The following story appeared in the February 10 Idaho Catholic Register.
In the Jan. 27 issue of the Idaho Catholic Register, I shared with you the wonderful opportunity to engage in the Building a Eucharistic Marriage course. You can find out more information about this program on the home page of the Marriage and Family Life Office by going to catholicidaho.org/marriage-and-family-life and clicking on the tab for the Eucharistic Marriage program.
In this column, I would like to share resources for the National Marriage Week, celebrated each year from Feb. 7-14. February is chosen because St. Valentine’s Day is observed on Feb. 14. This year the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is asking the Church in the United States to observe this week with the theme, “Marriage…one flesh, given and received.”
The bishops’ explain that this theme “highlights the one-flesh union of husband and wife that is willed by God. It also indicates the personal self-gift of each spouse, one to the other. These concepts point to Christ who gives Him-self under the appearance of bread and wine – as real flesh and blood.”
We celebrate World Marriage Day on Sunday, Feb. 12, a perfect Sunday in the year for pastors to preach about the value of marriage and its intimate connection to the Holy Eucharist.
One key spiritual resource for couples to use during this month as an at-home retreat can be found at: usccb.org/topics/marriage-and-family-life-ministries/national-marriage-week. This year’s retreat is based on the work of Greg Schutte’s Building a Eucharistic Marriage course.
Schutte unpacks the deeper meaning of the bishops’ Marriage Week theme in this way.
“The best way to live out our earthly marriage is to model it after the heavenly marriage revealed to us in the Wedding Feast of the Lamb: the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Mass is the heavenly marital feast, where Christ feeds us with His very body and blood. This reality gives us not just the model, but the foundation for our lives as married couples. Marriage is of vital importance for our world and our Church, and it is increasingly under attack in our culture. That’s why it is imperative for Catholic spouses to do everything in their power to repair, strengthen, and solidify their marital bond each and every day. Yet it is even more important to grow in our relationship with Christ through the Eucharist, precisely because this gives us the grace to perfect our earthly marriage. In each day of this retreat, we expand on one of the seven habits for strengthening our marital union and strengthening our union with Christ in the Eucharist.”
The Witness to Love Marriage Apostolate is also offering a series of resources that can be used during National Marriage Week. Their dedicated website for events during National Marriage Week is witnessto-love.org/nmwcoupleresources/.
From the website, Witness to Love describes the purpose of date nights:
“Join Marriage Champions from around the country for a marriage enrichment and renewal date night series. We were made to be in community with each other. Join us as we build up church communities and support marriages. Each date night promises an enriching experience and will include a video from a dynamic couple plus reflection questions. Our presenting couples will shine the light on the power of resilience, prayer, living the virtues and community /parish support. The experience will be a combination of date night/parish mission/retreat/small group. Take this time to renew and enrich your marriage while building new relationships with other couples!
Here you will find links for Date Nights for a variety of communities including military couples, first responders and hospital workers, and so much more.
Witness to Love is also encouraging couples to pray a couples’ novena. Each day, we’ll pray for a different intention and commend our prayers to the intercession of powerful married Saints. You can find the couples’ novena to be prayed in the month of February or anytime at witnesstolove.org/couples-novena/.
Take time in this month of February to celebrate your married love and renew your commitment to love one another in Jesus Christ. Your lifelong commitment to self-giving love is an icon of Christ’s love for the Church. Marriage in Christ is where we are truly given and received in a one-flesh union of life and love.
Click here for Resources: National Marriage Week Resources
Here are a few more resources:
Resource 1: At-home retreat: usccb.org/topics/marriage-and-family-life-ministries/national-marriage-week.
Resource 2: Virtual Retreats: www.witnesstolove.org/nmwcoupleresources
Resource 3: Couples' Novenas witnesstolove.org/couples-novena
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