Spiritual Retreats for Married Couples

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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

Prayer Requests

Posted by marriageretreats on February 11, 2014 at 3:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Use this page also for placing your prayer intentions. Just put a comment to this posting.  So all visitors could pray for your needs expressed here! 

If you don't want your prayer request to be public here, then simply e-mail it to us at http://[email protected]

Your name and your intentions will be placed before Our Lady's statue, and we will light a candle as we pray for them.

It is time to speak of God

Posted by marriageretreats on December 15, 2012 at 1:35 PM Comments comments (1)

A quote from one of Cardinal Walter Kasper's lectures, which I think is very inspiring in the present cultural-spiritual climate:

"It is time to speak of God, to testify and to think about God. If theology wishes to gain a hearing amidst the contemporary pluralist Babel of voices and opinions, it must firstly and above all know what it is. It can only have relevance if it steadfastly maintains its own identity, that is, as speaking of God in a distinctive and at the same time in an engaging manner. If it does not do so, theology and the Church will be relegated to the role of ethical or moral institutions which in the end no-one wants to listen to. If on the other hand it speaks in a new and fresh way of the living God who is love, then it will render a service to life, freedom, justice, solidarity and love, then it can serve the dignity of humanity and the truth of reality, and open up perspectives of hope in all the aporia of the present. " 

Read the text of the entire lecture entitled  "The Timeliness of Speaking of God -Freedom and Communion as Basic Concepts of Theology" (March 2, 2010)  or watch its video on the following web site : http://www.aquinas.emory.edu/kasper.html

Especially important what he says about the theology of the Trinity, of the 'God of Jesus Christ'.

A good help for personal prayer

Posted by marriageretreats on August 1, 2012 at 4:35 PM Comments comments (0)

We have found a very good little booklet by Ralph Martin, entitled How Can I Pray?.

We recommend this short writing that is very practical treatment of the issues that arise when one wants to have a personal prayer life, or for a couple who desries to insert some prayertime in their daily rythm of life.

 Written in direct and understandable way, with Scriptural quotations it can be used by anyone. We mostly recommend to read it at the beginning of a spiritual retreat or exercises in daily life.

The booklet is out of print but you can read on the web site above or download as a Word file from here.

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.

Edith Stein

Posted by marriageretreats on July 25, 2012 at 7:10 PM Comments comments (0)

I just finished Edith Stein – Self Portrait In Letters 1916-1942. (ICS Publications; Institute of Carmelite Studies Vol. V; The Collected Works of Edith Stein). I believe her letters can be very helpful, inspiring, and thought-provoking to members of NACC and all who minister as chaplains.

Edith Stein (Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) was born in 1891 in Germany. She was an intellectual leader and radical feminist in the women’s rights movement in Europe and was a philosopher par excellent. These letters, written before and after she converted from Jewish atheist to Roman Catholic reveal her greatness of intellect, her practical knowledge, and her vast relationships and communications with the important thinkers of her era.

What is of perhaps of greatest interest and usefulness to hospital chaplains would be her method of spiritual direction and counseling. What I find so important in her method, beside her very practical advice, is her continual emphasis of instilling a trust in God and in God’s Providence no matter how events turn out. And, even more, her revealing of her own desire that God’s will be done as being her will. Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta) lived her desire even as she was taken from her Carmelite monastery by the Nazis and gassed at Auschwitz for being a Jewish woman.

On a practical side, being short notes and letters the book can be easily set down and picked up again without losing continuity, surely a helpful thing for hospital chaplains. There is much more to be gleaned from the book than described above but this will depend on the individual interests and tastes of the reader.

Accepting the grace offered

Posted by marriageretreats on July 4, 2012 at 12:40 AM Comments comments (0)

There is the question of always trying to understand - as much as it is possible for us-  which way the suffering and death of Christ is benefiting us. Maybe the following brings us more near to accept the mystery.

When I feel poor in strength there is a way to become rich, to get it from Who has it all and want to share it with me so strongly that he died for make me believe in His Love.

Father Cantalamessa - Preacher of the Pope - often refers to this encouragement coming from Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, as in the following excerpt from the homily he gave to the Papal Household on the last Good Friday:

'There is no music where there is no ear to hear it, no matter how loud the orchestra sounds; there is no grace where there is no faith to receive it.

In an Easter homily of the 4thcentury, the bishop pronounced these extraordinarily modern, and one could say existentialist, words: “For every man, the beginning of life is when Christ was immolated for him. However, Christ is immolated for him at the moment he recognizes the grace and becomes conscious of the life procured for him by that immolation.”[Paschal Homily of the year 387 (SCh 36, p. 59 f.)]

However, let us stay on the safe side; let us listen to a doctor of the Church. “What I cannot obtain by myself – writes Saint Bernard –, I appropriate (literally, I usurp!) with confidence from the pierced side of the Lord., because he is full of mercy. Hence my merit is the mercy of God. I am certainly not poor in merits, as long as he is rich in mercy. If the mercies of the Lord are many (Psalm 119:156), I will also abound in merits. And what about my own righteousness? O Lord, I will remember only your righteousness. In fact, it is also mine, because you are righteousness for me on behalf of God” (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:30).[Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Sermons on the Song of Songs, 61, 4-5 (PL 183, 1072)]' (Homily of Good Friday 2012 in Saint Peter’s Basilica, http://www.cantalamessa.org/?p=1654&lang=en )

The Sermons of Saint Bernard on the Song of Songs are availble on the following site:

http://www.pathsoflove.com/bernard/songofsongs/contents.html

The Sermon 61 on The Song of Songs is entitled 'My Dove in the Clefts of the Rock', and here is the quote from this translation:

"But as for me, whatever is lacking in my own resources I appropriate for myself from the heart of the Lord, which overflows with mercy. And there is no lack of clefts by which they are poured out. They pierced his hands and his feet, they gored his side with a lance... My merit therefore is the mercy of the Lord. Surely I am not devoid of merit as long as he is not of mercy. And if the Lord abounds in mercy, I too must abound in merits. But what if I am aware of my many failings? Then, where failings abounded, grace abounded all the more. And if the mercies of the Lord are from eternity to eternity, I for my part will chant the mercies of the Lord forever. But would this be my own righteousness? 'Lord, I will be mindful of your righteousness only.' For that is also mine, since God has made you my righteousness. Ought I to be afraid that the one will not be enough for us both? No, this is not the short cloak to which the prophet referred, that cannot cover two. 'Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness.' What is longer than eternity? A righteousness that is ample and everlasting will amply cover both you and me. In me indeed it covers a multitude of sins, but in you, Lord, a treasury of loving-kindness, a wealth of goodness. These are stored up for me in the clefts of the rock. How vast in them the store of your abounding goodness, hidden certainly, but only from those who perish! Why should what is holy be given to dogs, or pearls to pigs? To us however God has revealed them by his Spirit, and has even led us by the open clefts into the holy place. What an abundance of goodness is here, what fulness of grace, what perfection of virtue!"

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!”

New, revised edition of our Manual

Posted by marriageretreats on July 10, 2010 at 5:16 PM Comments comments (0)

We announce that the new, revised edition of our book is available – for a new, lower price (and for now, it is eligible for FREE Summer Shipping from Lulu.com).

It has also a new title:

 

“Spiritual Exercises for Married Couples: Finding Our Way Together: a Retreat for Companions”.

 

Here is the link to the book:

http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/spiritual-exercises-for-married-couples-finding-our-way-together-a-retreat-for-companions/11720017?productTrackingContext=search_results/search_shelf/center/1  

 

Or, you can get to it by visiting our “Store front”:

 

 http://stores.lulu.com/store.php?fAcctID=587013

 

 

 

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.


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