Thursday, January 20, 2011

Dressing Up Your Marriage!

In this little newsletter you have come to expect a bit of insight into how to run your club, ideas on games and suggestions for activities. We hope you will be pleased to know that this newsletter is focusing on you! Well, YOU, by way of your marriage.

We want to encourage you to make sure in juggling schooling, carpooling, and activities you don’t let the ball that is your marriage get dropped or neglected. Your marriage is the foundation of your family and therefore vital to the formation and raising of your children. While we would say our clubs (all of them) are great (and they are), we would be remiss if we didn’t remind you and encourage you to make sure you are taking time to keep your sacrament of marriage as healthy as possible.

It is an interesting phenomenon within Catholic families that they will make sure to get to the Sacrament of the Mass every Sunday (and usually more often with many families) and the Sacrament of Confession monthly but parents balk when it comes to getting out on a date!

Consider the preparations you went through the last time one of your children first received a sacrament. You ensured they attended every meeting necessary, you went over their books and materials and, for sure, they had something wonderful to wear. This same dedication however falters a bit, for all of us, as receiving Communion or Confession becomes a more common event.

We can all become so familiar with receiving the sacraments that we don’t pay as much attention. Some Catholics even fulfill the old adage of “familiarity breeds contempt”. For these families they can barely seem to get out of bed before heading to Mass, much wear clothes fit for a King. I know I have fallen into judgment when I see people in communion line who seem to have forgotten they are at Mass! “Don’t they know they are receiving a sacrament!," I can wonder.

However, while we could not imagine ourselves ever taking those sacraments for granted, are we as dedicated to keeping the sacrament of our marriage as alive, vital and important to our lives? Have we become so familiar with our marriage sacrament that we are attending to it as if we were attending Mass in pajamas?

Our bishops have recognized this reality and have dedicated this year of catechesis to “Matrimony: Sacrament of Enduring Love”. They are also encouraging us to give time to our marriages through World Marriage Day and National Week of Marriage, USA. You can get more information on these efforts at

We gain grace every time we take part in the sacraments of our Church and our marriage is no different. From our catechism (#1641) we can know: "By reason of their state in life and of their order, [Christian spouses] have their own special gifts in the People of God." This grace proper to the sacrament of Matrimony is intended to perfect the couple's love and to strengthen their indissoluble unity. By this grace they "help one another to attain holiness in their married life and in welcoming and educating their children."

When your children’s enthusiasm for the Eucharist and Confession wanes we all strive to remind them of the graces they gain. We tell them - repeatedly if necessary - these sacraments are both necessary for their salvation and key to achieving it. Not only that, we will tell them, receipt of both of those sacraments makes life on earth easier as well. The same is true for our marriage.

Our marriages not only help us attain holiness but also make life here on earth both easier and, hopefully, a whole lot more fun! This year we want to encourage you to make time for you and your marriage. Make date night a priority - even if it takes place in your own home due to lack of a babysitter or money. Look into good books on marriage (I might suggest my friends and radio hosts - Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak as a good first stop -

Other couples give high marks to Marriage Encounter or their diocese marriage retreats as a yearly necessity. See what is available in your area to help you have a better marriage than you do, and be ready to admit that everyone can have a better marriage! Commit to reading a well-recommended book or just making time to talk about something other than the kids and the bills!

Consider these efforts for your marriage a vital part of your children’s formation. Remember they will base their ideas of a spouse and marriage on what they see at home - help them to see only good things. With excitement over the upcoming “Princesses You Can Believe In” series, we might say working on your marriage is like teaching your kids “Happily Ever After” is not just in fairy tales!

By focusing on the importance of marriage it is not our intention to make anyone who is a single parent to feel like a second-class citizen and not vital to your child's formation. Having single parents in my family (Rachel's), I've seen first-hand both the struggles and successes in families led by a mother (my sister) or father (my brother) alone.

Insuring you have time to restore yourself is perhaps even more vital when you are working alone. Our encouragement to families to build up their marriages should never be interrepted as a criticism for those who aren't married. Parents are key to a child'd formation regardless as you will remain a reflection of God's love. Strive to make time regularly to both form yourself and restore yourself so you are better prepared to face the battles and struggles of life.