Monday, May 19, 2014

Putting God First: an Engagement Story

I've been teasing you lately with the promise of a great proposal story, and now here it is.

On May 9, our second-oldest son got engaged to a lovely young lady whom we are thrilled to welcome as a fourth daughter.  This is a date my husband and I will never forget because it is also the birthday of my late father-in-law, a figure beloved by so many, who would be 86 if he hadn't been taken from us--way too soon--back in 2003.  Papa lived for his grandchildren, and he would have certainly approved of his grandson's choice of a mate.

Three of our other sons are married already; son #1 got married in December of 2009, son #3 in December of 2013, and son #4 in February of 2014.  Now son #2 and his bride-to-be are looking at a November 2014 wedding date.  Our firstborn pointed out recently that the oldest four in our family were born less than five years apart, and now they're going to all be married within five years of each other.  He had quite a head start on his younger brothers, but the three of them are making up for lost time by getting married in one 11-month period.   

All this is to say that life will surprise you!  Just when I thought it was a possibility that our #1 son's girls might be old enough to babysit for their Pearl cousins, because none of our other boys were dating anyone seriously yet, their uncles totally made up for lost time (and now one of them is expecting his first little one!).  My husband and I have always prayed for our sons' future wives, that they were out there and that our boys would find them sooner rather than later...and boy, have our prayers been answered.

Our three married sons met their wives on CatholicMatch.com.  And you might say that Catholic Match had a hand in this union as well, because the bride-to-be is a college friend of son #3's wife Preciosa.  She was a bridesmaid at their wedding last December, and son #2 was a groomsman for his brother.  The two of them talked at the reception, but never got around to dancing with each other.  Yet soon afterward, they began to text each other, which led to epic phone conversations, which led to visits by plane and by car between her home in VA and his here in NH.

It didn't take long for two mature 29-year-olds to realize this might be the real deal.  They saw in each other just what they'd been looking for: both are strong in their Catholic Faith and wanted to find someone with whom to share that; both are teachers; both are extremely family-oriented.  It seemed like a match made in Heaven--but to be sure, they decided to say a 54-day Rosary novena to help them discern if this was what God wanted for them.

They prayed a Rosary together every night, for 54 nights, mostly over the phone (except for on those weekends when one happened to be visiting the other).  With a beginning like that, how could God fail to bless these two kids and their relationship?  Have you ever heard of such an inspiring courtship, where two young people immediately put God's wishes for them above their own?

The novena ended, and they felt ready to move ahead, to take the next big step.  So my son began to devise a complicated plan to surprise his sweetheart with an extremely special proposal.  He told her he was flying down on Friday after school, but in reality he took a personal day on Thursday and stayed with her sister's family that night.  While she was at work on Friday, he snuck into her house and set up a scavenger hunt, with each romantic clue hand-written on antique-looking treasure map paper and sealed with red wax (and a heart stamp).

[A quick aside here: her folks asked my husband if our son got this romantic side from him, and we both had a hearty laugh.  We don't know where our boys get this tendency.  I'm beginning to suspect they're secretly on Pinterest.]

The scavenger hunt ended with a pair of pretty pearl earrings, and then my son's unsuspecting future fiancée's younger brother (who was in on the ruse) drove with her over to their church, where they had plans to take their priest friend out for a bite to eat (supposedly!).  When they arrived at the church, the priest was waiting outside with another scavenger hunt clue, and when she saw the treasure map paper again, she knew what was happening.  Inside the church, my son was waiting for her in front of the exposed Blessed Sacrament (the priest had been in on the plan, too, obviously), and that's where he got down on bended knee and presented her with a diamond solitaire.
Right afterward, they prayed in front of Our Lord, and then the priest said a blessing for their marriage and sprinkled them with holy water.

I have never in all my life known anyone whose proposal occurred on a church altar in front of the exposed Blessed Sacrament, but apparently it's more common in that part of VA in which the future bride lives.  It makes me want to move to this hotbed of Catholicity!  Have you ever heard of something like this?

These two kids will be getting married exactly 11 months and one day after meeting for the very first time.  But when your union starts off with a 54-day Rosary novena and a proposal in front of the Blessed Sacrament, with God at the center from the get-go, I like your odds for a long and happy marriage.

29 comments:

  1. this.is.AWESOME! (and, truly, there is no better use for that over-used word.) The proposal, the rosary novena! *that's* what I call romantic ;-)

    My brother-in-law proposed to my sister in the perpetual adoration chapel where they 'spiritually stalked' each other about a year before they officially met. They were in the pews when he actually proposed, but still in the presence of Our Eucharistic Lord.

    Yes, in these parts of VA, I hear about proposals taking place in Adoration, right after Mass, at the Basilica or the Franciscan Monastery in DC all.the.time. and it is SO beautiful! Perhaps consequently, such a location is the only place I've ever dreamed of romance... No beach proposals or anything crazy for me! *smiles*

    Thank you so much for sharing this story! Best wishes and prayers to them. God bless you and your growing string of Pearls!

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    1. One of our daughters-in-law keeps saying we need to move to Northern VA, now that we're going to have 3 sons living there. I must say, we sure wouldn't mind being surrounded by the strong Catholic culture that dominates the area!

      Your sister's story is so beautiful, too. I love the phrase "spiritually stalked," by the way. :)

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  2. I am so happy for D & M!!! And such a romantic he is! Love this story!

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  3. Best wishes to the happy couple during their engagement/wedding planning season of life. I look forward to hearing more details of their big day. Especially how you plan your third rehearsal dinner in a year while making it different and just as wonderful as the other two.

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    1. Thanks, Madeline! My son mentioned that relaxed and casual is what they're interested in for a rehearsal dinner, which sounds good to us!

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  4. Congratulations to them and all of you!
    Sounds like another lovely pearl to add to your string.

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    1. Thanks, Joy. We are so happy about this.

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  5. Aww, awww, aww. What a beautiful, beautiful story!!!!!
    and yes my brother's friend proposed to his fiance in front of the Blessed Sacrament.

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    1. Apparently there are many folks who have done it this way. I wish it had been a common thing in our town when my husband and I were young. It's so special!

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  6. What a wonderful engagement story! You are very blessed!
    I mentioned to Rosie that the next time you are in that part of VA we need to plan a meet up. :)

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    1. Funny story: the Sunday after the proposal, we (son #3 and his wife, son #2 and his new fiancée, and my husband and I) went to Mass, and on the way into the church I saw a young mom in the distance wearing a lace chapel veil. "Great," I thought. "I won't be the only one wearing a veil.!" Then at Communion, I saw her get up and realized it was Rosie, and she had Cecilia with her. After Mass, I just had to go up and say hi (I was stalking a blog celebrity!). I don't think I ever even remembered to say who I was, because I was kind of babbling.

      Anyway, it was fun seeing her IRL. She is so sweet and soft-spoken.

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    2. And yes, we should! I'm sure we'll be down there a lot in the years to come, because that's where son #2 will be living when he's married.

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  7. How absolutely beautiful!!!! I had tears when I realized what was happening, WHERE. O my goodness.

    I know of one other proposal before the Blessed Sacrament (not exposed, but the priest was 'in on it' and opened an otherwise closed church to the couple). This was when a dear friend, a 'spiritually adopted niece' (she's a family friend who chose to adopt me when she was nine) was proposed to. They married last August.

    Congratulations, and thanks be to God for such a blessed couple!

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    1. It only took me a month to reply--sorry, I've been a bad blogger! Thank you for your sweet words, Nancy.

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  8. Oh, how beautiful, Laura!! Thank you so much for sharing! My husband proposed to me in the adoration chapel where we met, too! You must feel so proud of your sons and so blessed by their faithfulness to the Lord throughout their dating, courtship, engagement and now marriage. I am inspired!!

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    1. We are so very proud of them. (And we love CatholicMatch.com--I can't believe three of our sons found their wives that way!)

      It's so wonderful that you and your husband started your life together this way, too. It's so special. If my husband and I could go back and do one thing over, I think a proposal in front of the Blessed Sacrament would be it.

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  9. That's a lovely story! My husband also proposed to be in front of the blessed sacrament and was a most wonderful way to begin our life together!

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    1. Before my son proposed this way, I hadn't heard of anyone doing it before. I love all these stories I'm hearing. It truly is inspiring!

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  10. How wonderful! My husband proposed to me in our church. It was very special, since that was where we met.

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    1. What a perfect start for any married couple! God bless you.

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  11. This was truly beautiful, Laura!! So heart warming. You'll have quite a string of pearls as more grandchildren come along!!

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    1. My husband's parents had 32 (but then again, they had 8 kids). We're hoping for at least 20! :)

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  12. How exciting! I am the first and so far only one of my siblings to get married--I know my parents very much look forward to getting to know all of their future new "sons" (and one daughter--I only have one brother!). It's an exciting season of life, and what a good way to start out on lifelong marriage.

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    1. It is truly a blessing to have three (going on four) new daughters, after having an all-guy household. My husband and I just love our girls, and they've added so much to our family. When son #2 gets married in November, that will be 3 weddings in a span of 11 months. Our family is suddenly growing by leaps and bounds, and we love it!

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  13. So sweet! So wonderful! God bless you for posting this! There IS hope for this world after all.

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    1. There is hope--sometimes it seems like there isn't, but then I see all these young people who are putting God first in their lives! It's inspiring!

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  14. What a beautiful engagement story. Thank you for sharing! My prayers are with you Mary and Dan

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