Writer’s Note: In 2006, one of CatholicMatch’s prominent success stories sprang out of a CM Event in New York City. Having met in person for the first time that January when the event was held, Harry, a military man from Oregon, met Bev, a financial writer from the Connecticut suburbs of the Big Apple. By July 2006 they were married. It was my good fortune to be in attendance on the July evening that was every bit as humid and steamy as Bev recalls it below. As she also notes, many have wondered whether a marriage that came together so quickly would last. Having kept in touch with both of them through the past five years, it most assuredly has, and Bev was gracious enough to give us all an update on how this fairy-tale marriage is doing. They’ve since moved to Europe, where Harry is now stationed, and faith is the bedrock of their lives. Let’s hear it from Bev in her own words…
If you read our success story (“When Harry Met Bev”) you will see comments by CMers who have wondered since 2006 whether our “fairy tale” marriage is still afloat.
They are not alone. Lots of people had their not-so-private reservations when we announced our engagement five years ago, at the age of 48 and 54, respectively. (“Why can’t you just see each other once in a while on weekends?’ one friend asked. “Why make it so complicated?”)
OK, so here’s the news, folks: We are still married.
Moreover, we are still Catholic.
In fact, you could call us cultural Catholics. We love the traditional Latin Mass, more correctly known as the “extraordinary form” (forma extraordinaria) of the Roman Rite. We say Grace before meals. We pray the Rosary. We go to confession. Hey, we even listen to Gregorian chant on snowy Sunday afternoons!
We read G.K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, Peter Kreeft and Cardinal John Henry Newman, among others. We like First Things, too. Online, we follow www.thenewliturgicalmovement.com and www.wdtprs.com.
Truth be told, God has smiled on our marriage, not least in our great good fortune in being able to work in Europe. From London to Rome, Paris, Milan, Chartres, Solesmes, Venice, Munich and Sicily, we have prayed in breathtaking cathedrals, learning about local saints and pilgrimages and savoring the beauty of the ancient Catholic culture that our Faith has planted so deeply in the soil here.
In our travels, we’ve attended the Ambrosian Rite Mass in the reliquary-encrusted crypt of Milan Cathedral. Sundays, we drive 100 kilometers to the Kapelle des Helenenhauses Trier (Google it!) to hear the Latin Mass with a thriving community of faithful German, Spanish, Italian, French, and Luxembourgian Catholics.
In our military RCIA class, I teach a class on the history of Catholicism to some (mostly stunned) GIs and their wives. Like the vast majority of our fellow tourists, these young people have no idea that the churches of Europe are the linchpins of the civilization they are fighting for.
Today, though most tourists have vaguely good feelings about the “spirituality” of these sacred spaces, they no doubt would recoil from the demands of the Faith that built this magnificence. Of course, Catholicism is as unpopular with the European secular media as it is in America. (The subtext is pretty much the same: Catholics are not too smart, our priests are abusers, the Church hates gays – the usual stuff.)
We have found, however, that traditional Catholics all over Europe and England are quite similar to the “trads” we know on both American coasts. They love the Faith. They support their clergy. They pass our precious Catholic tradition on to their children. And they pray alongside us that this dark winter of scandal and despair will pass and that a Catholic spring will dawn. The Faith will endure, as all of us on every continent know. It has shaped us, and the civilization we have inherited. God willing, we will pass it on.
Looking back on 5 years
So, we are both still married and still Catholic. These two facts are clearly linked, though exactly how is hard to say.
Maybe it’s because Father Richard Cipolla urged us in his homily at our “smells and bells” Nuptial Mass in July 2006. “Show us how it’s done, Harry and Bev. In these days of cynicism and angst, show us how a Catholic marriage can endure and in fact can lay the bedrock for generations to come.”
Those words rang as true for me, the New York Italian banker, as they did for Harry, my Army officer from the left coast haven of Portland, Oregon. Because the truth is, we haven’t always been faithful Catholics.
When we were young, like many Baby Boomers, we thought we knew better (sin of pride). Sadly, all our worldliness brought us was the bitterness of failure, loneliness and distrust.
So five years after that candlelit Latin Mass on a steamy midsummer’s eve in Connecticut, we are gratefully, happily married. For all we know, this miracle is due to the workings of Divine Grace, poured out on our very human selves.
We do know for certain that if we stay close to the Church, our love affair freshens and our marriage strengthens. Our children are happy, because their parents are happy and secure. (Even our dogs are happy.)
We have a statue of St. Francesca Cabrini – inherited from my grandmother Concetta Galgano De Soto – in our house. The first American saint, Francesca Cabrini’s improbable success story held deep significance for the desperately poor Italian immigrants who streamed into Ellis Island a hundred years ago. (Harry’s English Puritan ancestors are probably turning over in their graves).
St. Francesca Cabrini holds a book open to a page that reads, “Omnia Possum Con Eo +”
With God, all things are possible.