40 Days of Perfecting Love in an Imperfect World
By Lisa and Kevin Cotter
Ignatius Press, 2016
208 pages, $15
The husband-and-wife duo, who serve the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), provide young people with solid, authentically Catholic methods for healing, chastity and virtuous living during and after broken dating relationships.
“No matter what you’ve done or how many times you’ve done it, God will never see you as a lost cause or a screw up that no one could actually love. Get that out of your head right now,” the couple explain in the beginning of their book.
Lisa, who is the founder of the Made to Magnify ministry, and Kevin, who is FOCUS’ senior director of curriculum, provide readers with daily advice and meditations throughout a 40-day stretch.
Each week focuses on a different topic and incorporates within it Catholic Church teaching, as well as testimonies from those who been hurt through the cycle of the dating culture. Each day provides a “Detox Challenge,” and each week concludes with discussion questions.
“In order to purify ourselves of the influences, we not only need to remove unhealthy habits that are poisoning our lives, but we also need to reorder our understanding of love, dating and sex, and build good habits that will restore our ability to love,” the Cotters said.
In the first week, the authors encourage the reader to “take a break” from dating throughout the 40-day “cleansing period.” The book also describes the benefits of an accountability partner and explains certain “triggers” that may cause one to fall into certain sins repeatedly. Furthermore, the Cotters emphasize that no person is unworthy of God’s forgiveness and love.
The book later analyzes the difference between love and use, saying that every person “is an immortal member of a royal family whose Father is the King of Heaven and Earth.” The Cotters then illustrate how moral virtue and intellect can help one overcome the passions that lead to sin.
“You have an intellect that can reason through the situation, you have a will that can consent to do the right thing, and you do not have to give into the passions that leave you with feelings of regret and disappointment,” the Cotters said. “The virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance will help guide you to order your intellect, will and passions properly.”
Also throughout the book, the Cotters describe the true meaning of sex according to the teachings of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. They explain what it means to truly love someone and why sex is meant to be only within the confines of marriage.
They cover additional topics that defy the sacredness of sex, while encouraging readers to utilize the sacraments of reconciliation and Eucharist, sacramentals, devotion to the Blessed Mother and fasting to overcome the binding chains of sexual sin and unholy passions.
“In your brokenness and emptiness, the only thing that can truly satisfy you is Jesus,” the couple said. “He wants to fill the void in your life that only He can fill. Let Him be your Savior and your life will never be the same.”
All of the topics covered in this book will certainly assist any person seeking healing, forgiveness and renewal from the wounds caused by the poison of the dating culture.
As a Catholic campus minister, I’ve seen a lot of brokenness stem from the lie our culture feeds to young people about sex and relationships. Kevin and Lisa Cotter have essentially provided a tool that will help readers truly grasp the value of dating with a purpose, living in holiness and the ability to freely love and be loved.
Jacqueline Burkepile writes from Fort Smith, Arkansas.