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Love of the Bridegroom

Can you recall the first time or maybe the last time you were really in love?

Can you recall how you felt… how your stomach was always in a flutter at the thought of seeing your love? Can you recall how you acted, kind of like you had lost all sense of reality and behaved as though you had no common sense? Can you recall just wanting to always be with that person you were in love with, even if it was just for a few minutes? It didn’t matter. All that mattered was that you were close to that person; that you could feel the warmth of his gaze on your face and wonder at the possibilities of when you could spend more time with him? Heart in your throat, stomach full of butterflies, legs like jelly, no proper words coming from your mouth… It must be love!

THIS is how we are to feel when we are in love with Christ and we are all called to love as He loves. We are called to love in the fullness of that love… enough to lay down our life for the other, the way Christ laid down His life for each of us; for His Bride, the Church, of which each of us is a member. Jesus is our Bridegroom (and that goes for you men as well). Jesus, as the Bridegroom, shows us what it means to love sacrificially. He shows us by His emptying out on the Cross what spousal love is to be. “Husbands, love your wives; wives, be subordinate to your husbands.” A husband loves his bride just as Christ loves His bride, the Church. He pours Himself out for His bride and gives fully until He has nothing left. He loves with an endless, self-giving love that manifests fully with His death upon the Cross. Husbands are to love their brides with this same gift of self. Wives are to be subordinate to their husband, just as the Bride, the Church, is subordinate to Her Husband, Christ. She loves Him with a love that is fully receptive to the gift that He gives. She is open to His gift of self and receives Him, follows Him and loves Him because He is the only One for Her. Wives are to love their husbands in this way. How I wish I had known this fully at the marriage to my husband decades ago, but it is something that we each journey towards.

Just as our love begins with a sense of the other in that we want nothing but to be in his or her company, to learn about that person to whom we are attracted, so Christ asks us to see Him in this same way. He calls to us, invites us to spend time with Him, to get to know Him and to desire to understand Him more deeply. This is love in its fullness. Christ, our Bridegroom, is the fullness of what it means to be espoused… to lay down one’s life for the other because of this love. We see this so beautifully on the Cross. He has laid down His life for the one whom He loves, and loves so fully that He can only give what is most precious, and give it to the one who is most precious to Him.

Christ’s willingness to die for His love, The Church, of whom we are each a part of the mystical body, is what this love relationship is all about. As we think back to that first or last love, don’t we recall wanting to die for love of that person? I certainly do, and then when I married that person, that love became so much more deep and lovely. That love is what transforms us and gives us the desire to be conformed to the One Who gives us this yearning. It is all Christ. Are we, even in our unworthiness, willing to sacrifice and give out of this place of love for the One Who has already done so for us? Perhaps this is something we could take to prayer. Ask Jesus to place this desire in our hearts. He is a Gentleman and will never force this, but He awaits us in the Eucharist for this very reason. Will we answer His call? Praise God, like Mary, the answer will be “YES.”

Nicky Verna is a Catholic wife of 28 years to her Deacon husband, Tom, and mother to their 4 young adult children. She entered into the fullness of the Catholic faith in 1992 at the age of 25 and has been studying, learning and growing in her Catholic faith ever since. She graduated Cum Laude with a Masters degree in Theology from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary's School of Theological Studies. She is a daily communicant and a member of St. Andrew the Apostle Parish, Drexel Hill where she is Director of the New Evangelization. She is a catechist in the PREP program, facilitates Adult Faith Formation and Scripture Studies, occasionally lectors and is an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. She has served the Church as a substitute teacher for area Catholic schools, is a Catholic speaker whenever invited, a prayer intercessor and leader for Unbound, Queen of the Rosary Ministry,  a board member for AbbeyFest Ministries and is part of the planning committee for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Catholic Women’s Conference. During the lockdown, she served as a weekly host for the Archdiocese’s Rosary Campaign. Nicky is also a leader, regional ambassador and Discovery Retreat facilitator for SoulCore, a Marian prayer apostolate which combines movement, core strengthening and functional exercises with the prayers of the Rosary. She is genuinely in love with Christ.

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