Congratulations! You’re engaged! Phew, do you have a lot of work ahead of you. It will be easy to get caught up in the details of the big day, so take it from someone who’s just a month away from her own wedding: make a point to slow down and put some preparation towards the actual marriage! After all, the wedding lasts a day but the sacrament is forever.
To that end, here’s an easy list of short books (300 pages or less) to prepare your hearts, minds, and souls for this beautiful vocation. They may be part of your marriage prep already, but they’ll definitely work well with whatever formation your diocese requires — feel free to read just one or two or even all five! Besides, you may find yourself needing breathing space and reading is a great way to decompress.
Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen was something of a celebrity clergyman, among the first in the Church to successfully take advantage of modern media as a way to guide his flock. He coupled his pastoral experience working with married couples and his extensive theological and philosophical training to present a sort of theology of the body before Theology of the Body. The first chapter alone is chock-full of powerful one-liners and timeless wisdom that will have you nodding along thinking, «Of course! Why didn’t I think of that?»
This newly-revised bestseller from internationally renown speaker Christopher West uses a practical question-and-answer format to dive into some of the hardest questions surrounding Church teaching on sex and marriage. There’s practical advice, West’s own life experience, and multiple layers of meaning that will keep you coming back to the book years into your marriage. As a great bonus, The Good News About Sex and Marriage leaves the reader with a foundational understanding of Theology of the Body, even for those with zero previous formation on the subject.
Not so much theological as practical, the relationship theory contained in these pages has saved thousands of marriages. Dr. Gary Chapman noticed over his own 25+ years as a marriage and family counselor that most problems in relationships stem from affection poorly communicated. He realized people generally best express and receive affection in one of five primary ways — and hence the 5 Love Languages were born. Even if your own relationship isn’t struggling (we hope it’s not!), learning to fluently «speak» your partner’s language can deepen your relationship and help mitigate problems and conflict when they inevitably arise.
Dr. Edward Sri is one of those brilliant souls without whom many of St. Pope John Paul II’s incredible teachings would go unappreciated. Sri, a happily married dad of eight, uses his life experience and theological expertise to provide practical insights into JPII’s Love and Responsibility and brings the pope’s heady language down to earth.
Officially titled Journey of Our Love, this book is a series of letters exchanged between St. Gianna Baretta Molla and her husband, Pietro. The compiler, Elio Guerriero, beautifully captures the growing holiness of the couple — in their own words. Experience the inner movements of the soul of a saint and the husband who helped get her to Heaven.
And last but not least…
Written by Deacon William Turrentine, Your Love Story covers all the bases of engagement from theological content to prepare for the sacrament to copies of the rite and readings to prepare the Mass. Perhaps most uniquely, this engagement guide gives NFP center stage. Where many other marriage prep books mention NFP or skip it entirely, Turrentine clearly and gently explains how the decision to practice NFP can properly orient the entire marriage to God.
— Forest Hempen
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