Father Ignatius and Father Donald welcomed a visiting Franciscan priest, Father Randolph, to the Parish for the weekend to lead the Marriage Renewal Seminar.
The Seminar was held on the grounds of the Parish Gardens providing plenty of time for the participants to spend time together re-assessing their married life, in preparation for a Renewal of Vows Ceremony to be held after Mass on Saturday evening.
The two Parish priests were pleased that they managed to get twenty married couples to attend the weekend event and looked forward to a successful Seminar for all involved.
The same cannot be said however for Theodore Luxton-Joyce, the eccentric friend of Father Ignatius and very generous benefactor of St Vincent Church.
Theodore preferred to be well away from “organized love-ins”, as he called the Seminar and would not have attended for one moment had he the choice. But his lovely wife, Rose, convinced him otherwise and he, being an old romantic, albeit he hid it well, acquiesced to her request.
After lunch on Saturday the group met at the Church Hall and was addressed by Father Randolph.
He spoke about the necessity of working at a marriage to make it successful, and explained how very often couples tend to drift apart because of the pressures of modern living and having to work hard just to keep body and soul together. He went on to stress the importance of “being aware of the other person in your life”, the importance of “listening” to their feelings, and “showing love” by saying something nice every now and then, by holding hands, giving a hug every so often and not taking one’s spouse for granted.
“Love doesn’t end after the honeymoon” declared Father Randolph, “it’s a precious flower which needs nurturing and feeding every day if it is to flourish for a lifetime!”
At this point Father Randolph noted Theodore Luxton-Joyce raising his eyebrows and looking in the distance out of the window, no doubt wishing he was anywhere else but here.
“What do you think Theodore?” asked the visiting priest, “Do you think it’s important to tell your wife, Rose, that you love her?”
“Every day?” asked Theodore.
The Group laughed and Fathers Ignatius and Donald, sitting at the top table, looked at each other silently.
“Yes … every day … why not?” continued the Franciscan priest after the laughter died down.
“I don’t see the point …” replied Theodore, “Rose knows that I love her very much … (then looking at his wife) … you do know that don’t you?
“What’s the point of all this adolescent childish talk … it goes without saying that I love her … what?
“I wouldn’t have given up a weekend of good fishing and come here, if I didn’t love her … don’t you think old boy?”
The Group laughed again.
“Fifteen – love …” Father Donald whispered quietly to Father Ignatius.
But Father Randolph was not to be beaten so easily.
“No … it does not go without saying …” he responded quietly, “it is important to tell your wife, or husband, that you love them. That they are not taken for granted. It is important to say it … and say it often. It’s important to be nice and to compliment one’s spouse every now and then.
“Very often I’ve seen couples drift apart yet deep down they do really love each other. They just don’t bother, or don’t have time, to say it. With time, they forget what first attracted them to each other. And every time we forget … love dies a little!
“Let me challenge you Theodore if I may …”
“Fifteen all …” Father Donald whispered softly under his breath. “A good return from the visiting priest!” Father Ignatius sat quietly and said nothing.
“I want you to answer quickly without thinking,” Father Randolph challenged Theodore. “Are you ready? Without thinking … what first attracted you to your wife Rose?”
“She makes a decent steak and kidney pie … what?” declared Theodore.
The Group broke down into hysterics.
“Thirty – fifteen to your eccentric friend!” Father Donald said to his colleague Father Ignatius.
Father Randolph was astute enough to continue with his talk rather than get into a pointless debate with Theodore. Minutes later he asked the Group whether anyone had personal knowledge or experience of marriages breaking down after a long period together. He called them “mature divorces”.
Theodore raised his hand.
“I bet you regret inviting him …” Father Donald whispered to Father Ignatius.
“Years ago … when I was in the military, one of my people got divorced after twenty years of marriage …” said Theodore.
“I asked him why … and he said his wife was violent what? Apparently she threw things at him in an argument … Anything … Cups … saucers … cutlery … crockery … anything that came to hand.
“Turns out she threw things at him throughout the marriage … twenty years of it.
“I asked him why he took so long to decide to leave her.
“He said her aim was getting better … what?”
The Group burst into laughter to the embarrassment of Rose, whilst Father Randolph tactfully decided to call a short tea break.
“Game … set … and match!” declared Father Donald as he got up from his seat.
The rest of the weekend proceeded without further difficulties for Father Randolph, albeit Theodore was the most popular member of the Group.
As they drove back home he asked his wife, “You don’t think it necessary to say ‘I love you’ every day … do you?”
“It’s nice to hear it every now and then…” she said, “It’s reassuring you know. Women like reassurance!”
“Tell you what old girl …” he replied, “I’ll write it down big on a piece of paper. You can read it as often as you want when you need reassurance … what?” he chortled heartily.
She smiled; knowing full well that he was the world’s biggest romantic, yet his up-bringing did not allow him to show it.