EpicPew recently had the chance to chat with Peter and Theresa Martin, authors of The Rule: John Paul II’s Rule for a Joy Filled Marriage of Divine Love. This life-changing and marriage changing book includes never before printed in English documents written by the late Pope St. John Paul II, including his Rule of Life for married couples. The Martins came to possess these documents in a way that only Divine Providence could orchestrate and the rest? Well, that will one day be considered history—but the kind of history that changes the world. Read our conversation below and then do yourself, your marriage, and the world a favor and grab a copy of this amazing book!
An interview with the Martins:
EP: Peter and Theresa, thank you so much for taking some time to talk about your new book and the associated organization, the Wojtyla Community and Institute. Before we begin, could you explain for us what a “rule” is? Particularly in the context of your book?
Martins: What a great question! In this context, a “rule” would be described simply as a way of life. When we first hear the word “rule,” it may come off as negative and oppressive, but this is just the opposite! The Rule is the key to unlocking the “how” behind the “why” we need to live our Christian faith boldly as married couples in our present culture. The Rule guides couples in this discovery of the practical “how to” and moves beyond the struggles of daily life to help them find lasting joy! St. John Paul II points the way to the profound holiness that is possible for spouses, and as this conjugal spirituality grows, he says, “spouses can be so united that they have but one interior life!” So our book introduces the Rule, helps unpack it, and examines what applying this rule to your marriage might look like.
EP: So if you were to describe this rule in one sentence, what would you say?
Martins: St. John Paul II’s Rule gives spouses the key to unlock how to authentically live out their faith, grow in conjugal spirituality (their united relationship with God), and find lasting joy!
EP: The press release about The Rule says that the book includes a translation of the Rule and two other texts that have never been printed in English before. What are these other texts?
Martins: Yes! It is so exciting! All three texts were part of a collection of works of St. John Paul II that were only recently rediscovered during the cause for his canonization. Our book includes the “Rule for Married Couple Groups” in Part One and two other texts: “Reflections on Marriage” & “Love is the Moral Foundation of Marriage” in Part Two, which were written within the same decade as the Rule. Our book uses St. John Paul II’s own words from these other two texts to more fully understand what he meant within the Rule.
EP: So how did you even come to possess these never before seen in English documents?
Martins: (Peter) Theresa was given a copy of the Italian book containing the Rule for her Masters dissertation. The director of her program even said almost prophetically (though we didn’t know it then), “This has been waiting for you.” She said this as she placed the book in Theresa’s hands. After translating it herself from Italian and pouring over it (and the accompanying texts) the way you must for a dissertation, it just resonated with us. Even after she graduated, we both thought, “if St. John Paul II wrote a Rule for couples, we should do this!” Yet, in the very next thought we’d think, “but who are we to do this?” We kept trying to put it out of our minds, but the Holy Spirit wouldn’t leave us alone!
(Theresa) We finally said, “yes!” This started an extremely long process from founding a non-profit to support this mission to acquiring the original documents so that we could have a direct Polish to English translation. The Wojtyła Community & Institute (WCI) has as its mission to spread the Rule of St. John Paul II and support couples in living it out. So, the process of writing the manuscript and founding the non-profit went side by side. To be honest, we have theology degrees and knew nothing about founding organizations or publishing books! But God gave us the answers as we needed them and we just kept saying “yes” even as the future was unclear. But we knew that knowledge of the Rule had to go side by side with a way to live it out practically.
EP: I’d like to get a little personal now, if you don’t mind. Has the rule impacted your own marriage and if so, would you mind sharing how?
Martins: (Peter) From the moment Theresa first began studying the Rule, we felt drawn to it. When we said yes to living the Rule, we not only started a non-profit, but also staring the very first Married Couple Group living the Rule. What drew us to the Rule the most was finding lasting joy and this profound unity between spouses that he spoke of. Movements of the heart, as we all know, take time to mature. We were opening our spousal relationship more and more to God, asking Him to take us where He wants us to be. And the change in the day to day living, is almost imperceptible like watching a child grow. Yet, now we look back over the last several years and are amazed at what God has done! We have an even stronger, more faithful marriage.
(Theresa) You know how when you first get married, and you cannot imagine loving your new spouse more than you do on that day? And yet, every day after that you love them more and more? God just took us slowly into such a beautiful place – our relationship between each other has even more peace, more love, and more joy than before! Even in our intimacy, there is greater union and greater joy – a freedom to live in Christ without fear! We can’t wait to see what He does with our marriage in the next twenty-one years!
EP: Wow, thank you so much for such a beautiful and honest answer! We have one more question, if that’s OK?
Martins: Of course! We could honestly talk about the Rule and John Paul II’s amazing vision for married life all day!
EP: If there was one take away that you hope couples gain from reading The Rule, what would it be?
Martins: We love this question! Recently we shared with Our Sunday Visitor that we hope the take-away for couples will be to “Be not afraid to live the ordinary life with extraordinary grace!” We want couples to know that they have everything they need to be a Saint within the Church. With God’s grace, especially found in the sacraments, and a strong Christian community, they can courageously live the heroic virtue they need to be faithful in our progressively anti-Christian world. This is not about us, we are passing on wisdom from St. John Paul II and he is expounding upon the wisdom of Christ passed on through the Church. Yet, each of us is called to play our part in building God’s kingdom. What part is He asking you to play? Could your marriage change the world? St. John Paul II thinks so!
A little more about the Martins:
From their biography: “In addition to founding the Wojtyla Community and Institute with his wife, Peter is the Director of the Office of Life, Marriage & Family as well as the Director of Communications for the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota. Theresa is the Executive Director of the WCI; however, the most important fruit of her vocation is being mother and home educator to their children, which brings her great joy.
They have been married over twenty years, laugh often, and know this is all God’s doing; they are just along for the ride. To meet the Martins is to meet your next best friends; they are always ready to welcome company, share great food, have lively conversations, pray together, tell the most groan-worthy dad jokes, and pour you a glass of wine. They reside in the Wisconsin countryside along with their eight children.”
Featured image: Peter and Theresa Martin meet Pope John Paul II. Photo used with permission.