Spiritual Retreats for Married Couples

Blog and Prayer Requests

Balthasar on Marriage

Posted by marriageretreats on April 23, 2016 at 3:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Balthasar interprets marriage as a life-giving form [Gestalt]:

"What could be stronger than marriage, or what shapes any

particular life-form more profoundly than does marriage? . . . When they make their promises,

the spouses are not relying on themselves—the shifting songs of their own freedom—

but rather on the form that chooses them because they have chosen it, the form to which

they have committed themselves in their act as persons. As persons, the spouses entrust

themselves not only to the beloved ‘‘thou’’ and to the biological laws of fertility and family;

they entrust themselves foremost to a form with which they can wholly identify themselves

even in the deepest aspects of their personality because this form extends through all the

levels of life—from its biological roots up to the very heights of grace and life in the Holy

Spirit. And now, suddenly, all fruitfulness, all freedom is discovered within the form itself,

and the life of a married person can henceforth be understood only in terms of this interior

mystery"

The Glory of the Lord, Vol. 1, Seeing the Form, p 27.

US couple testifies about the vocation of marriage to Synod of Bishops

Posted by marriageretreats on October 7, 2014 at 8:45 PM Comments comments (0)

The following news from the Catholic News Service made us happy.

The US couple chosen for introduce the work of the synod called for the clear understanding of marriage as vocation in the Church! Marriage as an ecclesial vocation still is not at all present in the usual parish understanding when speaking of and praying for "vocations" (always restricted to priestly and religious vocations). Here is the newsbrief from today:

U.S. couple at synod calls for 'robust, creative' family programs

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Existing diocesan programs and Catholic organizations aimed at helping Catholic families fulfill their vocation clearly are not strong enough to meet modern needs, a Wisconsin couple told the Synod of Bishops. "We must develop more robust and creative methods to share the fundamental truth that marriage is a divine gift from God, rather than merely a man-made institution," Alice Heinzen told the synod Oct. 7, reading a speech she and her husband, Jeff, wrote. The Heinzens, from the Diocese of La Crosse, were named synod auditors by Pope Francis and were chosen to introduce the work of the synod's afternoon discussion on pastoral programs designed to meet the challenges facing families. Alice is director of the diocesan Office for Marriage and Family Life; Jeff is president of McDonell Catholic Schools in Chippewa Falls. The Catholic Church, its parishes and organization need to review "the methods by which we teach our children about the nature of human sexuality and the vocation of marriage," Heinzen said. In addition, when Catholics talk about vocations and God's call to each of the baptized to serve the church and humanity, they cannot speak only of priesthood and religious life. "Marriage should be included in all programs designed to explore vocations."

Source: http://www.catholicnews.com/data/briefs/cns/20141007.htm

 

 

New Book about the Ministry of Hospital Chaplains

Posted by marriageretreats on September 1, 2014 at 4:30 PM Comments comments (0)

This new book of John is published on the adventures of a lifetime of ministry as Hospital Chaplain - offering a rare view into the world of Hospital care:

Chaplain Vignettes - Expect the Unexpected

 

Prayer for Peace

Posted by marriageretreats on May 28, 2014 at 3:25 PM Comments comments (0)

"Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you." (Jn 16:23)

"Shalom! Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you" (Jn 14:27)

There are wars and dangers of new wars in the world. Witnessing all suffering and atrocities that our world is so full of, all Christians need to ask the Father for the precious gift of peace, lasting peace and good will for the entire world.

Encouraged by the words of Jesus in John's gospel, we can confidently ask for end of wars and for a new era of peace for all peoples.

 

Jesus promised that common prayer will have the efficacy of his own prayer to the Father:

"I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the

midst of them.”(Mt 18:19-20)

The Holy Spirit makes us one people and creates the presence of Jesus where two or three are gathered together in his name - we ask you to join us in prayer for peace in preparation for this Pentecost!

Pray a novena for peace - nine days of prayer beginning from May 31 to June 8, Pentecost - in the form you can do it: daily pray the Rosary to Mary Queen of Peace, or any other prayer you feel inspired. But pray with faith and insistence in communion with all who desire peace, and the Father will answer our prayers:

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asks for a fish?

If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him." (Mt 7:7-11)

The married couple is the image of God

Posted by marriageretreats on April 11, 2014 at 5:10 PM Comments comments (0)

This was the theme of the General Audience of Pope Francis on April 2, 2014.

The Holy Father very clearly stated what is the Catholic view on the dignity of human marriage and on the vocation of Matrimony. Since the profound cathechesis on human love and marriage of John Paul II this teaching was always very much in the heart of the Magisterium of the Church - but unfortunately did not become lived in the spirituality of ordinary parish life - at least not in most places.

It is wonderful that Pope Francis took up this theme for his cathecheses and stated the truth in a simple and clear way for all who listens to it: "This Sacrament leads us to the heart of God’s design, which is a plan for a Covenant with his people, with us all, a plan for communion."

Human marriage reveals God's plan about humanity to mirror God's life: "The image of God is the married couple: the man and the woman; not only the man, not only the woman, but both of them together. This is the image of God: love, God’s covenant with us is represented in that covenant between man and woman."

The Holy Father joins St Paul, who "emphasizes that a great mystery is reflected in Christian spouses: the relationship established by Christ with the Church, a nuptial relationship (cf. Eph 5:21-33). The Church is the bride of Christ. This is their relationship. This means that Matrimony responds to a specific vocation and must be considered as a consecration (cf. Gaudium et Spes, n. 48: Familiaris Consortio, n. 56). It is a consecration: the man and woman are consecrated in their love. The spouses, in fact, in virtue of the Sacrament, are invested with a true and proper mission, so that starting with the simple ordinary things of life they may make visible the love with which Christ loves His Church, by continuing to give his life for her in fidelity and service."

Yes, married life is consecrated life along with that of the religious brothers and sisters living the vocation of virginity!  So, when in your parish they pray for vocations, try to add, ask to be inserted a prayer for vocations for holy Matrimony, becuse the Church and the world needs the presence of couples consecrated in their love, living the vocation of marriage, maybe more than ever..

Speaking of the fragility of human condition in keeping this wonderful bond of conjugal love alive amid numerous difficulties, the Holy Father gave the advice never to miss to have a gesture of reconciliation before the end of day, whatever was the cause of quarrel.

He later added:  "They are three words that must always be said, three words that must be in the home: please, thank you, sorry [permesso, grazie, scusa] — three magical words. Please, so as not to be invasive in the life of the spouse. Please, but what does this seem to you? Please, allow me. Thank you: to thank one’s spouse: thank you for what you did for me, thank you for this. The beauty of rendering thanks!"

Please, read the entire text of this Audience on marriage here

 or watch it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DShLGm-AQSs&feature=share&list=UU7E-LYc1wivk33iyt5bR5zQ&index=15

Joachim and Anne - first married couple canonized

Posted by marriageretreats on July 26, 2012 at 11:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Saint Joachim and Anne are celebrated as models of grandparents, since they are the parents of Mary, Mother of Jesus. We want now to honor them as the first canonized married couple, and so examples of holy married life and ask their intercession for vocations of holy matrimony. All the more since there is great need for couples who live a life of service and love in mutual selfgiving and prayer that sanctifies our world and renders holy the ordinariness of everyday life.

We know very few facts about the life of Joachim and Anne, the only recorded stories being from apocryphal literature, the Gospel of the Nativity of Mary, the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew and the Protoevangelium of James.

"The Protoevangelium gives the following account: In Nazareth there lived a rich and pious couple, Joachim and Hannah. They were childless. When on a feast day Joachim presented himself to offer sacrifice in the temple, he was repulsed by a certain Ruben, under the pretext that men without offspring were unworthy to be admitted. Whereupon Joachim, bowed down with grief, did not return home, but went into the mountains to make his plaint to God in solitude. Also Hannah, having learned the reason of the prolonged absence of her husband, cried to the Lord to take away from her the curse of sterility, promising to dedicate her child to the service of God. Their prayers were heard; an angel came to Hannah and said: "Hannah, the Lord has looked upon thy tears; thou shalt conceive and give birth and the fruit of thy womb shall be blessed by all the world". The angel made the same promise to Joachim, who returned to his wife. Hannah gave birth to a daughter whom she called Miriam (Mary)." (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01538a.htm)

Joachim and anne are usually presented in icons at the moment of their meeting at the Golden Gate of Jerusalem in a loving embrace, described in the Protoevangelium:

"And, behold, Joachim came with his flocks; and Anna stood by the gate, and saw Joachim coming, and she ran and hung upon his neck, saying: Now I know that the Lord God hath blessed me exceedingly; for, behold the widow no longer a widow, and I the childless shall conceive. And Joachim rested the first day in his house."  ( http://www.aug.edu/augusta/iconography/protevangelium.htm)

(The name of the icon above is "The Conception of the Theotokos" - Theotokos is the Greek titile of Mary as Mother of God, and it is depicting the encounter of Joachim and Anne at the Golden Gate)

This is also the third year of this blog that began under the patronage of Joachim and Anne.

Christmas Greeting and Happy New Year!

Posted by marriageretreats on December 19, 2010 at 3:46 PM Comments comments (0)

We wish Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all our readers!

For reflection we propose Pope Benedict’s 2011 World Day of Peace Message on the theme of “Religious Freedom, the Path to Peace”

The message begins with a reminder of the cost of religious freedom in the context of the deadly attack on October 31 at the Syro-Catholic Cathedral in Baghdad. Stressing how this brutality defies religious liberty, the Holy Father said: “It is painful to think that in some areas of the world it is impossible to profess one’s religion freely except at the risk of life and personal liberty.” Then he adds: “At present, Christians are the religious group which suffers most from persecution on account of its faith. Many Christians experience daily affronts and often live in fear because of their pursuit of truth, their faith in Jesus Christ and their heartfelt plea for respect for religious freedom. This situation is unacceptable, since it represents an insult to God and to human dignity; furthermore, it is a threat to security and peace, and an obstacle to the achievement of authentic and integral human development”.

Benedict XVI in this Message reminds us all that religious freedom is a constitutive expression of something that is unique about the human person, the desire to direct one’s self to God. He also quotes Pope Paul VI - to whom we owe the institution of the World Day of Peace: “It is necessary before all else to provide peace with other weapons – different from those destined to kill and exterminate mankind.”

In 2011 our prayer should be perseverant for our persecuted brothers and sisters all over the world. We should ask insistently for the grace that “may all men and women, and societies at every level and in every part of the earth, soon be able to experience religious freedom, the path to peace!”

Lenten meditation: Health care as basic human right

Posted by marriageretreats on March 14, 2010 at 5:44 PM Comments comments (0)

 

 

(In the picture: Christ heals the man with paralysed hand. Byzantine mosaic in the Cathedral of Monreale, Sicily, Italy)

 

 

Good and fruitful Lenten preparations to all of you!

 

We propose for your Lenten meditations the following essay of Fr. Myles Sheehan, SJ, a doctor and provincial for the Jesuits' New England Province, "Health Care: A basic human right" for the Winter 2009-10 issue of Company magazine:

 http://www.companymagazine.org/v272/WI09-AISI.pdf

 

Fr. Sheehan has several important insights that provide good points of reference to look at the ongoing discussion and understand some of suffering of many for lack of health care (although the remark that he does not support the "single payer" form of health care seems like to run against his first assuption about health care being basic human right. Real universal health care that is based simply on the right of each person cannot be provided otherwise. Every other system creates unjust rationing. Health care should be provided on the analogy of public education.)

 

Peace and graces.

Our Lady of Lourdes and the World day of Sick

Posted by marriageretreats on January 16, 2010 at 4:10 PM Comments comments (0)

We celebrate a Healing Novena every year, as the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes is approaching and in our prayers during this time remember not only the intentions of those who asked our prayers for healing but include the general theme of the World day of the Sick of each year.

 

This year this theme is to honor all health care workers, especially thos in the health pastoral care.

 

The eighteenth World Day of the Sick is to be celebrated in the Vatican Basilica on 11 February 2010, Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. This year the World Day of the Sick coincides with the twenty-fifth anniversary of the foundation of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care.

In his Message for the celebration the Holy Father points out that this coincidence will give occasion “to thank God for the ground covered so far in the sector of the pastoral care of health”. Benedict XVI then expresses the hope that “this event will be an opportunity to give a more generous apostolic impetus to the service of the sick and of those who look after them”.

 

“With the annual World Day of the Sick, the Church intends to carry out a far-reaching operation, raising the ecclesial community's awareness to the importance of pastoral service in the vast world of health care.”

 

The service of the health care workers follows and stems from that of Christ: “This service is an integral part of the Church's role since it is engraved in Christ's saving mission itself. He, the divine Doctor, "went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil" (Acts 10: 38)”.

The Pope expresses his heartfelt thanks toward all health care workers: “I warmly thank those who, every day, "serve the sick and the suffering", so that "the apostolate of God's mercy may ever more effectively respond to people's expectations and needs" (cf. John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus, Art. 152).”

“Lastly,” he adds in conclusion, “I address you, dear sick people and I ask you to pray and to offer your suffering up for priests, so that they may continue to be faithful to their vocation and that their ministry may be rich in spiritual fruits for the benefit of the whole Church."

Read the entire text of the Message here

 

Health Care Reform - where are we now?

Posted by marriageretreats on September 16, 2009 at 4:28 PM Comments comments (1)

 

There is a good overview of the current health care debate on the Plain Views (an e-newsletter for chaplains and spiritual care providers) web site: 

Health Care Reform: A Compendium of Key Issues for Religious Leaders.

On September 10th, following on the President's address to the joint session of the Congress, HealthCare Chaplaincy's President and CEO, The Rev. Walter J. Smith, S.J., Ph.D., had the opportunity to deliver this document to the Partnership of Faith, a gathering of New York City religious leaders. Click here to read. We hope you find it useful.

The author's conclusion about the outcome of this debate is expressed in what he calls his Crystal Ball Prediction:

Some consensus will emerge and I think some legislation will pass and be signed into law, but it may turn out to be more of an engine tune-up than an engine overhaul. Nonetheless, I think we?ll have the biggest health care legislation since 1965, but I don?t think it will be as sweeping as earlier Congressional efforts seemed to predict.