Love Your Marriage retreats help marriages to thrive, remain holy

Richard and Megan Burks’ marriage was good: They served as Eucharistic minsters at Our Lady of Loretto Parish in Aurora, and while there was nothing necessarily wrong with their relationship, they knew God was calling them to more. This is why they chose to attend a “Love Your Marriage” retreat. With an enriched family life, they recommend the retreat to any couple of any age who wishes to love God and one another in a deeper way.

“We wanted to go and continue to invest in our marriage,” Richard said. “We wanted to figure out more ways to love each other.”

Among the practices they incorporated into their marriage and family was an intentional time for communication.

“[Now], we do a weekly recap of what were some good and not-so-good things during the week to help our communication and make sure we’re focusing on each other and making sure we’re keeping our relationship strong,” Megan said.

This also gives them accountability in praying together and passing on their faith to their two children, Richard added.

“It wasn’t just ideas, but specific examples. Being able to walk away with tangible things [from the retreat] was very helpful,” Megan said.

The “Love Your Marriage” retreats are part of an archdiocesan initiative to help couples accomplish their mission amid the strains of life.

“We need strong marriages.  With the demands of our daily lives, it can be hard to fit in quality time with our spouses, but it is so important,” said Carrie Keating, NFP and Marriage Specialist for the Archdiocese of Denver. “The Office of Evangelization and Family Life Ministries wanted to create retreats around the archdiocese that would serve marriages, bringing them closer to each other as well as to God.”

One of the many things that make the “Love Your Marriage” retreats so great for couples is their structure, which is parent-friendly.

“We have six parish host sites for ‘Love Your Marriage’ retreats.  They provide couples an easy way to invest in their marriage,” Keating explained. “We wanted it to be accessible on lots of levels: affordable, half-day time commitment, with food and childcare included.  ‘Love Your Marriage’ retreats also have wonderful content developed by trusted experts in the relationship field — St. Raphael Counseling and Marriage Missionaries.”

“The format is wonderful!” Megan said. “It’s so easy to attend and not too overwhelming like a whole weekend. Also, you meet other couples who try to live out their faith, and to hear what they have implemented in their own families and what they are doing is very helpful.”

“[These retreats] are good whether your marriage is good or not, no matter where your marriage is at, no matter where you are at in your faith journey,” Richard said. “People get the impression that you should go only if you’re in trouble, but it’s good even if you’re not, like it was for us.”

 

Love Your Marriage Retreat
Saturday, October 6, 2018
Our Lady of Loreto Catholic Church in Aurora, CO
Learn more or register online at archden.org/loveyourmarriage

COMING UP: Nothing about us without us

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The slogan “Nothing about us without us” was used by Solidarity in the 1980s in Poland, borrowing a royal motto from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the mid-second millennium. Then, it was expressed in Latin: Nihil de nobis sine nobis. Later, it appeared in Polish on the banners of 19th-century Poles fighting their country’s partition by Russia, Prussia, and Austria: Nic o Nas bez Nas. Today, it’s often used by disability activists asserting their claim to be fully participant in society.

“Nothing about us without us” also applies to the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region, which will meet in Rome in October.

That Synod will involve seven bishops’ conferences from nine Latin American countries who will consider their pastoral situation under the theme, “Amazonia: new paths for the Church and for an integral ecology.” As is usually the case in these meetings, the bishops at the Synod will work with materials drafted in Rome. Early indicators from the Synod’s preparatory document suggest that the Amazonian Synod will be longer on environmentalism than on theology. International media attention will doubtless focus on the Synod’s discussion of climate change and its relationship to Amazonian deforestation.

Recent synodal history suggests, however, that more will be afoot at the Amazonian Synod than what its announced theme suggests.

The 2014 and 2015 Synods were called to consider the crisis of marriage and the family throughout the world. Yet they became the occasion for powerful churchmen to try to deconstruct Catholic moral theology and sacramental discipline, according to the tried-and-failed theologies and pastoral practices of the 1970s. The 2018 Synod, summoned to discuss youth ministry and vocational discernment, began with an effort by the Synod general secretariat to enshrine the world’s language of sexual plasticity (and the lame understandings of happiness that underwrite that language) into an official Church document. When that failed, Synod-2018 became the occasion for the Synod general secretariat to promote an ill-defined notion of “synodality” that struck more than a few bishops present as a prescription for local-option, choose-your-own-doctrine Catholicism on the model of the (imploding) Anglican Communion.

This pattern seems likely to continue at the Amazonian Synod. There, the deeper agenda will be the ordination of mature married men — viri probati — to the priesthood. Proponents will argue that this dramatic change in the Church’s longstanding tradition of a celibate priesthood (which, contrary to much misinformation, antedates the early Middle Ages by hundreds of years) is necessary because Amazonia is a Catholic area deprived of the Eucharist by a lack of priests. One hopes that the counterclaims — that Amazonia is mission territory requiring wholesale evangelization, and that Amazonia’s lack of priests reflects racial and class divisions in Latin American Catholicism that discourage priests of European pedigree from working with indigenous peoples — get a serious hearing.

Proponents of ordaining viri probati in Amazonia, including retired Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, OFM, have insisted that any such concession there would have no implications for the universal Church. That cannot be, however. Should the Amazonian Synod request the Pope to grant a dispensation from the discipline of celibacy for that region, and should he grant it, it will be just a matter of time before bishops conferences elsewhere — Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, and Austria come immediately to mind — make similar requests, citing pressing pastoral needs. On what ground would those requests be denied?

In a year-end interview with Vatican News, the Synod’s general secretary, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, insisted that the Amazonian Synod would not discuss environmental issues only, but would also confront “ecclesial themes” — and would do so in a way that Amazonia could be “a model for the whole world.”

We can be grateful to the cardinal for his candor in, however unintentionally, letting the celibacy cat out of the synodal bag. Any decision to ordain viri probati in Amazonia would inevitably have major consequences for the entire Church. A decision of this magnitude cannot be taken by an unrepresentative segment of the Church and then turned into a “model” for everyone else.

That is why the principle of “Nothing about us without us” must apply here. Whatever else “synodality” may mean, it surely must mean that decisions bearing on everyone should involve as broad a consultation and as global a reflection as possible. Bishops who agree should make their concerns known now, not after the Amazonian synod meets.

Featured image by Vatican Media | CNA