‘Behold I make all things new (Rev 21:5). Marriage is worth making the effort with God’s grace.’
That was the theme of the first of a two-day pilot marriage accompaniment session hosted by the Archdiocesan Family Life Commission (AFLC).
The first session was held on Saturday, October 28 at the Seminary of St John Vianney and the Uganda Martyrs with 26 couples participating. The aim of the monthly sessions is to offer God’s vision for marriage along with skills and support.
They are being conducted through the match sponsorship of the Archdiocese and the US-based Catholic Marriage Initiative (CMI) fund. The purpose “is to dramatically increase the availability of and participation in high quality Catholic Marriage Ministries, that are balanced between teaching the Church’s teaching on marriage (Vision), providing the how-to love (Skills) and a community (Support), strengthening, renewing and restoring, giving children the important benefits of an intact family life in which to grow up and thrive”.
AFLC’s Spiritual Director and Theological Adviser, Fr Matthew Ragbir shared in his homily at the opening Mass that “Sometimes in marriage, years go on and sometimes we feel betrayed by each other… In the face of our brokenness, we have the capacity to hurt each other, [but] there is another thing at work, and it is God’s grace.
“Those who come to Jesus experience a power that comes out of Him that heals them all. God is a lover and will not force Himself on us. Each and every one of us has to open our hearts to God, to this powerful grace that is available to us so that the healing balm of God can be operated in our lives.”
He also joked, “We didn’t choose this day (October 28 – feast of Sts Simon and Jude), God arranged it so if you have an impossible case (spouse) at the side of you, well, thank God you are here on this day!”
Fr Ragbir also shared that, “Forgiveness requires time and God’s grace. Today I invite you to open your hearts because we are going to face the realities of our lives and be honest with each other. It starts with ourselves, admitting our own downfalls, admitting our shortcomings but we do it in a context of God’s grace and love.”
Since the first session, the participating married couples continue to meet weekly via Zoom for ongoing coaching sessions. These sessions help couples discover better fun, practical, faith-filled, skill-based ways to encounter and understand the true beauty of God’s plan for marriage, meet each other’s needs, and communicate and improve understanding.
The second in-person session is on Saturday, November 25, and the schedule resumes in January 2024. Couples interested in the next cycle, can email email@example.com or call/WhatsApp 299-1047.
Response from a participating couple:
“It helped us to consciously practise more peaceful and respectful communication. Being able to talk even about the little things was a challenge, so this session, though uncomfortable, will help a lot.”
The AFLC’s vision is to proclaim to all people the plan of God for marriage and family life and thus promote the renewal of family, Church, and nation. Over the next four years the Archdiocese and the Catholic Marriage Initiative fund will be investing heavily in the following areas: