Love in Marriage (Magnificat Booklet): A Review

Love is patient, love is kind… yet, despite St. Paul’s clear enumeration of its characteristics, love is – for most of us – somewhat elusive. We try to describe it, we try to live and experience it – but it’s not as easily apprehended by us as we’d like.  Love thrills us, confuses and disappoints us, warms our hearts and speaks to our deepest longings. We think we know what Love is, how it should guide our lives and inform how we treat each other; but we don’t know the half of it. Reading St. Paul’s beautiful First Letter to the Corinthians won’t help our understanding unless we’re willing to take a deep dive into Love’s mystery, and reflect on it honestly and with purpose. But how can we do that, especially if we’re not used to reading the Scriptures, or if Biblical language doesn’t always “hit home” with us? Enter Pope Francis and his Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia: The Joy of LoveThis sweeping document explores the Scriptural, Magisterial and Pastoral implications for living andloving authentically, especially in the context of marriage and family life. It’s an important document, and one that will be studied by theologians and those involved in ministry to families for years to come. For the average layperson in the pew, however, reading any Papal document (especially one over 200 pages long) is a daunting task. Thankfully, that task is made easier with Magnificat’s companion booklet, 

Love in Marriage, Pope Francis on living and growing in love. At a little more than 100 pages, this tiny booklet makes the Pope’s thought and words accessible to everyone. It also unpacks one particular aspect of the Papal document and makes it manageable: the meaning of Love.

Love in Marriage focuses specifically on Chapter 4 of Amoris Laetitia, in which the Pope fleshes out St. Paul’s “characteristics” of Love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, and its implications for how we love as married couples, children, priests and religious, and single people. He begins by acknowledging that the passage is “lyrical” – and certainly its poetic beauty probably leads many Roman Catholic couples to choose it as one of their wedding readings. But a closer look reveals that the Apostle isn’t peddling poetry or “pretty words.” As Pope Francis goes through the brief passage line-by-line, he breaks open its words and introduces us to their deeper meaning for our lives. We learn that the words Paul uses to describe love (patient, kind, not irritable or resentful, hopeful, etc.) go far beyond the “surface reading” we often give them, challenging us to consider our relationships with those close to us as well as people we don’t know, and learning to love everyone as God loves. This reflection on Love is given in the context of a document focused on marriage and family; but Love is our common, human experience, and a way in which we image God. The Pope’s words call us to a deeper understanding of Love, and how each of us can love generously and well, whatever our state in life. For this reason, Magnificat’s companion booklet is an invaluable resource for anyone seeking to follow Christ by learning to love as He does.

The booklet unpacks each section of Chapter 4 by reproducing the Pope’s words, and offering opportunities for reflection. It takes Paul’s characteristics of Love word by word, as the Pope does, and offers readers the opportunity to more fully understand Paul’s meaning. Each section of the booklet begins with the papal text, then provides three modes of reflection: On The Text, About My Life, and To Conclude. Each area of reflection asks specific questions about the meaning of the Pope’s teaching on that section of Paul’s letter, how it applies to my life and relationships, and where Paul’s (and the Pope’s) words about Love lead me in prayer, and in taking positive steps toward acting on Love in my life. Some of the questions are specifically directed toward one’s relationship with a spouse, but can be easily adapted for all of our relationships: between friends, family members, co-workers, and people we meet in the course of our everyday lives. (For example, one question asks “Do I make an effort to think and speak positively about my spouse?” We can easily replace the word spouse with boss, co-worker, best friend – or that person we find it especially hard to love.) The questions help readers to more deeply consider the demands of Love, and identify the areas where we need God’s help to love each other better. Each time for reflection ends with a moment for prayer, first inviting readers to pray with one’s spouse, or within the quiet of one’s own heart – “I want to say: I thank you…I’m sorry…Please…” – and then providing a brief prayer to say alone or together.

Whether one is married, single, widowed, or a priest/religious, the act of speaking a thought or prayer aloud (or in our hearts) is powerful. Every one of us wants to say – needs to say – I thank you…I’m sorry…Please. In our world of noise, distractions, and rough-and-tumble interactions on social media, this moment of reflection on gratitude, sorrow and forgiveness, and asking for what we need – or how we can help another – is a welcome respite. For those of us for whom saying any of these words is difficult, their repetition throughout the booklet (after having reflected deeply on each aspect of Love) is helpful in breaking down our interior walls and leading us toward the healing God wants to give us (and to others through us) with His Love.

Despite its title, Love in Marriage is for anyone who wants to grow in their experience of God’s love, and learn how to better give and receive Love in their relationships. The booklet can be utilized in a number of ways, and would be an excellent diocesan/parish resource for both marriage preparation and enrichment programs. Its study of Love is ideal for young adults discerning their vocation to marriage or priesthood/religious life. It can be used in parish study groups, or by individuals who want to “dip their toe” into the water of Papal documents, and get a feel for how to read Scripture with a reflective heart. The booklet can help each of us to appreciate the call to Love found in every state in life, and how it is lived in marriage and family, consecrated life, and in the lives of those who are unmarried. Love in Marriage is a book for everyone, and it will help its readers to learn to love more openly, more fully, and with greater reliance on God.

In the end, Love isGod Himself, and He’s calling each one of us to follow Him in the way of Love that leads us to an abundant life (Cf. John 10:10 ) here and now – and on the path to an eternal life of Love with Him.

Ann Koshute teaches theology for Saint Joseph’s College Online Theology Program.

Book Review – 33 Days to Morning Glory, by Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC

Michael E. Gaitley, MIC’s book 33 Days to Morning Glory is an instructional guide for consecrating ourselves to Jesus through Mary. In this book, Father Gaitley provides us with a means to ponder Marian messages that bring us closer to Jesus, creating “a new way of life in Christ” 1 – a way to sainthood.

Before we proceed, let’s discuss what it means to consecrate ourselves to Jesus through Mary. When we go through the 33 day self-retreat, we learn how to dedicate our lives to Jesus through the assistance and prayers of His mother, Mary. We give her all our prayers, worries, anxieties and dreams, and she fills us with God’s grace. As we consecrate ourselves to Jesus through Mary, we give our lives to Christ, lived under the tutelage of Mary. Who’s closer to Christ than Mary? What human understands the heart of Jesus better than Mary? Therefore, what better guide to have in searching for Jesus, than Mary?

In the introduction to the book, Father Gaitley speaks of his own first time consecrating himself to Jesus through Mary and found it to be a life changing experience. I can attest to the same thing. Back in 2012, when I did it for the first time, I was in the process of studying for my Master’s Degree in Pastoral Theology. Uncertain of my future, I placed myself in the Blessed Mother’s care. Since then, God has done some wondrous things with me. I now teach Theology, write children’s books with a Catholic view, blog about morality and virtues, and I speak on the Catholic faith.

Do you want to do some exciting things for the Lord? Okay then. Here’s how Marian concentration to Jesus through Mary works, using Michael Gaitley’s book:

  1. You start the retreat 33 days prior to a Marian feast day (There is a full list of them contained within the book). It just so happens, that if you start your retreat tomorrow, you would finish it on May 13th, the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima.
  2. Each day, you read a passage from the book, accompanied by a short prayer. Michael Gaitley divided the book into four weeks, with each week covering a Marian Saint. In week 1, we learn about the life of Saint Louis de Montfort, who created this lovely tradition of consecrating ourselves to Jesus through Mary. In week 2, we learn about Saint Maximilian Kolbe, who helps us to truly understand the Immaculate Conception. In week 3, we learn about Saint Mother Teresa and how she tried to satiate Jesus’ thirst for souls. In week 4, we hear from Saint John Paul II about how much he loved the Blessed Mother. For the last five days of the retreat, Michael Gaitley summarizes the material covered in the first four weeks and prepares you for your own consecration to Jesus through Mary.

As part of the preparation process, Father Gaitley strongly encourages receiving the sacrament of Reconciliation, and receipt of the Eucharist at Mass on the Marian feast day. After Mass, you recite the Consecration Prayer. You can opt to use one of the consecration prayers that Father Gaitley provides in his book. Once you have done all of that, you are consecrated to Jesus through Mary. It’s that simple!

Every year, I re-consecrate myself to Jesus through Mary by re-reading this awesome book, and by receiving the sacrament of Reconciliation, and then attending Mass on the Marian Feast Day. Every time I read this book, I pick up on something that I did not notice in the past. It’s as if each year, I have little epiphanies that help me to know Jesus and Mary much better.

If you would like to consecrate yourself to Jesus through Mary, then order your copy here.

Virginia Lieto teaches theology for Saint Joseph’s College Online. She is the author of children’s book Finding Patience and blogs at


1 Gaitley, Michael. E. 33 Days to Morning Glory, Stockbridge: Marian Press, 2011, Print. p. 20