Several couples are attending our monthly Relationships Enrichment sessions for engaged and recently married couples. Details of more in-depth Marriage Preparation Sessions with Fr James here.
Acting on a suggestion from earlier this year we are reading together The Joy of Love (Amoris Laetitia). At our next meeting (date to be decided) we will look at Chapter Four, “Love in Marriage”. It is an opportunity to reflect and to share insights. All are welcome.
The content of the evening’s session (reflecting on Marriage and Scripture) is applicable to couples discerning Marriage, preparing for Marriage or simply Married.
If you’d like to receive a link, email Fr James at [email protected] or phone at 086-107 2930.
- The complexity of today’s society and the challenges faced by the family require a greater effort on the part of the whole Christian community in preparing those who are about to be married (AL 206).
- I encourage Christian communities to recognize the great benefit that they themselves receive from supporting engaged couples as they grow in love (AL 207).
- … the initial years of marriage are a vital and sensitive period during which couples become more aware of the challenges and meaning of married life. Consequently, pastoral accompaniment needs to go beyond the actual celebration of the sacrament. In this regard, experienced couples have an important role to play. The parish is a place where such experienced couples can help younger couples (AL 223).
Listed below are brief accounts of some previous presentations
On Monday 12 December we had a special seasonal session in which we discussed what Christmas means to me.
Dating, courtship, finding time for God before and after marrying were some of the issues discussed at our meeting on Monday 14 November. It’s hard to be a source of love without drawing from the Ultimate Source, God, who is love. Happiness is to love more than you believe you are capable of and to be loved more than you believe that you deserve.
On Monday 10 October John and Jennifer Kehoe gave a wonderful presentation on Knowing your family through the “four temperaments”. They drew largely on their own experience of applying the four classic temperaments to achieve a better understanding of each other’s personalities and those of their children.
Another warm summer evening allowed us to meet outdoors again on Mon 8 August. In addition, some couples joined virtually as participants reflected on how, as a spouse, one might improve oneself as a person in order to make one’s beloved happy.
On a balmly summer evening (Mon 11 July), Torbjorn and Sallyann Huss led an excellent discussion on Forgiveness. They spoke of the need to be generous in taking into account emotional and cultural differences in a relationship, and of how important it is to say “I’m Sorry”, and, to forgive.
On Monday 20 June, we reflected on St Josemaria’s great confidence in the married state as a path to holiness. The founder of Opus Dei encouraged many couples to strive to make each other happy by giving of themselves to each other generously and by keeping their love young.
Our first outdoor session of the year took place on Monday 16 May. We had a beautiful discussion about Friendship and enjoyed finger food and refreshments together.
On Monday 4 April, a good number of couples attended (in person and via Zoom) a very upbeat presentation by Neil and Maria Steen on the Church’s countercultural teaching on Marriage. They also spoke about the benefits they’ve gained by being guided by it in their own married life.
The talk by Denis Minihan on Monday 28 February on Finance in Marriage was much appreciated by all who attended. Drawing on his personal experience of marrying young without a lot of money, he went on to share his insights as a former banker about the need to save and to avoid an unnecessarily expensive lifestyle. Money is important but love, faithfulness, and enjoying having and rearing children are the keys to a successful marriage.
Our first face-to-face event took place on Monday 7 February. Besides those attending in person, several couples also connected online for a presentation on the romance and subsequent marriage of renowned author JRR Tolkien and Edith Bratt.
The first meeting of 2022 with couples took place on Monday 24 January online via Zoom. It featured a presentation on the marriage of Johann Sebastian Bach and Maria Magdalena Wilcke (his second wife after the first had died suddenly).
An interesting discussion ensued among the couples who connected. In addition to the younger folk we were joined by experienced married couple, Lorcan and Mary McGarry. The intergenerational element added to the encounter.
On Monday 13 December, Fr Andrew Black, a priest from Down and Connor based in Rome, gave a short reflection (on Zoom) on how families celebrate Christmas in Rome.
Our session on Monday 29 November was enhanced by the presence online of Lorcan McGarry of Family Enrichment Ireland, who very kindly responded to a range of questions about Marriage & Relationships following a short talk by Fr James on the Sacrament of Marriage and its Liturgical Celebration.
Seven couples attended John and Bridie McCarthy’s excellent presentation on Fertility Awareness on Mon 15 November. To plan your family in a natural way requires good communication between husband and wife, they said. It respects the dignity of the woman. Moreover, the work put into tracking one’s fertility has many other advantages for a woman’s health and wellbeing.
Being open to receiving life in a natural way requires generosity and sacrifice, yet yields rich rewards. This is clear from a growing trend among couples to switch from artificial to natural means of family planning: “If only we had tried this from the beginning!”
On Mon 11 October, we had another enjoyable “blended” (face-to-face & online) session for couples.
Committing oneself to be Faithful and Fruitful Forever (the three Fs) is a good start, but it needs to be backed up by the cultivation of many virtues (eg humility, tenderness, patience, mercy, forgiveness). A discussion followed on advice about the appropriateness or not of Natural Family Planning, and reasons why sexual intimacy is reserved for Marriage.
On Monday 10 May, Marek and Michaela told us the beautiful story of how their common interest in hiking brought them together and allowed them to get to know each other and eventually marry last year!
On Monday 12 April Darragh and Kristina did very well – telling the story of how they met and their decision to bring forward (& not put back) their wedding because of Covid.
What Makes a Good Marriage, Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo
We were delighted to have the Papal Nuncio in Ireland join our Relationships Enrichment group on Monday 15 March. Archbishop Jude drew from his own experience of his parents’ love for each other many practical counsels which he shared openly with couples in a very special meeting. Put God first, he said; prioritize the sacraments and family prayer. Yet he also gave lots of practical tips on communication, how to love your children and how to make your marriage stand the test of time. We are deeply grateful to him for his warmth and his wisdom.
On Monday 22 February, Paul & Delphine volunteered to share a “testimony” of their journey as a couple and how their Christian faith has helped them to understand Marriage and each other. It was inspiring to hear them explain how listening, understanding and forgiving continue to be an essential part of their relationship.
At our first meeting of the year on Monday 11 January, Sol and Mike took us through the story of the marriage of Emperor Charles of Austria-Hungary and of his wife Zita. Their married life took on so many unexpected turns yet they were very faithful even after having been exiled to Madeira, Portugal, following the collapse of the empire.
On Monday 18 May we were joined by Andrew and Valeria Larkin. Married with two young children, they talked about the importance of seeking solutions from the first moment. The bigger the problem the greater the need to seek a solution together. Using examples from personal experience – including a dramatic airport “nightmare” – Valeria and Andrew showed how a readiness to listen and seek solutions makes even the worst of problems bearable and strengthens one’s Marriage enormously.