"Big Four" Highlights


Joined By Grace

A blueprint for married love outlined in new book

Married for 44 years, John and Teri Bosio have a lifetime of wisdom to share with engaged couples. How they met is in itself an education in faith. As a teenager living in Thailand, where her father was stationed with the U.S. Air Force, Teri began praying for her future spouse “wherever in the world he may be.” John was born in northern Italy and came to Washington, D.C., to study theology, then took a parish religious education job in Overland Park, Kansas, the same year Teri’s family moved there. The pastor said he was the matchmaker of a marriage made in heaven.

To help other couples on a path to happiness and holiness, the Bosios have developed a marriage preparation program called Joined by Grace that has been published as a book by Ave Maria Press. The couple also has produced two parish-based marriage enrichment programs that also are available in book form: Six Dates for Catholic Couples and The Beatitudes: A Couple’s Path to Greater Joy.

Fathers for Good corresponded with John and Teri about Joined by Grace.

Fathers for Good: What is the “blueprint of love” you write about so eloquently?

John and Teri Bosio: The “blueprint of love” is the fingerprint that God left on our hearts when he created us. He made us capable of loving and imprinted in our hearts the matrix of his love – the love that we desire to receive and to give.

As the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, “God inscribed in the humanity of man and woman the vocation, and thus the capacity and the responsibility, of love and communion” (2331). In Deus Caritas Est, Pope Benedict XVI says, “God’s way of loving becomes the measure of human love” (11).

This love represents God’s “blueprint of love” – a love that leads to communion. When a man and a woman marry, they do so in the hope of experiencing the love their hearts long for, and if they do not, their marriage relationship deteriorates and they grow distant. 

When couples prepare for marriage in the Church and look at marriage through the eyes of the Christian faith, they realize that their relationship is a part of something greater than the two of them. It is a part of God’s love story of salvation, within which they have a role to play as a couple. In God’s love for humanity, couples of faith discover God’s “blueprint of love” and because of their faith, they receive the graces they need to use that blueprint to build their marriage. 

In Christ’s love for the Church expressed in the seven sacraments we discover a “blueprint of love” that resonates with our heart:

A love that welcomes and accepts (Baptism).
A love that is always present to give strength and support (Confirmation).
A love that is total self-giving (Eucharist).
A love that forgives unconditionally (Reconciliation).
A love that heals (Anointing of the Sick).
A love that serves (Holy Orders and Matrimony).

We have developed the concept of the “blueprint of love” more fully in the book Happy Together, the Catholic Blueprint for a Loving Marriage.

FFG: Why base your marriage preparation program on the seven sacraments?

John and Teri Bosio: Marriage preparation as proposed in Joined by Grace is not the same as premarital counseling, or as a marriage course, or as an instruction that takes place in private between the priest or deacon and the engaged couple.

Marriage preparation is a process of initiation – a transition from the single life to the life of a married couple that is carried out in the context of the Christian community, the parish. Pope Francis wrote, “Marriage preparation should be a kind of ‘initiation’ to the sacrament of matrimony” (Amoris Laetitia, 207).

Joined by Grace presents marriage preparation as a ministry of the whole parish.To quote from Amoris Laetitia again, “The complexity of today’s society and the challenges faced by the family require a greater effort on the part of the whole Christian community in preparing those who are about to be married” (206).

The goal of Joined by Grace is to prepare couples to continue to grow after the wedding by encouraging them to attend church together regularly, pray together and place God at the center of their relationship, practice generosity toward each other, and stay connected to the parish community while benefiting from its support.

These factors are among the top predictors of marital success identified by the researchers at the National Marriage Project.

Joined by Grace foresees that mentor couples and the parish continue to stay in touch with the newly married after the wedding to provide the support they need during the early challenges of married life. Pope Francis wrote in Amoris Laetitia: “The initial years of marriage are a vital and sensitive period… during which couples become more aware of the challenge and meaning of married life. Consequently, pastoral accompaniment needs to go beyond the actual celebration of the sacrament” (223).

Joined by Grace is a guide for couples, parishes and pastors to carry out this “pastoral accompaniment.”

For more information on the resources available from John and Teri Bosio, visit their Happy Together website.