Just take a look at that wedding day photograph! You don’t have to check the date on the back of the photo to know that was the 70’s. 1974 to be precise. That was the year that Dan and Lou Ann Dowsett got married.
47 years; 4 children; 15 grandchildren; and 5 homes later, Dan and Lou Ann, who parishioners at Church of the Resurrection in Lansing, are still going strong. Deo gratias!
So what is a Christian approach to finding a good and holy spouse and to fostering a good and holy marriage? Here is Dan’s very personal, very moving reflection which beautifully rounds off our National Vocations Awareness Week 2021. Dan writes:
“Little did we know 50 years ago, when we met on our high school jobs, that our innocent flirting in the kitchen of Sparrow Hospital would blossom into a life-long love story. Don’t misunderstand, every day since hasn’t been blissful or beautiful. While there were many joyful days, some were hardly bearable. And yet through the grace of God, our marriage survived and grew stronger.”
“It is difficult to love, honor, and serve another human for your entire adult life, to love her with the heart of Christ, to be salt, light and leaven to him, especially when we are all sinful and broken. Fortunately, God designed the Sacrament of Marriage with a lifetime supply of sanctifying grace. He freely gives us all the grace necessary when you: change jobs; buy a house; have a baby; miscarry a baby; deal with temper tantrums; teach a dyslexic child; make tuition payments; sit through hundreds of sporting events; watch your business go under; see your child leave the faith; hear that your son crashed your car; bury a parent; take in your mother-in-law. Simply put, you just don’t know what marriage will bring.”
“Lou Ann and I have been married 47 years and raised 4 children. We never could have imagined the things that have happened in our lives. That’s why it’s important to discern if the person you want to marry will be a good partner. When choosing your spouse, make sure it’s the person that you want with their hand on your life support (we’ve been there, too). An old talk show host used to say, “You want the spouse that will crawl over broken glass for you.” I think that is not a bad test.”
“As Catholics we don’t only want successful, loving marriages but we recognize we have a special responsibility for our spouse’s soul. We are tasked with inspiring, encouraging, and correcting each other’s behavior, racing alongside her toward the goal of holiness. And if not racing, at least walking slowly.”
“Throughout our marriage, we recognized our mission to help build up the Church, trying to model Christ’s love for his Church. We hoped to fulfill our mission in two ways: by serving our church/community and raising godly children.”
“Both of us have been room parents, taught sacramental prep, worked on fundraisers, and served on various committees.”
“However, childrearing was our primary duty. We worked together in pairing down our lifestyle so that Lou Ann was able be stay home with our children, protecting them from outside influence. We sent them to Catholic schools and set an example in our home of daily prayer and weekly Mass. A favorite psalm of ours is Psalm 127:
‘Lo, sons (and daughters) are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb, a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the sons (and daughters) of one’s youth.’
“We liked imagining our children sailing out into the world to places we’d never go and doing things we’d never do. We hoped to prepare them for a future that we wouldn’t live to see. We succeeded a little and failed a little. But God’s mercy is vast and life is long and it’s not over until the Blessed Mother has her say.”
“So when you look for a spouse, make sure that they understand marriage the same way that you do; that they are in for the long haul. They will refuse to give up and will battle beside you as a warrior for your family. Be sure they love God and love you and will put both before everything else. Importantly, make sure that they have a good sense of humor because life is tough and laughter makes it better. And finally find someone you can fall in love with over and over again because that is the secret to a long marriage.”