September 14, 2007

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Pearl of Great Price is a couple’s treasure

Shirley Vogler MeisterAnyone who read the May-June issue of Liguorian magazine knows that it contains a wonderful, surprising article by Redemptorist Father Norman J. Muckerman titled “Blessed Luigi and Maria: A Model for Married Couples.”

Most of us probably don’t know that these two citizens of Italy were declared “Blessed” in 2001 by the late Pope John Paul II. They are “the first married couple in the history of the Church to be beatified together and placed on the high road to canonization.”

The article, with a full-page photograph of the couple, tells why Maria (Beltrame) and Luigi Quattrocchi are unique. Their canonization will mark them as the first to be acknowledged saints.

However, many of us know couples whose lives as exemplary Catholics might qualify them as saints. I’m sure the author of the article knows this, too.

Father Muckerman, by the way, is a former editor of Liguorian, former president of the Catholic Press Association and a recipient of the CPA’s St. Francis de Sales Award for his contributions in the field of publishing.

About the time I read about the Quattrocchis, I also learned that a fellow CPA member, Julie McCarty, wrote a book that can help couples be exemplary, too. It is titled Gospel Wisdom for Christian Marriages: The Pearl of Great Price.

Ironically, although the small, easy-to-read book only costs $2, it is a treasure of Gospel readings, reflections, meditations and closing prayers. It is published by Liturgical Press at St. John’s Abbey in Minnesota. For more information about the book, call 800-858-5450 or log on to

My husband, Paul, and I read it together either after breakfast or after dinner, and we found it inspiring yet practical.

McCarty’s Gospel choices led beautifully into her reflections that often share insights that she and her husband, Terry, discovered themselves.

Julie dedicated the book to him “in honor of those ordinary married couples throughout the centuries who, without fanfare or public acclaim, have mirrored the superabundant love of the Blessed Trinity.”

However, the book is not lofty, and the simple questions in the meditations are very down-to-earth. Paul and I even had many light moments, such as the day this was the question: “Is there something about our marriage that some people might consider ‘irregular’?”

With a straight face, Paul said, pausing to gauge my anticipation: “Yes. You’re short and I’m tall.” Our laughter hampered the second part of that meditation, but it also made us realize how relaxed we felt as we progressed in our spiritual yet practical adventure.

Pearl of Great Price seems perfect not only for married couples, but also for those preparing for marriage, those in Marriage Encounters and even those in counseling.

It could be a step toward a happier life and, possibly, sainthood.

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.) †

Local site Links: