Enrichment means that somewhere, there is something of value, of wealth. Families need to be affirmed and shown empathy regarding their hard work in this challenging economy, regarding their endless efforts to prepare their children for success in this world, and regarding their daily renewal of their wedding vows through their intimate partnership of the whole of life. But they need to be given the tools of discernment in order to prioritize the ‘goods’ in their life in relation to the ultimate good: God. Who or what do they serve: God, or mammon? How does everything they are involved in relate to that question? Are they serving money, or mission? Couples need to decide again and again to put God first, that everything else will follow. For the marriages just starting out, the practical tools of listening, setting goals, and resolving conflict should be offered freely and be linked to their marriage prep in a seamless way, understanding that the majority of the couples married in the church may only be willing to be connected online through very short, well produced marriage enrichment videos that offer practical skills that build on and go deeper than what they had a chance to do during their time of proximate marriage preparation. The immediate application value of those practical skills will build the credibility that opens the door to the ‘deeper in’ of spiritual growth, evangelization, and catechesis. We live in a ‘connected world’ where updates occur every minute. We must be in the mix, with our own ‘app’ that provides daily support for our generation. Our family life ministers need to be connected in a way that is inspiring and informative. Since they already give so much, they need not spend time traveling to deanery meetings and the like. Instead, they can hold area meetings in the comfort of their own homes via internet connectivity, or ‘Skype-like’ means. The equivalent to Wiscnet should be investigated, at least in its architecture, as a perfect model for a Catholic network with the same goals of connecting best practices, management, mutual real time prayer events that occur in variant locations, and the opportunity to hear and interact with the Shepherds on a regular basis. Then programs for couple communication that offer opportunities for couples to brush up on their ‘listening skills’ or ‘conflict resolution techniques’ will be available to all couples in the privacy of their own homes, ten minutes at a time, while experiencing a sense of ownership in the universal Church as a result of hearing from the Shepherds as well as the ‘sheep-dogs’.
A partnership of mutual submissiveness: an agreement to be open to the influence of the other as the Holy Spirit’s agent of change in a dynamic, ongoing, lifelong conversion process, the goal of which is to spend the rest of life in mutual selfless giving through intimacy, support, forgiveness, and openness to life. To welcome children and raise them according to the laws of Christ and His Church, leading primarily by example. Marriage and family constitute the school of love: children are one of God’s ways of expressing his vulnerability to our free will: he loves us no matter what choices we make, and is always ready to forgive through His mercy. Even if the wounds received in the family are dealt with long after the children leave the home through forgiveness, the Lord will “restore the years the locusts have eaten up” through the transforming power of His love. And yes, the only way this can exist is with one man and one woman, where each gender is a perfectly compatible, though completely unique ‘other’.