Outsourcing Marriage Prep to Novalis?

You may not be aware, but Novalis is offering marriage preparation courses for Catholic couples as part of their “Services to Parishes”. I learned about it by seeing an ad on the back of their French daily missalette Prions en Église.

This raises the specter that some parishes may choose to “outsource” their marriage prep to Novalis. I’m not an expert in this field, but I presume that a diocese would prefer that parishes maintain control and accountability for marriage preparation courses rather than have them outsourced to a private company with a sketchy record on faithfulness to the Magisterium. Read a couple of samples of  Novalis’ flakiness here and here. While I haven’t seen the content of the marriage prep curriculum, I don’t trust them.

My mom is currently involved in an email exchange with Novalis’s Director of religious publications, Jacques Lison, after she nearly puked when reading one of his commentaries in the missalette this past weekend. There she was, sitting quietly in her pew, preparing for Mass to begin, when suddenly she’s assaulted by this dissenting editorial right in the missalette. Lison adheres to the “Spirit of Vatican II” approach. I’ll spare you the gruesome details of his commentary, but I’ll just provide one quote (my translation from the French):

“[the Word of God] grants to the conscience of each believer to be the sanctuary where the voice of God is heard, a sacred place where neither the clergy, nor the Code of Canon Law, nor any exterior rule, not even the dogmas which are at its service can replace”.

That’s the recipe for ecclesiastical anarchy that we’ve experienced for nearly 50 years, with each person making up their beliefs subjectively and arbitrarily.

I must confess that I subscribe to Novalis’ Living With Christ to facilitate participation in daily Mass. I pinch my nose with every payment. However, when each month is over, rather than throw the old missalette into the recycling bin, I’m storing them in a box. Once I have copies for the three years of the entire liturgical cycle, I’ll deep-six the subscription. I’m about half way there. 🙂

That’s what my mom did. She sent a strongly worded email along with her cancellation last week, which prompted a reply from Lison in the same business day pleading with her to reconsider. Wow, are the finances so tight at Novalis that they can’t afford to lose even a single subscriber, prompting the boss to write a reply? Maybe it’s time to tighten the screws on them.

8 thoughts on “Outsourcing Marriage Prep to Novalis?

  1. Novalis is not the only game in town. St. Patrick’s Basilica supplies the St. Joseph Missal in their pews—no cheesy commentaries, just the Mass.

  2. The Midwest theological Forum has an excellent daily missal for the new mass. Leatherbound, all lectionaries readings and most of the prayers too, and with latin translation of much of it so you can learn Latin while praying the mass. AND lectionary readings are American so there is no gender neutral nonsense. Costs about what three years of the missalettes do. I highly recommend it as an investment in peaceful prayer at mass.

  3. I have a Novalis Living with Christ Missal that i picked up at Value Village . My Church, St Michael the Archangel in Belleville, places the St Joseph’s missal in the pews.

    What I like about Living with Christ, vs the St Joseph’s Sunday missal, is that At least Living With Christ has the readings for non-Sunday days like Ash Wednesday and Holy Family which St Joseph’s does not have.

  4. Now that we’re done griping over Missals, back to the main point: Should something as important as Marriage preparation be farmed out to a private company? ANY Private company?

    The short answer is no.

    The long answer is that Marriage preparation is a RESPONSIBILITY of the parish. They MUST make sure in advance that a marriage will be valid, and prepare the couple with no holds barred for what is coming at them when the novelty wears off.
    Most people , Catholics included spend more time planning the wedding than planning the marriage itself, so they should have to go through proper preparation at their parish where they are known, and which will be called on to help support the couple in maintaining their vows as they face the vicissitudes of life. Novalis will not be around for the, but their pastoral staff and fellow parishoners will.

  5. I don’t know what they use in your parishes but around here any couple who presents for marriage is handed a workbook and sent home to do the exercises. They are encouraged to meet with the priest after each chapter but I’ve known them to do the whole book, meet with the priest once a few days before the wedding.

    There is no NFP teachings.

    I think outsourcing might not be such a bad thing in my parish.

  6. Neal,

    You’re right, the parish should be responsible for marriage prep. Marriage is too important.

    Maybe couples should instead outsource the wedding preparations like booking a hall, finding caterers, sending invites, etc. 🙂

  7. I wouldn’t use “private company” as a descriptor for Novalis. In fact, it gets big money from the Feds, i.e. Canadian taxpayer dollars. Specifically from the Canada Book Fund for business development activities:

    Fiscal year 2010-2011:

    Les Éditions Novalis Inc. received $195,752
    Bayard Canada Livres Inc. got $80,873
    Grand total = $276,625.

    … and that’s just one year.


  8. Cardinal Collins new book was published by Novalis.
    I commented today on the Archdiocese of Toronto FB page about the Catholic Register article they ran on his book.
    Why would the Cardinal not get his book published from The Catholic Register – as they have been publishing books?? I said I cannot buy anything from Novalis that sells the likes of Gregory Baum, Sr.Joan Chittister and Hans Kung so I can’t buy the Cardinal’s book.
    Why use Novalis for Marriage Prep? Why give this for-profit company money for any kind of Marriage Prep Program when it proceeds to sell books from people who have scandalized the church??
    How Catholic is it and does there program explain NFP in detail and Theology of the Body??

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