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The Timelessness of Truth

January 18, 2011

My grandfather, C. Lincoln Williston IV died in early February of 1999 following a long and arduous battle with cancer. A loving husband, father and grandfather, “Linc” Williston was/is one of my greatest heroes. To this day I regularly encounter men and women who worked with him and knew him. They all tell me, in some way or another, that Linc Williston was the best of the best.

I admire and look up to Linc Williston, not just for the role he played in his family, his dedicated service in the United States military during World War II, or for the love he gave me as a child. More than anything, I admire Linc Williston for his faith, and the role he has played in my own faith journey.

I don’t know how widely I have shared the following information because, to be honest, I was scared of sounding like a crazy person. When my grandfather died, it affected me deeply. I can’t speak intelligently as to how seventeen year olds typically respond to the death of a grandparent but, for me, his death was very difficult. I remember sobbing deeply as I carried out my duty as pall bearer at his funeral and, for the year following, I would often carry on silent discussions with him as I drove around town or walked the fairways of after-school golf practice. In those times, I turned to Linc Williston for reasons I didn’t really even understand. In retrospect, I’d say I turned to him for intercession.

Linc Williston was a faithful Catholic who came into the church through his own journey and lived out the sacraments faithfully until his death. I was a cradle Catholic who didn’t really “get” my faith or take it very seriously. Almost a year to the day after Linc Williston’s death, I turned my life over to Christ and, eventually, found my way back into the Church, to love the faith in which he found so much peace and joy.

I am convinced that the running conversation I had with my grandfather over that year was something of a plea for help, a constant request for prayer, a dialogue between heaven and earth that, eventually, resulted in something of a miracle. Although Linc Williston will never be beatified by the Church, I think that my accepting the love of Jesus Christ is a testimony to his intercession and his constant prayer for me and the rest of his family.

Over the next three weeks, I’ll be turning This Pilgrim’s Progress over to my grandparents, Linc and Jane Williston. While preparing my grandmother for an upcoming move, my aunts uncovered the notes to a marriage talk given by my grandparents at some unknown date. Knowing that I have a passion for marriage and the desire to help others realize the fullness of God’s plan in the sacrament, they were kind enough to pass the notes on to me. I, in turn, have decided to pass them along to the audience of This Pilgrim’s Progress. The ideas herein are not revolutionary, but they are timeless and, at times, prophetic. I point to them as a reminder that, while the world around us changes, the essential truth of men and women and the mystery of marriage remains unchanged.

So, without further ado, I present part one of Linc and Jane Williston’s marriage talk, a reflection on marital unity:

[Linc]
Our great nation presently is enjoying the rewards of many wonderful scientific and technical developments. Nevertheless, one of the tragic by-products of our times is the breakdown of a most sacred blessing — the marriage.

Unfortunately, more marriages than ever before are failing. It is almost unbelievable, but it is true that one in three marriages now end in divorce. Equally alarming, many marriages are mediocre.

Many people believe a successful marriage is achieved through gracious living, and the emphasis is on materialism. The big chase today is for the dollar, the hard-top convertible, the color TV set. In some homes, the husband and wife barely tolerate each other. Holiness and happiness are virtues that have been lost in the economic shuffle.

The basic reason for failure in marriages and mediocrity in others, is the lack of understanding and love. Some partners do not understand the purpose of marriage. Nor do they have the proper motive; that is, the desire to make marriage work. Others have forgotten the strong uniting force of love. And two characteristics of real love, unselfishness and generosity have dropped by the wayside.

The great gift of marriage is the unity it creates. When we walk down the aisle during the wedding ceremony, each of us completed our life as an individual. On that day, we became two in one flesh. Marriage provides us with the closest and most complete natural union which is possible. This union is permanent and unchanging. Many couples do not fully understand or embrace the unity that comes with marriage.

[Jane]
The New Cana Manual points out that lack of unity brings disillusion into the marital relationship. Without unity, we find that the great dreams which we enjoyed in our courtship rapidly start to fade.

Secondly, lack of unity brings incompleteness, as the couple, who pledged their whole selves to one another, fail to deliver on that promise.

This inevitably results in frustration and eventually, loneliness. Many couples are actually divorced from one another even though they still live together. They are separated physically, mentally and spiritually.

[Linc]
The unity of marriage fills the needs of both partners. Man and woman are complimentary in body, mind and will. Marriage is the mechanism which enables us to provide the craving needs of husband and wife.

From an emotional standpoint, the husband’s greatest need is for encouragement. Our role is that of the provider and the head of the family. It is our duty and responsibility to earn a living for our family. As husbands, we have a desire to give our wife and children the nice things of life. We strive for security, we want to provide happiness and we want to lead them to God.

But, as most of us have experienced, this is no simple task. In this highly competitive business world, we may be rebuffed by our boss, by a colleague at work or by a customer. We may become somewhat discouraged in our eternal struggle to fulfill our objectives. When we return home in the evening, we look upon our wives to restore our confidence. It certainly is reassuring to have our wives tell us how wonderful we are, and to renew our sense of importance and accomplishment. It is our wives’ appreciation, loyalty and devotion which encourages us to start out again with renewed vigor each day.

[Jane]
I believe the wife’s principal need is for companionship. Although we love and enjoy our children, their company alone will not provide the satisfaction we desire. Most of us spend an entire day and some times an entire week in the small world of our homes. It’s no wonder we like to talk on the telephone and turn to the radio and television serials. Each of us feels a great need for the adult companionship of our husbands. We look forward to his return home from the office each day. We can appreciate that our husbands encounter many difficult challenges each day. Yet, when he forgets his troubles and turns his attention to us, its the highlight of the day.

[Linc]
The basic needs of an individual can best be satisfied in a good marriage, where a husband understand each others needs and strive for unity. The marriage provides both the husband and wife with a sense of security. It permeates a wholesome feeling of belonging; one of being loved, and wanted.

Marriage provides us with affection which we desire. It is most satisfying to know that we are always rated first in our partner’s thoughts and, at the same time, it is equally satisfying to place our partner in our own thoughts.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Ryan permalink
    January 18, 2011 3:11 pm

    Great part 1. I especially enjoyed the part where they talk about what the husband and wife need – very true. It is so interesting how, as you said, things really haven’t changed all that much. Meant to give it 5 stars but missed and can’t change it. Looking forward to future installments!

  2. Carol permalink
    March 16, 2011 7:23 pm

    Nice. Exactly the basis of our marriage, including the 2 became 1 engraved in our wedding bands. Looking forward to reading on!

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