For Saint Augustine, love is the “first  movement of the will”, the source of existence. In marriage and the family the reality of love comes to life. That is why the German poet Novalis says that “Children are love made visible”. For in them the mystery of creation is renewed.

This connection between Creator, love and human nature is universally valid. But it is not immediately obvious to people today; rather it must be learnt. And so, in the diocese of Bouar in Central Africa, Father Marcello Bartolomei has established a “School of Life and Love” to help young people prepare for and live the lifetime partnership of Christian marriage. It is proving a success. Faustine had problems. “My daughter became pregnant, and my husband blamed me and sent our daughter to live with her mother-in-law. It was only as a result of the marriage course that we got back on good terms and brought our daughter home.” Caroline had been on the pill. “While on the course, I realised what it meant; I stopped taking it and now I use natural methods. Now we live in harmony.” Tatiana rediscovered “her dignity as a housewife” while on the course, and as for Daniel, he is quite clear: “If I find a woman who can put up with me, then we’ll get married in church.” You are helping to fund these courses.

In the diocese of Natitingou in Benin, Bishop Pascal N’koue runs three-year training courses for couples, who will then pass on the teaching of the Church about sexuality, marriage and the family to others in their parishes. The courses are very popular. The couples are enthusiastic, he writes, and keen “to lay bare the lies with which the media are trying to divide our families”. You are helping this bishop with an annual contribution. And it is not only in Africa that you are helping to enlighten people, in the broadest sense, as to the truths of Catholic teaching on marriage and the family. In Latin America, Asia and Europe as well you are supporting programmes, courses and initiatives – faithful to the words of Blessed John Paul II, who said, “The future of the world passes by way of the family.”

This article can be found in Mirror 0312.