"When a soul recognises the will of God and shows a readiness to submit to it entirely, then God gives Himself to such a soul and renders it most powerful succour under all circumstances." - Rev. Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Witness to Love {a review}

When Logan and I were engaged, we met with an assigned mentor couple (who we had never met prior to that) for about 6 sessions as part of our marriage preparation. We really enjoyed getting to know the mentor couple and got a lot out of our sessions. But we never saw them again after that! 

In our first 3 years of marriage, we experienced several trials that we felt unprepared for - pregnancy loss, infertility, and high-risk pregnancy are just a few. And I can't help but wonder how different the first few years of our marriage would have looked like if our mentor couple had stayed in touch with us after we said our vows (and I don't fault them...it's just not what they were taught to do). It would have been SO helpful to have a "go-to" couple during those difficult times.

(I should say that we do have wonderful friends who are happily married that have been a tremendous source of grace for us - but most of those friendships did not flourish until after our first year or two of marriage. And let's face it...you feel so isolated in the beginning of marriage that the thought of reaching out doesn't usually come to mind.)

I was thrilled to find out about Witness to Love, a marriage prep renewal ministry founded by Ryan and Mary-Rose Verret, when I was recently given the opportunity to read the book that was just released as part of the ministry.  What makes it different than your typical program is that the engaged couple can choose their own mentor couple - a couple that already inspires them from afar and whom they would like to get to know better.

The book Witness to Love: How to Help the Next Generation of Marriages Survive and Thrive was written to help couples who are preparing engaged couples for marriage. But I have to say that anybody can read this book!

Even if you never officially mentor an engaged couple, Witness to Love will encourage you to work on your marriage and to share your marriage. That is how we will save other marriages!
"You can begin tearing down the wall of isolation that surrounds young couples today when you invite them into your homes, families, and lives and when you share the gift of your marriage with them." (page 6)
The books covers it all: a closer look at divorce, why mentor couples don't need to have the "perfect" marriage, the need for mentors, how mentoring ends up benefiting you just as much as the engaged couple, how to save troubled marriages, a reminder that marriage is a vocation, and more. I know I started the book thinking, There is no way Logan and I could ever be mentors. But by the end, I couldn't help but think, Maybe we could do this after all!
"Do not wait to be a perfect couple in a perfect marriage before you feel that you have something to offer. Let your home become the mission field, and let your marriage become your apostolate. Let your domestic church become a missionary outpost of your local church! Remember, you are the perfect 'imperfect' couple." (page 35)
"As we go through trials in our lives and storms in our marriages, we will find later in life that God puts particular people in our paths because of our past experiences." (page 153)
What I love about the whole Witness to Love ministry is that it ends up accomplishing multiple things: 1) helping young engaged couples prepare for marriage, and 2) enriching the marriages of the mentor couples as well, since you always "get more than you give", and 3) connecting all young couples with their church community (which I would have LOVED as we are just now feeling a part of a parish life...6 years later).

I was totally inspired by reading this book and will be contacting my parish to see about implementing this program! I really think Witness to Love has the potential to change the world, one marriage at a time. Saint Pope John Paul II said it best: "As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the world in which we live." So, so true.

Disclaimer: St. Benedict Press sent me a copy of Witness to Love for free in exchange for an honest review. But you know me, I'll tell you what I really think!

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