Share this story

 | By Father Andy Laframboise

Words of Affirmation and the Scriptures

Beginning with the previous issue of Great Lakes Bay Catholic, this ongoing series will reflect on how the Mass can influence family life and how the National Eucharistic Revival can bring about a Marriage and Family Revival as well.

When couples are going through marriage preparation, they will often take a test determining their “love language”. The five love languages describe five ways that people receive and express love in a relationship:  words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service and receiving gifts. Couples often enjoy learning about this. The point is not to put people into boxes, but to understand how love is experienced in one’s life.

Being attentive to how another receives love is a great way to deepen the relationship. Words of affirmation are very important in any relationship; they can heal broken relationships, restore hope and instill confidence in another. I’m sure you could immediately call to mind a word or phrase from a parent, teacher, priest, spouse or coach that brought comfort and courage to your life.

In a marriage, words of affirmation are one of the simplest ways to foster love. But because life is so busy, we become absorbed in losing ourselves in work, entertainment and anxiety… and we can lose our ability to speak life into another. Imagine a spouse who never heard a word of affirmation from the other. Wouldn’t it cool the coals of love? Now imagine hearing it regularly. Wouldn’t it warm the coals of love?

In a sense, the entire Scriptures are one big word of affirmation to the human person, telling each of us, “It is good that you are here. I love you. I want to share life with you. I delight in you.”

Even the parts of Scripture that challenge us to repentance do so for our own benefit, so that we can experience abundant life in Jesus through the Holy Spirit.

When we sign ourselves before the Gospel at Mass, we are praying that this word would be on our mind, on our lips and in our heart. The Second Vatican Council says,

“The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures just as she venerates the body of the Lord, since, especially in the sacred liturgy, she unceasingly receives and offers to the faithful the bread of life from the table both of God's word and of Christ's body…For in the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven meets His children with great love and speaks with them; and the force and power in the word of God is so great that it stands as the support and energy of the Church.” (Dei Verbum 21).

I invite you to think about two questions.

First, how are you receiving the words of affirmation from the mouth of God?

I think that we can be like a spouse who never hears what the other is trying to say. Do you come to Mass? Do you come to that place where God speaks his words of affirmation to us in the Liturgy of the Word? Are your ears, heart, and mind receptive to that Word? Does it sink in? Do you ruminate over it?

Second, how are you speaking words of affirmation, especially to your spouse?

Words are powerful because the Word of God, Jesus himself, is powerful. All things were made through the Word (John 1:3). The Word has power to bring new life. Through the Word, the heavens were formed and man and woman were made in the image and likeness of God.

Do you find yourself in need of being made new? The word of God is mighty, “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12). The Word is mighty enough to make a world and sweet enough to heal a wounded heart. Next time you are at Mass, pray that the Holy Spirit will help you listen for the words of affirmation spoken to you through the Scriptures.

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.