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Celebrating 50 Years with Marriage Encounter

Celebrating 50 Years with Marriage Encounter

The first weekend of June brought two important celebrations for the Church and for the Alliance of Catholic Marriage Organisations. The postponed 50th anniversary of Worldwide Marriage Encounter England and Wales and the feast of Corpus Christi.

Marriage Encounter, a worldwide organisation and established in England in 1972 runs weekends for couples that offer the opportunity to spend quality guided time away from the complexities of life to focus on their marriage, with many finding that this way of enriching their marriage becomes part of their lives. Their desire to support couples in deepening their relationship and to serve the Church is the common thread that draws all members of the Alliance together and so it was with great joy that members from each partner organisation joined Marriage Encounter for their special anniversary celebrations.

You will see from the beautiful logo designed to celebrate the weekend that the feast of Corpus Christi, the body of Christ, is central and parallels drawn between the Sacraments of Eucharist and Marriage resonated throughout the weekend. In marriage we live out our covenant to each other in our daily loving of one another, our very life is the witness we give. We don’t have to do anything different or difficult, just live our commitment as faithfully as we can. During Mass the consecration of the bread and wine into the body and blood represent Christ’s covenant of love with the Church, us, sealed with His blood on the Cross.

‘We give our lives for one another as Christ breaks and shares His body and blood for us’.

Of course, this goes beyond the couple relationship, we are also asked to use our celebration of God’s love for us to share the News with others. Bishop David Evans gently reminding and encouraging everyone gathered, to reflect this Unity, really understand our Identity as children of God, and to go to the Peripheries to welcome others.

For me, the experience of being amongst married couples from across the generations and watching 15 priests and a Bishop all celebrating Mass together drew all the cords of the celebratory weekend together. The Sacraments of Marriage and Eucharist together with the signs of their Sacrament – the couples and the bread and wine outward signs of God’s love for us, His Creation.

Congratulations to Worldwide Marriage Encounter England and Wales on your 50th anniversary!


Fran Watson,

Head of Marriage Preparation and Enrichment for Marriage Care

The Road of Emmaus

The story of the Road to Emmaus is full of emotions and feelings – shock, disappointment, excitement, and joy, to name but a few. It is amazing to think that what, at first glance, for Cleophas and his unnamed friend, was a walk and a meal with a fellow traveller was, in fact, so much more. They experienced the deep, intimate sharing of memories of a loved one, something which changes your world and brings that person back to life in your hearts and minds. Amongst many things, the story of the Road to Emmaus reminds us of the value of sharing our lives with others and how much we can grow and learn from this accompaniment.

Some biblical scholars think that the two people on the Road to Emmaus were a married couple. We will never know if this is true or not, but just stop for a moment and ask yourself how you would feel if Jesus were to walk alongside you and your spouse? As the three of you walk along, and you and your spouse talk about what is going on in your lives and your feelings at that time – including the highs and lows – how amazing would it be for this ‘stranger’ to suddenly start opening your hearts by his words and to begin to connect the dots for you and reveal God’s plan for you.

Take some time with your spouse to share all that is going on in both of you – highs and lows. Take time to celebrate and take time to be present and hold one another in your difficulties. Then pray together and ask God to walk alongside you and shine his resurrection light into your marriage. May your hearts burn with the warmth of Christ’s love for you.


Caroline and Michael L’Estrange,

Co-ordinators for Retrouvaille England and Wales

Seeing from Both Sides

Seeing from Both Sides

This week, we finally finished a project that’s been on our workbench for years—a cross.  With Easter approaching, we put in a big effort to complete it.  Specifically, it’s a crucifix with a ‘Risen Lord’ figure on the second side; one cross – two figures.  This illustrates Jesus’ love for us when he died on Good Friday and his overcoming death for all of us when he rose on Easter Sunday.

Completing this project sparked a conversation about “seeing the two sides” in life, beyond just our own viewpoint.  During our routine walks, we often ponder which direction to take, recognising that each way offers a different perspective.  It’s like experiencing different walks, reminding us of the value in seeing things from various angles.

Similarly, in relationships, understanding others’, and particularly our partner’s, perspective is crucial.  In our vows, we promised to love and cherish each other, which starts with genuine listening and understanding.  One of the super-learning points we took from Brendan Thompson in a presentation by Catholic Voices, was about ‘reframing’.  That is about emphasising the importance of seeing life through different lenses, different windows or ‘frames’ of life.  When irritation arises, reframing helps us to remember our love for our partner and to try viewing things from their viewpoint.

Paul says “personally, I find it easiest to overcome irritation when I intentionally remind myself of my love for Annette.  Seeing her amazing perspective was what initially attracted me to her.  Now, why wouldn’t I try to see things from her viewpoint before letting my irritation take over?”  Plus, sticking to my own perspective won’t look good if I appear like a ‘sour puss’, to borrow Pope Francis’ words.

As we enjoy the Easter sunshine, the spring blossom, the warmer April and we meet others, let’s radiate our joy.  It might inspire them to ask about our perspective, our hope and our joy.


Paul (and Annette) O’Beirne

Equipes Notre-Dame – Teams of Our Lady

Catholic Voices is worth looking at  www.CatholicVoices.org.uk 

Here’s the crucifix with both sides that inspired this reflection


The Rainbow

The Rainbow

While being driven recently from a weekend of Marriage Care training we saw a very bright, unusually full rainbow. I was reminded of this by the opening reading for the 1st Sunday in Lent where God’s covenant with Noah is confirmed by the rainbow symbol. This led me to further reflections about God’s unbreakable covenant with his people. We meet this important word ‘covenant’ in our preparation for marriage courses where couples discuss and reflect on the meaning of the sacrament. Christian marriage is also an unbreakable covenant, vowed in the presence of God, and with God, our family, friends and community.

Often marriage seems to be looked upon as a legal contract which, like other contracts, might be broken if it becomes too difficult to keep. The rainbow is not always as full and bright as on my recent journey. It may appear only in patches and be very faint. Marriage has its struggles to be a bright, visible relationship, with breaks sometimes where couples fail in keeping their commitment and might seek our help to restore their attachment to each other. It can take real hard work to maintain the relationship and keep the vows made when life seemed bright and full of love.

Of course, the rainbow symbol is now used in many other contexts, and I wondered how these connect to Noah’s rainbow. God promised the world would not again be completely flooded. While the Genesis story is not to be taken literally, it can seem somewhat ironic that the world is currently affected by so many floods in so many places. Is that a sign too from God that we are forgetting his covenant was made not just for people but for the whole of creation? God will always keep his promises, but what are we doing? God saved the world, and are we now busy destroying it by not keeping our part in the covenant? Committed together in marriage we might be able to look outwards into the world and share in a commitment to all God’s creation.

Teresa Saunders

Marriage care

Roses and Ashes

Roses and Ashes

Have you started thinking about Lent yet? This year St Valentine’s Day, falls on Ash Wednesday. So how to combine red roses with fasting and ashes?

When we marry we profess in our vows to follow our paths of life together, no matter what that may mean. We commit to being more than just alongside each other. We promise to love and to cherish one another: to do all that we can to enable our spouse to be happy in this world and in the next, and to grow to be all we can be ourselves. That is our calling.

What of our path through Lent? It’s similar as we look to understand ourselves and learn how we can realise the unending love of God inviting us to celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection at Easter. We seek change in ourselves in order to pay special attention to both God and our spouse. Our gift to our spouse is to help them become who God made them to be; who they have the capacity to be. The outcome of this depends on how we respond to the graces given to us. So, how can we grow to be the best help mate for our spouse, and to be more fully appreciative of them, and be closer to God?

We believe it’s about communication with our spouse and with God; how can we do that when we are so busy? There’s always the children, the parents, work and even our church commitments.

Perhaps we can agree some resolutions for Lent to help us?
• Pope Francis has simple guidance for couples. He says, each day include, “Thank you, Please, I’m sorry”.     Or how about:
• leave the phones away from the dining table and from the bedroom.
• get a practice of saying a daily prayer together – the Lord’s Prayer, the Angelus, the Magnificat – are just a few options.
• each day take some time to check in with each other …. Maybe ask “Tell me something about your day today and how do you feel about that”.

This February is a LEAP YEAR, one more day in the month to love each other. We’re thinking of doing something DIFFERENT for the 29th to express our love. Would you like to give some thought to any of the above notions for your relationship?


Brian and Maureen Devine
Two in One Flesh

Happy New Year 2024

Happy New Year 2024

We hope your Christmas was a blessed time among family and friends for you.
We pray that you’ve started the New Year with hope in your hearts.

The organisations of the alliance are committed to supporting every marriage, whatever their needs may be. When we married, we saw the spark of light in our partner; an inspiration that we did not comprehend. We made our vow to love and cherish; ie to enable us to grow in understanding of the other. This needs talking and listening; a willingness to learn and to change ourselves; to enable love, joy and peace to grow.

Christmas is said to be the time of peace and joy; it can start in families, with couples setting the example. From there it spreads to neighbours, communities and beyond, it has to always be from our hearts. Beginning with us, let’s commit to a heart to heart experience. Let’s sit down, light a candle and talk about what we as a couple would want for OUR ‘new year resolutions’.

There are some tools for “heart to heart” conversations; a little help goes a long way. See the website www.acmo.org.uk for contacting Marriage Care, Retrouvaille, Marriage Encounter and Teams. Ask your parish priest to include the weekly Marriage Matters reflection for couples in the newsletter each Sunday; for conversations that help us grow closer.

Making the best use of Advent

The events in the world in recent weeks and months have certainly been devastating to see. As our calendars turn to December, we see the country of Jesus’ birth once again go through so much turmoil and become a place of war and disagreement. The now innumerable homeless people, and consequently refugees, are an incredibly stark reminder of the end of the Christmas story, which is often forgotten as the needles fall from our Christmas trees and we face the reality of a new year.

For us, the journey into Egypt is full of unspoken emotions – Joseph’s incredulity and fear after his vision of warning from the angels, and Mary’s palpable fear of safety for her new family, are incredibly thought-provoking. Sadly, these fears of safety for family life are a real concern for an innumerable number of people today. The Holy Family had to flee the threat of persecution, crossing an international border, fleeing with no more than the clothes on their back and very few, if any, possessions. History is once again repeating itself.

Fortunately, most of us will not be refugees in this sense this Christmas, but are we truly sharing with our spouses the challenges and fears that we have, for example for peaceful and honest communication within our immediate family? Or are we filled with anxieties about plans for time with the extended family over the Christmas period or is it anxiety about family security and stability as we turn the pages of our calendars to a new year?

These concerns and fears are truly significant for all who face them. Christmas is not defined by presents or other material aspects. Christmas is a time for the peace of Christ to truly live in our hearts, in our families and to impact our words and actions over the festive period. So, our challenge is to use this time of Advent to be truly present to our loved ones, to enable them to share their true feelings. We have to be courageous as we may not like what we hear – feelings of isolation and emotional homelessness. We have been gifted this time of Advent to prepare to celebrate Jesus’ birth rather than focussing on material possessions that at any time we may have to leave behind. Can we seize the moment and use this time to be ready in our relationships to openly welcome Christ into our hearts and our little Churches – our families?

We wish you all a very blessed and holy Christmas

Caroline & Michael L’Estrange

Retrouvaille England & Wales Coordinators



We have been robbed!

Robbed of a summer with no autumn to speak of and winter now thrust upon us.

Unfortunately, the impending dark winter nights can bring with it fear for many, fear of high energy bills, fear of getting sick, fear of seeing less of family and friends, fear of not getting out and about, fear of driving on icy roads, the list of fears becomes endless and the more we think the more fearful we become. We also tend to watch more television in the winter, very often bringing with it an added fearful element into our homes. News of war, natural disasters, and famine in other parts of the world add to our distress and fear thanks to the media. If we are not careful, we can be drawn into a downward spiral of fear and despair.

Thankfully as Christians we have the promise of hope. Hope is the glue that holds us together when times are tough. Scripture reminds us “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12:12)

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4)

Let us not lose sight of those encouraging words and embrace the word of God as we would a cosy blanket and on those long dark nights letting love and hope warm us. We are certainly going to use this time to read more scripture and make a conscious effort to pray more. We pray that you enjoy your” Wintering” and when Spring comes, as we know it will, you are ready to embrace it with renewed hope in your hearts.

Hope is:                 Fear is:

H helping              F false

O others                E evidence

P praying             A appearing

E everyday           R real


With warm hugs

Liz and Frank Smith

Worldwide Marriage Encounter England & Wales

Cultivate and Plant to Grow

Cultivate and Plant to Grow

As we drove home after returning our grandchildren to their parents, we followed a tractor carrying a huge cultivator.  Around us we noticed the fields had been cultivated and were spouting green shoots.  We reflected that after summer is over and we thank God for the harvest, we continue the cycle He has given us.  Cultivate, plant, grow, nurture, harvest.

In this month of October where will our focus be in the Lord’s vineyard?  Today’s Gospel was about two children being asked to work in the vineyard.  Oh, that’s us.   They made their choices – despite the first responses – one did and one didn’t.  We are called to cultivate relationships with couples whom we meet.  To plant the seeds of growth of love of our spouse and the Lord.

The tractor we followed had a huge cultivator, perhaps the plough had already been used there.  So, we wonder what do we need to do, what words do we need, what smiles, what attitudes in us will best enable us to plant the seeds of growth in couples whom we meet whether passing our house, at the school gate, in the shops or at church?  What can teach us a way to meet, engage and enthuse others to grow their married spirituality?

With a new copy of Magnificat, we looked at the lists of feasts and memorials in October.  We celebrate Mary’s patronage as Mother and wife.  We have St Francis, who cared for those unable to protect themselves; animals and the poor.  And John Henry Newman, whose prayer gives us personally a direction “Stay with me, and then I shall begin to shine as Thou shine: so to shine as to be a light for others.”  We pray that we may always be authentic to everyone we meet, paying particular care to those in need, and that we may be a light to illuminate and guide so that couples may grow closer to each other and the Lord.


Annette and Paul O’Beirne

Equipes Notre Dame – Teams

Magnificat  ; a spiritual guide to develop prayer life. A monthly publication, paper or online, giving daily prayer, readings, meditations and reflections. www.uk.magnificat.net

When Autumn Leaves Begin to Fall . . .

When Autumn Leaves Begin to Fall . . .

We are approaching Autumn, with a different awareness this year – we’ve had a few funerals of friends and family and it’s highlighted for us that we are in the Autumn years of our lives. There’s been much joy amidst the sadness, the gatherings of family and friends, many blessings, and of course the questions that are raised for ourselves – do we seek to live each day to the fullest? Do I still seek to put you, my beloved, first in my life? Are we still trying to be ‘in it together ‘? On different days, we might give different answers, the heart is willing, but the flesh can be weak.
Spending time with children and grandchildren has been a gift, their vitality, their verve, all of life ahead of them, in the springtime of their days, they are a reminder to embrace each moment, each day.
As the book of Ecclesiastes reminds us, there’s a time for everything under heaven. The 2nd reading on Sunday (Sept 3rd) asks us to ‘offer our living bodies as a holy sacrifice, truly pleasing to God, not model yourselves on the behaviour of the world around you, but let your behaviour change, modelled by your new mind. This is the only way to discover the will of God and know what is good, what it is that God wants, what is the perfect thing to do’ (Romans 12:1-2).
As God only ever wants what is the best for us, it is good that we continue to take time to listen to Him and listen to each other, then together we can discern how best to enjoy Autumn – quiet walks on the way or throwing leaves over each other and rejoicing that we still can? What are you rejoicing in today?

Brian and Maureen Devine
Coordinators, Two in One Flesh
Turning Over a New Leaf

Turning Over a New Leaf

One of the many pleasures of the summer break is snuggling down to read a book. This varies from the delight of reading something new, through to the more nuanced one of returning again and again to an old favourite. The latter practice provides the opportunity to understand the text better, to pay greater attention to the details and to find ourselves drawn more deeply into the narrative. It is an opportunity for new surprises and clarifications, where we recapture the magic of the story and better retain the tangled plots. It also means that we become more aware of how the book was written, of its language and words.

Books come in a variety of forms, some of which are easy to read and others that require time and patience. Of this, one form is associated with family, social history and legends, the Saga. The style is unpretentious and unadorned. They are great to read. These long and epic stories written in a poetic form also seem well suited to one of the greatest narratives ever written, the story of our married love. It is one where, as co-authors, we record the events and deeds of a shared life. This does, however, require some mutual editing and periodic revisions as memories may vary, especially when we were distracted by writing with one pen rather than two.

At times our shared story can be written carelessly and untidily, yet in the rereading we often discover a new vocabulary with which to write the onward narrative. As this is a living narrative it cannot be left to gather dust on the shelf but remains open to new entries and rereading of our past.  Returning to our never-ending story is surprisingly a healthy practice in which we can retaste the flavours and episodes of our shared love. It provides the opportunity to add footnotes to those passages where healing is needed and the chance to reveal more openly our love and care.

Rereading the story of our married love is not a process of careful editing and reframing of our past experiences: instead it is about noticing. Our journal of married life is not so much written in the form of a love story, rather it is a book about love, which is much more complex, exciting and enhancing. Fairy Tales tell us that ‘they lived happily ever after’, whereas these living narratives of married love began with the words ‘ I do’, the complexity of which are discovered afresh on each and every page.

Roger Carr-Jones
Chair, Catholic Marriage Care
Gifts in our Marriages

Gifts in our Marriages

Pentecost (28 May) is a time of gifts – the gifts of the Holy Spirit to the Church and to all Christians. How often do we think about using these gifts (wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord) in our marriages? They can all be applied to married life and help us to live our marriages in the image and likeness of the love of God for His people, the Church.

Wisdom helps us guide our thoughts and learn from our previous experiences. What previous experience has really helped me to grow in my marriage?

Understanding of our spouse is a gift we need every single day; understanding of how conversations, events and our words and actions can have a deep impact on them.

Counsel is the gift that helps us understand the will of God in difficult situations – is there a difficult situation in your marriage that you need to pray about and ask God to guide you in?

Fortitude acts as the glue that holds a couple together when the world tries to pull them apart. This can be in sickness, times of financial difficulty, anxiety, or disagreement. At these times it takes every fibre of our being to deal with conflict respectfully and hang in there.

Knowledge – we are talking about deep and true knowledge of our spouse. Is there anything you need to share with your spouse to enable them to truly know you? Have your brought expectations from your family of origin that affect your behaviours and attitudes in your marriage.

Reverence (piety) enables a marriage to be faith-filled. As a couple we may be in different places on our faith journey, or may not share the same faith, but we do share that instinctive desire of wanting good for our spouse, of loving each other and putting the other first.

Fear of the Lord – if we pray, do we pray for our spouse or pray together for us and our family?

Let us pray for the gifts of the Spirit at this time in the Church’s year.


Caroline & Michael L’Estrange 
Preparing to Celebrate

Preparing to Celebrate

With an ‘0’ birthday coming up at Easter the idea of celebrating with family and friends is in mind.  We’ll need to think carefully about what we organise; where, what, how, when … and more.

So much more so, we can look at how we celebrate the resurrection at Easter.  We’d like to give it special consideration so that it will be the best when we get there.

Our 40 days of Lent have the usual mainstays of Prayer, Penance and Helping Others.  Lent is a Springtime when we see new growth coming through and we focus on the growth of our relationship by switching off the distractions.

How can we switch off the distractions to building our married love?  … so that we can celebrate new life with our spouse?

  • Is our prayer with each other such that we really listen and really speak with heart?
  • Is our penance such that we stop that sharp response; we probably heard it wrongly anyway!
  • Is our helping others that we engage with those we meet at soul level, are we open to the Holy Spirit and respond with care from our soul …. and leave out our opinion or fixes?

As we see the Lenten growth appear, let us ensure that we nurture the growth of our partner, ourselves and others through really listening to them, to God and others.  Then we will feel really ready for that big celebration at Easter.


Annette and Paul O’Beirne

Equipes Notre-Dame  – Teams


Be my Valentine

Be my Valentine


If music be the food of love, play on;
Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.

Some of you may be familiar with the above excerpt from the opening scene of Twelfth Night by Shakespeare. Orsino is head over heels in love with Olivia. Orsino asks for there to be an excess of music. He hopes that it will cure him of his obsession with his love for Olivia in the same way that eating too much food can make someone sick. It turns out that, Orsino’s love is not genuine. He just likes the idea of being in love. He is a bit of a dreamer.

We know that we need to move on from just the idea of being in love to a real love. The willingness and the decision to love every day is necessary to achieve this.

Mature love grows out of a developing intimacy and tenderness. Strong feelings develop from a deep tenderness rather than heightened passion or infatuation. After the fantasies and illusions begin to fade, it is possible what follows is something much better: a real, sustainable love.

When you are in love with just the idea, deep feelings will be temporary. Intense adoration will eventually give way to indifference as you become bored with your partner. Liking the idea of being in love with someone today is not a guarantee that you will feel the same way forever: As tasks, bills, children, conflicts, and other realities of long-term commitment begin to materialise over time.

Loving someone is long-lasting. Even when your partner disappoints you or your relationship becomes distant, you will continue to care about them on some level. Growing to love the real person and accepting who they are, with both strengths and weaknesses, can make a wonderful difference in your relationship. Deciding to love will make your relationship a lasting source of comfort, emotional safety, and a source of joy. When you see each other realistically and come to know each other well, you are less likely to disappoint each other.

As a reminder this year Marriage Week UK is taking place 7th-14th February.

Paul and Bianca Smith
Marriage Encounter
February 2023
A parcel of delights: unwrapping married love

A parcel of delights: unwrapping married love

One of the many party games I liked as a child was pass-the-parcel. It is a seemingly simple game with the main prize hidden amongst many layers of wrapping paper. However, if we look carefully, we will notice the layers of paper are different in colour and design and the parcel carefully constructed. Again, every so often an unexpected small surprise is hidden within the folds. The process is accompanied by music which periodically stops, so that a new layer is unwrapped. Whilst there is a certain simplicity to the game the moment of discovery of a hidden gift fills the participant with wonder and joy. In a similar way married love is not unlike a vast ‘pass-the-parcel’, one which is experienced over a life-time.

When we first fall in love, we believe we have discovered the central prize at the heart of the wrapping paper. However, falling in love lies outside our control, whereas growing in love is the decision that enables us to unwrap aspects of our personal and shared relationship. As we grow in mutual love and self-giving, we discover that the game of married love is more complex and nuanced than we could ever have imagined. There are those moments when the music is discordant or we mishear the rhythm tearing the layers carelessly and missing the gifts. Yet, each year learning from our mistakes, we continue unwrapping new layers of our mutual love, becoming more aware of ways in which we delight in the giftedness and ongoing offering forgiveness of each other.

At the beginning of a new year, it is good to look back at the layers of our married love that have been revealed, the colours and the texture of our narrative and to turn once again in excitement to know that in this life new layers remain yet to be discovered. As the different layers are stripped away, we will discover that our unique parcel-of-love is filled with the delight of continually growing closer to one another and finding the prize at the heart of the parcel.

Dcn Roger Carr-Jones

Chair- Marriage Care

Four Weeks of Advent Preparation

Four Weeks of Advent Preparation

Advent a time of waiting, preparing and getting ready to celebrate Christ’s birth at Christmas. How many times have we all said, ‘We’re going to do Advent differently this year?’ or ‘We’re going to focus on the real reason for the season’. This is easier said than done as we are all constantly being bombarded by adverts of everything you need to buy to have the ‘best’ Christmas.

The challenge for us is to put that all to one side and to truly focus on and prepare in prayer for Christmas. Thankfully the Church gives us four weeks to prepare ourselves.

In the first week, let us think about the Patriarchs, our biblical ancestors – as a couple perhaps you could spend some time reflecting on your family of origin – what Christmas traditions from your childhood do you want to embed in your family, so that the next generation continue them? What new traditions do you have that you would like to see continued?

In the second week in Advent, let us think about the Prophets, those who spoke the truth and made a stand about what is right – what choices are we making in our preparations – are we choosing to support companies who make ethical and sustainable choices? Can we support our favourite charity by buying our Christmas cards through them?

The third Sunday of Advent is Gaudete Sunday. This expresses the joy of anticipation at the approach of the Christmas celebration – as a family what does the birth of Christ signify to you? Have a family sharing on this question and share your thoughts, feelings and maybe there will be some questions.

On the fourth Sunday of Advent, we turn to Mary, Jesus’ Mother. Mary is an incredible figure, so brave, so willing to entrust herself and her life to God. Mary was prepared to be open to the Angel’s message. Would we be open? Would we even hear an Angel’s message? Can you take some time to be still, to be quiet and reflect on the real meaning of Christmas and what it might mean for you as an individual, in your marriage and for your family?

We wish you all a very blessed and holy Christmas,


Caroline & Michael L’Estrange

Retrouvaille England & Wales Co-ordinators

One Day at a Time – reflecting on life and death

One Day at a Time

Couple looing out to sunset

All of us reading this will most likely have experienced someone close to us dying; a relative or good friend maybe. You’ll also know that death is never an easy conversation to have with others, but it is a reality for all of us.
Many years ago we were encouraged as a couple in our 30’s, to talk about and share, as best we could, about one of us dying. The idea then, was to have us focus in on that unavoidable eventuality, in order to help us ‘realise’ in the NOW how we felt about each other. As was hoped, it turned out to be a truly ’life-giving’ and life changing experience for us.
Initially, getting to imagine such a seemingly far fetched scenario proved extremely difficult. We chose to visit a graveyard where both of us could sit out of sight of one another. When separated, we prayed for the guidance of the Holy Spirit and were eventually able to settle down into a quiet, contemplative mindset on the process of dying and the death of the other and how we were left feeling. We’d brought pens and paper with us and wrote our individual experiences down.
When we reunited, we were both deeply moved but after a while we were able to pass what we’d written across to one another. It was an extremely heartfelt, emotional period of time, lots of tears, holding each other and tenderness.
But strangely it was also incredibly uplifting and both of us were powerfully touched by the strength of our love and the depth of our faith. That whole experience and especially reading through those reflections, taught us to seek to ‘live in the moment’, value each day together, always try to part lovingly, AND to live our YES to one another ’til death us do part’, and perhaps even beyond that, who knows?

Maureen and Brian Devine
Marriage Matters

Helping the World Go Round

October is the month when we notice a cooling down.  Some wind, some rain and leaves fall and turn to mush.  Yet it is the month for making sure our actions are effective and on track; that is, given that last month, September, for many was the start of a new year, new plans and new relationships.

October is traditionally the month of Mary – and Justice & Peace, World Mission, and Prisoners and their families.  For us, we find that we need the example of others to inspire, to motivate and to sustain our efforts.  We hope that we will be able to guide our children to happy adulthood and that they will see good role models.

Sometimes things go well, and sometimes they don’t.  And often there’s no rationality to our response to situations.  We can cope with a car breakdown, a theft, … but we can’t find a pen … and we lose control!  It takes a while to recover composure and get back on track.  We need to remind ourselves more of Mary’s composure in the face of what she was not expecting … pregnancy, forced migration, losing her child for three days, the torture and death of her son.

So, we can ask ourselves and our other half when we have a ‘sit down’† this month …. How do you see me reacting to the unexpected?  How might we take on the faith of Mary to be more resilient?  How can we play our part in the world for Justice and Peace, for Mission and for families in the most difficult situations?

We are called to be a light in the world; how can we, as a couple, be effective as an example to others, to enable and help other couples and families, and to be role models to young people we encounter?  Then we might also help reduce friction and ‘Help the World Go Round’


†What’s a “Sit Down” ?  It’s planned couple time, often about two hours, when we sit down, light a candle, ask each other “how are you” … that is “how are you… really” – it’s a time for listening with hearts rather than with ears!   Couples in Teams plan this special time each month, everyone can try it.


Annette and Paul O’Beirne

Teams – Equipes Notre-Dame


Couple together, Tenderness, Reflection


We know there are times when we need to move on from loving feelings, where the other is always seen in their best light, to a real love, which takes account of our imperfections. We need to move also from disillusionment to the decision to love, to live our deep-seated values with a determination to decide for all time, because there is no room for superficial love. The willingness to love is necessary and one way to show this willingness to love is through tenderness.

Tenderness is affection, such as a hug, a cuddle, a caress. It makes it possible to express our vulnerability, our fragility, and to find a response to physical, psychological, and spiritual acceptance. Tenderness leads us to the essence of the other. It makes us aware of our partner’s existence, an understanding of them in all their aspects, both strengths and weaknesses. In this way, the heart of stone can be transformed into a heart of flesh. In other words, the underlying rigidity is transformed into our essential humanity.

Tenderness is a sweet internal strength, a sign of emotional maturity, a light. It only blossoms in hearts that are free, which are capable of giving and receiving love. It touches both men and women: our profound humanity and our call to love, to intimacy and communion. Tenderness, in its most profound nature, brings together two fundamental, permanent feelings written on our human hearts: the knowledge that we are loved and the desire to love. Desire and tenderness are born from the senses and become words and values: it is with words that we as lovers are recognised in our bodies, our feelings, and our values. And it is by the circulation of words that we will all nourish our relationships and bring them alive.

Paul and Bianca Smith

Marriage Encounter

September 2022

Four important things for a couple to remember that could really impact their marriage.

Four important things for a couple to remember that could really impact their marriage.

If you are part of a married couple, you may both be Christians, you may be a marriage of two different faiths, or perhaps a marriage of a Christian and an agnostic or atheist. The following applies to all couples in all their uniqueness…

1 – KEEP THE CONNECTION – every day, no matter how busy:

· Start the day by finding out at least one thing that’s happening in the other’s day.

· When you come back together again, touch, look directly at each other.

· Later, sit down to give focussed attention

· Always be real, honest, and open with your thoughts, feelings, and needs.

Unspoken messages: I’m interested in you; you’re special to me; I’m glad we’re together.


2 – NURTURE THE CONNECTION – when there’s more time:

· Do something together e.g. a project

· Give longer time to focus on listening and speaking to each other.

· When there is tension between you, or a difficult issue to deal with, always be real, honest, and open with your thoughts, feelings, and needs – don’t be afraid to be vulnerable – this builds intimacy – IN-TO-ME-SEE.

Unspoken messages: I’m here for you; I respect the way you see things; I want to understand.



· Notice the positive qualities of the other and tell them.

· Show your affection and care in tangible ways e.g. acts of service

Unspoken messages: I value you; I want to share our lives.



· Notice what you are genuinely grateful for

· Look for what’s special in your partner and others.

· Notice the positives and enjoy them – and perhaps vocalise this.

This changes the atmosphere. Grace and forgiveness enter our life – for ourselves and for others. We begin to appreciate all the blessings we constantly receive.


Even when God is not overtly acknowledged, we know that the longing for love, peace, and fulfilment, shared by us all, is of God. In difficult times, we can call directly on God for the grace that comes from our marriage commitment. That grace will come in tangible ways – the unfathomable gift of God’s love for us.


This is written  by Teresa Weeks a volunteer Relationship Counsellor and Marriage Preparation Facilitator with Marriage Care. Teresa and her husband Clive are also members of Teams.

© 2024