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A Skiff in Raging Waters & Grace and The Value of Suffering in Marriage

Author’s Note:  My wife Annie and I were honored to be asked by Fr. Nate Meyers and the good people of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Buffalo, MN to deliver a reflection on marriage for their annual Cana Dinner.  It was a wonderful evening, and I commend our remarks (especially my bride’s!) to the friends of the Bellarmine Forum for their consideration.  The talk is in two parts: my contribution is entitled “A Skiff in Raging Waters,” and Annie’s is  “Grace and the Value of Suffering in Marriage.”  

A Skiff in Raging Waters

By John M. DeJak

Upon arriving home to Chicago from our honeymoon, one of the first visits to friends that we made was to the old Jesuit professors at Loyola University. We were welcomed warmly, as was their custom. After the congratulations and initial small talk, Fr. Matthew Creighton, S.J., Professor of Latin & Greek, uttered to us something that only the mind of a poet and a priest could have fashioned. He said:

“You both are embarking upon a skiff into raging waters.”

 First of all, outside of 19th century translations of the classics, I don’t think I’ve heard the term “skiff” used in any sort of conversation. This was a man, a scholar, a priest who chose his words wisely! A “skiff” is a small boat that was not meant to sail the seven seas and not meant to hold a lot of people. Rather, these were small crafts meant for leisure and mostly taken down rivers or quiet lakes. But as any outdoorsman will tell you, the quiet of one portion of a river may—a few miles downstream—turn into deadly rapids.

Over the sixteen years of our marriage, I have returned to this prophetic utterance time and time again. I never asked Father what specifically he had in mind when he said this to us, but I’ve come to understand the great Fr. Matthew Creighton, S.J. in a similar way that I understand the great Homer: their words and meanings are obvious, but in those words there is also another meaning that speaks to each individual in a unique way. Like the Homeric simile, the words uttered conjure up in the mind of the hearer, his own experiences and...Read Feature

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