Skip to content

A Daunting But Blessed Challenge


by Monsignor Charles M. Mangan
©Catholic Online 2005

Once when I was attending a prayer-reflection group for Catholic high-school students, a question was posed by the leader to the youth: "What was the most difficult thing that you ever had to do?"

I noted the young people grinning; they knew that I, too, had to take a stab at answering the intriguing query. When my turn came, I admitted that right then I couldn't think of the most difficult thing that I had ever done. But I added that I could think of a difficult thing that I have done frequently as a parish priest: prepare young couples for the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.

A lively discussion ensued. I tried to explain that, for me as a priest, helping engaged couples make ready for their lives together in Christ is a great joy. Yet, the society that forms these young men and women is openly hostile to Catholic--really, traditional Christian--teaching regarding marriage, procreation, fidelity, permanence and a host of other time-honored truths, verities that were once respected and followed by most persons.

Having spoken with other priests, some much more experienced than I, I discovered that my opinion is shared: Marriage preparation can often be frustrating, not because of the young couples themselves, who are usually well-intentioned, but because of the erroneous ideas which they have accumulated, thanks in part to the media, faulty instruction and the like.

A priest for 50 years once remarked to me that when he was ordained in the mid-1950s, preparing young couples for marriage was truly enjoyable.

Predictably, the young man and woman (generally both were Catholics) came from strong, supportive homes with two parents present. Mass attendance every Sunday was a given as was the frequent reception of the Sacrament of Penance. Both were well-catechized, knowing the basics of their Catholic faith. And both were willing to strive for purity before marriage and happily bring forth an abundance of children.

How times have changed! Now, few couples know even the very basic elements of Church teaching. Many come from one-parent homes. Holy Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation is often hit-or-miss. (Forget about Confession!) The vast majority are already sexually active. Many cohabitate. The women quite often are using the Pill or some other abortion-inducing or conception-preventing drug or device and are frequently encouraged, if not demanded, to do so by their spouse-to-be. Any notion of child-bearing is stifled until "after a few years."

What can be done aout this widespread phenomenon? Talk is cheap: action is required.

Father Robert Joseph Fox and I wrote a little guide for marriage preparation entitled Until Death Do Us Part. This text analyzes the Church's wise doctrines regarding marriage and family life and quotes extensively from two watershed papal documents: Humanae Vitae (Concerning Human Life), published in 1968 by Pope Paul VI, and Familiaris Consortio (The Christian Family in the Modern World), released by Pope John Paul II in 1981.

Our work is small (around 100 pages), inexpensive, written for even those with little Catholic education and takes into account couples in which only one party is Catholic. The book has received the ecclesiastical approbation of the Most Reverend Paul Vincent Dudley, the Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Sioux Falls.

Our book frankly presents the main themes of marriage and family, all with a view toward assisting the couple to live as husband and wife as the Church intends. The couple's marriage is the important thing, not wedding "peripherals" such as flowers, dresses, the reception, etc. Unfortunately, with so much focus frequently being placed on the one-time externals of the wedding day, the lifelong marriage can be lost from view.

As a Catholic wife and mother of five children once told me: "Father, make sure you tell those couples to plan also for the marriage and not just the wedding. The dresses and flowers will last for only so long."

Although the prognosis for marriage may seem bleak, there are beautiful young men and women willing to accept the daunting challenge. Couples can live Christ-centered, happy unions. Many want to abide by God's plan for marriage and family.

Our duty--as parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters, friends, clergy and Religious--is to help these precious youth, our brothers and sisters in Jesus, to know fully the "splendor of truth" contained in the cherished tenets of the Church regarding marriage and family. God willing, Until Death Do Us Part (available from the Fatima Family Apostolate, 1-800-213-5541) will be a means to that end.

(Adapted from an article, "Preparing Couples for Matrimony," which appeared in the April 24, 1994 issue of Catholic Twin Circle [page eighteen].)


Mary's Field , VA
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan - Official, 390 66616-1125



Holy Matrimony: Marriage Preparation

More Catholic PRWire

Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718

A Recession Antidote
Randy Hain

Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

The Why of Jesus' Death: A Pauline Perspective
Jerom Paul

A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell

My Dad
JoMarie Grinkiewicz

Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell

Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Catholic Online

Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Catholic Online

Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
Catholic Online

State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Catholic Online

Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
Catholic Online

2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Catholic Online

Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Catholic Online

Franchising to Evangelize
Catholic Online

Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Catholic Online

Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Catholic Online

Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Catholic Online

Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Catholic Online

Full Circle
Robert Gieb

Three words to a deeper faith
Paul Sposite

Relections for Lent 2009
chris anthony

Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell

World Food Program Director on Lent
Catholic Online

Moral Clarity

Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Catholic Online

A Prayer for Monaco: Remembering the Faith Legacy of Prince Rainier III & Princess Grace and Contemplating the Moral Challenges of Prince Albert II
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe

Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Sally Connolly

Glimpse of Me
Sarah Reinhard

The 3 stages of life
Michele Szekely

Sex and the Married Woman
Cheryl Dickow

A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Cheryl Dickow

Modernity & Morality
Dan Shea

Just a Minute
Sarah Reinhard

Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Hugh McNichol

Edging God Out
Paul Sposite

Burying a St. Joseph Statue
Cheryl Dickow

George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Catholic Online

Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell

Action Changes Things: Teaching our Kids about Community Service
Lisa Hendey

Easter... A Way of Life
Paul Spoisite

Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Hugh McNichol

Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Hugh McNichol

Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Catholic Online

Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Catholic Online

Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Catholic Online

Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Catholic Online

Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
Catholic Online

Holy Saturday...anticipation!
Hugh McNichol

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

The California Network
Inspiring streaming service

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Catholic Online Singles
Safe, secure Catholic dating

The California Studios
World-class post production service

Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

School Teachers
Teacher lesson plans & resources

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.