Virtual Marriage Retreat: A Wrap-Up

Bishop Paul S. Loverde held a marriage retreat for busy couples during National Marriage Week 2015. One couple shared a few takeaways on their personal blog, republished below.

1Virtual_Retreat

By: Conceiving Hope

Last year on this date, something terrible “finished” happening in our lives. I’m not going to talk about that today (can’t manage it). But it’s also my birthday, so this is my present to all of you. Ever heard songs from different genres mashed up together that somehow sound good together? This post is going to explore that idea a little bit…matching things together that should be entangled with each other. It’s kind of awesome how well they fit together thematically too! I just wrote about embracing this theme in my life more here. So let’s think of this as a great big prayer mash-up for the glory of God in your marriage. And let’s give my blog an inaugural dose of that matchmaking then, shall we?

For your viewing (and reading and praying) pleasure, I have joined together three online marriage retreats being offered for Christian couples. It would also be a wonderful exercise for engaged couples to participate in, as well as those discerning a vocation to marriage to peruse for prayer ideas! All of these retreats are in celebration of National Marriage Week 2015 on the US side of the pond. Two of them come from the online resource For Your Marriage (retreats found here and here in their entirety). The third retreat was put together by the Diocese of Arlington (found here on its own) and the video portion features Bishop Paul Loverde. This would be a great way to connect better with your spouse (or fiance) any week of the year, not just this week before Valentine’s Day, so if you can’t devote time to it right now – bookmark this post and come back to it when you can. And instead of giving something up this year for Lent, consider adding this kind of marriage building exercise! It could be a worthy effort for your marriage (or discernment) this year. (more ideas for Lent here)

Virtual_Retreat2Set aside time each day to dedicate just to being with each other, taking turns reading Scripture to each other, reflecting on your own marriage (or future marriage!), engaging with each other in discussion, and praying together for your intentions. One of the reasons why retreats work is because you are pulling yourself out of your normal routine and dedicating time to a specific purpose. Away from all of the computers and cell phones and email and texts (and let’s be honest, social media in general)…demanding your time and attention, a retreat has the ability to isolate and recharge and invigorate you. It’s the commitment to the information you need to take in, ponder, pray about, and discuss that makes it work. With that said, there’s no reason why you can’t accomplish this at home, on the road, or even across an ocean via Skype or Google Hangouts. Block out time that works for both spouses (Are you both morning people? Take advantage of that and schedule this when it works best for both of you). Play soothing love music in the background while you think of answers to the questions that are asked each day. Try one of the love songs on the playlist I created here for some ideas. Allot at least an hour so that you don’t feel rushed to “get through” the material or prayers.

Virtual_Retreat3In my own marriage, when we don’t pray together…we suffer. We fall apart and we bicker and get short-tempered with each other. And that, of course, leads to trips to the confessional. We thirst for prayer together as a couple and an absence of it in our lives is palpable. Praying keeps us close to each other and God. It sets our priorities in front of us. So why is it so easy to let other things interfere or distract us from praying together? We all fail at making time to pray and I’m sure we all have amazing excuses for why too, don’t we?? But we already reallykindasorta know as Christians that prayer can make or break our marriage too. Prayer can turn your meh marriage into a happy marriage. We all want those dance moves, right? So begin with prayer. Husbands, this is a great time to grab your wives’ hands and lead them in prayer out loud. It doesn’t have to be complicated, just from the heart and in the name of Christ. Wives, consider ending the retreat with prayer each day, offering God thanks out loud for the discussion and time you’ve had together and for your husband leading you in prayer. These kinds of gestures really help my DH and I to frame our own thoughts and be more intentional about our prayer. They feed the language of love between us. Give it a try! If it works for you, we’d love to hear about it.

Virtual_Retreat4Here are the daily retreat exercises, videos, and prayers. I have linked the USCCB online text of The New American Bible, Revised Edition (NABRE) wherever there is a Scripture Reading referenced, to make it quick and easy for you to find each passage and stay focused as you go through each day’s activities. You should have everything you need to get started already posted below. Consider sitting down with separate notebooks and pens so that you can each jot down your own thoughts during the video, as well as the answers to the questions for each day. Having a record of your retreat will help you revisit these themes later, just like a regular retreat booklet! OK, ladies and gentlemen, cell phones off, all other tabs on your browser window closed, and you are now ready to begin! 🙂

 

P.S. (Consider reading the daily marriage tips located here while you are on “retreat” with your spouse and print/cut out these prayer cards to keep with you at work, home, or in your wallet as a reminder of what you are strengthening!)
Day 1
Grace: Today, we ask the Holy Spirit for a deeper awareness of
God’s unfathomable love for each of us.
Scripture Reading: Is. 43.1-5
Prayer Exercises for today’s retreat:
1. What are two concrete ways that the Lord shows His love to you and your spouse?
2. Recall the days when you fell in love with your spouse. What were two or three of the     qualities that first attracted you to (him/her)?
3. Remind your spouse of those qualities.
4. Read this reflection and pray this prayer together here.
5. Read this reflection here or here.
Day 2
Grace: Today, we ask the Holy Spirit for a deeper awareness of our sins,
especially those that cause the greatest hindrances to our marriage.
Sacred Scripture: Ps. 51 (50): 3-6
Prayer Exercises for today’s retreat:

1. Reflect on any sinful habits, cycles, or traits that get in the way of growing together.
2. Invite the Lord into these areas of your life, as you admit these negative behaviors to       one another, asking Him to renew your unconditional love of your spouse.
3. Read this reflection and pray this prayer together here.
4. Read this reflection here or here.

Day 3
Grace:  Today, we ask the Holy Spirit for a greater awareness
of God’s burning desire to forgive us, and we pray for the grace
to forgive one another.
Scripture Readings:  Jn. 8:1-11 and Lk. 23:42-43
Prayer Exercises for today’s retreat:

1. Ponder any areas of “unforgiveness” between you and your spouse or others.
2. Purposefully ask and offer forgiveness to your spouse for all the hurts committed.
3. Read this reflection and pray this prayer together here.
4. Read this reflection here or here.

Day 4
Grace:  Today, we ask the Holy Spirit to
help us to prize the things of God over material goods.
Scripture Reading:  Mk 8:34-37 and Mt 6.21
Prayer Exercises for today’s retreat:

1. Make a list of your priorities.
2. Pray with your list. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you determine how to proceed.
3. Read this reflection and pray this prayer together here.
4. Read this reflection here or here.

Day 5
Grace:  Today, we ask the Holy Spirit
to release from any fears that keep us from fulfilling God’s plan for our marriage.
Scripture Reading:  Jer. 29:11 and Mt 28:20b
Prayer Exercises for today’s retreat:
1. As you are reminded that the Father has a plan for you, ask Jesus to shed light on           fears you have which keep you from fully following the Father’s plans for you and           your marriage.
2. As you recall each of your fears, pray with the simple words, “Jesus I trust in you”.
3. Remember this prayer and repeat it any time you are beset with anxieties and worries     throughout the day.
4. Read this reflection and pray this prayer together here.
5. Read this reflection here and here.
Day 6
Grace: Today, we ask the Holy Spirit for the grace to make prayer as a couple paramount in our lives.
Scripture Reading:  Tobit 8:4-8
Prayer Exercises for today’s retreat:

1. Praise and thank God, using scripture and/or your own words.  Ask Him for everything     you need to live a life centered on Him.
2. Considering that prayer entails commitment, establish a schedule for your prayer as a     couple, and choose a method of prayer you each find fruitful (i.e. plan to read               scripture together as you have done this week; meditate and discuss your reflections;     choose a favorite spiritual book (or even just a chapter) and discuss with your spouse;     pray the rosary etc.)
3. Read this reflection and pray this prayer together here.
4. Read this reflection here and here.

Day 7
Grace:  Today, we ask the Holy Spirit for the grace to love one another more fully.
Scripture Reading:  1 Cor 13.4-7 (8a)
Prayer Exercises for today’s retreat:

1. Reflect on each of the virtues mentioned in today’s readings.
2. Tell your spouse how he/she exemplifies one or more of these virtues.
3. Choose a virtue that you wish to grow in and begin to practice that virtue more intentionally.  Encourage and assist your spouse in his/her efforts to grow in holiness.
4. Read this reflection and pray this prayer together here.
5. Read this reflection here and here.

This post was first published here on the Conceiving Hope blog, self-subscribed as “Navigating marriage and infertility one day at a time, sometimes with humor!” To view the original list of videos and reflections by Bishop Paul S. Loverde, visit the Couples Retreat page.

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