Spiritual Retreats for Married Couples


Blog and Prayer Requests

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.

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:


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!”

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


Happy New Year - from Benedict XVI

Posted by marriageretreats on December 31, 2009 at 4:39 PM Comments comments (0)

At the end of the usual Wednesday papal audience Pope Benedict XVi expressed his best wishes - which we make ours - for the new year:

Cari amici siamo giunti alla fine di questo anno e alle porte dell’anno nuovo. Vi auguro che l’amicizia di Nostro Signore Gesù Cristo vi accompagni ogni giorno di questo anno che sta per iniziare. Possa questa amicizia di Cristo essere nostra luce e guida, aiutandoci ad essere uomini di pace, della sua pace. Buon anno a tutti voi!

Dear friends, we have reached the end of this year and stand at the threshold of the New Year. My wish is that the friendship of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, will accompany you each day of this new year. May friendship with Christ be our light and guide, helping us to to be people of peace, of his peace. Happy New Year to all!

The entire text of the cahechesis is to be found here.

Happy New Year t all!

The Case for God

Posted by marriageretreats on November 8, 2009 at 5:13 PM Comments comments (0)

I would recommend for those who are interested in the debate on the new atheism - and more broadly in the complex relationship between human existence and the transcendent nature of God - the very intelligent book of Karen Armstrong, titled "The Case for God"

Karen Armstrong (a British scholar and author on comparative religion and a former religious sister who won the 2008 TED prize for her interfaith initiative *) wrote this work as as a direct challenge to books like Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion', Sam Harris' "Letter to a Christian Nation", and Christopher Hitchens' "God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything". She says for example:

"Like all religious fundamentalists, the new athesists believe that they alone are in possession of the truth; like Christian fundamentalists they read scripture in an entirely literal manner and seem to never have heard of the long tradition of allegoric or Talmudic interpretation... Harris seems to imagine that biblical inspiration means that the Bible was actually "written by God." Hitchens assumes that faith is entirely dependent on a literal reading of the Bible, and that, for example, the discrepancies in the gospel infancy narratives prove the falseness of Christianity: "Either the gospels are in some sense literal truth, or the whole thing is a fraud and perhaps a moral one at that." Like Protestant fundamentalists, Dawkins has a simplistic view of the moral teaching of the Bible, taking it for granted that its chief purpose is to issue clear rules of conduct and provide us with "role models," which, not surprisingly, he finds lamentably inadequate. He also presumes that since the Bible claims to be inspired by God it must also provide scientific information. Dawkins' only point of disagreement with the Protestant fundamentalists is that he finds the Bible unreliable about science while they do not."

This might be a work that really brings a new gives well researched study on the relationship between faith and reason.



* Her "wish" at the occasion of winning the TED prize is: 

“I wish that you would help with the creation, launch and propagation of a Charter for Compassion, crafted by a group of leading inspirational thinkers from the three Abrahamic traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam and based on the fundamental principles of universal justice and respect.” (http://www.tedprize.org/karen-armstrong/)

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.

Faith and Reason

Posted by marriageretreats on September 15, 2009 at 5:51 PM Comments comments (0)

Here is our old Blog Faith and Reason - now in archived format because Geocities canceled the blog service in last July. Still, you can access some of the postings for reading and find some interesting ones. If so, comment here about it.

Have a good browsing time!

Open Thread

Posted by marriageretreats on August 8, 2009 at 5:39 PM Comments comments (0)

This posting is an invitation for comments with whichyou want to contribute to this blog

Feel free to place here your thoughts that you think are appropriate for this discussion or simply put your questions that arise after visiting the site.