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From the Editors

Happy St Valentine’s Day! Let’s not forget the saint in the celebration. St Valentine was a Roman priest under Claudius II who was executed for marrying young couples against the orders of the Emperor.

In their 2014 St Val’s resource kit, the Australian Catholic Marriage and Family Council features couple prayer. Read it below!

In Faith and Love,

Francine & Byron Pirola
Directors | Marriage Resource Centre

St Valentine for the Modern Church

By Francine & Byron Pirola

St-ValentineFor a number of years we have been involved in the St Valentine’s Day initiative of the Australian Catholic Marriage and Family Council. It’s a simple project: provide an easily reproducible print kit to Catholic parishes, schools and family movements with content relevant to married and engaged couples.

When talking about this resource we get perplexed looks from people – why would the Church promote an already over-commercialised, increasingly trivial, secular event?

It is true that the secular response to St Valentine has completely lost sight of the original person and meaning. The true story of St Valentine, like most early saints is mostly lost to the mists of time, but our best understanding is that he was a priest in Rome under Emperor Claudius II. When the Emperor forbade young men to marry so as to more easily recruit them into his army, St Valentine began conducting secret weddings. For this he was arrested and imprisoned and eventually executed. His life stands as a testament to the importance of life-long romantic love, sacrificing his liberty and his life in order to support couples in their pursuit of marital holiness.

Now there’s a message worthy for the modern Church! How many of us would be prepared to give up so much to assist a young couple in this way? In our work in marriage preparation all too often we hear of engaged couples feeling unwelcome when they approach a parish to be married; especially if they do not obviously practice their faith or live outside the parish boundaries. St Valentine is an inspiration not just for starry-eyed lovers and romantic diehards – he is a great example for all of us in the Church; calling us to renew our enthusiasm and encouragement for marriage.

So now the St Valentine’s initiative starts to make sense.  As a Church we need to remind ourselves, as much as the secular world around us; that married love is a sacramental witness to God’s presence. A reminder that a life of romance blossoms and deepens within the protection of the marriage commitment and it is our duty as the People of God to support and encourage all couples throughout their married life to foster their romantic affection.

So as a Church we should be pointing out to the world that SAINT Valentine’s day is an important reminder that romantic love, and the marriages that are built and maintained by it, are the foundations of healthy, stable families; that the day exists, not just for those who are dating, engaged or married, but for us all: marriage and the romantic love upon which it is built, makes an irreplaceable contribution to the welfare of every person in our society.

In its own small way, this St Valentine’s initiative is a bit like the other big challenge we face as Christians in an increasingly secular culture; that of ‘keeping Christ in Christmas’.  Let us all join together in ‘keeping the Saint in St Valentine’s Day’!

Australian Catholic Marriage & Family Council

“In a culture that is increasingly intolerant of Christian values and beliefs, feasts that have captured the imagination of the secular community, like St Valentine’s Day, represent a unique opportunity for the Church.” – Bishop Eugene Hurley

What better time is there to reflect on our relationships and grow in our love for one another on this special feast day. For your free St Valentine’s Day kit, download the items below! Click here to visit the ACMFC website.

  • Liturgy Notes, Bulletin Clips | PDF 1MB : here
  • Handout – Growing in Love| PDF 1MB : here
  • Slides | PDF 0.5MB : here
  • Slides |MS PP 0.5MB : here

Growing in Love

The popularity of St Valentine’s Day grew out of the joy of celebrating romantic married love. The celebration also encourages us to renew and develop that love. God is love and this year we focus on one particular aspect of deepening the love of a couple, whether they are engaged or married – that is, by turning to God in ‘couple prayer’.

What is Couple Prayer?

Couple Prayer is any prayer said by a couple together. Sounds simple? Well, yes and no! Many couples pray together when attending Mass, saying grace before meals or saying the Rosary. These are wonderful ways to pray but they are not ‘Couple Prayer’. Couple Prayer is when an engaged or married couple speak to God about their needs, concerns and hopes while allowing the other person to hear. It requires a level of intimacy that can be challenging. However, God, the source of the couple’s love can work powerfully through their prayer, deepening their relationship with each other.

Couple Prayer creates the sacred space in our marriage where we open ourselves to God’s presence.

“Our days are so busy and different, so for us, a combination of ‘standard prayers’ like the Our Father and a shared prayer seem to work best. Sometimes, all we can manage is to hold hands and say a Hail Mary together but it is always worthwhile.” – John

Why Pray as a Couple?

One reason is the high correlation between couple prayer and marriage stability – the couple that prays together, stays together. (Read the full article here)

SLM-Varroville-MarJoin us for our first ever SmartLoving Marriage residential weekend to be held next year in March in the peaceful Carmelite Retreat Centre.


Do you know someone who’s stuck and can’t seem to break the cycle in their marriage? When everything seems too complicated, a little help goes a long way. The BreakThrough Workshop is a private 3 hour event which offers practical tips and tools for a way forward. For more information, click here

Weekly Podcast by Francine & Byron Pirola

Tune in to Wollongong’s weekly Catholic radio show, The Journey on Pulse 94.1FM every Sunday from 11am, to hear a variety of Catholic speakers including Fran & Byron Pirola.

Or, listen to their individual 2 minute podcasts for their bite sized pieces of weekly wisdom.

 From the blog

The 11 Differences Between Dating a Boy vs a Man | A list article to decipher early on whether you’re dating a man or a boy. (There’s also one about the differences between dating a woman or a girl!)

The Soul Mate Myth | A visually appealing post you can flick through to discover why society’s hyped up craze of ‘finding the one’ leaves so many disheartened and aimlessly searching for someone who doesn’t exist. We are never going to marry ‘the perfect person’ simply because none of us are.

Monogamy is Unnatural | Blogger Matt Walsh has recently gone viral for his bold and captivating articles. This is a great one – he responds to a professor’s arrogant and angry letter on monogamy and marriage. His response will leave you cheering!

Learning Natural Fertility | If you would like to manage your fertility naturally, we strongly recommend that you enrol in one of the reputable courses offered by the agencies listed in this post. While it is simple to use and apply, in order for you to feel confident and supported as you start out it is necessary to access the excellent services offered for this purpose.

Natural Fertility | How do you, as a couple, consider how many children to have without being selfish nor careless? What does the Church say about birth control? And how can natural fertility bring you deeper intimacy with your spouse?

Natural Fertility Methods | A brief overview of the different NFP methods.

The Wedding Ceremony | A list of resources to use for your Catholic wedding – whether you’ve decided to have a Nuptial Mass or a wedding service.

Pornography and Infidelity | Many people buy into the myth that the ‘use’ of pornography in a marriage can help spice up your sex life. It’s not until those same people feel the poisonous effects of porn in their relationship that they come to realise it only led them further from real intimacy and closer to emptiness. Here’s some evidence about why pornography harms your marriage.

Video: The Tutu Project’s Story | This guy traveled the country in a pink tutu just to make his wife laugh during her chemotherapy.

The Ikea Assembly Meltdown | Building your own furniture… it’s an unstated test of true manhood. Guys gravitate to the challenge, particularly when its a guaranteed shoo-in. Meet the Ikea* Challenge… It all comes down to this: when she speaks, what does he hear?

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Thinking of a gift for your friends or family?

Whether they’re celebrating an anniversary or getting engaged, our gift vouchers are a perfect experience they’re sure to love!

Take advantage of this years sale price of the Marriage Seminar at only $125 for a weekend event (includes meals). Purchase : here

The SmartLoving Engaged course is valued at $275. It’s the perfect engagement or wedding gift that will be used for the rest of their married lives. Purchase : here

SmartLoving @ Home

A series of DIY sessions you can use at home or in a small group. For less than the cost of a cup of coffee, you can download the file at the time of purchase and use the material on your computer, mobile device or make a print copy.

SL@Home Grateful

Grateful | When gratitude is present in a marriage, the couple’s good humour and welcoming generosity make their homes places of hospitality and warmth for all their visitors.

Responsible Honesty | It’s more than not telling lies; in marriage it requires an willingness to share deeply and vulnerably.

Sexuality as Gift | Learning to appreciate our sexuality and build the sexual atmosphere between us.

The Ambitious Couple | What is the role of ambition in marriage?

Hear Me Know Me | It is often said that we cannot love what we do not know.

SL Marriage Seminar

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About the Author:

Francine & Byron Pirola
Francine & Byron Pirola are the founders and principal authors of the SmartLoving series. They are passionate about living Catholic marriage to the full and helping couples reach their marital potential. They have been married since 1988 and have five children. Their articles may be reproduced for non commercial purposes with appropriate acknowledgement and back links.

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