Eighteen years ago, at about this time of year, as an assignment for my RCIA (Catholic converts) class, I was researching the saints in order to find one whose name I would take at my Confirmation. This was a task I took very seriously because I wanted to find THE saint on whose prayers I could depend for a specific intention I had at that time in my life.
I was 31 years old and single. All of my life I had only desired to be married and to raise a family, and so I wanted to find a saint who knew what a good, loving, God-centered marriage was. Not marriage for the sake of getting married, but marriage to the right man, for the right reasons, not someone who I could live with, but someone who I could not live without.
In perusing the saint books, I came upon St. Elizabeth of Hungary. I learned that in her very short life of 24 years she had a lovely marriage. She was betrothed to her husband at a very young age, but she had a depth of love and devotion for him that was to be admired, and their marriage was known to be a happy one. They had three children before he was killed on a Crusade to Palestine. It is said that when she learned the tragic news of her husband's death she cried, "The world with all its joys is now dead to me."
I knew I had found my saint. And thus began my prayers to her, asking her intercession for me.
I came into the Catholic church at Easter, 1995. In the summer of 1996 I purchased a computer and for the first time in my life I began surfing the 'net. I had AOL at the time and it was not long before I found a Catholic message board there. I decided to post something about myself, just to see what would come of it. I received several responses, mostly just friendly people with whom I'd exchange one or two emails.
Then Thankgiving Day, 1996 came. My whole family had spent the day together celebrating the holiday. Two of my brothers had their young families there, and I wanted to be like them, going home to my own house with my own family. That night I knelt down beside my bed, tears filling my eyes for that which I so-desired--but at age 33 had still eluded me--praying and asking yet again for God to answer my heart's desire.
Before I got into bed I decided to check my email one last time. I logged on and heard those three familiar (at that time) words:
"You've Got Mail!"
I opened it up and it was a response to my AOL post af a couple of months back. But this one was different than any I had received before.
We began writing daily, he and I, sharing stories about ourselves in a manner so easy, so comfortable. There was just something in his letters that drew me to click the reply button and to respond to whatever the topic of our discussion was.
As we became more acquainted with each other I offered the story of my conversion to Catholicism. As I relayed it to him I told him I chose St. Elizabeth of Hungary for my Confirmation saint (being careful to EXclude my reason for choosing her!) In his email back he wrote, "My jaw about hit the keyboard, I go to St. Elizabeth of Hungary parish! What a coincidence!"
Umm, his jaw nearly hit the keyboard? Mine was on the floor! But cautious girl that I always have been, I kept my surprise to myself, not wanting to jump to premature conclusions. With that 'coincidence' on my mind, we just kept writing each other.
Weeks turned into months and emails were added to by sending each other .wav files of our talking to each other (remember, folks, this was only 1997!) Next we added weekly phone calls. This went on for many months until October of 1997, nearly a year since our first letter, when he made a business trip to the west coast and tacked on a leg to Portland, where we finally met each other in person.
From this time on we began seeing each other every couple of months when business trips brought him west or took me east, or vacations provided a little extended visiting.
Our relationship was not free from possible challenges though. Early in our correspondence I had told him of my then-recent MS diagnosis. He was unshaken though and our relationship only grew, though my symptoms were slight at the time and pretty easy to forget about. But on New Years Day 1998, on a rainy walk along the Oregon coast my legs decided to give out and he had to carry me back to the car. And yet he was undaunted. The coming months proved it further as he was also there for me when I experienced my first side effects from a potent MS drug that I tried for a time. He was my rock, even then.
Our long-distance relationship, long letters, lengthy phone calls, all worked together to help us get to know each other without the distractions of dating and being entertained, as nice as it would have been to have had that. With the exception of our infrequent visits, all we had was communication. And over the months and years it was very apparent to us that this relationship we shared was certainly no coincidence, but that we were destined to be together.
And so, on Labor Day of 1998 at Multnomah Falls, OR, in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge, he who was to be my husband asked me to be his wife. And on April 10, 1999, at the ages of 39 and almost-36 respectively, he and I were married at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Catholic Church. We have been and still are truly blessed.
I will never be able to sufficiently thank St. Elizabeth for her prayers for us this side of eternity. But hopefully the telling of our story will inspire another young (or not-so-young) lady's devotion and prayer to this great saint for this worthy intention. Do not despair, God knows your heart. Yes, it IS worth waiting for. And I believe you have an advocate in St. Elizabeth of Hungary!
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Thanks be to God for the saints in heaven who pray for us if only we will ask them!
St. Elizabeth of Hungary, thank you for your prayers; pray for us!
Happy Feast of St. Elizabeth of Hungary!