Sunday, October 4, 2015

Intimate Graces: How Practicing the Works of Mercy Brings Out the Best in Marriage

God often speaks to me through books.  He knows that reading is one of my primary love languages.  Not only through the Bible, but also through a variety of other quality fiction and non-fiction books on faith, spirituality, and the human condition have I found inspiration, motivation, and hope in areas where disillusionment, despair, and darkness previously loomed largely.

On September 8, 2015, at 9:40 am I was sent the link to read Intimate Graces on NetGalley.  I don’t have a Nook or a Kindle, so my Samsung Galaxy S5 phone would have to do.  I wasn’t sure if I’d like reading a book on it, but I was willing to try.  Only the Holy Spirit could have known how desperately I needed to read this book by Teresa Tomeo and her husband Dominick Pastore.  

To say that things have been challenging at times for Kevin and me during the past 11 years of our marriage and the six years before that we were dating would be a ridiculous understatement. 

I could completely identify with their feelings of being so worn out and overwhelmed by life and work that their marriage and home life suffer.  Kevin and I recognize the pattern of becoming more and more distant.  Worries over finances, career changes, skyrocketing medical bills, and inadequate health insurance start to swirl around faster and faster until a terrible tornado develops. 

Teresa and her husband Dom emphasize throughout this guidebook on how the corporal and spiritual works of mercy can transform a marriage. They discuss how we need to meet people where they are at right now.  Not where they were or where we think they should be, but where they are.   

Their willingness to be extremely honest and vulnerable makes this couple’s witness compelling.  They haven’t had a perfect-looking marriage.  They’ve had some really rough times when they thought that the best thing to do might be to separate and eventually divorce.  The prospect of working through things together became almost unfathomable.  

In fact, two of their good friends, Greg and Julie Alexanderwho wrote the foreword, had some similar marital strife.  The two of them were also led to a closer walk with the Lord and each other and have since started a ministry to help married couples grow in faith and in their covenant to one another.  They talk about their struggles and newfound hope in another book I read, reviewed, and really liked called Marriage 911: How God Saved Our Marriage (and can save yours, too!) 

Fortunately, God placed people and arranged circumstances in their lives so that when things fell apart, they could bear the suffering together.  Love, faith, and the willingness to accept the need for God’s forgiveness, the need to forgive one another, and themselves opened the door to unprecedented healing. 

Dom shares about how a Bible study helped revitalize his faith and change his trajectory in life.  Teresa wasn’t there, yet.  She still needed to mourn the loss of her career and identity as a high-profile mainstream media broadcast journalist.  (Teresa talks about this transition in two of her previous books, which I loved. 

 They're Extreme Makeover and God's Bucket List.)  The best way her husband knew to minister to her at that time was to be a loving, welcoming, compassionate presence.  She needed a trusted friend and confidant with whom she could be honest and feel safe. 

Like Dom, if we’re open to the Lord working in and through us, then we’re changed, so our relationships with other people are also going to be transformed. 

Each chapter and explanation of the 14 works of mercy includes practical tips, a poignant prayer, as well as questions for reflection and discussion.  Intimate Graces is ideal for couples preparing for marriage or for those who are already married and committed to enhancing their vocation through continuing conversation, prayer, and study.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  

For more info, or to order your own copy of Intimate Graces, click here.

Click here to read an interview in Catholic Digest of Teresa Tomeo and Deacon Dominick Pastore. 

To read more about and by Teresa Tomeo, check out her website here.
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