Germany, Regina und Matthias Hagmann •
Six couples each sat at their own table. Soft music was playing in the background. An empty picture frame laid in front of them. There was a long table next to them with craft materials, papers, colors, fabrics…Together they thought about how they would implement and shape an image that accompanied them through the following days for their marriage. At the end of the retreat, these images stood on the altar in the Shrine, and it was palatable that the couples were on the same pathway, drawn to one another and completing each other, but still different from one another.
We are embedded in different worlds, family, professions, and society. Our center is God, a center that gives us peace, strength and clarity. Together we have a dynamic that definitely can be exciting and make us want to change things. Together we also share the certainty that we are called for one another. For in love, each couple reflects the love of God, in a very individual, free, joyful and contagious way.
Open yourself up to your partner and to God
A retreat for married couples was held from Ash Wednesday to the following Sunday at the Family House in Memhölz in Allgaeu. It was a time, one consciously spent without children, to open oneself completely to one another and to God: “You are mine and I am yours.”
The day’s structure left a lot of room. After Morning Prayer, breakfast and input, the couples had time for themselves and time together as a couple. Ideas and materials, suggestions for conversation, thoughts for contemplation and meditation were offered to them. There was also the opportunity for a spiritual conversation with Father Stefan Strecker. Before dinner, we celebrated mass together. In the evening, there was an opportunity to get together again and let the theme of the day unfold. Quiet music played during mealtimes, which were eaten at a lovingly decorated table. We remained silent quite a lot, but a couple’s exchanges were always allowed. This was experienced as enriching: one participant said “At home I always have to wait until my husband comes home, so I can tell him something. Here I can always tell him immediately.”
There was a theme that continued on over all the days spent here. On the first day, with a loving gaze we consciously and unconsciously perceived what is. What emotions arise in me, and what drives me, when I come to rest? “Ah, so this is who I am, how I feel, this is just me, here and now!” And at that this time, we could also come to realize that we swim in the sea of God’s love. On the second day, words of love came into focus. We got up and wished to talk anew with God. We sought words for what is longing and unfulfilled within us. Over the course of the third day this saying stood: love transforms. For transformation is more than change. Transformation brings us closer to the image that God has placed within us. We want to be transformed by the love of God.
The most important point for the participating couples was the longing for peace in the beginning and after that to get out of the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Intense days followed in which we were allowed to grow together and in which we felt that God and the Mother of God were with us. At the end of the retreat a couple stated, “You with me, I with you – together we are strong.”
The days were a gift of life and love for us all.
Regina und Matthias Hagmann: firstname.lastname@example.org
Fr. Strecker: email@example.com
Original: German, April 4, 2017. Translation: Lindsay Burger, Munich, Germany. Edited: Melissa Peña-Janknegt, Elgin, TX USA