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January 13, 2010
The Marriage Initiative
Faith Formation Update continues to offer free monthly encouragement and direction for catechetical ministry within the classroom and beyond. I’m Jeanne Hunt. In each issue I offer a brief starter and my “ Every Family” column. My co-worker and fellow religious educator Joan McKamey offers media resources and ideas in her “ Seen and Heard” column. Our co-worker Angela Glassmeyer suggests other faith formation resources for adults in her column, “Sowing Sampler.”

Marriage is our topic this month. The American Church is responding to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) pastoral letter on marriage and, in my book, catechesis is in order. We have sorely neglected this amazing sacrament, both in our faith formation and also in support of those living the married vocation. This issue offers a way to bring a fresh perspective on what we can do to rekindle the fire of God’s love.
—Jeanne Hunt
There’s Something About Marriage
Learning about marriage does not begin a year before the wedding. If we delay catechesis to that point the couple will fail to thrive. As a Church, catechesis begins by the witness of holy marriages and is reinforced more formally in the classroom.

The first adult approach is in the parishes. There you can gather married couples for evenings of renewal. You can feature good marriages on the parish Web site or in the bulletin. You can invite your student’s parents into the class to talk about what makes a good marriage.

What we are to stress is outlined in the bishops’ letter: Marriage is holy and permanent. Marriage is a living witness of God’s love. The great challenge we have as catechists is to remind out people that the Church teaches a radical difference between the culture’s expectation of a married couple and the kingdom’s expectation.

The world does not encourage couples to remain faithful for life; to be chaste partners; to respect, and honor and love one another regardless of misfortune. But we, in our Church, do!

During this catechetical year, regardless of your curriculum, put aside one lesson for the sake of love. Let us teach our children well. May they begin to understand the sheer beauty and holiness of marriage. Planting these seeds now may bring our students to stronger faith filled marriages in their own time.
Online Catalog
Blended-faith Marriages
As we look at marriage this month, the good news is that faith-filled marriages seem to thrive better than those without a faith dimension. But what about that blends of faith that occur when a Catholic marries a non-Catholic? While shared faith is the optimum, these days we find an increasing number of blended-faith marriages. Our Church needs to care for these partners with the same ferocity and care as for when two Catholics marry.

Robert Hater’s book When a Catholic Marries Non-Catholic offers a wonderful response to this need. Father Hater gives his best pastoral advice and encouragement in these pages. He says, “The increasing frequency of such marriages demands intelligent planning and compassionate advice.” The best part of Father Hater’s book is the gift of story that fills the pages. He offers encouragement and real life examples of couples who are very much a part of each other’s faith as they blend the best in both faiths.
Online Catalog
Online Resources in Support of Marriage
The most recent development of the U.S. Bishops’ National Pastoral Initiative on Marriage is the pastoral letter, “Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan,” which was released in mid-November. As the Initiative moves forward, it’s important to find ways to support the bishops’ efforts to draw attention to the meaning and value of married life for the Church and society.

Married couples in general, including those in our faith communities, face an incredible number of stresses today. What is your parish doing to offer them needed support? Is yours a community that only finds out about a couple divorcing after the papers are filed? Or does a couple turn to the parish for support during difficult times in their relationship?

What is your parish doing to help newlyweds through those crucial early years of marriage during which most divorces occur? What about the empty-nesters, whose children are grown and gone, who may need help rediscovering what drew them together in the first place?

Make a resolution to do more to support the marriages in your community—and let couples know that you are there to do so. Check out the Every Day Catholic (G0208) “Til Death Do Us Part—Is It Possible Today?” Order copies for small groups, engaged couples, those married in the past three years and couples with recent high-school graduates.

A free group process is available at It will help you and other group facilitators plan for gatherings of adults using this publication. Order additional copies of this issue of Every Day Catholic for the rest of the parish. Make them available on World Marriage Day, February 14, 2010.

Let your community know that your parish values and supports marriage. Then put some action behind your words.
Franciscan Radio
Quality Time
The quote, “As spouses learn to improve their communication, they can better respond to each other’s need for love, acceptance, and appreciation,” from the U.S. bishops’ “Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan,” has me thinking: I want to be a better communicator with my husband.

In fact, one of my goals in 2010, is to make quality time, just talking with him about “just us”—not our son, not work, not extended family, not the daily news.

A book that might help my husband and me with this goal is in Marriage: It’s a God Thing by William P. Roberts. Marriage is not a mere social convention or an “inferior” way of following Christ, but, rather, truly a vocation. Rather than providing obstacles to spiritual growth, marriage can be the very vehicle by which it is achieved. By offering practical tips on what might seem a very esoteric subject, this book can help a couple achieve a deeper intimacy with one another and God by understanding the importance of their relationship and responding to its challenges with prayer, honesty and introspection.
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