SAN FRANCISCO — A new 12-part video series on marriage from Ignatius Press will provide ongoing formation that many couples need “to help us to live the art of marriage well,” said a theology professor who is content director of the series.
“Everybody knows that there’s a great crisis in marriage in the culture today,” said Edward Sri, who teaches at Augustine Institute in suburban Denver.
“We all know of various legal battles that are being fought related to marriage and various pundits making their case for marriage in the media and the public square,” he said in a teleconference about the series, called “Beloved: Finding Happiness in Marriage.”
Ignatius Press in San Francisco collaborated on the series with Augustine Institute and Lighthouse Catholic Media in Sycamore, Illinois.
“Much of the discussion tends to be at the level of ideas, and those ideas are worth fighting for certainly. But we also need help in taking those ideas and bringing them into the daily lives of real married couples,” Sri said. “I think one of the greatest things we can do in the culture today is to help build stronger marriages and families.”
Sri, who also is one of the video series’ presenters, is an author and a nationally known speaker on Scripture and Catholicism. Among those joining him for the April 8 teleconference were Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila and Teresa Tomeo, an author and syndicated Catholic talk radio host.
St. John Paul II said marriage and family life “is going to be crucial for the new evangelization,” and Pope Francis has “called for greater marriage preparation efforts, as well as ongoing formation for marriage,” added Sri.
The two main audiences for “Beloved” are engaged couples and married couples, he said.
“Beloved” features 46 presenters and “explores the essential realities of marriage, dealing with the deepest spiritual, emotional and practical aspects of the sacrament,” according a news release.
“Does marriage matter?” is among the questions the series aims to answer for couples. Other topics include Christ as the centerpiece of marriage; conflict and communication; giving the total gift of self; building a thriving marriage; protecting the sacramental bond; and sexuality and authentic love.
“Marriage isn’t like a basic skill, like driving a car or riding a bicycle; you take a few lessons and then you’ve got the skill for the rest of your life. It’s more like an art,” Sri said. “We need the ongoing formation to help us to live the art of marriage well.”
He said he and his wife, Beth, and many couples he knows wish they had had a program like “Beloved” early on to help enrich their own marriages.
“What I think is so beautiful about this series is that it really brings it home and literally in many ways where I’m actually in a kitchen making spaghetti sauce, which is something I do, and I’m comparing married life to a very special recipe,” said Tomeo, also a series presenter.
“I talk about how, when my husband and I first got married, we had our own recipes and we tried to mix those without really compromising, and it came out to be one big mess,” she said, describing what she discusses in her video presentation.
“I share some of the troubles that we had in our marriage over the years and wondering what would our relationship had been like if we had something like ‘Beloved’ to sit down and watch and share with each other and share with other people at our parish,” she added.
All the presenters “really put it out there, our problems, our issues and what turned it around, and I think it’s going to make a huge difference most importantly in helping people get back to basics in their relationship with God,” Tomeo said.
Archbishop Aquila said that in his almost 40 years of priesthood he has seen marriage prep “grow and develop.” But he said he was struck by Catholics’ answers about marriage prep in discussions and a survey the Denver Archdiocese conducted in preparation for the Oct. 4-25 synod on the family at the Vatican. Dioceses around the world were asked to survey Catholics ahead of the synod.
“The survey asked the question, ‘Did your marriage preparation help you prepare for marriage?’ Fifty-eight percent of the couples indicated that their marriage prep was totally inadequate,” he said.
“In marriage prep, it’s so important today to really engage the couples because they have been bombarded by a secular understanding of marriage,” Archbishop Aquila said. “They have been bombarded by an understanding of human sexual intimacy by a very secular approach and have not really heard the good news that the church offers.”
He said he believes the “Beloved” series will really help couples “to see the truth, the goodness and the beauty of marriage” and “understand the real gift and God’s plan for marriage.”
A trailer from the “Beloved” series can be viewed at https://youtu.be/6xqGHqJGpbU. A complete episode can be viewed at www.augustineinstitute.org/beloved-media-review, which has an example of the guides for couples and leaders that accompany each episode.