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 | By Father Andy Laframboise

Honor One Another

I Will Love You and Honor You All the Days of My Life

These are the last words spoken at the moment of consent, the marriage vows, at a Catholic wedding. In our theology, it is the words of “consent” that make the marriage. It is through these words that God joins the two together in an unbreakable bond of love.

We often point to love as being important in relationships, especially marriage, and it undoubtedly is, but I do not think we speak of honor enough. I love the passage about the worthy wife in the Old Testament. In the final chapter of Proverbs, we are told, “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband, too, praises her.” (Proverbs 31:28)

Words of honor are so important. In our culture, words are often spoken to tear down, to put down or to show one is better than the other. Likewise, even words of gratitude do not always convey a sense of sincere appreciation for the other.

If the family is kindling for the fire of renewal in the Church, one simple idea is to create a culture of honor in the home. How might we do this? By speaking words of honor, or “words of affirmation” as they are known in the five love languages, frequently. Words can raise people from the dead. Everyone wants to be known, loved and seen for who they are.

I know of a large family who, on each birthday celebration, invites each member of the family to honor through their words the person celebrating the birthday. The father always goes last. What a beautiful practice. Imagine if every husband praised his wife in front of their children, as we read earlier in Proverbs. Likewise, imagine if every wife did the same for her husband, siblings for one another and parents for their children. We don’t always honor one another well, but words of honor help us to know that we are cherished for who we are and not merely for what we do. They also give us strength for our mission.

When Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist, the Father said, “This is my beloved Son in whom I delight.” First, it was words of honor and delight. Yet, from this moment on, Jesus began his public ministry. His mission flowed from his relationship with his Father.

Someone who knows they are loved, and also loves, is ready for any mission. You and your family are kindling for the fire of renewal in the Church, a fire that is spread the more we receive the fire coming from the love of Jesus’ Sacred Heart.

Father Andy Laframboise is pastor of St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish in Reese and St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Parish in Vassar, and director of priestly vocations. He holds a licentiate in Sacred Theology in Marriage and Family Studies from the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family.