When our idea of ‘getting ahead’ changed

Matt and Mindy Dalton

During the first five years of our marriage, our relationship could be described as utilitarian; what’s in it for me? And that is the opposite of love. We both worked fulltime. Matt was in sales, 100 percent commission. Thoughts of meeting his quota and counting the days of the month consumed him. Mindy was a court reporter, always under deadline stress and constantly hearing the heart- wrenching pain of other people’s lives in depositions.

Our desire was filled with thoughts of “getting ahead”. Ahead of what, was the question that often plagued our discussions? There was not much peace in our lives. We both had good jobs, but we rarely turned to God in our times of stress or in gratitude for all he had blessed us with. We were on the treadmill; careers to pursue, house to remodel, friends to hang out with and yes, children to be had … maybe.

Looking back, at the heart of having a utilitarian mindset was that we convinced ourselves that we knew better than Holy Mother Church. And we were afraid. Could we love each other and could we love the children that God would give us? Could we provide for these children? Could we pay for college? When we allowed fear to dominate, we turned to the world’s way of consumerism and materialism. Our house was not a home. Our real foundation needed to be in Jesus Christ.

“So whoever is in Christ is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor 5:17). Authentic freedom entered our union when we chose to invite his truth into every aspect of our marriage. The truth is not something, but someone: Jesus. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn 14:6). Over time, through returning to the sacramentallity of the Church, confession, Mass more frequently than on Sundays, committing to making regular visits to the adoration chapel to spend time with Our Blessed Lord in prayer, we began to experience an overwhelming closeness in our communication, which lead to wonderful intimacy, not only physically, but spiritually. Our respect for each other deepened as never before. We even completely invited God into our sexuality and allowed him to be in control of our fertility, and we’ve been blessed with seven children.

In 2010, Mindy was at the grocery store with all seven children jostling around the shopping cart. An elderly woman asked if all the children were Mindy’s, then asked, “How are you going to get them all through college?” In the early days of our marriage, with God on the sidelines, that question would have consumed our thoughts and worried us for weeks after the encounter. Mindy’s response was not her own but only by the grace of God. “I am more concerned with getting them back to heaven than I am getting them through college.” The woman smiled and said, “I’ve never thought of that.” The joy and peace in her response let us know that God was near.

Now living as best we can in this peace, joy and truth, we have the desire to shout from the mountain tops—“freedom”—and to share with as many who will listen, that there is a better way, Jesus Christ.

Two terrific resources that might launch you in a new direction: “Men, Women and the Mystery of Love” by Dr. Edward Sri, and “Theology of the Body for Beginners” by Christopher West.

Matt and Mindy Dalton can be reached at matt@marriagemissionaries.org, 303-578-8287 or at www.marriagemissionaries.org.

COMING UP: On Divine Mercy Sunday faithful urged to trust in Christ’s mercy, pass it on

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On Divine Mercy Sunday faithful urged to trust in Christ’s mercy, pass it on

Maronite church’s event offers sacramental graces, highlights plight of persecuted Christians

Roxanne King

On April 23, Divine Mercy Sunday, hundreds of people turned out at St. Rafka Maronite Catholic Church for a celebration that offered the chance to earn a plenary indulgence and to be inspired by religious leaders to share Christ’s mercy with others.
The day included the opening and closing of a Holy Door at the Lakewood church, and a Divine Liturgy (Mass) celebrated by Maronite Bishop Elias Zaidan and concelebrated by St. Rafka pastor Maronite Father Andre Mahanna, who founded and heads an apostolate to aid persecuted Christians. Archbishop Samuel Aquila delivered a message on Divine Mercy.

Maronite Father Andre Mahanna addresses the congregation during Eucharistic benediction on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 23 at St. Rafka Maronite Catholic Church in Lakewood. CREDIT: Roxanne King

To help people earn the indulgence (remission of punishment due for sin), the sacrament of reconciliation, Eucharistic adoration, and veneration of the Divine Mercy image were available. The iconic image with the words “Jesus, I trust in you,” shows the risen Christ giving a blessing while rays of light (red for Eucharist, white for baptism and reconciliation) stream from his breast.
Other events included a brunch with ecumenical leaders that featured multicultural entertainment, including Jewish, Indian and Samoan dancing and music, and an inter-Christian dialogue that focused on helping persecuted Christians in the Middle East.

“The 2016 Open Doors report on persecution found that 215 million Christians experienced hostilities of some form over the past year,” Archbishop Aquila told the congregation. “Sadly, one only needs to look to the recent Palm Sunday bombings in Egypt that were claimed by ISIS to see the flesh and blood reality of the suffering Church: 49 dead and 78 injured.

“In the face of our afflictions, how should we respond as Christians?” he asked. “By immersing ourselves in Divine Mercy and carrying it to others.”
Christ’s passion, death and resurrection show that submission to and trust in God’s will and goodness yields eternal victory, the archbishop said.
“Divine Mercy,” he added, “… can transform our country and the world.”
In the year 2000 St. John Paul II designated the Sunday after Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday and canonized Sister Faustina Kowalska. The Polish nun had died in 1938 and is called the Apostle of God’s Mercy as it was through her writings the message and devotion to Jesus as “The Divine Mercy” came to be known.
“At the heart of Jesus’ message to St. Faustina is the necessity of complete trust in Jesus’ mercy for all who seek it,” Archbishop Aquila said, adding that Christ told Faustina: “’The graces of my mercy are drawn by means of one vessel only, and that is—trust. The more a soul trusts, the more it will receive.’”
St. John Paul II, the archbishop said, noted that Jesus’ message of mercy isn’t new, “’but can be considered a gift of special enlightenment that helps us to relive the Gospel of Easter more intensely, to offer it as a ray of light to the men and women of our time.’
“The work of building a culture of mercy, of building the Kingdom of God, is needed everywhere,” the archbishop said. “It must be done on the streets of Denver, in the highways and byways of every corner of our country; it must be done in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. And most importantly, it must be done in your homes and in your families.”
The inter-Christian dialogue, which in addition to the bishops and Father Mahanna, included representatives of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a Syriac Orthodox deacon, and evangelical laymen who work to educate and empower inner-city youths and families, discussed past and current collaborative works of charity and mercy to help victimized Christians in the Middle East and urban needy in the United States.

Inter-Christian dialogue participants: from left, Syriac Orthodox Deacon Elias Naoum, Maronite Bishop Elias Zaidan, Archbishop Samuel Aquila, Latter-Day Saint lay leader J. Craig McIlroy, Maronite Father Andre Mahanna CREDIT: Roxanne King

The Maronite Church is Eastern Catholic and in communion with the pope. It traces its roots to the Apostles’ visits to Antioch where followers of Christ were first called Christians (Acts 11:26). The Maronite patriarch (senior religious leader under the pope) is in Lebanon.
“As you know, the Middle East is where Christianity started. Unfortunately, waves and waves and waves of persecution over the centuries has pushed Christians out,” Bishop Zaidan told the group. “I hope the little tiny remnant still there will be respected. We hope their voice will become your voices … to make sure this country will do whatever it can to preserve Christianity in the Middle East.”
Father Mahanna wrapped up the discussion with a call to action.
“What are we trying to achieve?” he asked. “A network of common causes to enable (us all) to defend life from conception to natural death.”
Echoing Archbishop Aquila’s comments on building a culture of mercy, he added, “It will be a new movement—the new wind to flow all over.”