Everyone loves a summer wedding; pass any church on a given Saturday and you’re bound to see the happy couple in their wedding finery, surrounded by friends and family.
What isn’t visible is all the planning and preparation that has gone into the big day. For the Catholic Church, the most important part of that advance work is the marriage preparation program.
One of Novalis’ best-kept secrets is that it has been in the marriage preparation business for more than 50 years. Our programs have been translated into 26 languages and used around the world. Over the decades, we have continued to update them for the times, recognizing changing needs of the young (and increasingly not so young) couples that call on pastors to ask for permission to be married in the church.
In its wisdom, the Catholic Church in many parts of the world insists that before the big day, the couple must complete a marriage preparation program. Some do it with enthusiasm, others not so much. But in the end, most couples agree the programs have significantly helped them better understand the new life on which they are embarking.
Recently, Novalis launched an updated program called What God Has Joined. We commissioned Dr. Mona Lee Feehan, an Edmonton based theology and psychology professor and veteran marriage preparation facilitator, to revise our popular program, Saying I Do. We wanted to retain the best aspects of the program, but imbue it with the wisdom from Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.
The result is a very strong program. What God Has Joined helps couples understand what it truly means to be in a Catholic marriage. It stresses the sacramentality of marriage, while at the same time recognizing that young couples need tools to help them withstand the stresses and strains that modern culture places on the family.
Another exciting feature of the new program is that we are introducing an on-line version for those couples separated by distance and time. Over the next month we will be launching this program, professionally facilitated and based on the book itself.
To help marriage facilitators understand What God Has Joined, we are inviting diocesan marriage offices across Canada to take advantage of our offer to send Dr. Feehan to their dioceses for training sessions. These daylong events will give facilitators all the tools they need to use the program in their parishes.
Pope Francis has put special emphasis on the needs of the family this year, starting with the Bishops’ Synod on the Family in October. What God Has Joined is part of Novalis’ continuing effort to support him and the Church in this vital project.