Wine Out of Water

Photo: Courtesy Carrie Anderson

“We had been craving community at St. Monica [Parish on Mercer Island], just wanting some kind of couple’s group,” Bill recounted. “Father Freitag was talking about the dissolution of marriages. … Divorce after divorce. It was on his heart that we need prayers for these marriages, and they need help. So it was something that was on our heart,” he told me.

Inspired during eucharistic adoration together, Bill and Carrie Anderson gathered a group of six couples from the parish to meet regularly for dinner about two years ago. They share wine, laughter and fellowship. After dinner, they pray a rosary. They meet in the spirit of the wedding at Cana, as indicated by their name, WOW: Wine Out of Water. (see John 2:1-11)

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Couple Prayer: The Ultimate Instant Messaging

Which of the following simple, free, daily activities will: 1) make God smile on you and send you powerful help, 2) connect you even more deeply and build spiritual intimacy with your spouse, and 3) dramatically reduce your odds of divorce?

A) Sit in the same room while you each interact with your respective smartphones.
B) Text each other sweet notes throughout the day.
C) Pick up the towels off the floor.
D) Pray together as a couple.

What did you pick? Let’s look at each possibility:
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A Spirituality for Singles

One of my favorite saints was a single laywoman known for her gorgeous hair. She was independent, passionate and completely transformed by Christ. She lived a rich life full of adventure, prayer and evangelization. Mary Magdalen never married or became a nun, but she lived a joyful life that was “single-hearted” for Christ.

More Catholics are single now than ever before, following national trends of adults marrying later, or not at all. In fact, for the first time in history, more singles than married folk head households in America.
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The Power of Couple Prayer

“Praying together is the most powerful predictor of marital happiness that researchers have yet discovered,” wrote the late sociologist Father Andrew Greeley.

One survey found that couples who prayed or read the Bible daily, in addition to weekly church attendance, divorced at a rate of less than 1 per 1,105 marriages. And while 60 percent of couples who pray together “sometimes” checked the box in a survey marked “our marriage is happy,” that number bumped up to 78 percent for those couples who pray together “a lot.” (All research is cited atcoupleprayer.com.) Couple prayer is a powerful means of drawing close to your spouse and blessing your marriage. But how do you do it? Continue reading →

Saints Louis and Zelie Hold Open the Doors of Mercy

The marriage and family life of St. Thérèse of Lisieux’s parents invite us to practice mercy

This year in our archdiocesan Catholic schools, students have been making “Doors of Mercy” art projects. Behind brown construction-paper sets of cathedral doors, they have glued or drawn a picture of their own families. So when the door-flaps are opened, the family is revealed inside.

If we open wide the “Doors of Mercy” and look through them to see the ways we can let mercy flood in to our own marriages and our own families, what beautiful scenes of compassion, forgiveness, tenderness, presence, healing and encouragement are revealed? Celebrating the July 12 feast day of newly canonized Sts. Louis and Zélie Martin, the parents of St. Thérèse of Lisieux and her four sisters (they also had four little ones who died in infancy and early childhood), can help answer that question. Continue reading →

Get Touchy with your Spouse

Drawing closer physically ‘incarnates’ your love and can strengthen your marriage

Elizabeth Jordan was unhappy in her marriage. Her husband Tony was a jerk. They argued about money. They were emotionally distant. The love between them was almost dead. Elizabeth could, justly, complain long and bitterly about her husband.

What happened to transform their marriage so that they were helpful, loving and united again? Surprisingly, it was one party’s conversion. Elizabeth’s change of heart toward her husband changed her own behavior in the relationship. Together with her intense prayer support for him, this triggered the softening of his heart toward her and his own conversion to Christ.

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Courtship vs Dating

The term courtship may sound as old-fashioned as bustles and buggy-driving. It may call to mind a famous song about a certain Froggy and what he went a-doin’. But actually, the concept of courtship is experiencing a revival, with good reasons.

Reframing dating in terms of courtship can help parents set healthy boundaries on teen dating. Shifting from a “dating” to a “courtship” mindset can help single adults achieve greater happiness, too.

What’s the difference between dating and courtship?

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Marriage vs. Cohabitation

Ten reasons God’s plan for families is good news for everyone

Madeline and Matt Example have been together five years. Because of a choice they made, they are in a category of couples who are statistically happier, healthier and better-off financially than their neighbors, Caitlyn and Chris. They will stay healthier, live longer, accumulate more wealth and report higher levels of happiness and satisfaction in their relationship and in their whole lives. Their household is less likely to witness violence or abuse. Their 2-year-old daughter, Maggie, is in the safest, healthiest and happiest categories of kids. Because of her mom and dad’s choice, she is at the lowest risk of child poverty; she is likely to succeed in school and be a happy adult.

Caitlyn and Chris have also been together five years. But because they made a different choice, they are in a group that statistically reports lower levels of happiness. They are more likely to get sick, suffer from anxiety or depression, and will likely not live as long. Despite having similar jobs as their neighbors, Caitlyn and Chris have lower incomes and smaller savings. Sadly, abuse and violence is more likely in their household, between them and against their 3-year- old, Cooper. Compared with Maggie, Cooper is at a much greater danger of child poverty and academic problems.

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Lent and Easter in the Domestic Church

“God bless you and keep you,” my husband says, tracing the sign of the cross on our wiggly daughters’ foreheads. After our family finishes our night prayer in the living room, and the squabble discussion about whose turn it is to blow out the candle on the family altar is peaceably resolved, each of our girls receives her blessing. “God bless you and keep you,” I also pray for each of them, marking them with the sign of the cross as well. This pairs well with a bedtime hug.

This simple daily practice is one way that we try to live out our family’s vocation to be a domestic church. Through baptism and the sacrament of matrimony, Christian families live their daily life “in the Lord.” Just like the universal church, the Holy Spirit forms the Christian family into a communion of persons, a communion of life and love. Jesus is present in their midst and works in and through them. Continue reading →

Christmas and January in the Domestic Church

Christmas lasts until Jan. 10 this year.

Though the stores have switched their displays from Christmas décor to weight-loss accessories and Super Bowl gear, if you visit any Catholic Church you will encounter smells like pine, balsam and incense. You will see Christmas trees sparkling with lights and sanctuaries lush with velvety poinsettias. You will hear Christmas songs sung at Mass. And you’ll hear the story of the Nativity over and over again. It is as if we need time to let the grace of Christmas soak in.

By late December, however, our consumer culture is sick of Christmas. It has been celebrating it since November with a glut of holiday products and treats, a frenzy of seasonal activities, and lots of shopping. But the church has been waiting for the Lord through the holy season of Advent with silence, prayer and penance. Now that he is here, the church is ready to revel in Christmas with all her senses!

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