Now more than ever it is vital that we understand how the trials of this world are glimpses into the life, death, and resurrection of Christ—a cycle that is ongoing, ever unfolding, and that reveals with greater and greater vividness the wounds born by broken humanity. Where is this more apparent than in fledgling marriages, which like young birds having left the nest of the Church too soon, struggle upon the earth, unable to soar to the heights of heaven?
It is to these little ones that Cardinal Sarah addresses his book Couples, Awaken Your Love!, calling out to them with the solicitousness of a father, encouraging them to take heart and to strengthen their little wings so that, in time, they might fly. This is a book for couples who desire deeper intimacy with one another and who wish to reconsecrate their marriage in light of the Church and its sanctifying work.
The book itself is divided into short chapters that serve as exhortations to couples, reminding them of the sacred, Christo-centric nature of Catholic marriages and calling to mind the very real dangers that families across the world are facing on a daily basis. It is nothing short of edifying. To hear a father speak so insightfully on the plight of his little children is a great comfort. After all, that is one of the deepest longings of the human heart: to be heard and understood in all our weakness and vulnerability.
In an even deeper sense, it is to this sort of understanding that Cardinal Sarah is calling each and every couple: to hear each other in the intimacy of their own hearts in light of the renewing power of Christ’s Divine Mercy. So it is that, at the close of the book, the cardinal offers to couples a retreat practice—a simple, daily way to renew and heal the bond they share. It is a ripple, the first fluttering of wings, a path to flight, and one that, over time, seems bound for heaven.
In the past century, we as a Church had two of the greatest revelations given to us: the promises of Divine Mercy and Our Lady of Fatima. We were promised that turning to these two great mysteries would bring triumph and renewal to the Church but only through trial and through suffering that purify as the blood of Christ purifies. Cardinal Sarah’s book reveals that the home is the fountain of this purifying work: “Mary, restorer of couples,” he writes, “we entrust ourselves to you, so that we may be a living image of the love that unites Christ to His Church. With you, we dare to believe that from any suffering, the luminous joy of Easter morning can shine forth.”
This book challenges us to believe in the redemptive power of Our Lord. For couples in particular, the book offers the first steps to healing and reconciliation, from which will flow the sanctification of the family, and from the family, society itself. Heal the hearts of couples, heal the heart of the family, and you will begin to heal the broken society in which we find ourselves. This little book, with its simple call to understanding and holiness, is the very book for this time and place.
Couples, Awaken Your Love by Cardinal Robert Sarah; Ignatius Press 2021; 138 pages; $15.95 (Paperback)