An Encouraging Word — Advice for young couples

Do not think lightly of any useful advice. Tobit 4:18

Fr.Knott-fGeorge Bernard Shaw can be cynical, even when insightful. Here is what he said about marriage: “When two people are under the influence of the most violent, most insane, most delusive and most transient of passions, they are required to swear that they will remain in that excited, abnormal and exhausting condition continuously until death do they part.”

Well, that is a bit overstated, but if you have ever tried to talk to a young couple during marriage preparation as they paw each other on the rectory couch right in front of you, obviously uninterested in anything you are saying, you may wonder if he was that far off!

For that reason, I am an advocate of saving marriage preparation until after the honeymoon is over. It might actually be more effective than during the heat of passion. More helpful information may get through once their sense of hearing has recovered!

Now that I am retired, I can be more honest because seniors get away with more stuff than youth. Actually, I never felt that competent in the area of marriage preparation or youth ministry. I may even be allergic to wedding cake and pubescent hormones.

I always tried to rely on the expertise of others when it came to serious ministry in both areas. I always felt more comfortable giving advice on general living to adults who have already made their life choices.

With that said, if I were to give any advice to young couples it would be the same advice I give to would-be priests and the advice I have tried to live by personally.

First, if you want to win trust and respect from others, reliable behavior is a must. They must be able to expect that you are thoughtful, not some unpredictable loose cannon. Second, if you are to be a leader of others, either as a parent or priest, you must be able to see ahead, set goals and be able carry through on them.

Third, you must be able to inspire others to believe in themselves enough to reach new heights.

Fourth, learn from experience, ask for help, pay attention to what is in front of you and seek new knowledge. Fifth, be consistently fair in your relations with others, not just when it is personally expedient.

Sixth, keep your mind and heart open, ready and willing to change when appropriate. Seventh, develop the nerve for calculated risks and maintain the ability to remain calm and confident under pressure.

Eighth, be creative in setting new goals, making new plans and adopting new methods. Ninth, develop the virtue of perseverance, resisting the temptation to give up too easily. Tenth, have the courage of your convictions and deviate from what “everyone else is doing” when it is wise to do so, no matter how others respond.

It is tricky giving advice, but the truth is the truth, no matter who speaks it.

Father J. Ronald Knott

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