208. With the help of missionary families, the couple’s own families and a variety of pastoral resources, ways should also be found to offer a remote preparation that, by example and good advice, can help their love to grow and mature.
Many Christians are isolated in situations in which the Church’s presence is more missionary.
Discussion groups and optional talks on a variety of topics of genuine interest to young people can also prove helpful.
And those topics would be …? Sex, work, children, money, families of origin, communication. Again, the key is not to make quantity burdensome, but ensure that what is done is of high quality.
All the same, some individual meetings remain essential, since the primary objective is to help each to learn how to love this very real person with whom he or she plans to share his or her whole life. Learning to love someone does not happen automatically, nor can it be taught in a workshop just prior to the celebration of marriage.
For workshop leaders, a sense of relief should hopefully ensue: everything doesn’t depend on you.
One initiative I’ve seen not so much as heard about in “theory,” is to begin formation for marriage long, long before couples fall in love and engage themselves for marriage.
For every couple, marriage preparation begins at birth. What they received from their family should prepare them to know themselves and to make a full and definitive commitment. Those best prepared for marriage are probably those who learned what Christian marriage is from their own parents, who chose each other unconditionally and daily renew this decision. In this sense, pastoral initiatives aimed at helping married couples to grow in love and in the Gospel of the family also help their children, by preparing them for their future married life. Nor should we underestimate the pastoral value of traditional religious practices. To give just one example: I think of Saint Valentine’s Day; in some countries, commercial interests are quicker to see the potential of this celebration than are we in the Church.
O yes. Commercial interests are all over February 14th. And not for the apostles to the Slavic peoples. The Marriage Encounter movement does better with this than the institutional Church. Still, there’s room for growth all over.
For your reference Amoris Laetitia is online here.