JosephPearce_112817.png

Joseph Pearce

Joseph Pearce is Senior Editor at the Augustine Institute, editor of the St. Austin Review and the author of books on Shakespeare, Tolkien, Chesterton and other Christian literary figures.


Writing for Faith & Culture

We welcome the submission of articles of between 600 and 1,500 words on topics related to Catholic faith and culture. Articles should be emailed as Word attachments to Joseph Pearce.

Forever: A Catholic Devotional For Your Marriage

Forever: A Catholic Devotional For Your Marriage

An Interview with Augustine Institute Alumnus Bobby Angel

Bobby Angel, a 2016 graduate of the Augustine Institute, is a campus minister and theology teacher at an all-boys’ Catholic high school in Anaheim, California. He and his wife Jackie recently published Forever: A Catholic Devotional for Your Marriage through Pauline Books and Media. Forever is a spiritually inspiring yet very practical book that leads married couples through a six-week personal retreat based largely on St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body with daily prayers, reflections, and practical wisdom that challenges couples to authentically live holy marriages in this time of the New Evangelization. Bobby and Jackie also give talks around the country on marriage and chastity and have a popular blog through their apostolate that can be found at www.jackieandbobby.com. Following is an interview with Bobby Angel about their new book Forgiven and their apostolate.


QUESTION:

Describe your apostolate and how it has come about.

 

ANSWER:

I was born and raised in Florida, my wife in California. We were both “Cradle Catholics” and more or less went through the superficial motions of our faith until late in high school. Separately we both came to encounter Christ through dynamic youth ministry programs and we’ve been involved in youth ministry ever since.

What’s beautiful is how our separate journeys of faith and formation became intertwined, despite our not having met until our late twenties. My wife has been travelling as a musician and speaker for several years, and now I’ve joined the circuit with her, getting to share the Gospel, the call to chastity, and our testimony. I’ve also worked as a campus minister and a teacher at Servite High School, which is an all-male Catholic school here in Anaheim, California, for the last six years. The boys have kept me young, and it’s a blessing to lead these young men to encounter Christ. It’s been a beautiful journey that the Lord has us on, one that I could never have written for myself.


QUESTION:

What inspired you to write Forever?

 

ANSWER:

I think that the book is very much a synthesis of our personal love story as well as our humble attempt to disseminate St. John Paul II’s rich teachings. Jackie and I were already speaking and blogging about chastity when we were approached by the Daughters of St. Paul with the book idea. They were actually praying about this idea of a marriage devotional, and we were blessed to be approached to be the couple to take it on. We all shared a common vision for the final product, so it all fell into place quite easily.

Some special thanks need to go out to Pauline Books and Media, specifically to our editor and design team. The sisters all showed great patience with us as we made our way through the writing and publishing process.


QUESTION:

Forever is centered on the teachings of St. John Paul II. Why are his teachings so important for marriages and families today?

 

ANSWER:

St. John Paul II was a lover of human love. He delighted in families and rightfully saw that, as the first cell of society, as the family goes so goes the culture. You don’t have to look very far to see how marital breakdowns here in the West lead to spirals of sexual confusion, license, disregard for life, and now the redefinition of marriage itself.

So many of our own generation are abandoning marriage, period. Couples today merely live together as some sort of “safe” alternative to a whole-hearted, marital commitment. But mere cohabitation does not satisfy the human longing for a total love, and in fact the current statistics bear witness to this and the high rate of ensuing divorce if a couple trains themselves with this attitude of always having “one foot out the door.” Often, it’s a rebellion against their own parents’ divorce, perhaps a sort of self-defense mechanism, coupled with a jaded notion of marital love. While mercy and understanding must be shown to young people in these situations, we must bear witness to the truth that we are made for a higher love, not a shallow compromise based on self-preservation.

Also, we must be saints! If I learned anything at the Augustine Institute it’s that the New Evangelization requires us to be saints for the new millennium. It’s that simple and that demanding. It’s no surprise that the Church recently recognized the parents of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, Louis and Zelie Martin, as saints in their own right for their heroic witness of prayer, joy, and service. It’s the first time that the Church has raised up a husband and wife to be canonized at the same time. I think it’s a clear message to the world that holiness is not meant solely for priests and religious, but we in the married vocation absolutely have a call to bring Christ to the world.

To bring it back to St. John Paul, my wife and I read a number of books together in our own preparation for marriage, including C.S. Lewis’ The Four Loves, Fulton Sheen’s Three to Get Married, and John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio. These great thinkers also made their way into our book and all echoed similar insights. They helped me and Jackie to dive deeper into the mystery of our faith and shake off any false ideas about Christianity or the human body that prevail today.


MY WIFE AND I READ A NUMBER OF BOOKS TOGETHER IN OUR OWN PREPARATION FOR MARRIAGE, INCLUDING C.S. LEWIS’ THE FOUR LOVES, FULTON SHEEN’S THREE TO GET MARRIED, AND JOHN PAUL II’S FAMILIARIS CONSORTIO. THESE GREAT THINKERS ALSO MADE THEIR WAY INTO OUR BOOK AND ALL ECHOED SIMILAR INSIGHTS.

QUESTION:

What role does prayer as a couple play in your marriage? What advice do you have for engaged couples and newlyweds on how to begin praying together?

 

ANSWER:

Be patient with each other! You’ve likely spent decades praying on your own before coming together, so know that it’s like learning a new dance when you first come together to pray as a couple (and you will step on each other’s toes!). Communicate what you like to do together and what you might prefer to do on your own. For example, maybe you like to do the rosary together but spiritual reading alone; or vice versa. Figure out what works for you as a couple and stick to it.

Also, different seasons of life call for changes. If you’re blessed with children, your prayer rhythm will change. Make the most of the time you have—quality over quantity. Look at children as an opportunity of prayer (and purgation!) instead of obstacles to your prayer. Again, be patient with yourself and give to God little moments of each day.


QUESTION:

Forever is a Catholic devotional for married couples. How are couples to use this book in their daily married life?

 

ANSWER:

While specifically targeted to those already married, we wanted it to be accessible as well for people who are dating or engaged. It’s also designed for newlyweds and for those who have been married for many years, as well as any single person who wants to consume more content on the Theology of the Body (and maybe learn some tidbits about marriage).

We wrote it for the average Catholic in the pew who doesn’t have a theology degree and may never have heard of the Theology of the Body. But we also wanted to put enough gems in there so that those who are familiar might glean new insights. Ideally you could also hand it to someone who’s fallen away from the Church or perhaps use it as an evangelization tool.

We also wrote it with the modern attention span in mind, so the daily reflections are short (about a page or two) and have a daily prayer to do together as a couple, along with a daily challenge or conversation topic.


QUESTION:

What have you heard from couples on how Forever is already impacting their marriages?

 

ANSWER:

The most recurring comment we’re getting is that it’s just nice to have a structured, intentional “God conversation” with your spouse at some point each day. We all fall prey to exhaustion, sloth, and being overtaken by our technology once the kids are in bed. Even if you’re on the same page with your spouse regarding the Catholic Faith, the book forces you to spend time each day with your beloved and connect in a meaningful way. We’re humbled to see how God is using this book to bless couples already and are so proud of the finished product!


QUESTION:

How did your formation through the Augustine Institute prepare you for working in your apostolate and in writing Forever?

 

ANSWER:

From a practical standpoint, the discipline of having to keep up with the online lectures and coursework helped in the self-motivation necessary for my wife and me to make the writing deadline. Especially with kids and my workload at the school where I’m employed, the temptation to avoid writing was constant. Obviously, the intellectual formation I received from the Augustine Institute helped me to comprehend even more the richness of Pope Saint John Paul II’s writings. What I loved about the professors of the Institute was that in their classes there was always present the reality of “How does this apply to the person in the pew?” We’re not called to stay in academia but to go out and present people with the Gospel. That’s what we hope to do with Forever: re-present the Gospel in a way that especially applies to couples and marriages.

Bobby Angel and his wife, Jackie, give talks around the country on marriage and chastity and have a popular blog through their apostolate that can be found at www.jackieandbobby.com.

Episode 4: Dr. Christopher Blum

Episode 4: Dr. Christopher Blum

Beauty is for Everyone

Beauty is for Everyone