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Posted May 11, 2012

Book: Together for Life
Author: Joseph M. Champlin
Ave Maria Press. Notre Dame, IN. 2012. pp. 119

An Excerpt from the Preface

Since 1970, over 9 million couples have used Together for Life to plan their weddings in the Catholic Church. That number accounts for nearly 80 percent of Catholic marriages in the United States during the last four decades. The booklet's author Fr. Joseph Champlin, a priest of the Diocese of Syracuse, wanted to strengthen and support Catholic marriages, and he believed that involving couples directly in planning for the liturgical celebration of their weddings was a good place to start. While taking a primary role in this planning is commonplace for engaged Catholic couples today, in 1970 it was quite a bold idea.

In addition to using Together for Life for selecting readings, prayers, and blessings for the wedding itself, many couples have used the booklet when meeting with a priest, deacon, or lay parish minister to prepare for living the Sacrament of Marriage.

You now join the millions of couples who have used Together for Life to prepare their Catholic weddings. The hope and spirit of the book remain the same as they have always been, while new elements have been added to better serve Catholic couples today. The changes in this edition began in conversation with Fr. Champlin before his death in 2008 and incorporate many new voices. Contributors now include priests, deacons, lay theologians, and pastoral leaders from around the country who remain deeply committed to the sacramental life of the Church, and many of them to their own Catholic marriages.

An Excerpt from the Book:

They are no longer two, but one flesh

We all entertain notions of what kind of person a friend or loved one should be. You also know what type of individual you want your future spouse to be. But when we truly love, we pass beyond both of these and accept the loved one simply as she or he is. We know the person well: the faults and virtues, the ups and downs, the positive points and the negative characteristics. I may not care for this or that aspect of your personality, and I wish you would change here or improve there. Nevertheless, and more significantly, I take you as you stand before me; I love you just as you are.

That all sounds very poetic, yet in everyday married life, such acceptance may not come easily. Acceptance demands effort and so does the adjustment that necessarily flows from it. You may notice with surprise after a few months of married life that you are quite irritated by many of your new spouse's habits. At first those differences may be accepted as an unchangeable part of each person's temperament. But later the practical ramifications of those traits may call for further changes.

If your spouse likes to sleep in, will you feel resentment over changing the baby's diaper at 6:30 a.m., getting the kids' breakfast together alone, and leaving for work without a farewell kiss? If you like to get to bed early, will your spouse feel annoyed that you never seem able to stay awake long enough to watch a late-night movie or talk seriously after the children are in bed --- or that you don't like to linger in bed in the morning? To accept and adjust to differing habits takes some giving.

Such an accepting-adjusting pattern of life begins well before the wedding day and will last as long as the marriage does. You will know which areas of living together are most taxing for you as individuals, as a couple, and later as a larger family unit if you are blessed with children.. so, be ready for those concerns and use your best interpersonal skills when problems arise, remembering always that God is love and, in some mysterious way, has drawn you together in that same love.

But God leaves you free to make that love grow or allow it to slip backward, to keep it alive, or let it wither and die. The Lord will help you forge a fantastic future, if you do your share. Joy in marriage much beyond your expectations and happiness far exceeding that which you now experience lie ahead. The only requirement is your willingness to love, to give, to accept, and to adjust. This will at times seem like a huge condition to meet, but keep in mind the community of friends and family who will witness your vows and the support of the Church who calls you into and supports you in this holy union called marriage.

The Table of Contents:

Using this booklet

Frequently asked questions

Three forms of the Rite of Marriage

Entrance rite

Liturgy of the Word

Rite of Marriage

Liturgy of the Eucharist

Nuptial blessing

Concluding rite

Conclusions of the Rite for celebrating marriage between a Catholic and an unbaptized person


A. Marriage between a Catholic and a Non-Catholic

B. Having an existing marriage blessed or convalidated by the Church

C. Honoring ethnic and cultural traditions

D. Five tips for keeping your love strong