If it’s you or your spouse driving your relationship, you may get lost. But God knows the way. In fact, Catholic marriages receive his grace. The problem is that “grace” can seem so abstract that we don’t always know how to access it.
Two new books on marriage written by two married couples share personal experiences and insights on how to access those graces.
Intimate Graces: How Practicing the Works of Mercy Brings Out the Best in Marriages by Teresa Tomeo (Pastore) and Dominick Pastore and The Four Keys to Everlasting Love: How Your Catholic Marriage Can Bring You Joy for a Lifetime by Karee Santos and Dr. Manuel P. Santos share firsthand experiences on how sacramental love can blossom through trials.
Sixteen years of marriage, six children, opposite personalities and a recurring brain tumor inspired the Santoses to write a marriage book.
The Santoses have integrated the reality of their own marriage with teachings from the Catholic Catechism and glimpses into the struggles of some of Manuel’s (Manny’s) clients as part of his psychiatric counseling practice.
The couple has designed and taught a pre-Cana marriage-preparation course and write a marriage advice column called Marriage Rx. Karee also blogs at Can We Cana?
Their differences were obvious from the start, but they married and learned that not only did they need God, but that “Happiness is trusting that if God is for us, then no one and nothing can conquer us. Happiness is knowing that although life and love are not always easy, they are always worth it.”
In their chapter on “Turning Good Marriages Into Pathways to Glory,” the Santoses explain that the Holy Spirit received through the sacrament of marriage makes impossible things possible: “It is this grace that will fill you with the strength to forgive one another, to bear one another’s burdens, to ‘be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ,’ and to love one another with supernatural, tender and fruitful love,” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1642, quoting Ephesians 5:21).
The Four Keys to Everlasting Love includes an array of issues, including: work, finances, in-laws, fertility and family prayer. Through it all, the couple says, “We have learned that only God can turn two into one because God’s love is the glue that holds marriage together.”
In Intimate Graces, the Pastores explain how their marriage, on the brink of disaster, was saved by the grace of God. Teresa is a best-selling author, radio host of the syndicated Catholic Connection talk show and co-host of EWTN’s The Catholic View for Women. Dominick is vice president and senior electrical engineer with SmithGroupJJR and a Catholic deacon.
They share three decades’ worth of experience from their own marriage and integrate those insights with the corporal and spiritual works of mercy into a guide for marriages. According to Teresa, being merciful to your spouse translates into a single word: “self-sacrifice.”
Dominick says service to spouse begins with humility. “Only through the power of the Holy Spirit — by listening with the ears of my heart and seeing with the eyes of Christ — can I get a glimpse into what is truly important and meaningful to my wife,” he said.
Their chapter “Feeding the Hungry” includes feeding the heart emotionally and ends with a “Prayer for the Hungry Heart.” The chapter on “Clothe the Naked” explains the concept of protecting and cherishing each other in vulnerable moments.
Teresa credits Dominick with being the first one to turn to God for help when their marriage was in trouble. “Even if you decide to leave me, I won’t let you leave God,” Dominick told her.
“Recalling these words of my husband as we became increasingly estranged, I can say without a doubt that Dominick ‘covered’ me during one of the most difficult times of our lives,” Teresa said. She credited his loving and unrelenting prayer for saving their marriage and ultimately giving them a brand-new life with a renewed love.
Each chapter ends with reflection questions and prayers. Prayer, Dominick says, lifts up the marriage to Jesus, trusting in his mercy: “There is no greater gift we can give our spouses than to lift them up in prayer.”
Dominick explained that as the Lord came back into their lives, so did love. “We discovered the joy of each other, a Church that had two thousand years of history behind it but was still relevant today, and, most importantly, we discovered Jesus.”
Patti Armstrong writes from North Dakota.