Deborah Van Kroonenburg is the Plymouth Diocese Project Lead for Marriage & Family Life. Here she reviews for us our new title, 7 Words on Marriage by Fr Ivano Millico.
Pope Francis described Christian marriage as “The most beautiful thing God has created”. This booklet explains why, using seven key words, taken from Scripture and the Marriage Rite, to speak of the beauty of Marriage, the strength and joy it gives to husband and wife, to their humanity, family and to society at large. Seven chapters dwell on 7 words: ‘Raphael’, ‘I take thee’, ‘Ring’, ‘Blessing’, ‘Nuptial bed’, ‘Cana’, ‘Sunem’, explaining their significance for the couple and their life’s project together, with a reflection and a practical ‘point’ for the couple to hold onto. Illustrated and with an Introduction and ‘final word’ and references to the Rite of Marriage itself.
7 Words on Marriage is an attractive book, inspired by Fr Ivano’s experience with engaged couples, and married couples having ongoing formation. He aims to show couples the treasure they have in their marriages and the richness of Church teaching on marriage and family. The book begins by introducing marriage as ‘The most beautiful thing God has created’ and then gives a teaching around the seven lines of the marriage vows.
Delving further into the beauty of the Church’s teaching
Fr Invano draws from useful quotes from Pope Francis about ‘argument’ and ‘forgiveness’, with simple instructions about saying ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry’, as well as engaging insights on human and spiritual aspects of marriage from the Book of Tobit and The Jeweler’s Shop (a play written by Karol Wojtyla – Pope St John Paul II). It is beautifully illustrated, including an icon of a married couple at Emmaus (I have heard the suggestion that one of the disciples on the Emmaus road was a woman; the idea that Our Lord broke bread with a married couple there was new and thought provoking to me) and a reproduction of a Filippo Lippi painting of Tobias with the Archangel Raphael.
Having read it I wondered if all the spouses who marry in the Church could access the theological language used. In this regard it could be effective as a gift for those who have completed a marriage preparation course, in order to take them further into the beauty of the Church’s teaching on this topic. It would also be valuable in the hands of the catechist or marriage mentor who could share it with those groups or couples who might not be aware of the gift they have in their marriages and of the richness of Theology of the Body teaching, much of which is fresh and inspiring information to couples embarking on marriage now.
Evangelising those approaching the sacraments
There is an increasing need for priests and deacons, catechists and marriage mentors, to evangelise those who come for the sacraments of the Church. Some people may be returning to the Church after a time away from regular attendance, living within an increasingly secular culture they may not have received the fullness of Christian teaching, or they may be non Christian spouses who have not heard the Gospel. Even among Church attenders there may be a need to hear the kerygma and to receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ more fully. In the case of an engaged couple, one of them may have almost no experience of faith and the one who is a Catholic may need help to engage or to re-engage with their faith.
This book could provide information and inspiration for Catholic spouses and for marriage mentors; it could help them to share their insights about this ‘most beautiful’ gift with engaged couples, with single and consecrated, as well as married, people. Hopefully, in time, with a generation to come who will come to know Christ through their parents example and witness.
I read this book with pleasure and will recommend to our son and his fiancée, who are getting married in the Catholic Church on Saturday. I will also recommend it to priests, to marriage mentors and students undertaking the certificate in ‘A Catechesis of Marriage and Family’, to couples who come for ‘Marriage Enrichment’ and to engaged couples.