From childhood friends to Valentines to husband and wife

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Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

On Valentine’s Day 2013, Mark sent me a bouquet of flowers with a note saying: “To my heart. Pray for us, St Valentine.”

I still have warm memories of Mark offering me a flower he picked off the tree when we went for a walk as young teenagers. Our fathers are best friends, so visits to Mark’s occurred often.

I remember keeping the flower safely on my lap as my dad drove us home so I could stick it into my scrapbook and then write about the whole experience in my diary. This was perhaps the extent of our romance as childhood sweethearts.

Although it was sweet, it would not enkindle until we had gone through a true conversion about eight years later.

After years of spiritual struggle I was left wondering what God was calling me to, and eventually I decided to continue to ask these questions and explore my faith more seriously by taking up the liberal arts at Campion College Australia.

Mark was, at this point, discerning a possible call to the priesthood at the Good Shepherd Seminary in Homebush, where he learnt the depths and heights of his beautiful faith. Throughout these years of study, prayer and discernment, Mark and I would often encourage one another to follow God’s will and to grow in sanctity.

On rare occasions when our families met, Mark and I would walk around our neighbourhood park discussing the wonder and beauty of God and our spiritual struggles and desires, thus learning to love each other in imitation of John Paul II and Mother Teresa who had since become our patron friends.

In time, however, we thought our relationship might mean more.

Mark decided to leave the seminary and move to Perth to become a high school teacher, and for about nine months we survived a long distance relationship which involved a lot of Skype conversations, plane tickets, arguments, tears, laughs and love.

On Valentine’s Day 2013, Mark sent me a bouquet of flowers with a note saying: “To my heart. Pray for us, St Valentine.”

We had learnt just weeks before that Valentine’s Day was, in fact, a day named after a real person, and, indeed, a Catholic saint.

Furthermore, St Valentine is known as the patron saint of love, young people, and happy marriages – the perfect patron for us, a young couple discerning marriage!

When Mark returned home that November, our relationship blossomed; and on 8 December, the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception, he proposed to me with an engagement ring which symbolised the Blessed Trinity being adored by the 12 constellations and Our Lady.

This ring has become the perfect symbol of our relationship: to strive to imitate Our Lord, Our Lady and all the saints adoring Christ. On the inside of our wedding bands we had engraved consecutive lines from Sir Phillip Sidney’s poem Arcadia: “My true love hath my heart”, “…and I have his”.

Although this poem was directed towards God, we knew that the only way to love each other fully would be to treat each other like another Christ and, therefore, to become like Christ ourselves – something we took a step towards by entering the sacrament of marriage on 29 November, 2014.

This article was first published on 14 February, 2015.