Dear Friends in Christ,
This past Friday was ST. Valentine’s Day. (I always emphasize the Saint as so many forget!) No doubt, there were many happy couples blessed to become engaged to be married! At Christmas and New Year’s there are also a lot of engagements which brings great joy to brides and grooms and their families and friends. These engagements can also bring a great deal of stress in planning the nuptials. As Catholics, we have a particular understanding of marriage. We understand marriage to be not only a wonderful event in the life of a young man and woman, but more importantly, marriage is a sacrament of the Church. The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is a lifelong, exclusive relationship between a man and a woman and God that is given by God for the happiness and holiness of the couple and for the gift and raising of children. As a Sacrament, Holy Matrimony is a means of grace. While the celebration of Holy Matrimony is a wonderful moment in the life of the couple and their families, as a sacrament it is also an action of the Church.
In the last half century or so marriage as an institution and a lived reality has suffered tremendously. There are numerous challenges to marriage today and many things in our society that threaten, weaken, and discourage marriages. As a Church, we want to help young couples to have healthy, holy, and happy marriages! We desire to assist couples to prepare for a life together by equipping them with some of the tools they will need to live the Sacrament of Marriage.
In the past, when families were less mobile and more stable, the skills, knowledge, and wisdom needed to make a successful marriage were shared and modeled by families. Grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and siblings, were all there to assist and support engaged and newly married couples. So too was the Church and a firm foundation in the faith. Today, this is often not the case. Still, families and especially the Church, desire to be there for engaged and newly married couples. Here at St. John Vianney we have a wonderful marriage preparation program. It is not about “hoop jumping” rather, we seek to give engaged couples the opportunity to spend some time to reflect on important issues they will face in their lives together. Our marriage preparation program gives couples the opportunity to view their marriage and their lives together from the perspective of what God wants for them and is offering them. We also give the engaged couples the chance to reflect, learn, and openly discuss some of the most important issues that impact all married couples: Money and Finances, Sexual Intimacy, Marital Communication, and Faith. These issues are presented and the discussions led by the priests, married couples, and a professional counselor. Additionally, there is the opportunity for the couple to discuss issues privately with one of the priests or deacons.
Many couples are understandably concerned with the numerous elements of a beautiful wedding celebration (church time, rehearsal, flowers, music etc.) that can cause so much anxiety and stress. We are here to assist with those things and to help reduce the stress. Our primary focus though is helping engaged couples prepare for what happens after the wedding – a happy and holy marriage that will last a lifetime. We are here to help engaged couples see and embrace what is most important – their love for one another and God’s love for them. The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is a beautiful gift and a Catholic wedding is the beginning of the life-long relationship of the couple and Jesus. The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is the blessing of the union of a man and a woman with the graces of God through His Church. If you have a friend or family member who is recently engaged or about to be engaged, invite them to contact us. Most importantly, please remember to keep all engaged and newly married couples in your prayers.
In Pace Christi,