If this year you want to treat yourself to something that has "value" and helps you both to progress on your journey together, we recommend a book that can be considered a hymn to true love between man and woman; a book that all couples should read in at least once in their life...
Letters (Lettere) , edited by Elio Guerriero (Edizioni San Paolo, 2012, 15 euro), is a collection of letters that a couple exchanged. They are Pietro Molla and Gianna Beretta (Saint Gianna Beretta Molla for the Catholic Church).
Love leads to a "new life"
These letters range from the years of engagement (grouped together in a chapter called " I would really like to make you happy"), to the first years of marriage (contained in the chapter " Your love will help me to be strong"), passing through the long time they spent apart (in the chapter " I am already looking forward to the joy of seeing you again "), to the later years of marriage (" I am comforted and calmed by your watchful and wise presence ").
The last letter was written by Peter in 1961, a few months before his wife died after giving birth to their fourth daughter.
Gianna sacrificed herself to give birth to her child, Gianna Emanuela. She could have had her uterus removed, at the onset of a fibroma, but she didn’t because, being pregnant, she would have ended her daughter's life.
Pietro only recently passed away in 2010, after spending almost 50 years as a widower. Yet, after his wife's death, he never stopped remembering her, loving her, talking to his children about her, thanking her for leading him to a "new life." Protective of those letters, he asked his children not to make them public until he left this world.
Love letters, in the true sense of the word
Through the written conversations of this couple, the reader not only comes to know the story of these newlyweds from Magenta (Lombardia) who chose each other and formed a family in post-war Italy; in a way the reader enters into it; savouring the life of that time and looking closely at the authentic love that united them, a love made of mutual trust, joy of being together, of intentions, dreams, and even hardships, which the Molla family always had to face as a couple.
From the letters that the two used to send each other - especially when Pietro’s work (a well-known industrialist of the time) kept them apart for long periods of time - we can see this: that the love Pietro and Gianna has for each other is a love that grows, instead of consuming itself; a love that is not extinguished with the arrival of their children, but is transformed, matured, becomes more and more beautiful, thanks to the small great joys shared in the home they built together.
The greatness of these letters - mostly written during the years of marriage, when the spouses were already parents - is to show, in fact, that affection for their children does not take away the intensity and passion from the couple's relationship, but gives the couple the happiness of creating a life together, between themselves and outside themselves.
On April 7, 1957, for example, Pietro wrote: "I would not be able to rest if I did not first put myself in very affectionate communication with you, whom I would like to have always close. You, always so loving and so very caring. I think of you in this moment with Pierluigi in my arms... And I kiss over and over again the photo of the both of you with all my love."
Reading these little masterpieces, you'll feel like you're on a journey through time. And not only because of the somewhat outdated language, but also because in those sweet conversations you breathe gallantry, a sense of decency, delicacy in making room in each other's lives, all aspects that we struggle with in this society of ours where everything rushes forward. They highlight the joy of giving oneself, instead of using oneself, of worrying about the happiness of the other and welcoming oneself without any ifs, ands, or buts.
Why do we recommend this book?
Because it doesn't tell us about marriage from an outside perspective but rather allows us to delve into the life of this real family. Even if at times you feel as if you are entering a world now long gone, you probably won't feel so distant from this couple. Their letters speak of something that goes beyond the barriers of time and space; of a love that we all, whether we are conscious of the fact or not, want to experience.
Letters is a masterpiece because it shows the essence of the family: an intricate design of love. It is often feared that it will become the tomb of love, a place of frustration, boredom, deprivation.
The Molla couple were not imbued with any ideology, but with a true Christian faith. They did not even know that their conversations would be published one day sooner or later. Yet, without knowing it, they made themselves the authors of a wonderful work of art, which can motivate and inspire many young people even today.