Most of us think of Christian fidelity as the definition of faithfulness, not having wandering eyes or cheating, or maybe you are reminded of your wedding vow to be faithful in good times and in bad. Fidelity is indeed all of those things. Proverbs 3:3-4 reminds us of its significance to God, “Do not let love and fidelity forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. Then will you win favor and esteem before God and human beings”. Wow, the feeling of promise and permanence reverberate through that scripture! It makes perfect sense that a lifelong commitment would need the essential ingredient of fidelity as part of the foundation for trust in a marriage. After all, God dedicated an entire commandment to that!
But fidelity in its deepest sense is much broader than that. When we think of God’s fidelity towards His people, our hearts overflow with His infinite loyalty towards us. Or the faithfulness of Jesus going after every lost sheep, He lays it all on the line for us. He proves His support and commitment towards us, His beloved, and to His heavenly Father through His constancy, fidelity and gift of Himself. Like the beautiful scripture reading in John 2: 7-8 when Jesus works his very first miracle at the wedding at Cana in Galilee. If you recall, the challenge takes place when the wine runs short in the middle of a wedding feast and Mary is approached to help so she tells the waiters to follow Jesus’ instructions. As always, she points others to follow Him. Although reluctant to begin His ministry, Jesus obeys His mother faithfully and orders them to fill the jars with water. As a result, the water is transformed into new wine which overflows the jars. He is there, He shows up faithfully, He does whatever needs to be done at a given moment and leaves you overflowing with the confidence of His devotion to you. This is fidelity.
I cannot count the times in the past 30 years of my own marriage that my husband’s fidelity to me and to God have been life-giving. Whether it was years ago when he would say no to a night out with the guys because he knew it was not in our best interest, or when he endured 30 years of painfully long commutes for the good of our family, or when I’ve been sick and he has taken care of me, or the many times when I grow weary in my vocation as a mother and I am not being the best version of myself, and he steps in to cover for me. His faithfulness has meant never compromising my trust by doing anything behind my back. He has even had the courage to confront me knowing I would be deeply disappointed in him. I honor and respect him as a man because of this honesty, integrity and commitment to keeping his word. As I’m sure you know, this trust is very difficult to recover once it has been lost in a relationship, but notice, I never mentioned him being perfect or getting it all right. What I am referring to is, yes, his loyalty to me, but also his ongoing effort to serve and support me and the kids intentionally, no matter what it takes. That is fidelity.
If you find that you (or your spouse) need to grow in this virtue, remember Jesus and Mary have it in abundance to share with you. Ask for it in prayer, especially through the holy rosary. It so happens that fidelity is the very fruit of meditating on the second luminous mystery, the wedding at Cana. So, one way you can pray for this grace is through the intersession of our blessed mother because just as Mary pointed the waiters to Jesus, so it is with our petitions to her. She brings them to the foot of the cross on our behalf. As with the jars overflowing with wine, Christ’s response to our prayers is grace, mercy and generosity overflowing for us. So that we too can become gracious and merciful towards our spouse through our promise of fidelity.
Laying down your life for your spouse may not necessarily be literal, but this world needs more couples faithfully executing their sacramental mission to serve, commit, and be loyal to the end. It is what makes marriage image the love of the Holy Trinity and it cannot be taken lightly.