Novena and Lenten Reflection: Week Five
Fifth Week: Engaging and Connecting
Do you remember the readings at your nuptial mass that you picked? One of the readings often used at a wedding mass is from Mark 10:
"The Pharisees approached and asked, 'Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?' They were testing him. He said to them in reply, 'What did Moses command you?' They replied, 'Moses permitted him to write a bill of divorce and dismiss her.' But Jesus told them, 'Because of the hardness of your hearts he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother (and be joined to his wife), and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.'"
St. John Paul II called this the ‘original unity’ of man and woman that has been wounded by sin. Here is something to think about: God’s grace, working on your original love for each other, experienced through shared sufferings, joys, disappointments, triumphs celebrated and obstacles overcome forges in you an experience of the original unity of man and woman. Do you believe that?
The nuptial blessing prayed over you at your wedding mass included these lines:
O God, who by your mighty power
created all things out of nothing,
and, when you had set in place
the beginnings of the universe,
formed man and woman in your own image,
making the woman an inseparable helpmate to the man,
that they might be no longer two, but one flesh,
and taught that what you were pleased to make one
must never be divided;
O God, who consecrated the bond of Marriage
by so great a mystery
that in the wedding covenant you foreshadowed
the Sacrament of Christ and his Church;
O God, by whom woman is joined to man
and the companionship they had in the beginning
is endowed with the one blessing
not forfeited by original sin
nor washed away by the flood.
Look now with favor on these your servants,
joined together in Marriage,
who ask to be strengthened by your blessing.
Send down on them the grace of the Holy Spirit
and pour your love into their hearts,
that they may remain faithful in the Marriage covenant.
What can God do in you through your shared joys and sorrows?
“I realized I was going to be a student of my spouse. It’s a school of love and we never, ever graduate.” - Michelle Benzinger
Take a moment and remember when you fell in love. During the initial phases of a relationship, we are keenly aware of our partner’s every move, every want, and every need. However, as time passes, we become complacent with each other and less enthralled. In order to build and strengthen that secure relationship with our partner, both parties need to commit to re-establishing the connection they lost.
In the fourth conversation, we will learn to implement “positive patterns of reaching for and responding to” our partner (Hold Me Tight, p. 142). In order to build these positive patterns in our relationship, we need to create intentional moments of connection and communication on a regular basis. This new commitment to conversation will fall in two categories: “What am I afraid of?” and “What do I need to know?’.
Plan of Action:
What Am I Afraid Of?
- Dr. Johnson relates this to using an elevator to get to the ground floor. You are now addressing and discovering your “attachment priorities” (Hold Me Tight, p. 143). As you dive deeper into a tough conversation (whatever that may be for you), you will notice that one person is withdrawn.
a tense conversation and write down your fears and hurtful events.
your fears and how it feels to share those fears with your partner.
to your partner who just shared their fears. Tell them what it felt like to hear their fears; was it easy or difficult?
those shared feelings together.
roles and repeat the process.
What Do I Need to Know?
- This is a big milestone in EFT (Emotionally Focused Therapy) because this requires that partners are incredibly open, honest, and expressive of their needs.
what you need the most from your partner to feel loved and secure. Then, write it down.
what you need with your partner. If it is hard, start small and just share the struggles of formulating those needs.
to your partner who just shared their needs. If it was difficult to hear, share what was difficult and why. If you’re uncertain or anxious, simply share those feelings.
those shared feelings together.
roles and repeat the process.
The Sign of the Cross:
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
“A married couple should build their life together on the foundation of a sincere and pure affection for each other, and on the joy that comes from having brought into the world the children God has enabled them to have. They should be capable of renouncing their personal comfort; and they should put their trust in the providence of God.
People who are constantly concerned with themselves, who act above all for their own satisfaction, endanger their eternal salvation and cannot avoid being unhappy even in this life. Only if a person forgets himself and gives himself to God and to others, in marriage as well as in any other aspect of life, can he be happy on this earth, with a happiness that is a preparation for, and a foretaste of, the joy of heaven.”
- St. Josemaria Escriva
For the Married (together if possible):
Lord Jesus Christ, You will that children be the precious fruit of married love. We praise and thank you for the irreplaceable gift of new human life. May we always accept as a unique blessing each child that You wish to give us, seeing in them a sign of Your trust in our loving care. Grant that we might never allow fear or selfishness to restrict our openness to new life, but trusting in Your goodness and mercy, may we receive with gratitude and generosity the new lives that You entrust to us. Amen.
For the Engaged and those seriously considering this commitment of married love (together if possible):
Lord Jesus Christ, we ask You to prepare us for parenthood by enlarging our hearts. Deepen our love and generosity so that we will gratefully receive the children whom You wish to give us. Prepare us to make the necessary sacrifices that will not only ensure their well-being, but assure them that they are loved by You through our loving care. Amen.
All close by praying:
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we give our hearts to you.
Offer one Hail Mary together, inviting Our Blessed Lady to pray for you.
In the name of the Father, and the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
on Sunday, March 17, 2019 at 2:00AM