So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Cor. 13:13)
Yesterday my wife and I experienced the birth of our first child, who was born just one day prior to his due date, and is as beautiful as any child I've ever known. But even more so because he's mine!
Labor is an emotional roller coaster, and I was incredibly privileged to be with Natalie throughout the entire process: from the early stages at home to the final push in the hospital. Especially in the last moments, my ability to love and experience God's love was radically altered.
Seeing mommy's radiant face moments after the birth, hearing the first gargling cries of our new child, and experiencing all the beautiful moments of agony and ecstasy involved in bringing the baby into our world has given me a new perspective on love.
Love, you see, is the only cardinal virtue that will remain in Heaven. There is no need for faith, for those in Heaven have complete faith in God. There is no need for hope, because you have nothing more for which you can hope. Love remains, and is increased so that it consumes the whole of your being.
I experienced a foretaste of that when our little bambino was born.
For anyone who is called to a vocation of marriage, the birth of your first child is when the true meaning of life begins to take hold.* And that is to love. Love deeply, love sacrificially, love with your whole self, body and soul. The married bond between man and woman sets the stage, but the birth of a child, and the subsequent family relationship sets that bond into a firm foundation of true love.
I can't begin to describe the increase in love that has already occurred in the past day and a half. And I can't imagine what's to come.
Love is not always easy, but it's not hard to love someone when he's just so darn cute!
*Not to say that those who are married and are without children, for whatever reason, are not living their vocation or experiencing life to its fullest—I sincerely hope that every married couple gets a chance to bring new life into this world, and I pray especially for those who have a difficult time making this so!