I said six times at Mass on Easter Sunday during the renewal of our baptismal promises.
I was trying to listen closely and respond with feeling and conviction. However, while the congregation echoed “I do” again and again, I couldn’t help but picture a bride and groom saying those same words to each other standing at the altar on their wedding day.
I was in the middle of scolding myself for letting my mind wander when I realized this may not have been a random, crazy thought. (Like my previous waffle day-dreaming during the first reading.)
I’ve never stood at the altar and said those marriage vows but I’ve heard them plenty of times. I do . . . through sickness and health . . . through good times and bad . . . all the days of my life. I do.
From what I hear and see, that’s a very difficult promise to make. Sometimes you don’t feel like being faithful to your partner in good times and bad. But that’s exactly why commitments are so important. Commitments keep us faithful to the things that we don’t always feel like doing.
When a relationship gets tough, it’s the commitment that (ideally) keeps a husband and wife together while they work through it.
The “I do” of the baptismal promises is a commitment to the Church. And it’s just as difficult to make (and keep) as a marriage commitment.
Because sometimes the people in the Church will disappoint me. Sometimes the teachings of the Church are hard for me to understand and often they’re unpopular for me to profess. Going to Mass, confessing my sins, choosing virtue . . . these are not things that I always feel like doing.
It’s in these moments that my commitment keeps me faithful.
Think about the early Church. For the Apostles who were closest to Jesus, initially it was probably pretty fun and easy to be His follower – miracles and free food and celebrity status? Um… Score!
But that all went away very quickly in one weekend and then they had a choice to make. They had to recommit to being followers of the risen Jesus Christ. And oh boy was that commitment put to the test. They were hated. And let me tell you — no one feels like being FED TO A LION. Or hung upside down on a CROSS. Or hiding UNDERGROUND to celebrate Mass. Or being BEHEADED.
The saints were people whose faith was a commitment more than a feeling.
Jesus knows what kind of people are within His Church. He knows we’re broken, sinful, and fickle. I’m a perfect example of this imperfection.
Any given day, one minute I might decide to stop in at the adoration chapel as I drive by, but then 5 minutes later I decide I “feel” too tired.
There’s no room for that kind of wishy-washy-ness when it comes down to deciding where you want to spend eternity. Saying “I do” during those baptismal promises was a powerful moment for me. It meant I was recommitting to giving my life over to my bridegoom, Jesus Christ, and His Church (Ephesians 5).
Those words coming from my mouth were echoed in my heart as I thought to myself,
“Amen, I do believe. Even when it’s difficult, I will struggle through. Even when I don’t feel like it, I will persevere. I will love you when it’s easy and I will love you when it’s not. I want to be all in, for all my life. I do.”
If you ever struggle with this commitment to the Faith, take some time in prayer to say the creed, and go to Mass –the most powerful “I do” you can profess (Revelation 21). Let your commitment trump your feelings. A person motivated by their feelings alone has no true convictions.
Let your “I do” mean you’re all in for Jesus and the Church. He won’t let you down. You are His beloved.
I’m praying for you.