Welcome to the first Marriage Abbey ‘photostory’. I hope to produce many of these vignettes to help folks see how couples live out a striking marriage spirituality.
Every once in a while, my friends surprise me with the level of virtue they build into their every day lives. That happened again this past weekend. The Linder clan stopped by this past weekend just to help Mama Flores to get some time to study for the bar exam and for Papa Flores fall into some much-needed slumber.
Brianne Linder gives her reflection on why she decided do this while bringing a toddler in tow and a baby in her womb:
A while ago, I drove my best friend and her two-week old newborn for nine hours to help her move from Florida to North Carolina. A long drive would have been very difficult for her and no one else at the time could have driven her. I also brought along my little boy, who was 8 months old at the time and always hated the driving in the car. But it’s my desire to lift burdens off of others—to serve others in need.
And now being 35 weeks pregnant, helping you out in your home over this Fourth of July weekend—that’s equivalent to driving 9 hours to North Carolina.
It would have been more logical to come in May, when I wasn’t as far along in pregnancy. I thought about how Katie, though, came down at 35 weeks pregnant to have a marriage retreat with us, and that was for the sake of community. So here I am, three hours away from home. I want to lift the role of motherhood. I want it to be exalted. I want to rally around moms.
Although Josiah is 2 years old, I’ve never lost that need to be of service to others. It was around 3 months, 4 months, that sleeplessness really set in when I had Josiah, and there were less people there as time went on. Now I want to give people a little bit of a break.
The Marriage Abbey’s reflections on Brianne’s actions:
Brianne has given a brief glimpse of how a ‘Marriage Abbey’ can actually be lived out among married couples. She placed family, motherhood, fatherhood, and children among our highest priorities. I imagine that something like this—sacrifice between families—can be the foundation for community. I imagine an abbey-like culture, where communities of married persons live in daily prayer and action for the ideals of family. I imagine close-knit groups of persons who think about being in the presence of other families instead of sitting before televisions. I imagine children being formed in the love of a wider community and giving a portion of their boundless energies to small chores and tasks of families who may need another helping hand. I imagine groups of families creating a visitation schedule that runs deep into the life of another family’s newborn.
We may often think that saintly lives are extraordinary by virtue of a few exceedingly holy acts, whether they are lived by doing missions in dangerous areas, lifting lepers out of gutters and ghettos, or having ecstatic visions of God with all the attendant stigmata and holy signs. And all of those things are certainly holy to the highest degree. But married life requires a different kind of devotion which is continuous in sacrifice to our ordinary family lives, if only because children truly do require extra support more often than we might admit.
But this is precisely where marriage spirituality can produce Saints, and ones that are not obvious unless we are willing to recognize that perhaps a very stunning grace is actually imbued into our vocation. This grace is something I think few seem to highlight. It’s hidden in plain sight.
But somewhere Brianne will be plotting her next self-emptying act, her next self-negation in service of the Cross. Somewhere, yet another mom will be experiencing a slightly lighter burden, not realizing just how much grace was visiting her through a friend.
[If you think you have a story to tell, let us know! The Marriage Abbey can send a photographer to help breathe art into how grace has formed your marriage.]