Resolve to enjoy a ‘Year of Dates’

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shuttershock

Could you make a New Year’s resolution to date your spouse at least once a month this year?

The wide-open sweep of the calendar year ahead is a great opportunity for married couples to plan a year’s worth of date nights with each other. Daytime dates work, too! Setting the intention to spend regular time enjoying your husband or wife’s company builds up friendship and satisfaction, strengthening your marriage.

Stepping out of your everyday routine also creates space for more meaningful conversations. Where are you heading in your marriage? What are you dreaming of for your family? In a 2015 Meeting with Families in the Philippines, Pope Francis said, “You can’t have a family without dreams. Once a family loses the ability to dream, children do not grow, love does not grow, life shrivels up and dies. … Dreaming is very important. Especially dreaming in families. Do not lose this ability to dream!”

The pope continued: “How many difficulties in married life are resolved when we leave room for dreaming, when we stop a moment to think of our spouse, and we dream about the goodness present in the good things all around us. So it is very important to reclaim love by what we do each day. Do not ever stop being newlyweds!”

Great dates can give you the chance to think bigger about your life together and to discuss your challenges, dreams and goals. Whether over dinner at a restaurant or while jogging for a few miles together stroller-free, these conversations can energize and inspire you to create a common vision for your future.

Other dates create fun memories. Our kids will never forget the morning they woke up to discover the epic blanket fort that my husband and I had created in our living room during a date night in. Strung with Christmas lights and strewn with pillows and blankets, we left it up for the whole weekend.

When planning your dates, try to think of what your husband or wife would especially enjoy, and design your time with that in mind. I don’t especially enjoy playing cards, but my husband does, and he was delighted one evening to discover that I’d set up a card table and snacks for us for a surprise date night at home. (I ended up having fun despite myself.) I appreciate theater and performing arts, and I was thrilled to be whisked away to a marvelous play at the Lincoln Theatre one evening when we lived near Washington, D.C. My husband had planned the perfect evening with my tastes in mind. Putting your spouse’s preferences first is a wonderful way to make a gift of self.

Here are some frugal date ideas to get you thinking as you plan your “Year of Dates.” (Singles can also plan for dates for enjoying their own company and that of God in what St. John Paul II calls “original solitude,” and parents can plan “Daddy Dates” or “Mother-Daughter Dates” with their kiddos.) These can be adapted:

  • Plan a walk, jog or hike in a beautiful park or forest. Or rent kayaks. Revel in the beauty God created here in the Pacific Northwest.
  • Take a weekday morning off to enjoy a Free First Thursday at one of Seattle’s museums.
  • Swap babysitting with another family from church.
  • Read aloud a classic by candlelight while sipping wine. Find literature suggestions on
  • Adoration and appetizers afterwards. A local newlywed couple of my acquaintance met on and began their first date by meeting at church for eucharistic adoration.
  • A date-night subscription box can help ensure regular, creative dates at home without much planning. Read reviews of Date Crate, Date Box and competitors on the blog of The Screenwriter’s Wife.

As you date your way through 2018, may you dream, grow and be blessed with wonderful experiences of the joy of God’s love.

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The Incarnational Power of Theology of the Body

Photo: Vitruvian Man, Leonardo da Vinci, Luc Viatourbe

Photo: Vitruvian Man, Leonardo da Vinci, Luc Viatourbe

Christmas celebrates the gift of the Incarnation: the Word made flesh, God himself taking on a human body to reveal his love to us. The body is so important in Christianity. The body matters. The body speaks. Its language reveals to us our call to be a total self-gift in love. That is the central insight of St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, a series of teachings on man, woman and love which he gave in the early years of his pontificate.

“The body … alone is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and the divine,” the pope wrote. In masculinity and femininity, we discover the revelation of God’s image, the call to authentic love, and the true meaning of our sexuality. The implications of this insight have been life-changing for many.

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Windows’ witness

Photo: Psalter of Queen Melisende/Flickr Commons

This November, as we remember our departed in a particular way, it is a good time to remember also that the church offers comfort for the men and women left behind when a beloved spouse dies. Widows and widowers have a life full of dignity, purpose and mission. As Vatican II declared, “Widowhood, accepted bravely as a continuation of the marriage vocation, should be esteemed by all.”

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Pray the Rosary for Stronger Marriages and Families

Photo: Shutterstock

This Oct. 13 marks the 100th anniversary of the final apparition of Our Lady of Fátima. At Fátima, Portugal, Our Lady urged the shepherd children to pray the rosary daily to obtain peace for the world. In this time of crisis in marriage and family life, a daily family rosary — a daily rosary from all Catholics — for the strengthening of marriage and family is a powerful means of building peace in the world.

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Introduction to Morality Online Course

Do you want to form your mind in the truth, beauty, and goodness of the Catholic moral tradition? My seven-hour online Introduction to Morality course is available now, so you can delve into the first few lessons while I continue to record and add materials.


The whole course will be complete by the end of May, when I finish teaching my live Intro to Morality course for the Archdiocese of Seattle’s deacon formation program. As of today, half the videos have been recorded, and about a quarter of them have been uploaded and are ready for you to watch.  Lesson 1 is totally complete with a quiz and a handout; quizzes and handouts will soon be uploaded to accompany the rest of the videos available.

Here’s the course description and syllabus:

Introduction to Morality Syllabus Online Class

I hope you can join me as we delve into the riches of the Catholic moral tradition together. This is a great way to gain clarity and confidence in understanding the foundational principles behind specific moral teachings. This will help you understand and articulate what we believe as Catholics as you discuss moral issues with the people in your life. It’s great for committed Catholic adults looking to deepen their formation, parents, precocious high-schoolers (including homeschooled high school students), teachers, pastoral associates and parish volunteers. I’m thinking youth ministers in particular may want to check this out, too.

Your registration gives you access to the course for a full year, so you can move through the lessons at your own pace from anywhere you have internet.


Remember, listeners to Dr. Tom Curran’s “Sound Insight” program on Sacred Heart Radio have a discount code which reduces the price to $400, or $100 a month for four months, plus, 10% of the registration goes back to support Sacred Heart Radio.  If you forgot the code we gave on-air, you can contact me through the button for the code. Just include the call number of your Catholic radio station and a few details about what you heard on air, and I’ll email you the code.

(You can also get the code from listening to the show recording online, once it’s posted.)

A Pervasive Toxin is Attacking Our Kids

Photo: Shutterstock

Parents, as your teens head back to school, you should know that this year they are at a greater risk than ever for encountering a toxic substance proven to traumatize the brain, impair concentration, decrease cognitive functioning, induce depression and anxiety, and reduce pleasure in everyday life. Rising in use each year, this substance is attacking our kids’ ability to learn, thrive and be happy. And you are the most powerful force in their lives to protect them from it.  Continue reading “A Pervasive Toxin is Attacking Our Kids”

Awesome Discipleship Program Based on St. Ignatius

Happy Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola! He’s touched my life in many ways through the years. I attended a Jesuit high school for a year and a half, and had my intellect opened to the connections between art, literature, religion, and history during my collegio classes at Seattle Prep. When I moved to Anacortes part-way through high school, a wonderful old Jesuit serving in the San Juan Islands, Fr. Steckler, gave Catechism lectures at my parish. Blew my mind! I had no idea there was such depth and richness, such a coherent, logical system, such beauty, truth, and goodness illuminating the truths of the faith. May he rest in peace. What a great man. At that time, Fr. Spitzer also gave a talk at my parish about Marian devotion. (Before he made it big.) Later, Fr. Spitzer would be the president of Gonzaga University while I was there. Continue reading “Awesome Discipleship Program Based on St. Ignatius”

NFP Awareness Week – Hormonal Contraception Linked With Depression

July 23-July 29 is the USCCB National NFP Awareness Week. This is a great time to raise awareness about NFP in your ministry or parish.

The Pill has been correlated with higher risks of certain forms of cancer, blood clotting, and lower libido. This new study from Denmark finds its correlates with increases rates of depression, especially among teen girls. Shouldn’t they develop a way for couples to manage their fertility in a way that respects womens’ bodies and doesn’t harm their health and wellbeing? They did! It’s called NFP.


Mary Magdalene: Telling the Story

                                    Saint Mary Magdalene,
                                    who by conversion become the beloved of Jesus,
                                    thank you for your witness that Jesus forgives
                                    through the miracle of love.
                                    You, who already possess eternal happiness
                                    in His glorious presence,
                                    please intercede for me
                                    so that someday I may share in the same
                                    everlasting joy.
For years, I have been captivated by the person of Mary of Magdala. I’ve dreamed of writing a picture book to tell her story to a new generation. This dream was conceived several years ago when I attended St. Mary Magdalen parish in Everett, where I was, for a time, the “Troop Shepherd” for my daughters’ American Heritage Girls scouting troop.  I spoke to the girls about this incredible woman, and was amazed at what I found as I researched my little talk for them. Mary Magdalen was a wealthy, independent single woman living in first-century Palestine–a woman of influence. A woman broken, and healed, and made new. A woman of whole-hearted passion, energetic and practical, but full of longing, like the Bride in the Song of Songs. A woman to whom Jesus revealed the heart of the mystery of his mission: to offer us a share in his Sonship of His Father. She was a woman of dignity sent on mission. She is woman who shows us how to live the new evangelization and the feminine genius.

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