"Big Four" Highlights


 

Joy for More than a Day

A saint and her husband model marriage for the modern world

By Jason Godin

As Valentine’s Day draws near – yes, gentlemen, this Saturday! – spending to show affection for the one we love takes center stage. It is an annual ritual and, in a way, a moment to glimpse our contemporary cultural understandings of love. Red roses and boxes of chocolates are no longer simply gifts anticipated but expected February 14. And if they’re absent, an array of advertisements leads us to believe that our joy will wither like the very items for which we pay top dollar.

A man and a woman in a healthy marriage, however, have long displayed how joy endures for more than a day. They elevate giving above gifts and find adventure in facing each day as a treasure, together, come what may. Such profound lessons and more are found in The Journey of Our Love published by Pauline Books & Media. Edited by Elio Guerriero, it contains correspondence between St. Gianna Beretta and her husband, Pietro Molla. It also includes a preface by their daughter Gianna Emanuela Molla, who personally and painstakingly transcribed the couple’s letters.

The “journey” is organized into the four stages of Gianna and Pietro’s married life: their engagement from January 1955 to September 1955, the first years of their marriage from October 1955 to February 1959, Pietro’s travels in the United States between April and June 1959, and what are characterized as the “letters of maturity” from December 1959 to December 1961.

Reading through the book, it is easy to see what makes Gianna and Pietro a couple to whom we could relate and should emulate today. Initially, Gianna basks in newlywed joy. Over time, however, she shares how such joy deepens to underwrite her sense of what she is called to do. Family becomes a calling where she and her husband serve as co-creators, coequals and steadfast companions in their shared journey of faith.

Most of the book has Pietro, an industrial engineer by profession, traveling frequently for his job. Yet distance never detracts from the joy that he and his wife share in having and raising children. It is an affection that the modern mind would reject for being too difficult, one purified through the pain of being apart and bodily suffering. The letters detail daily concerns that all couples go through: Worries over sick children and how to pay the bills. Shopping lists and dinner plans. Thoughts about how daily concerns draw us toward or away from God.

The Journey of Our Love is a love story because it shows a man and a woman who always invited God into their union. The book displays tenacious loyalty and tender love. It shows marriage and parenthood as sacrifices always worthy of our deep dedication. It details a long-distance relationship and the struggle to balance work and family life. It teaches how the holiness of a saint need not hide in the home. In the end, it celebrates freedom as more than a feeling, as a joy to be lived out for more than a day.

Jason Godin is associate editor of Fathers for Good