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By Elizabeth and Michael Montgomery

The following Links for Learners study guide is based on an article in the St. Anthony Messenger online edition. It is designed for young Catholics, particularly those in high school.

Links for Learners | August 2003

Helping Couples Prepare for Marriage



Finding Curriculum Connections
Understanding Basic Terms
Learning Ideas
Activity #1
Activity #2
Activity #3
Exercises to Further Explore the Topic
Internet Resources
Research Resources

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Links for Learning

Finding Curriculum Connections for High School Students and Their Teachers

This month’s Links for Learners will support high school curriculum in:

• Morality & Christian living—living our life as God has called us to live, celibate or chaste until marriage
• Catholic spirituality—developing and having an ongoing relationship with the Lord
• Sacrament and vocation—seeing marriage as a union not only blessed by God but also called to outwardly reflect God's love

Understanding Basic Terms in This Month’s Article

Look for these key words and terms as you read the article.  Definitions or explanations can be researched from the article itself, or from the resource materials cited throughout the Link for Learners. 

Mandatory requirement





Marriage Encounter

Family Life Ministries




Marriage preparation



Throwaway culture


Learning Ideas

Here are some ideas to help plan or facilitate further learning on this topic. Adapt them as needed to your situation.

Activity #1

Observe how culture, media and friends use the word love. Compile a list of examples of how the word love is used. Notice how many different meanings this one word can have. Compare and contrast these examples with how the word love is used in Scripture. Look at Matthew 22:36-40 and 1 Corinthians 13.

What surprises you about the cultural definitions of love versus scriptural definitions of love? How would you best define love? What is the difference between being in love and loving someone? Is love more an emotion or an act of the will?

Article Connections
Marriage is often or typically seen differently by our culture than by the Church. We live in a throwaway culture. Marriage is often seen in the same way. When times get tough, we simply end the marriage and look for another. In the article, the author refers to three phases in a marriage: romance, disillusionment and joy. In describing these phases, one understands that marriage is something to be worked on for a lifetime. Thus in the end, love is best seen not as an emotion or a contract that can fade or just be broken, but a decision and a covenant that lasts forever.

Take it Home
Examine the four understandings of love that originally come from the Greeks. They are outlined in C.S. Lewis's book The Four Loves. They are the following: affection, friendship, eros and charity. Charity, or agape, is the closest understanding of the type of love God has for us.

Activity #2

Create a list of all the ways you communicate with the people around you.
Remember that not all communication is verbal. Many of us have a series of looks or gestures that communicate how we feel to those around us.

What are ways that friends communicate with us? Family? God? Is silence a form of communication? How is listening a part of communication? Why is it important to be aware of the many different levels and methods of communication?

Article Connections
Communication is part of almost everything we do. Often men and women have very different styles of communicating. These varied styles may cause conflict in a marriage relationship if not understood and appreciated. Marriage preparation helps facilitate open communication for a couple.

Take it Home
Think of a person in your life with whom you are having a hard time
communicating. Reflect upon the reasons for the difficulty. Journal about your feelings. Explore ideas to help make communication more
effective with that person. If possible, commit yourself to meeting with that person.

Activity #3

In six minutes with no resources, write a one-page essay on the theological development of marriage as a sacrament in the history of the Church. (Can't do it? That's O.K. This is mainly to get you thinking about the topic.)

What are ways we prepare for important events in our life including school and extra-curricular activities? How does the Church help us prepare for important events in our sacramental life? In what ways is God active in your life? How do Catholics understand marriage as a vocation?

Article Connections
The Church requires couples to take part in marriage preparation because couples need to be ready to enter into this life-long vocation. Sacramental marriage is a union among three parties—husband, wife and God. The divorce rate is lower for Catholics than the national average, yet even this number is cut in half if the couple prays together and includes God actively in their relationship.

Take it Home
Interview your parents or grandparents about their marriage-preparation process. Also, ask them about how they understood love when they first got engaged. Then ask them if their understanding of love changed over the years. If so, how? How did their understanding of marriage as a sacrament change over time?

Exercises to Further Explore the Topic

Ask your priest or marriage-prep team to describe how the marriage preparation process works at your parish.

A very simple activity is to play the telephone game with a group of people. Have one person tell something to someone else. Then have that person relay that message to the next person, and so on. By the time the message gets back to the person who started the game see how similar it is to the original message. How effective can you be at communicating the message both verbally and nonverbally?

Have two people sit back to back and have a piece of paper and pencil for each. Have one person draw a picture and then that person has to tell the other person how to draw the same picture, without telling him or her what the picture is of or letting him or her look at it. Compare the two pictures. How could you have communicated better?

Are you in a dating relationship? Brainstorm ways in which you can include God as part of your relationship.

Read Ephesians 5:21-33 to explore one scriptural root for the sacrament of marriage.

Internet Resources

Catholic site from World Wide Marriage Encounter

Catholic site from World Wide Marriage Encounter with links to local and regional activities

The National Catholic Conference of Bishops Web Site and the Committee on Marriage and Family Life. This specific link has a myriad of resources and statements from the US. bishops.

Check your local diocesan Web site for a Family Life Office or Family Ministries Office, such as the Cincinnati Archdiocese Family Life Office.

Research Resources

Try accessing some of these Internet sources for further general reference.  Be aware, however, that some of these sites may charge for downloading articles contained within the site’s archives.

The New York Times

The Los Angeles Times

The Chicago Tribune

The Washington Post

The Miami Herald

The Associated Press

Time Magazine



ABC News

Channel One—online resource for the school channel

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