nacflmThis week, I have the pleasure of being a speaker at the conference of the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers (NACFLM, for short) - it's a wonderful environment, since the topic is "Marriage Building Parishes: Blueprints and Building Plans".

I think I'm especially appreciating this meeting's major theme of working on marriages since I've had recent experience with some troubled marriages in my life recently.  Perhaps it's hitting one's "late forties" that has opened my eyes to the lifelong hard work it takes to keep a strong marriage intact.  Honestly, even after twenty-four years of true love, I still feel as though Greg and I are learning day-by-day to truly love and serve one another and to keep Christ at the center of our relationship.

Being here is like being surrounded by newlyweds of all ages.  You see couples walking hand in hand, praying together, and listening diligently to the information being presented so that they can take it back to their dioceses and parishes.  I've never been on a Marriage Encounter weekend, but I'd imagine it has a similar vibe - just a good feeling that comes from being surrounded by many people who are really truly in love with the Lord and one another.

Tonight, our event opened with a prayer service led by Bishop Conlon of the Diocese of Steubenville.  His opening remarks underscored the importance of these meetings in reinvigorating the state of marriage in our Church.  Bishop Conlon was followed by the always-amazing Teresa Tomeo, who gave a keynote based on her book Noise: How Our Media-saturated Culture Dominates Lives and Dismantles Families, which has a spot of honor on my desk.  Although I've spoken with Teresa several times on the telephone, my brief chance to meet her in person today was a big honor for me.  Teresa's commitment to her faith, her energy and zeal for her life's work, and her fantastic communication skills make her one of my role models.  If you don't already own  Noise, do yourself a favor and buy it today.  And if you ever have the chance to hear Teresa speak in person, no matter how far you have to travel to do so, go for it!  I guarantee that you will be edified and inspired!

To cap off an already perfect day (hey, even my flights were perfect - on time, and I got the exit row!), tonight we celebrated a beautiful Mass in the chapel here at Xavier University.  With two bishops presiding and a church full of amazing people, you could truly feel the power of the Holy Spirit among us.

Now it's off to bed, as I am waking up early for my 8:30 (ET) visit with Brian Patrick and the crew of the Son Rise Morning Show.  Producer and friend Matt Swaim, author of The Eucharist and the Rosary: Mystery, Meditation, Power, Prayer is kindly allowing me to crash the studio early for a field trip.

I hope to share more tomorrow about the conference.  Others here tomorrow include Matthew Kelly and Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak.  Until then, God bless you!