Written by Claudio Mora

When we think about this time in the Liturgical Calendar, Holy Week and Easter, we usually associate it with church services, long liturgies and rituals. We think of all this as something that happens ‘in church’ but we don’t see much connection of this season with our own lives.

Holy Week is a time to remember and commemorate the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ. But this is not just a historic remembrance. Every time that we commemorate the events of Holy Week (Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday) we are living again all the events that Jesus went through to bring us new life.

Holy Week is a life journey through all the tribulations that will bring us to a new life, a life that is everlasting!

Tribulations in Marriage

Does the perfect marriage exist? Who can say that they have the perfect marriage? What constitutes a ‘perfect’ marriage? These are all valid questions. Especially when we think that because we have some difficulties in our marriage, we may not be “the perfect couple.”

If we are completely honest, we all know that a marriage is not perfect because it is composed of two people who are imperfect. Therefore, there will necessarily be adjustments to be made, challenges to overcome, shortcomings to forgive. This is what we call the day to day reality of the married couple. We not only recognize these challenges, but we work through them, with the help of the tools that have been given to us in our marriage preparation, in marriage enrichment programs and sessions we have attended of in other resources that we may have on hand.

Faith, Marriage and Holy Week

Faith is also a tool that we can use to work through the challenges of marriage. We can look at our marriage and compare it to Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Especially now during Holy Week and Easter, we need to keep in mind that Jesus went through all the pain, suffering, rejection, but he always had a clear awareness of what was to come…. The Resurrection. “The Son of Man* must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days.” Mark 8:31

When Jesus was taken prisoner, when he was being judged, punished, tortured, nailed to the cross and killed, he knew that the pain and the suffering he was experiencing was not the end of his existence. He knew something bigger, much bigger was coming. He knew God had a much bigger plan for him.

Easter, New Life, and Marriage

Every time that we experience challenges in marriage (and we do experience them) we can think of the experience of Holy Week and Easter. We must go through the sorrow of Good Friday in order to arrive to the joy of Easter. In the same way, in our marriage, we must go through difficulties, adjustments and challenges in order to grow as a couple and continue our married life together. Good Friday, the tomb, the darkness of the sepulcher, is only a stage. In our marriage, the problems, conflicts, arguments, disagreements, are also stages that will pass. The glory of the resurrection will come, and the joy of Easter will bring us new life.

Happy Easter to you and your family from all of us at The Marriage Group!

On behalf of our team, we pray this message finds you in good health and positive spirits as we all navigate these uncertain times.

One thing that is certain, is that couples preparing for an upcoming wedding can still complete an approved, comprehensive marriage preparation program that is already being used by thousands of couples from all 50 states and 60 countries around the world as well.

The Marriage Group is uniquely positioned to take on this challenge. Our platform of course delivery is able to accommodate virtually unlimited numbers of couples registering for and working through the courses at any given time.

So whether your Parish or Diocese has one couple, one hundred couples, or one thousand couples, that need to be accommodated with an approved Pre-Cana program that you can trust, send them to us to register for Living Our Faith in Love.

Very convenient in this Coronavirus pandemic! For being an online course, it was more engaging than I expected. Highly recommend!

Our team is ready to serve you and your couples. We have over 10 years of experience delivering world-class customer service.

In order to ensure our courses are accessible to more couples, we are offering a 20% discount globally on Living Our Faith in Love.

Contact us to learn more about any of our courses by calling 810-957-1550 or email us at hello@themarriagegroup.com. We look forward to the opportunity to talk to you.

In the midst of the Coronavirus outbreak, ministry leaders are eager to understand, use, and promote our popular online, on-demand marriage preparation courses as a trusted alternative to gathered/group events. Many dioceses and parishes are wisely canceling their weekend programs and retreats, leaving engaged couples in a troublesome predicament.

We want to reassure you that we are here, ready to respond to the needs of the Family Life Directors, Marriage Ministry Coordinators and couples around the country.

Our online, on-demand course delivery platform uniquely position us for virtually limitless scale. That means we can accommodate an unlimited number of couples at any given time.

It is important to inform couples that if their gathered/group event for marriage preparation will need to be canceled, they can still continue with their marriage preparation by completing their course online.

Recognizing that many couples are going through the RCIA process in their parishes, now during Lent, they will start their marriage preparation to be able to celebrate their wedding before the Easter Vigil and be completely initiated into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil. We are also here for them, by allowing the couples to continue with their plans and completing their marriage preparation online, safely from their homes.

We are now offering discounts during the outbreak to help make our courses even more accessible to so many couples, now finding themselves searching for a leading, comprehensive online experience that meets the Church’s requirements for Pre-Cana.

Please call us at 810-957-1550 or email me at swerner@themarriagegroup.com

Written by Claudio Mora

Every year from February 7th to the 14th we celebrate “National Marriage Week.” What is National Marriage Week? It is a week dedicated to celebrate and support marriages in the United States and also in other countries around the world.

“National Marriage Week USA is part of International Marriage Week, with 20 major countries around the world now mobilizing leaders and events to strengthen marriage in their countries.”

Strengthening and Supporting Marriages

Why is it important to strengthen and support marriages? Every day we see the increasing number of divorce rates among married couples. Marriage as an institution is under attack. Today more than ever we need to do everything we can to support and maintain the values that bring a man and a woman together in marriage.

An Opportunity for Couples to Build Up their own Marriage

What if once a year you and your spouse had the opportunity to work more intentionally on your own marriage? Would this help your relationship? That is exactly the point of National Marriage week. It is an opportunity for you and your spouse to take a closer look at your marriage and see the areas where you still need to grow and to celebrate those areas in which you are doing well.

Celebrate Marriage, Celebrate Love

The love that brought you and your spouse together needs to be enriched, supported and celebrated. Take advantage of National Marriage Week and all its resources to do that. Specially important during this week is to pray and reflect on the wonderful gift of love that God has given you. We invite you to reflect and read together the following scripture passage and tell each other what it means for you.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated,it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” (1 Cor 13: 4-8)

 

 

Written by Claudio Mora

The name Advent (from the Latin word Adventus, which signifies a coming) is applied to the time of year during which the Church requires the faithful to prepare for the celebration of the feast of Christmas — the anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ.

The season of Advent lasts for four weeks and the preparation for the coming of Christ must be taken in three different contexts:

  • the birth of Christ at Christmas,
  • the coming of Christ into our lives in the Sacrament of Holy Communion
  • the coming of Christ at the end of times

The color purple used during the season of Advent symbolizes penance, preparation and sacrifice, except in the third week of Advent (Gaudete Sunday, which means Sunday of Joy or Rejoicing). That is when the color purple is replaced by the color rose that symbolizes the joy of Christmas that is about to come.

The Meaning of the Advent Wreath

  • The circular shape of the Advent Wreath symbolizes the eternal nature of God; He has no beginning and no end.
  • The four candles symbolize the four Sundays of Advent.
  • Three candles are purple and one is rose — that is the candle that is lit on Gaudette Sunday.

Advent and Marriage Preparation

Advent is the season of hope, the season of preparation, the season of getting ready for what is to come.

In Advent, we experience the anticipation and the excitement of preparing for something that we enjoy. It is something that we have been expecting.

In many ways, marriage preparation is like the season of Advent. It is the anticipation, the getting ready, and the preparation that takes place ahead of time.

The time we dedicate to marriage preparation is filled with expectation and anticipation for the wedding ceremony. It is also for the new life that the couple will start together as a family.

Every time you complete your marriage preparation sessions or online segments, it is like lighting a candle in the Advent wreath. You feel that sense of accomplishment and the feeling that the big day is getting closer!

As you advance in your marriage preparation, you start feeling the anticipation of the new married life you are about to begin. In the same way, our journey through Advent brings us closer and closer to the birth of Jesus Christ and his coming into the world — making everything new.

Have A Blessed Advent

It is our hope that this season of Advent will help you to reflect more deeply into the real meaning of Christmas and the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ into our lives.

Let us rejoice in the fact that He wants to come into our lives and make everything new! Let us prepare our hearts to His coming and let us love in the same way He loves us.

Written by Claudio Mora

How often do we remember to give thanks for the acts of love and kindness we constantly receive? How many times do we take for granted the love that surrounds us? The celebration of Thanksgiving comes into our lives once a year as a reminder to be thankful, not only for the material things that we have, but also for the spiritual gifts we constantly receive.

Be Thankful for Your Engagement

If you are an engaged couple preparing for marriage, you are probably used to the constant expressions of love to one another. That is a very good thing! God created us to love Him and to love one another:

“I give you a new commandment: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” (John 13:34) 

This is the time to learn how to be thankful for the love God has given you in the person who is now your spouse-to-be. In your prayers, remember to thank God for the love you receive from this person!

Be Thankful for Your Marriage

If you are an already-married couple, you may be noticing that the expressions of love are decreasing as the years pass. It is important to go back to the beginnings of your relationship to rekindle the love that brought you together in the first place.

Remember the expressions of love that you gave one another and start doing those things again. Be thankful for the presence of your spouse in your life. God is leading you to heaven through the presence of your husband/wife in your life journey. This is a reason to be thankful.

Be Thankful for Your Ministry

If you are a ministry leader in a diocese or parish, there may be times when you feel that all the work you do is not appreciated or even noticed. The expressions of love and appreciation may not always be there, but your desire to serve with love is always there. That is a gift you have received from God. Be thankful for the opportunity and the call you have received to serve others in the ministry that you do.

Being thankful is not only the right thing to do, it is also what builds relationships with family and friends. Developing an attitude of gratitude brings peace and joy to the heart. In every situation, in every circumstance, let us remember to always live our life with that attitude of thanksgiving to God for everything He gives us.

From all of us here at The Marriage Group, we wish you a blessed Thanksgiving Day.

Written by Claudio Mora

On October 8th through the 10th several new Diocesan Directors of Family Life gathered at the Washington Retreat House in Washington, DC for an orientation that was put together by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and its Secretariat for Laity, Marriage, Family and Youth.

The goal of the orientation was to introduce the Diocesan Family LIfe Director to the different offices and ministries that the USCCB provides, but also to expose the attendees to best practices, resources and networking.

I was able to attend this orientation and to  represent The Marriage Group at  this important event where I had the opportunity to introduce our online and on-demand courses for Pre-Cana and NFP to the Diocesan Family Life Directors from around the country.

Several Family Life Directors manifested their interest in our online programs. We all agreed that the church needs to serve all couples that come to us seeking the sacrament of marriage. Sometimes, special circumstances prevent couples from attending gathered diocesan or parish events. That’s when the online option becomes so important.

We also recognized the fact that younger couples feel much more comfortable with technology, making the online option the perfect fit for them. This requires that the ministry leader be open to try new ways to reach out to younger generations.

The Marriage Group is always excited to assist priests, deacons, and Family Life Directors, leading the way with comprehensive online and blended learning experiences. If you have questions, we welcome you to connect for a conversation about how our courses work so well in your ministry to today’s engaged couples.

Written by Claudio Mora

In my role as a Family Life Director for the Diocese of Dallas, I attended the NACFLM Conference every year and it was always an opportunity to reconnect with my peers, learn something new, discover new materials and make new connections.

This year I was blessed to attend the 2019 NACFLM Conference in Denver, CO but now in a new role, as the Director of Catholic Programs for The Marriage Group.

Attending the conference as a participant was always a good experience, but this year, attending the conference as a part of a team that provides a ministry tool to those attending the conference was a completely different experience.

It was exciting to see old friends, people who have been my peers, my mentors, my companions in this beautiful and challenging ministry in our church. I also had a chance to make new connections, make new friends, people who are either new to marriage and family ministry or people I had never met before. We quickly connected and the conversations were absolutely inspiring!

I had the opportunity to share my passion for marriage ministry with people who share that same passion. We talked about their struggles, their successes and their joys and sorrows. It was a privilege to be able to offer my experience of seven years as a Director of Family Life in a diocese to those who are exploring new and exciting ways to do marriage ministry in our church today.

It is my hope that this conference serves all of us as a way to reconnect, and that we will be able to continue the exciting conversations that we started in Denver. I’m looking forward to continue being of service to everyone I encountered.

Psalm 32:8 “I will instruct you and show you the way you should walk, give you counsel with my eye upon you.”

There has never been a doubt in my mind that God has been guiding my steps throughout my life. His presence has been so clear and at the same time so amazing that I can only give thanks for all the wonderful things that have happened to me.

I was the Director of Family Life in the Diocese of Dallas for seven years, a ministry that I loved and enjoyed in the same way that you love and enjoy your ministry. Today, my life is taking a different direction, and again I’m convinced that the Lord is guiding me and directing all my steps.

I have accepted a position as a Director of Catholic Programs at The Marriage Group, a ministry and a company that is not new to me. During my time as a Director of Family Life in Dallas, I not only recommended online marriage preparation courses from The Marriage Group to the couples that needed it, but also developed a close working relationship with the amazing group of professionals behind the courses.

I would like to reflect on what it meant for me, as a Director of Family Life, to collaborate and partner with a group of people who share the same values and passion for marriage ministry.

Often, Family Life Directors at the parish and at the diocesan level are faced with challenges from couples, such as, “My fiancé is in a different country/city/region and we can’t attend the parish/diocesan marriage preparation course,” or, “We work opposite schedules, so our work shifts won’t allow us to attend a marriage preparation class at the same time.” And then the big question coming from these couples is… “What can we do?”

This is when we as ministers in the church need to look at the reality with a different set of eyes, and look beyond the traditional methods and programs to offer new and innovative options to people who otherwise may feel that the church is not responding to their needs. Online marriage preparation is that option and The Marriage Group has been doing this — successfully — for the last 10 years!

It is my hope that my experience in a diocesan office will help other Family Life Directors to realize that, as ministers, we are called to spread the Word of God to everyone and in every situation, even if that means trying new methodology.

Here are some learnings of my seven years as a Director of Family Life:

The Marriage Group and the online marriage preparation courses helped me as a Director of Family Life in a Diocese to reach out to those couples that, for so many different reasons, could not attend the diocesan sponsored marriage preparation initiatives. I was so glad to be able to offer an alternative to those couples who were struggling with issues like distance, time conflicts, changing work shifts, etc.

The content of the online courses for marriage preparation is to the level that I was expecting and more. I was very satisfied with the information presented to the couples, and I was at peace knowing that even if those couples were not able to attend a live marriage preparation event, they were still receiving great formation through the online experience. The optional Natural Family Planning course is excellent and it offers a great introduction of the Church’s teaching on how to achieve/postpone pregnancy and about the true meaning of human sexuality.

The Marriage Group worked closely with me in putting together a personalized web page for the Diocese of Dallas that welcomed the pastors, the marriage coordinators and the couples every time they accessed the online courses. This personalized experience gave people the confidence that they needed; they realized that this course was not only “approved” by the diocese, but also recommended to couples who were experiencing special circumstances. The personalized experience also included a certificate that looked exactly like the certificate that the couples who attended the diocesan marriage preparation event would receive.

Some pastors and even some parish leaders asked me, “How can I make sure that the couples doing online marriage preparation are actually doing it and not just lying to me?” My answer was, “How can you make sure that the 50-60 couples that attended your last diocesan retreat for marriage preparation really paid attention and participated fully in the course?” Online learning has many advantages:

  • A more comfortable learning environment (the couple choses where and when they access the course)
  • Convenience and flexibility (the couples that are separated by distance can access the courses and discuss the materials at their convenience)
  • More interaction and more ability to concentrate (couples can discuss the topics provided and read the content as many times as they want without distractions).

These are only a few of the many positive experiences that I had while working with The Marriage Group and the online marriage preparation courses and these and much more are what I hope to bring into the conversations that I would love to have with you, my fellow leaders in marriage ministry.

I am convinced that our faith process is a spiral that takes into consideration our past to bring us into the future with a renewed energy. That is exactly what I am offering to you now in my new role at The Marriage Group. I offer you my experience as a Family Life Director to become the platform from which you can project your ministry efforts into the future; use it, take what you need and what is useful to you and leave the rest!

I will be happy to talk to you about these experiences and about the challenges and joys that you encounter in your ministry. Please know that I’m here to walk with you and to be your companion in the journey.

In Christ,

Claudio Mora

In 2009, together with two friends that became business partners, I set out to bring a comprehensive marriage preparation experience online, where today’s couples are most comfortable. Although we were confident that our services would be well-received by couples and clergy alike, I am amazed by how far we’ve come.

In ten years, we have been fortunate to serve more than 25,000 couples — FIFTY THOUSAND PEOPLE! It has been such a joy and pleasure to interact with so many couples during their most exciting chapter of life; those precious months leading up to their wedding day.

What began as an idea to create a better experience for engaged couples, we quickly learned that our web-based courses solved several challenges for ministry leaders who were struggling to serve couples for whom the “traditional” course offerings were not ideal. Whether the couple was separated by distance, juggling hectic schedules and commitments, or simply learned more effectively in a private setting, diocesan and parish leaders embraced The Marriage Group as a true partner in their ministry.

Our team has worked to earn the trust and build relationships with hundreds of priests, deacons, Directors of Marriage & Family Life, and Natural Family Planning coaches. We have served couples representing all 50 states and dozens of other countries. We have worked in collaboration with various dioceses, parishes, sponsor/mentor couples, speakers, authors, and relationship experts to continually produce new programs and course offerings, always with the same goal.

We help today’s marriages start and grow.

-Matt Brooks, Founder of The Marriage Group