Two books offer catechesis on true meaning of Catholic marriage
"Couples, Awaken Your Love!" by Cardinal Robert Sarah. Ignatius Press (San Francisco, 2021). 138 pp., $15.95.
"The Catholic Wedding Planner," by Our Sunday Visitor. Our Sunday Visitor (Huntington, Indiana, 2021). 256 pp., $29.95.
"The Catholic Wedding Planner" is a step-by-step guide to what you should do after saying "yes" to a proposal.
However, it functions as a catechetical guide as it walks the couple through the meaning of marriage in the Catholic Church. It is practical and covers almost every topic you can think of while preparing for the wedding day such as flowers, reception, venue, budget, videographer and so on.
"The Catholic Wedding Planner" is evangelizing because the truth is, many couples who desire to get married in the Catholic Church have little idea of the sacramental nature of matrimony and the commitment they are making.
This book reveals God's plan for marriage in language that is accessible to today's young people. Before setting the budget and making a list of guests, this book encourages the couple to pray together, read Scripture together, journal and go to confession as a way of preparing themselves for this sacrament.
Throughout the book, there are meditations and reflections providing a Catholic perspective and vision of marriage that is often found lacking in similar resources. The book presents the church's teaching on conjugal love, prohibition against contraception, and love that is reflective of God's total, faithful, free and fruitful love.
Step-by-step planning guides, budget forms, guest lists and myriad other important information is found in this book. Highly recommended for those who are Catholics and engaged, and for marriage prep courses such as pre-Cana.
For those who are not Catholic or not practicing Catholics, it will enlighten them to what the church teaches and may be a catalyst for them to reexamine the Catholic Church and experience the deeper meaning of nuptial love.
Cardinal Robert Sarah, former prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, draws from his experience and knowledge of the liturgy to draw many analogies from the Mass and compares them to the sacredness of marriage in his book, "Couples, Awaken Your Love!"
He writes, "Let us recall also that the exchange of consent acquires its full significance and enters into the divine will when the sacrament of matrimony is celebrated at the center of the eucharistic celebration. ... The unity of the spouses, who 'become one flesh' in the flesh of the Lord, is the image in this world of the unity of Christ the bridegroom and the church his bride."
In his chapter titled, "The Triptych of Marital Love," he writes poetically of the three stages of love encountered in in this sacrament: delight, sacrifice and resurrection. He writes, "Love, by its essence, involves a leap into the unknown, a death to oneself, because genuine love is a love that loves to the end."
Throughout the book, Cardinal Sarah intertwines Scripture, teachings of the church, quotes from the saints and his own experience as a priest to reveal the heart of marriage, which is the heart of Jesus, a heart that seeks to serve the other.
He plainly writes of the ongoing battle over the Catholic ideal of marriage and that of the world, which knows not how to love as Christ loved. He faces the crises of secular marriage head-on and provides prescriptions for a stable Catholic marriage in today's unstable world.
The chapters are brief and direct, leading the reader or couples to further contemplation. The engaged couple will be fully aware of the meaning and sacrifice marriage entails and those who are already married may find their nuptial commitment renewed through his writing.
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Also of interest: "A Lifetime of Love: A Game Plan for Marriage and Family Life" by Lou Holtz. Ave Maria Press (Notre Dame, Indiana, 2022). 128 pp., $13.95.
"Intercultural Marriage: A Pastoral Guide to the Sacrament" by Simon C. Kim and Ricky Manalo. Paulist Press (Mahwah, New Jersey, 2022). 120 pp., $19.95.
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Wright is principal of Koinonia Academy in Plainfield, New Jersey.