Among those beset by challenges during the COVID-19 era are married couples, many of whom have been struggling in their relationship while weathering the other difficulties the pandemic has created. That’s one of the reasons that promotion of the 2021 National Marriage Week and World Marriage Day is particularly important this year.

Celebrated annually since 2010, National Marriage Week begins Feb. 7 and culminates in World Marriage Day Feb. 14. Accompanying the occasion, which will take place virtually, are two new components: a pre-recorded video message from Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., and a nightly online recitation of the Cana Rosary, based on the book “The Cana Rosary: A Couple’s Prayer” by licensed psychologist and Catholic husband Chris Ebberwein.

“I think because marriage is for keeps, in good times and bad, in sickness and health, couples will find that the Cana reflections will help them find the hand of God in every aspect of their married lives, especially in the moments of difficulty and suffering that all couples must face if their marriage is to endure,” said Peg Hensler, diocesan associate director for marriage ministries and NFP.   

From Feb. 7-13, the Cana Rosary will begin each day at 7 p.m., offering couples seven evenings to pray together and reflect on the meaning behind the prayers and what they mean for their marriage. Spanish language translations of the Rosary prayers and Bishop’s message will also be available. All links and materials can be found at https://dioceseoftrenton.org/building-strong-marriages.

The prayers and Bishop O’Connell’s message are designed to help strengthen couples’ relationships and reaffirm their life-giving role in the Church.

“We have heard from our own Diocese of Trenton parishioners but also have seen in secular media that even the healthiest of marital relationships are under strain as a result of the pandemic, and marital intimacy is suffering,” Hensler said. “This is true for all stages of marriage but especially for working parents who are dealing with childcare issues and uncertainty around in-person versus virtual learning.”

Married for 38 years, Deacon Frank Golazeski and his wife, Kathleen, of St. Ann Parish, Lawrenceville, will participate in the Cana Rosary livestream, lending their voices to the Joyful Mysteries.

“Praying as a couple is a powerful and worthwhile way to pray,” Kathleen Golazeski said. “Being a part of the Cana Rosary for Marriage helps us to witness that.”

She said that despite being at different places on their journey to God, “our shared faith connects us and enables our mutual support. We also draw strength from our commitment to the Church, which helps us to remain detached from the ways of the world.”

Deacon Golazeski believes that meditating on the Rosary as a couple “can help tap into the experiences of the Holy Family. The Joyful Mysteries connect directly with Mary, Joseph and Jesus. The other mysteries can also speak to our experiences as a couple ... because the human experience of Jesus and Mary is present in them all.  Allowing the Mysteries to be present in our lives in one form or another makes our couple-prayer more personal.”

 He continued, “The Joyful Mysteries can also be the frightening mysteries, because each has an element of calamity [e.g. unmarried pregnancy, elderly pregnancy, sword will pierce your heart, lost child] yet joy results through the hand of God.  Marriage has uncertainties, but through commitment and relying on the graces from God, joy can always be present.”

Hensler is hopeful that anyone will benefit from the Cana Rosary. “[It] is especially beautiful for Catholic couples who are looking for something more meaningful than the secular romantic activities associated with Valentine’s Day.”

Jennifer Mauro, managing editor, contributed to this report.