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: ‘Do you love me?’: This question central to newly ordained’s priesthood, Archbishop says

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During his homily at the May 19 priest ordination, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila told the five new priests that Jesus is asking them again: “Do you love me?” The archbishop referred to the Gospel in which the risen Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves him, as a reparation for the three times he denied it before being crucified.

The ordination took place at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver. The five new priests are Fathers Angel Perez-Brown, Roberto Rodríguez, and Tomislav Tomic, who all received their formation at Redemptoris Missionary Mater in Denver, and Fathers Darrick Leier and Shannon Thurman, who studied at St. John XXIII seminary in Boston. This seminary provides training to those seminarians who discover their vocation at an advanced age. Curiously, none of the new priests come from the Saint John Vianney seminary, and the average age of the five men ordained is 41 years.

Heart formation

Archbishop Aquila highlighted the importance of intellectual formation and indicated that it should go hand in hand with “the formation of the heart and the spiritual formation” and urged them to follow in the example of Saint John Vianney who, though lacking in great intellectual gifts, was a “humble man” and whose only wish was “the salvation of souls.”

From left to right: Father Darrick Leier, Father Tomislav Tomic, Father Angel Perez-Lopez, Father Shannon Thurman, Father Roberto Rodriguez. (Photo by Andrew Wright)

“The heart of every priest must be the love of Jesus Christ,” he said to them.

Archbishop Aquila also exhorted them, paraphrasing Pope Francis, to “go into the peripheries of the world […] of the lives of so many who have abandoned Jesus Christ, who do not know the good news. Even among families and friends there are those in the peripheries who still don’t know Jesus Christ”.

Later, he reminded them that their ministry does not consist in announcing themselves: “we are called to serve Jesus and to serve the Church to lay down our lives as Jesus has laid down his life, and to go wherever we are called to serve Christ.” He also pointed out that the image of Jesus, the good shepherd, “must be your model and is the model for the priesthood.”

The new priests lie prostrate before the altar during their ordination ceremony on May 19. (Photo by Andrew Wright)

And as a model of love and perseverance, the archbishop invited them to look at those couples who have been married for 50 or 60 years and compared their love to “the same type of love that would enable you to feed the lambs, tend the sheep, and serve as Christ served,” he said. He told them that every time they’ll celebrate Mass “is the same sacrifice that Christ offers on the cross”, and there is where “the joy of the Gospel” is found.

Hundreds of faithful congregated in the Cathedral to witness these ordinations. The cultural diversity present was a sign of the universality of the Church. There was a large delegation from Santo Domingo and several from Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as hundreds of local people who accompanied these five new priests. Archbishop asked from them, once again quoting Pope Francis, that they be shepherds “to smell like the sheep,” so they can “accompany them, shearing with them, going out with them and always using Jesus as your model.”

Featured image by Anya Semenoff