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Posted February 9, 2012

Marriage support at your fingertips

By Father Eugene Hemrick

"Couples about to be married write a letter to each other in which they express why they love one another. During the marriage ceremony, I often include excerpts from the letters in my homily. You should see the tears this brings. What is most touching is God's role in guiding them."

The priest who shared this with me was one of several participants at this year's J.S. Paluch gathering for vocation directors. Marriage was its topic.

I am always amazed how much I learn from keynote speakers and informal conversations with people like the above. The keynoter this year, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, spoke on the work of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. He directed us to the bishops' website on marriage (www.foryourmarriage.org). Here is an example of the counsel it gives to married couples:

"Forgiveness is tricky; it is both a decision and a process. It is a decision because it involves using our will and intellect to decide to forgive. It is not a feeling; we need to decide to forgive. Yet it is also a process because we have a right to work through the hurt with somebody who is helpful and will validate our feelings (a good friend, a priest, a therapist, etc.). Do not wait to feel like you need to forgive because that may never happen. That said, if you have a very hard time forgiving, the very first place to start is prayer: Ask God for the grace to decide to forgive as you process the hurts with somebody you trust."

On the same subject of forgiveness we learn: "Many individuals and couples love to privately write down all their hurts and then safely burn the paper in order to grieve and let go of these hurts. If you choose to do this, watch the ritual. The ash is a different substance from the paper (a chemical change). And ash can be used as fertilizer! This is exactly what God wants to do with our hurts as well. God will turn our hurts into good when we give them over to God. But if we hold onto our hurts too much, God respects our free will and may not be able to transform them into the new life God wants for us."

The one thing I came away with most from the Paluch meeting is that no one need go it alone in married life. All that is needed is to enlist the Internet to learn creative ways for keeping a marriage alive and together.

Help, especially from our church, is at our fingertips!