Engaged couples (500 of them over the course of three years) willingly spent a total of 12 hours and 45 minutes in the sessions, which included presentations, couple witness, activity, prayer and (one of the favorite aspects of the program) a "teaching Mass" in which the Liturgy was explained as it unfolded. Maybe that is because the program itself helps engaged couples to situate their future life within the Church's sacramental life. Not that it starts there: no, the first five topics are basically about "natural marriage." After all, sacramental marriage is not an extra layer of holiness added to an established romantic relationship. Sacramental marriage IS natural marriage itself, raised to a new participation in the mystery of Jesus.
Upon entering the program, 26% of the participants said they were active in the practice of their faith; upon exiting, 66% said they are more inclined to be active in their faith.
Upon entering, 26% said they could explain marriage as a sacrament; upon exiting 69% said they could.
Even with the most challenging teaching of them all, couples were impressed with what the Church teaches (most had never even heard those teachings) and why: Upon entering, 38% said they do know about Natural Family Planning and why the Church supports it, 38% intended to use it; upon exiting, the percentage of those who were "considering or definitely using NFP" was 70%, and in some cases, as high as 86%.
"You totally changed my view points of the Catholic Church and I plan on ramping up my faith now. I am so excited now to be married in the Church.... And I plan on bringing this faith into life now and I want to pursue it for me and my fiancé and my future kids."One participant
A solid sacramental preparation program like "Transformed in Love" can't do everything--not when 70% of the engaged couples are already living together and contracepting. But it can help them understand how different a Catholic marriage can be when faith transforms the spouse's very vision of each other and their relationship.
While the program is being published (by Pauline Books--can you see me do the happy dance?), there are still openings for field testing outside of the Boston area. Contact the Boston Marriage and Family Office if your parish or diocese would like to participate.