Spiritual Retreats for Married Couples


Blog and Prayer Requests

view:  full / summary

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

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:


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!"