Thursday, July 27, 2017

Book Review: Forever: A Catholic Devotional for Your Marriage #NFPweek

A young couple, she a singer/songwriter/speaker on a worldwide Catholic circuit and he a campus minister and high school theology teacher, have put their professional and personal expertise together in providing a small, accessible version of (sound the trumpets!) Theology of the Body in Forever: A Catholic Devotional for Your Marriage (release date September 1).

This slim volume offers couples (engaged or young-marrieds) six weeks' worth of daily devotions based on Pope John Paul's incredibly beautiful insights. The introduction sets the stage for any who are not quite sure just what Theology of the Body is or would look like in real life. The major content of the book is divided into six units, each addressing a single question that will be explored day by day through that week.

This little book by Jackie Francois Angel and Bobby Angel would be a lovely something extra for a newly-engaged couple who are approaching their sacramental union with faith (and for whom a standard “pre-Cana” program might offer too little in the way of spiritual formation).

So many couples...ask us 
'Where was this teaching 20 years ago!'”

Jackie Francois Angel and Bobby Angel are extremely knowledgeable about Theology of the Body (they first met at a TOB retreat!), but the book came out of their engaged experience: “We read several [TOB-related] books as an engaged couple that helped us to grow together intellectually and spiritually.... This is why we believe in the power of doing spiritual reading together as a couple.” (The introduction alone deserves to be covered in every Catholic marriage prep program in the country.) One take-away line: "What we do to our bodies, we do to our souls." 

Jackie and Bobby invite the couple to read the material prayerfully (together or each one on their own) but urge them, “be sure to talk about it afterward.... Communicate with one another about what moved or challenged you—it will be time well spent.” They also admit that, given the subject matter, it is possible for painful memories of failures or deep wounds to surface. These, too, can be content for prayer and for receiving God's tender mercy and ever-deeper healing.

They start with “Why Am I Here?” in Week One, praying through the week about our being created by the God of love for love, a love that expresses itself as a gift of self. This is followed by Week Two, “What Is Love?”; Week Three, “What Is Marriage?” (here Pope John Paul's “language/speech of the body” has much to communicate about the nature and characteristics of married love); Week Four, “How Can Our Love Last?”; Week Five, “What Endangers Our Love?” and Week Six, “What Is God's Plan for Our Family?”

Two short pages per day cover key areas of Theology of the Body as they relate to a young couple. The “Daily Challenge” suggests a practical way to deepen or apply the day's content. A short Prayer closes the devotions—and opens the day for those who make this book part of their morning routine.

The book closes with an encouraging Afterword on married holiness. There are two Appendices: the first a booklist of recommended reading, and the second a short explanation of Natural Family Planning (NFP) and the most reliable NFP models (based on an ever-growing body of scientific research into fertility).




by Jackie Francois Angel and Bobby Angel
163 pages, from Pauline Books and Media
Release date: September 1, 2017


*Trumpet fanfare by Alexander at orangefreesounds.com and used under the Creative Commons License.

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