Couples Retreat

The couple;s seminar at NBCLC on 4th and 5th March 2017 was in a sense our third couples retreat/religious seminar since we got married. One would wonder why a couple who have barely been married for a year would want to attend so many faith formation conferences for couples? We would like to see it more as a preparation to equip ourselves with whatever, the forces of evil can throw against us in their attempt to overthrow the sanctity of marriage and family. The seminar began with registrations from 9:30 am. The gathering though small was intimate and helped the attendees to really open up and share their feedback and experiences with one another. A small gathering was conducive to a more intimate sharing, which would not have been possible in a larger gathering of 50 couples.

After introducing one another, Fr. Arul who led the seminar, gave us a 15 min brief on the purpose of the seminar and how it started with the intention to follow St. John Paul II's intention to have more marriage preparation courses to equip young couples in the vocation they would be entering.

This was followed by an enlightening lecture by Fr. Francis Xavier, highlighting the role of Family in the Bible. His talk started with the scripture verse from Ephesians 5:21 which highlights what marriage demands of a Christian family - the sanctification of each other and to help both spouses reach heaven. To further elaborate on this Fr. Francis spoke of Family Life as described in the Bible:

Throughout his talk, Fr. Francis also enlightened couples with tips he has seen in his own life, of ideal couples. For eg - his own parents and how they never fought in front of their children, how children need to be led to a God experience through their parents etc.

The next part of the seminar - a movie therapy - had the most effect on the people gathered for the seminar. Ahead of showing the movie 'The War Room', Fr. Arul requested us to keep in mind a couple of important points while watching the movie. The Christian inspirational movie produced and directed by the Kendrick Brothers, is a story of the power of prayer and its effect on a family that was on the verge of breaking apart. After watching the powerful movie, Fr. Arul encouraged us to ponder on what we could take away into our own lives from the film, and adapt into our families.

The first day ended with praise and worship led by Brian and Karen and Eucharistic celebration by Fr. Sagaya John.

The second day of the seminar began with a peaceful prayer and meditation from 7 am. This was followed by Fr. Arul taking us through the Pope Francis' encyclical - the Joy of Love. Fr. Arul pointed out the important aspects Pope Francis wanted to highlight to Catholic Families in this time and age. He reminded us that the vocation of Family is to Love and to learn of Love - looking at Jesus. He pointed out the crucial seven characteristics of Love -pointing to 1 Cor 13, i.e
1) Patience ; 2) Kindness ; 3) Generosity 4) Forgiveness : 5) Humility ; 6) Courteousness ; 7) Truthfulness and Honesty.

After this session, we had a lovely testimony and sharing by Priya Calmiano around inculcating spirituality within our families. She touched upon various points such as: To draw to Christ through a strong prayer life, first as individuals, then as couples and finally as a family

To faithfully live as a disciple of Christ
- Having a genuine relationship with God
- Living our lives around the Word of God (Scriptures/Bible)
- Seeing every sacrament as a personal encounter with Jesus
- Understanding our mission in life - to live a life of mission and witnessing
- In married life - to be ready to die to our own wills and desires for the sake of our spouse
▪ She also provided tips on being a holier couple

-Raising Godly children
▪ Including, teaching then the Word of God
▪ Helping them to have a personal relationship with Christ

Priya's session was followed by a period of introspection, where Fr. Arul invited us to look into our lives and understand where the Holy Spirit wanted us to make changes in our lives. The seminar concluded with a moving testimony by Br. Robert followed by confessions and Holy Eucharist by Fr. Francis Xavier.

The Couples Seminar at NBCLC was truly refreshing from the other retreats we attended, because it wasn't rushed and truly gave us time to contemplate the vocation of marriage amongst the peaceful surroundings of NBCLC. The seminar invited us to share our thoughts and exchange ideas or concerns that we face in our daily lives - for a change there was a dialogue between the facilitator and the attendees.

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