A Context for this Initiative
Catholic Marriage Preparation in the 21st century is undergoing a radical transformation. Psychological sciences are developing deeper insights into what makes relationships work and theological advances are equipping Catholics to more clearly and powerfully articulate the role of Matrimony in the mission of the Church.
In addition, new technologies provide flexible and more effective ways for parishes to nurture the gift of Matrimony in all its stages within their community.
A Nuptial Ecclesiology
Jesus frequently referred to himself as the bridegroom and many of his parables made reference to the betrothal and nuptial traditions of the day. As a community of believers, we can only fully understand our identity in Christ when we internalize our call to be the bride of Jesus. This Nuptial Ecclesiology is more fully explored in St John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.
Matrimonied couples (that is married couples properly formed in their vocation and growing throughout their life in faith and in love) are uniquely placed to help the church more fully understand our identity. They are an essential part of, and co-responsible with the clergy for, the mission of the Church.
Renewing and empowering the marriages in your parish brings benefits to the entire community as it helps couples grow more into their identity as prophetic leaders of the nuptial ecclesiology. Empowered couples are radical witnesses and effective workers for any number of apostolates in the parish and beyond.
The Marriage Catechumenate
Preparing for marriage is not just a ‘course’, it’s a period of formation that includes relationship skills training, spiritual direction, prayerful discernment and practical support by the community. That’s why the Church is moving away from intensives run by diocesan groups towards parish-based formation over several months. Online learning enables couples to access information presented by expert educators without leaving the parish, allowing parishes to manage and support the engaged easily and efficiently.
Providing a married sponsor couple to accompany each engaged couple not only helps the engaged couple forge relationships with active parishioners, it also helps them go deeper into the course content for a more effective formation that is grounded in faith (rather than simply good psychology).
In addition, the sponsor couple’s marriage is also renewed and strengthened through participation. Sponsor couples regularly report how much they benefited personally from the course and are grateful they were given the opportunity.
The SmartLoving Engaged -Sponsor program is an opportunity to form and motivate all your parishioners. It is not just about the best possible experience for the engaged. It is also about embedding into Catholic culture a priority for ongoing marriage formation throughout the life cycle.
Experience shows us that Sponsors finish the course with enthusiasm to do more. For many, it is the first concrete experience they have had of their marriage having a sacramental impact on others; they see and feel the responsiveness of the engaged couple to their stories of struggle and hope. It’s profoundly empowering and parish leaders should be ready to direct their energy into other parish initiatives.
We are looking forward to working with you to establish a new dynamism in your parish.
Keeping the Costs Down
Every engaged couple registration includes a ‘gift coupon’ for a sponsor couple, which means that there is no cost to the Sponsor Couple to access the course. To view current prices, please visit here.
Clergy can access the course free. Go here.
NB: Workbooks can be self-printed from the PDF available in the course platform or ordered from our store at the time of purchasing the course. Significant savings are available when workbooks are ordered in bulk by a parish. Go here.