Persons, places and things: Love that endures

Habitat for Humanity International
Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalyn work at a Habitat for Humanity build in St. Joseph County, Ind., in this 2019 photo.

By Barb Arland-Fye

Pope Francis said that love benefits and helps others. I look to former President Jimmy Carter and his late wife, Rosalyn, as role models of the Holy Father’s observation. They lived their covenant of marriage for 77 years in service to each other, their children and extended family, their community, nation and the world.  They were not Catholic but exemplified sacramental marriage. Images that linger in my mind: Jimmy and Rosalyn in jeans and T-shirts or work shirts doing carpentry work at Habitat for Humanity homes.


“Rosalynn was my equal partner in everything I ever accomplished,” the former president said after her death Nov. 19 at age 96. “She gave me wise guidance and encouragement when I needed it. As long as Rosalynn was in the world, I always knew somebody loved and supported me” (The Carter Center).

Jimmy Carter, the 39th president of the United States (1977-1981), experienced humbling defeat in his bid for re-election. Rather than wallowing in pity and anger, he and Rosalyn founded The Carter Center in 1982 in partnership with Emory University (Atlanta, Georgia) “to advance peace and health worldwide,” according to the center’s website.


In his reflection on Paul’s description of the meaning of love (1 Corinthians, 13:1-13), Pope Francis quotes St. Ignatius of Loyola, who said, “Love is shown more by deeds than by words.” The Holy Father says, “It thus shows its fruitfulness and allows us to experience the happiness of giving, the nobility and grandeur of spending ourselves unstintingly, without asking to be repaid, purely for the pleasure of giving and serving” (No. 94, “Amoris Laetitia”).

As Catholics, we believe that Christ is the source of grace in our marriages. My husband Steve and I depend on that grace and have leaned into it throughout our 38 years of marriage. The Carters were Christians, people of deep faith. By the witness of their lives, especially these past 41 years in service to others, I believe Christ was the source of grace in their marriage.

“Couples whose marriages last their whole lives are a gift to their families, the Church, and the world! They show that faithful, lifelong love is possible, giving hope to those around them,” according to For Your Marriage, a website that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops created. The Carters’ example fills me with hope.

My husband Steve and I were talking about the Carters and the Church’s teaching regarding marriage after death. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus tells us, the “dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise” (Luke 20:34-37).

Philip Kosloski writes in Aleteia (Nov. 6, 2022) that “If both husband and wife strive for holiness on earth and enter into the eternal bliss of Heaven, they will be united in Heaven in a way that is beyond our understanding. It won’t look like marriage on earth, as we will be united with all the saints in Heaven in an eternal communion of love, bound together by God himself” ( mwcvdkna).

I believe Rosalyn and Jimmy Carter will be reunited in the eternal bliss of Heaven as builders of Habitat for Humanity homes and of love for their fellow human beings.

(Contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye at

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