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Another Community Reading Idea

Last week I suggested that developing a shared reading experience within a parish could be a valuable effort at both community building and catechesis. My pick to start this out was Because God is Real by Peter Kreeft. Let me add to the community reading list by recommending Catholicism and Society: Marriage, Family, and Social Issues written by Rev. Edward Hayes, Rev. Msgr. Paul Hayes, and James J. Drumey.

A couple of weeks ago I attended Mass at St. Raymond of Penafort Catholic Church. The pastor’s note in the bulletin included a recommendation of this book for summer reading. The parish uses this book for the ninth grade religious education program thus prompting the pastor to include an admonition to all parents who allow their children to stop attending religious education classes once they are confirmed in eighth grade: Read this book and see what your children will not be learning!

The subject of marriage and family are near and dear to my heart so I took a look at the book. I noticed it was published in 1997. I wondered just how relevant it would still be as we near the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century. I have now completed the first four chapters. I can tell you that it is not only relevant but it is outstanding. I can see why this book is used for high school religious education but I think it should be included in Pre-Canna classes as well. In fact, as the traditional institution of marriage and the concept of family are under assault by the secular forces of society, this book is an excellent primer for everyone on the Church teaching concerning marriage. These are not just random thoughts by the authors. They back up their assertions with references to Scripture, Second Vatican Council Documents, the Catechism and a myriad of papal writings.

Here is a sample:

Marriage is a sacred vocation. It is the state in life to which husbands and wives have been called by God from all eternity. Their meeting, attraction to each other, and decision to set up a Christian home are not the result of blind chance, but are part of the Creator’s divine plan. As instruments of God, husbands and wives are involved in a holy and noble undertaking. They have a responsibility not only for their own salvation, but also that of their spouses and their children. How important it is then that husbands and wives understand the earthly and heavenly ramifications of their state in life, and work to mold their marriages into the supernatural unions that God wants them to be.

Imagine an entire parish community that has taken the above paragraph to heart. Marriages would be strengthened. Families would be strengthened. Catechesis within the home would be strengthened making the parish religious education program richer. There is really no aspect of parish life that would not benefit from a community wide commitment to the principle of marriage as a sacred vocation. I urge you to read this book then pass it on to your neighbor. It makes an excellent gift for a newly engaged couple or anyone who is contemplating marriage.


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