Not always as it appears

Matt and Mindy Dalton

Marriages are usually not ruined overnight. One or the other usually does not wake up one morning and say, “I am miserable in this marriage and I want a divorce.”

It occurs little by little over time. Little by little, we can begin to avoid certain topics of conversation (since the last time that topic came up, it led to a fight). Little by little, we disagree on how to handle disciplining the children. Little by little, we argue over finances, whether to change jobs, sex, household chores, the kids, love, respect; the list goes on. Little by little, our hearts become hardened and our minds start wandering to thoughts of, “I don’t know why I married this person. I don’t deserve to live like this. I wonder what life would be like if things were different?”

What we think most couples do not realize is that we all struggle with many of the same topics, maybe to varying degrees. We look at the other couples in the pews and think, “They are so happy; what is wrong with us?”

Just because we are in fulltime Marriage Missionaries work doesn’t mean we have it all figured out and neither do most couples that we know. Our world tells us that we should have the perfect job, the perfect spouse, amazing children; and what happens is a little curve in the road comes upon us and it blows our perfect plan to pieces. Sharing our curves in the road with other couples who have been there; seeking their wisdom and guidance can help minimize the damage.

Our origin as man, male and female, is from a communion of persons; the blessed Trinity, Father Son and Holy Spirit. As husband and wife we are made for communion and our destiny is the communion of saints where we will be in joyous communion with God for eternity.

Consider looking around at your community and pray about having a group of couples come together on a regular basis, to share hospitality and the beauty of our faith. Sharing both struggles and joys, gaining confidence with each other so as to build each other up as married couples raising Godly children and grandchildren.

Somehow God works through the struggles. When our younger four children were 10, 9, 7 and a newborn, it was quite the task getting ourselves and the other three up and ready for 8:30 a.m. Mass, but especially the younger four.

We always woke them in what we felt was plenty of time to go to the bathroom, get dressed, brush their teeth, fix their hair, get shoes tied and loaded in the SUV. Five minutes before it was time to leave, Katie was missing a shoe, Julianna still had her PJs on and Joseph thought this would be the perfect time to work on his jump shot on the indoor plastic basketball hoop. Things escalated and the yelling started: “Hurry up, we are going to be late” or “Stop touching your brother,” “Leave her alone!”; “Do that one more time.”

Somehow we made it to Mass with a couple of minutes to spare; filed in the pew in the correct order (certain children can’t sit by certain children, if you know what I mean); we took a deep breath, tried to appear as though all was wonderful, knelt down to pray, when the usher walked up to us, leaned over and said, “You guys look like the perfect family to bring up the gifts.” “You have got to be kidding me” was the thought I had in my mind. But instead, we smiled and said, “Sure, we’d be glad to.”

COMING UP: ‘Baptize your son,’ her friend insisted. Now he’s a priest.

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Angela Brown and Maria Delfin were great friends in school and lived in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. One day, they decided to make a mutual promise: “When I have my first child, you will be the godmother.”

Years went by, each took their own path and Delfin spent most of their time apart in the United States. In 1987, Brown was expect-ing her first child. Delfin found out and did not forget her promise. “When will you baptize him?” she asked. Yet, Brown hadn’t planned on baptizing her child. She had not even received the sacrament herself.

“When I thought of having Maria be my son’s godmother, I saw it more as a social commitment,” Brown told the Denver Catholic. Nonetheless, after her friend insisted, she decided to baptize her son when he was 17 days old.

After baptism, Delfin moved to the United States permanently and lost touch with Brown and Angel, her godson.

Angel grew up far from the Church, but even then, he reflected a charitable spirit: “He liked to share his toys with other kids so they could play instead of him,” his mother said.

At age 14, he attended a class with the Neocatechumenal Way and he and his mother began a journey of faith. Brown was baptized in the faith and married through the Church. Angel discovered his vocation to the priesthood years later. He studied for two years in the seminary at Santo Domingo and then was assigned to Redemptoris Mater in Denver.

Father Angel Perez-Brown (center) was reunited with his godmother Maria Delfin (right) after 31 years at his ordination May 19. His mother, Angela Brown (left) baptized Father Angel under the insistence of Delfin. (Photo by Andrew Wright )

Meanwhile, Delfin knew nothing of Angel. “I didn’t go to Santo Domingo often. I had no way of getting in touch with him,” she told the Denver Catholic.

When Angel was in the seminary, his mother decided to look for Delfin through social media. Months before Angel’s priestly ordi-nation, Brown found Delfin and told her about her son’s wish: “He wants you to be there when he receives the sacrament.” Delfin didn’t hesitate to fly to Denver.

They met the day prior to ordination, 31 years after Angel’s baptism. She recognized him amid other seminarians and said to him, “I’m your godmother,” and he hugged her.

Father Angel Miguel Perez-Brown was ordained May 19 with four other deacons. His godmother presented the gifts during offer-tory. “I don’t remember feeling as happy as I feel today,” Delfin said after Angel’s ordination.

Father Perez-Brown says her godmother “helped plant this seed,” that is why he wanted her “to witness the fruit she has bore.”

“If she had not influenced my mother, I don’t know where I would be today,” the newly-ordained priest said.

Before Delfin’s return to Orlando, Father Perez-Brown told her, “You already had 30 years of vocation as godmother. Now, please pray for me, because only with prayer will I be a faithful priest.”

Featured image by Anya Semenoff