The Easter season and the summer months that follow are full of sacramental celebrations. From the First Communions in April, through the Confirmations of May, and culminating with the start of the wedding season in June, it is a busy time in Catholic parishes. Nor can we forget the Baptisms sprinkled in, as well!
This past weekend, in a visit to the pedestrian city of Chicago, it was hard for me to avoid running into some sign of a wedding—bridesmaids in similarly colored dresses, family members and guests waiting for rides, men in fancier-than-work suits grabbing a quick snack at the local drugstore. And with both great luck and planning, we went to Mass in my old parish, where I relished the beauty of a more traditional Church setting and the soaring harmonies of my old choir.
The weekend was pieced together by visits with old friends, many of whom have worked in Catholic settings. While we ate and drank, we shared funny and serious memories of our special sacramental days, especially First Communions and weddings. Maybe it is because of our long-term Catholic connections, but those stories were more than scrapbook memories. They were part of larger and longer conversations about the impact of these sacraments in our daily lives—both before and after the fancy dresses and catered meals.
It is fun to revisit those past experiences and relive the joyous moments and laugh about the crazy incidents that make them truly unique. But it was also consoling and awe-inspiring to hear how experiencing and reflecting on these sacraments has enriched our lives.
So in this spirit, I offer this week’s set of CatholicsRead books as a mini-library for the engaged, newly married, and parents to share as they walk the journey through these sacramental moments throughout their years together.
In addition to the towels or china place setting, add these two books to your gift list for the engaged couples in your life, A Psalter for Couples from Magnificat and The Good, the Messy, and the Beautiful: The Joys and Struggles of Real Married Life from Ascension. One of the best practices to grow spiritually in marriage, especially as a newly-married couple, is to pray together. Magnificat’s selection of 70 psalms will support a couple through a lifetime of joys, achievements, struggles, and sorrows. For an insider’s look into the nitty-gritty of daily married life, Edward and Beth Sri’s book shows readers that the struggles of marriage are to be expected and, even more so, they are purifying us to make us saints. These are both great gifts for anniversary celebrations too!
A family’s faith journey should be regularly marked by celebrating the Eucharist together. Two resources provide formation that will deepen understanding of this great sacrament. The Pocket Catechism on the Eucharist with Prayers from Catholic Book Publishing includes responses to the 21 most-asked questions about the Eucharist. This little catechism will prove helpful for young parents as they prepare themselves in their roles as primary catechists of their children. For a deeper read on the Eucharist, try Living a Liturgical Spirituality: Journeying Daily with Christ by Joyce Ann Zimmerman, CPPS, and published by Liturgy Training Publications. Here is an in-depth exploration of the radical encounter with Christ in the Church’s liturgy.
Regularly sharing readings from the Bible can enhance any family relationship. Ascension’s The Bible Compass: A Catholic’s Guide to Navigating the Scriptures by Edward Sri provides tools to help you study and understand the Word of God within the living Tradition of the Catholic Church. If you are a more visual learner, the individual or group video-based study Jesus: The Way, the Truth, and the Life also from Ascension will offer an encounter with Christ that will inspire and empower you to center your entire life on Him as you come to know and love Jesus in an ever-deeper and more intimate way.
This week’s last resource is Daily Companion for Men from Catholic Book Publishing. These Scriptures, reflections, and prayers for each day provide just the right amount of encouragement and challenge to guide and inspire men of every age and way of life.
Therese Brown is the Executive Director of the Association of Catholic Publishers. She holds a master of arts degree in youth and liturgy from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. She previously served as senior marketing specialist at United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Publishing Office. She is the author of Graced Moments: Prayer Services for the Lives of Teens (World Library Publications). She resides in the Baltimore area.