world and its attractions a happiness which was but artificial, and which more and more, at every instant, turned to unhappiness.
As for your children, do not be surprised if they are caught up in the thorny problems of religion. Their basic formation is good, and the example of true charity which they have had before their eyes has more effect upon them than you could possibly know. Do not be alarmed if they are blown a bit off course by the whirlwind; they will come back soon, for the hour of Mary is here with its train of graces and profound joy.
In closing, I would like to address a few words to your husband. For goodness sake, dear sir, do not lose time in considering your distressing past, if only to appreciate more deeply the goodness of God who invites you to find Him once more there where He first placed you. Look to the future with confidence, since you are conscious that “it is this illness which is going to save you”. Live each day which passes, in love, and in the sincere wish to belong to Him permanently. Each day which passes, heavy with the weight of your past sufferings and with your regrets, becomes a bearer of the sweetest hopes. God never abandons one, especially when the soul retains its confidence in His infinite mercy. In His great goodness, He bends down to you, understanding fully what you dare not even express: your hope for eternal happiness. Let your soul leap upwards to Him; lean on your wife, drawing your strength from her prayers and renunciations. Through her sufferings, borne with love, your wife has known the depths and beauties of the spiritual life. A life of ease would never have made her what she is today. All unknowingly you have been the means of her rapid ascent towards God. She offers you a share in this spirituality which can so enrich you. Profit from it, and then draw a veil over the sorrowful past. You will have an eternity of happiness in which to sing the praises of God, so good and so merciful. You will have an eternity to thank her whom the Lord gave you as your companion in life, and who has known so well how to play the role of love in your regard. Have courage, for hope and love will become your consolation.
(Review, “The Army of Mary”, volume I, no. 6)