Monday, April 25, 2016

Married Love is Total Self-Giving, Says Pope Francis' Amoris Laetitia

This fourth and last in a series of posts on Pope Francis' Amoris Laetitia looks at how love is a total gift of self. Earlier posts focused on the Pope's praise of the faithful, free, and fruitful aspects of married love.

Pope Francis' Amoris Laetitia (Joy of Love) should be required reading in pre-Cana classes, say commentators, because the Pope explains Catholic teaching on marriage so wisely and elegantly to the current generation. Throughout the papal exhortation, you can find the themes of the four marks or "keys" of married love: faithfulness, freedom, fruitfulness, and a total gift of self. The idea of a total gift of self was a cornerstone of Pope St. John Paul II's Theology of the Body. 

In embracing and beautifully restating this idea of John Paul II's, Pope Francis turns to the Old Testament's Song of Songs:
as the woman of the Song of Solomon will sing in a magnificent profession of love and mutual self-bestowal: “My beloved is mine and I am his… I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine” (2:16; 6:3).(12)

Because married love is total, it alone can "symbolize the union of the human heart with God" (142). Married love is pleasurable, passionate, and "all-encompassing," he says. It "is also exclusive, faithful and open to new life. It shares everything in constant mutual respect" (125).

Married love transcends the present moment and encompasses "a totality that includes the future," says Pope Francis (214). It is a living contradiction of today's "culture of the ephemeral," which "fails to promote love or self-giving" (39). Ultimately, marriage reveals divine love, "a love manifested in the total self-gift of Jesus Christ, who even now lives in our midst and enables us to face together the storms of life at every stage" (290).

The Pope wisely reminds us that a total gift of self is not the same as a total loss of self:
The ideal of marriage cannot be seen purely as generous donation and self-sacrifice, where each spouse renounces all personal needs and seeks only the other’s good without concern for personal satisfaction. We need to remember that authentic love also needs to be able to receive the other, to accept one’s own vulnerability and needs.... (157)
A call to marriage is not a call to martyrdom! It's a call for each spouse to become the person God wants them to be with the help of the other. According to Pope Francis:
As love matures, it also learns to “negotiate”. Far from anything selfish or calculating, such negotiation is an exercise of mutual love, an interplay of give and take, for the good of the family. At each new stage of married life, there is a need to sit down and renegotiate agreements, so that there will be no winners and losers, but rather two winners. (220)

The total, self-giving love of spouses is meant to be shared with their children. Parents who continue to love "when children prove troublesome and ungrateful" are "a sign of the free and selfless love of Jesus" (162). But selfless love can show itself every day, not only in times of crisis, Pope Francis says.
We can be fully present to others only by giving fully of ourselves and forgetting all else. Our loved ones merit our complete attention. Jesus is our model in this, for whenever people approached to speak with him, he would meet their gaze, directly and lovingly (cf. Mk 10:21). No one felt overlooked in his presence, since his words and gestures conveyed the question: “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mk 10:51). This is what we experience in the daily life of the family. We are constantly reminded that each of those who live with us merits complete attention, since he or she possesses infinite dignity as an object of the Father’s immense love (323).

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Fruitful Love Symbolizes God's Inner Life, says Pope Francis' Amoris Laetitia

This is the third in a series of posts showing how Pope Francis' Amoris Laetitia explores the themes of faithful, free, fruitful and total love (or The Four Keys to Everlasting Love, as we call them in our recently released book). The first two posts examined how sacramental married love is faithful and forgiving and respects personal freedom, according to Pope Francis. This post focuses on the theme of fruitfulness in Amoris Laetitia.

The night before Pope Francis officially released Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), I was chatting about it with Fr. Dave Dwyer on the Busted Halo radio show. Revealing that he had been able to get his hands on an advance copy, Fr. Dave told me, "You're going to love it. He says a lot about fruitfulness."

And Fr. Dave was right. Amoris Laetitia includes an entire chapter entitled "Love Made Fruitful," which praises both sexuality and fertility as gifts from God. The Washington Post trumpeted: "It is, perhaps, a strange lesson from a pope: Even the erotic can be divine." Never mind that popes, most notably St. John Paul II, have taught this lesson since the late 1970s. And although one blogger "derisively dubbed" Pope Francis' exhortation "The Joy of Sex," it could just as easily bear the name "The Joy of Fruitfulness."

Stressing the generous cooperation of parents in God's plan for creation, Pope Francis states:
The couple that loves and begets life is a true, living icon – not an idol like those of stone or gold prohibited by the Decalogue – capable of revealing God the Creator and Saviour. For this reason, fruitful love becomes a symbol of God’s inner life (cf. Gen 1:28; 9:7; 17:2-5, 16; 28:3; 35:11; 48:3-4). .... Seen this way, the couple’s fruitful relationship becomes an image for understanding and describing the mystery of God himself, for in the Christian vision of the Trinity, God is contemplated as Father, Son and Spirit of love (11).
Pope Francis sees a strong connection between the themes of faithfulness and fruitfulness. The "joys and sacrifices" of faithfulness "bear fruit as the years go by and the couple rejoices to see their children’s children," says the pope (231). For that reason, the Church is "grateful" for "the witness of marriages that have not only proved lasting, but also fruitful and loving" (38).

Perhaps in penance for his earlier off-the-cuff comment that Catholics don't have to breed like rabbits, Pope Francis emphasizes that "large families are a joy for the Church" because "they are an expression of the fruitfulness of love" (167). He also reaffirms Catholic teaching against the practice of abortion and contraception.

But Pope Francis also goes beyond the concept of physical fertility by talking about "an expanding fruitfulness" (178-184). He encourages both adoption and foster care, saying that they "express[] a particular kind of fruitfulness in the marriage experience, and not only in cases of infertility. ....They make people aware that children, whether natural, adoptive or taken in foster care, are persons in their own right who need to be accepted, loved and cared for, and not just brought into this world" (180).

The pope pointedly remarks: "We also do well to remember that procreation and adoption are not the only ways of experiencing the fruitfulness of love" (181). He gives examples of what our book calls "emotional" or "spiritual" fertility:
Each of us is a “fisher of men” (Lk 5:10) who in Jesus’ name “casts the nets” (cf. Lk 5:5) to others, or a farmer who tills the fresh soil of those whom he or she loves, seeking to bring out the best in them. Marital fruitfulness involves helping others, for “to love anybody is to expect from him something which can neither be defined nor foreseen; it is at the same time in some way to make it possible for him to fulfill this expectation” (322).
Pope Francis cautions that "no family" -- even one with many children -- "can be fruitful if it sees itself as overly different or 'set apart'" (182). All families are "called to make their mark on society, finding other expressions of fruitfulness that in some way prolong the love that sustains them" (181). By arousing a desire for God, reflecting the beauty of the Gospel, and serving the poor, a family's "fruitfulness expands and in countless ways makes God’s love present in society," he says (184).

Monday, April 18, 2016

Pope Francis Praises Personal Freedom in Family Life

The four keys to a lasting marriage are faithful, free, fruitful, and total love, as we explain in our newly released book on Catholic marriage. Pope Francis stresses these same four themes in his recent exhortation Amoris Laetitia (Joy of Love). Our last blogpost looked at what the pope had to say about the first key, faithfulness, and this post looks at his praise of  personal freedom, the second key. 

Some people fear that marriage or family life will restrict their freedom. But in Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis asserts that faithful love and personal freedom are not contradictory. He says:
“freedom and fidelity are not opposed to one another; rather, they are mutually supportive, both in interpersonal and social relationships. ... Honouring one’s word, fidelity to one’s promises: these are things that cannot be bought and sold. They cannot be compelled by force or maintained without sacrifice” (214).
Freedom is not the same as license, the pope reminds us. "It is easy nowadays to confuse genuine freedom with the idea that each individual can act arbitrarily, as if there were no truths, values and principles to provide guidance, and everything were possible and permissible," he laments (34). This false idea of freedom leads people to sweep aside their commitment to love "whenever it proves inconvenient or tiresome" (id.). A self-centered lack of faith in the future is the opposite of true freedom.

"Free love" and "free choice" have become dirty words in some circles. But true "freedom of choice makes it possible to plan our lives and to make the most of ourselves" (33). A freedom enriched by "noble goals" and "personal discipline" is precisely what allows each of us "to give oneself generously to others" (id.).

A person who knows how to give love freely and generously will patiently wait for a free gift of love in return. "Indeed, the deeper love is, the more it calls for respect for the other’s freedom and the ability to wait until the other opens the door to his or her heart,” states Pope Francis (99). A mature love does not fear:
we do not have to control the other person, to follow their every step lest they escape our grip. Love trusts, it sets free, it does not try to control, possess and dominate everything. This freedom, which fosters independence, an openness to the world around us and to new experiences, can only enrich and expand relationships. ... [T]his freedom makes for sincerity and transparency, for those who know that they are trusted and appreciated can be open and hide nothing. Those who know that their spouse is always suspicious, judgmental and lacking unconditional love, will tend to keep secrets, conceal their failings and weaknesses, and pretend to be someone other than who they are (115).
A person who knows how to love freely and generously will also willingly take second place, realizing that the first place in every person's life, even a spouse, belongs to God. Francis explains: "There comes a point where a couple’s love attains the height of its freedom and becomes the basis of a healthy autonomy. This happens when each spouse realizes that the other is not his or her own, but has a much more important master, the one Lord" (320).

Just as loving spouses don't seek total control over each other, they don't seek to micromanage their children's choices either, according to Pope Francis. Instead, the parents' responsibility is teach their children "the wise use of freedom" (274). He explains:
Obsession ... is not education. We cannot control every situation that a child may experience. .... What is most important is the ability lovingly to help them grow in freedom, maturity, overall discipline and real autonomy. Only in this way will children come to possess the wherewithal needed to fend for themselves and to act intelligently and prudently whenever they meet with difficulties. The real question, then, is not where our children are physically, or whom they are with at any given time, but rather where they are existentially, where they stand in terms of their convictions, goals, desires and dreams (261).
As children develop their own personalities and talents and discover their own path, they can teach their parents as much as their parents have taught them. "Inevitably, each child will surprise us with ideas and projects born of that freedom, which challenge us to rethink our own ideas. This is a good thing," maintains the pope (262).

In short, freedom in family life "is something magnificent," he says (267).

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Pope Francis' Amoris Laetitia Praises Faithful and Forgiving Love

Reading the full text of Pope Francis' Amoris Laetitia, I experienced the odd sensation that the Pope and I must have been poring over the same exact Church documents for the past two years. The themes of faithfulness, personal freedom, fruitfulness, and total gift of self are woven throughout the Pope's exhortation, and of course they're the central points of our recently released book The Four Keys to Everlasting Love. This article looks at what Pope Francis says about the first key, faithful and forgiving love.

While advocating mercy and compassion for families who have been torn apart, Pope Francis is not forgetting those who have struggled and yet remain together. In his recent exhortation Amoris Laetitia (Joy of Love), Pope Francis thanks and praises faithful families:
With inner joy and deep comfort, the Church looks to the families who remain faithful to the teachings of the Gospel, encouraging them and thanking them for the testimony they offer. For they bear witness, in a credible way, to the beauty of marriage as indissoluble and perpetually faithful (no. 86).
Looking to Scripture, the pope points out that marriage is "a covenant before God that calls for fidelity" (no. 123). He quotes the following beautiful passage from the Old Testament Book of Malachi (2:14-16):

The Lord was witness to the covenant between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant… Let none be faithless to the wife of his youth. For I hate divorce, says the Lord.
By "supporting one another, growing old together," a husband and wife reflect "God’s own faithfulness," states Francis (no. 319). But fidelity is more than "obedient resignation. Rather, it is a matter of the heart" (id.). Again and again, a husband and wife have to rekindle their desire for love and commitment, he acknowledges.
Every morning, on rising, we reaffirm before God our decision to be faithful, come what may in the course of the day. And all of us, before going to sleep, hope to wake up and continue this adventure, trusting in the Lord’s help. In this way, each spouse is for the other a sign and instrument of the closeness of the Lord, who never abandons us (id.).
In deeply poetic language, the pope compares a long-lasting marriage to a fine wine:
Just as a good wine begins to “breathe” with time, so too the daily experience of fidelity gives married life richness and “body”. Fidelity has to do with patience and expectation. Its joys and sacrifices bear fruit as the years go by and the couple rejoices to see their children’s children. .... Saint John of the Cross tells us that “old lovers are tried and true”. They “are outwardly no longer afire with powerful emotions and impulses, but now taste the sweetness of the wine of love, well-aged and stored deep within their hearts” (no. 231).

What will allow married couples to remain faithful, to stay the course, and reach that final stage of contentment? In a word, love. "We cannot encourage a path of fidelity and mutual self-giving without encouraging the growth, strengthening and deepening of conjugal and family love," states the Pope (no. 89). Of course, he is not referring to the ephemeral love of sit-coms and celebrities, but the love that St. Paul eloquently describes in his First Letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 13, a love that is, among other things, forgiving. 

Forgiveness is not an action that happens once and is over and done. It's a continuing attitude. We don't have to solve everything before we forgive everything. "Even amid unresolved conflicts and confused emotional situations," faithful spouses "daily reaffirm their decision to love, to belong to one another, to share their lives and to continue loving and forgiving," states Francis (no. 163).

To forgive one another, we have to acknowledge our part in the conflict. The Pope advises: "In resolving sincerely to forgive the other, each has to ask quietly and humbly if he or she has not somehow created the conditions that led to the other’s mistakes" (no. 236). "Even if it seems clear that the other person is at fault, a crisis will never be overcome simply by expecting him or her to change. We also have to ask what in our own life needs to grow or heal if the conflict is to be resolved," he adds (no. 240).

To forgive someone, especially when they have hurt us, requires accepting and forgiving ourselves. Sometimes our loved ones tell us things that we don't like to hear. None of us is perfect, but it can hurt when someone points that out. As Francis says:
Often our mistakes, or criticism we have received from loved ones, can lead to a loss of self-esteem. We become distant from others, avoiding affection and fearful in our interpersonal relationships. Blaming others becomes falsely reassuring. We need to learn to pray over our past history, to accept ourselves, to learn how to live with our limitations, and even to forgive ourselves, in order to have this same attitude towards others (no. 107).
We are more able to forgive others when we have received forgiveness from God.  Forgiveness is a grace-filled gift from God, one that we frequently don't deserve. We love God because he first loved us, and we can forgive others because God has first forgiven us. In the Pope's words, "If we accept that God’s love is unconditional, that the Father’s love cannot be bought or sold, then we will become capable of showing boundless love and forgiving others even if they have wronged us. Otherwise, our family life will no longer be a place of understanding, support and encouragement, but rather one of constant tension and mutual criticism" (no. 108).

We are more able to forgive when we pray. If our default attitude tends more toward resentment than forgiveness, we can change. We can change through (1) "a sincere self-examination," (2) "recognizing a need for healing," (3) "the determination not to give up but to keep trying." and most of all (4) "insistent prayer for the grace to forgive and be forgiven" (no. 240). Through all these ways, we can learn or relearn the art of faithful and forgiving love.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Don't Let Controversy Smear the Gems of Pope Francis' Amoris Laetitia

I woke up early with a lot of the Catholic world on this past Friday to catch the earliest possible glimpse of Pope Francis' exhortation Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love). The pope wanted to challenge people, and he did. But he also penned some remarkably wise and beautiful words on how to have an enduring marriage. Here's my article for Aleteia on the chapters of Amoris Laetitia that Pope Francis wrote directly to married couples.

After nearly eighteen months of speculation, the other shoe has dropped and Pope Francis has finally issued his apostolic exhortation on the 2014-15 Synod of the Family. In true Francis fashion, he has issued a document that he hopes will challenge everyone (para. 7). Against calls for “general rules” or “immoderate … change”, he instead articulates a philosophy of accompaniment, which depends not on rules but on relationships (para. 2). In particular he urges us to cherish the good in every family situation, no matter how irregular (paras. 77, 292).

Apart from sparking an inevitable firestorm of controversy around hot-button issues, Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) also directs stirringly beautiful words of encouragement and inspiration to married couples in line with the teaching of Pope St. John Paul II. Commentators have long wondered and worried if the thoughts of John Paul II would be reflected in this newest Church pronouncement on the family. The reading guide for bishops, presented earlier this week, reassured clerics that Amoris Laetitia was heavily inspired by the Theology of the Body, the former pontiff’s ground-breaking discourses on marriage and sexuality.

Amoris Laetitia combines brilliant Scriptural analysis akin to John Paul II’s with a healthy dash of Francis’ plain-spoken, homespun wisdom. Its praise of sexual and erotic love echoes Pope Benedict XVI in Deus Caritas Est (God is Love). Pope Francis’ Chapter One on the Biblical basis of marriage tracks the journey of Adam and Eve from solitude to togetherness, and then to suffering and finally redemption through Jesus Christ (paras. 9-22), just as John Paul did II in the opening addresses of the Theology of the Body.

The two “central chapters” of Amoris Laetitia, and the ones in which Pope Francis speaks most directly to married couples, are Chapters Four and Five (paras. 6-7).  Chapter Four leads us line by line through St. Paul’s much-beloved Hymn to Love in  1 Corinthians 13, while Chapter Five focuses on the fruitful love that is “a symbol of God’s inner life” (para. 11). These chapters offer the following strikingly practical insights on how to live the married vocation to the fullest.

See each other (para. 128). “We often hear in families: ’My husband does not look at me’” or “’My wife no longer looks at me, she only has eyes for our children,’” notes Pope Francis. Husbands and wives must not withhold a “look of appreciation,” a gaze of “contemplative love,” even when our spouse has become “infirm, elderly or physically unattractive,” he continues. “Much hurt and many problems result when we stop looking at one another.”

Listen to each other (paras. 100, 137, 139). “How often we hear complaints like: ‘He does not listen to me,’” adds Pope Francis. Husbands and wives show love when we “listen patiently and attentively,” exercising “the self-discipline of not speaking until the time is right.” Our ability to listen depends on whether we cultivate “interior silence” and an ability to acknowledge the worth of the other person and their perspective. “The combination of two different ways of thinking can lead to a synthesis that enriches both,” he wisely observes. 

And when we finally speak, “words should be carefully chosen,” he says. “Those who love are capable of speaking words of comfort, strength, consolation, and encouragement ... not words that demean, sadden, anger or show scorn.”

Touch each other (paras. 148, 157). Authentic married love will “welcome with sincere and joyful gratitude … a caress, an embrace, a kiss and sexual union,” says Francis. The search for sexual pleasure should not resemble an obsessive insatiability, however. “Excess, lack of control or obsession with a single form of pleasure can end up weakening and tainting that very pleasure and damaging family life,” the Pope warns.

Let nothing rob you of the joy of parenthood (paras. 168, 171, 179). “Don’t let fears, worries, other people’s comments or problems lessen your joy,” Pope Francis encourages us. Children are a gift from God, and the conception of each child marks a moment when “the Creator’s eternal dream [of that child] comes true.” The Pope urges married couples, particularly those who struggle with infertility, to adopt or provide foster care, “offering the gift of a family to someone who has none.”

These nuggets of practical wisdom are a small fraction of the treasures to be found in Amoris Laetitia. The broad sweep of the document covers theological issues like the sacramentality and indissolubility of marriage, economic issues like migration and unemployment, and pastoral issues like marriage preparation, the training of priests, and care for the divorced and remarried. With reason, Pope Francis refers to the Synod proceedings as a “multi-faceted gem” and asks us to devote more than “a rushed reading” to his post-Synodal exhortation (paras. 4, 7).

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Launch into Everlasting Love TODAY!! (Book Excerpt Inside)

At long last, launch day is here!!! After more than ten years of research and writing (and re-writing), my husband Manuel P. Santos M.D. and I are finally celebrating the release of our Catholic marriage advice book, The Four Keys to Everlasting Love, by Ave Maria Press TODAY!! As a special thank-you to all our faithful followers, we're giving you a sneak peek at the introduction to our book. We hope and pray it lives up to your expectations!



“And they lived happily ever after.” Wouldn’t you like that to be the story of your marriage, the story of your life? God wants to give that life to you. His love for you is unmatched in power, intensity, depth, and tenderness. If you want to learn how to love and be loved forever, there is no greater teacher than the love of Jesus Christ.

God’s love for you is faithful. He has said, “I will not leave you” (Jn 14:18). He has sworn never to forsake you (Dt 31:6). He will stay with you always, even to the end of the world (Mt 28:20).

God’s love for you is free. He has invited you, even you with nothing to give him, to feast at the banquet of his love, to eat and drink your fill “without money and without price” (Is 55:1).

God’s love for you is fruitful. You will reap a harvest of eternal life if you do not give up or grow weary in doing what is right (Gal 6:9). God’s love will lead you to all that is right and true (Eph 5:9), and it will show itself in the good works that you do (Col 1:10).

God’s love for you is total. He will refresh you when you are tired and weary (Jer 31:25), he will heal your heart when it is broken (Is 61:1), he will take away your sickness (Dt 7:15), and he will wipe away every tear from your eyes (Rv 21:3–4). He would joyfully and willingly die for you. In fact, he has already died for you.

God wants us to receive his faithful, free, fruitful, and total love, and then share it with one another. Jesus didn’t say only to love your neighbor as yourself. He said “love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 15:12). Like Jesus, we can love with firm commitment and intense loyalty. We can love despite the misunderstandings, the pettiness, the hurts, and the betrayals. What do we call this love that knows no bounds? It is spousal love, as Pope St. John Paul II explained it. It is the love of Christ the Bridegroom for his people—his Bride, the Church.

The bad news is that you cannot achieve this perfection of spousal love on your own. The good news is you don’t have to. Jesus freely offers showers of graces to couples united in the Sacrament of Matrimony. He wants your marriage to be a sign—a sacrament—of his divine spousal love for the world.

Reprinted from the Introduction of The Four Keys to Everlasting Love (by Karee & Manuel Santos, M.D.) with permission from Ave Maria Press.

The Four Keys to Everlasting Love
How Your Catholic Marriage Can
Bring You Joy for a Lifetime
By Karee Santos
and Manuel P. Santos, M.D.
ISBN: 978-1-59471-603-4
256 pages • $15.95
Marriage and Relationships
Also available as an eBook

Monday, April 4, 2016

What the Experts Say About Everlasting Love

When we were researching and writing our book about Catholic marriage, Manny and I were intensely aware of one thing. Although Manny is a psychiatrist, I'm an attorney, we've designed and taught pre-Cana classes, and we're raising six kids, we don't have a theology degree between us. To say we double-checked everything twice is an understatement. So we were overwhelmingly happy when the Dean of Students at the highly respected St. Joseph's Seminary (colloquially known as "Dunwoodie") approved our book for the imprimatur without a single change. That book meant our book was free from any doctrinal error -- an A+ job.

In the words of Bishop William Murphy of the Diocese of Rockville Centre to our publisher: "I am happy to write to you now to say that the theologian who has reviewed [the book] has a high regard for it and highly recommends it with no suggestions of any changes." We were so excited by the news that we asked that theologian to endorse our book, and he agreed!

His endorsement joins those by Christopher West (possibly the most well-known Catholic writer on marriage today) and authors Lisa Mladinich, Sarah Reinhard, Stephanie Calis, and Fr. John Waiss. Read on to see what they say!

"Very appealing."

"A good resource for couples. The authors' married witness and clear attention to Catholic teachings make it very appealing."
--Rev. Nicholas Zientarski, Dean of Students, St. Joseph's Seminary at Dunwoodie, Yonkers, New York

"Practical yet spiritually rich."

"In The Four Keys to Everlasting Love, you will meet two remarkable people who have experienced authentic love, having embraced joy and sorrow alike. Practical yet spiritually rich, this book is the fruit of his private practice as a counselor to couples in crisis and of their ministry together in marriage preparation. While reading it you will discover, as the Santoses have discovered, that just as Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding feast of Cana, so too does he 'restore the wine' in the lives of every couple who invite him to their marriage."
--From the foreword by Christopher West, Author of Good News about Sex and Marriage

"Not to be missed!"

"Whether engaged or long-married, Catholic couples will fall in love again as they implement these simple but powerful strategies for creating a lifetime of mutual joy. The Four Keys to Everlasting Love unpacks the secrets of genuine togetherness through personal witness, case studies, the writings of the Church, and superb practical recommendations. Not to be missed!"
 --Lisa Mladinich, Author of the Be An Amazing Catechist series

"An instant, classic, go-to resource."

"What Dr. Manny and Karee Santos have done with The Four Keys to Everlasting Love is to create a resource that we all need. Yes, all of us. Whether you're single and contemplating marriage, newlywed or an old hand at vows, priest or catechist, this book has something for you. What you're holding in your hands is a book that's going to become an instant, classic, go-to resource for parishes, spiritual leaders, and anyone who cares about the future of Catholic marriage."
 --Sarah Reinhard, Catholic author, speaker, and blogger

"An invitation to heroic virtue."

"In my experience as a Catholic relationship book junkie, this is my first encounter with a book that spans every season of marriage, from engagement to young family life and beyond. Karee and Manny Santos offer something rare: practical, livable, and holy ways for couples to live out their wedding vows in a complete gift of self--in everything from work to money to holidays and hospitality. Looking to scripture, the saints, and St. John Paul II's theology of the body, their wisdom, borne of many years together in sickness and in health, does more than just present a roadmap for the shared life between a husband and wife and their family. The Four Keys to Everlasting Love calls spouses to a true engagement (ahem!) and communion with the Church and the world, one that authentically fosters a 'civilization of love.' This book truly is an invitation to heroic virtue, fully alive in pursuit of God's glory, with your spouse by your side."
--Stephanie Calis, Catholic blogger and author of Invited: The Ultimate Catholic Wedding Planner 

"Spot on!"

"Fearlessly sharing their own marital and family struggles, Karee and Manny Santos show how every family can reach the alluring ideal to which God calls them, drawing others to heaven in the process. Their many easy and practical suggestions are spot on!"
--Rev. John R. Waiss, Pastor and author of Couples in Love

The Four Keys to Everlasting Love
How Your Catholic Marriage Can
Bring You Joy for a Lifetime
By Karee Santos
and Manuel P. Santos, M.D.
ISBN: 978-1-59471-603-4
256 pages • $15.95
Marriage and Relationships
Also available as an eBook