Posted On 2016-10-17 In Projects

Forta launched in Spain

SPAIN, Manuel de la Barreda Mingot •

whatsapp-image-2016-10-05-at-12-21-59The first Forta (Marriage Strengthening) in Spain took place the weekend of 30 September to 2 October 2016, and I had the immense good fortune to attend with my wife, Lourdes.

Due to Forta’s set up, we will not reveal anything that happened during the session or its content, so couples that attend in the future can enjoy it fully, including allowing oneself to let go and trust.  One must lay him/herself bare becoming small and humble, opening oneself up to what comes in order to enjoy it to the maximum.

Thanks to Mexico, thanks to Costa Rica, thanks to the organizational team.

I cannot speak about the inside happenings of the Forta program, but I can tell about the external and what it means to me.

Let me begin by thanking the organizational team (Natalia and Jörg, María and Iván, Inés and Alonso, Belén and Cayetano, María José and Huberto, Rosa and Eduardo, Rosa and Narcís, Ana and Rafael,  Ana and Miguel, Macarena and  Luis, Sr. Mónica-María and Fr. José María), and the Schoenstatt Family from Costa Rica (especially Coca and Felipe, who came from Costa Rica to Spain to help and to support) and the Mexican family.

To Mexico for being the parents of this wonder.

To Costa Rica because the Spanish organizational team went there, and they were welcomed and according to what I heard with great affection and love that can only be given in a family.

To the organizational team for their commitment to this task. Because they learned very well what it means to receive and to give love in Costa Rica.

Thanks to everyone.

What does Forta mean to me?

I will try to explain from a personal level, a couple’s level, at the level of the organizational team and the Schoenstatt level.

At the personal level

Forta is an exercise of tremendous trust. You do not know what you will experience. You are uninformed, and then you realize that this is part of the charm. In the life we lead, not planning something up to last detail is not our style. You are obliged to get out of your comfort zone, and thanks to this, changes can take place in you. Whoever is entrenched in his/her comfort zone always rejects any change. As I have said, all this implies baring oneself, becoming small and humble and opening oneself to surprise. In summary, it is becoming like a little child. Fr. Joseph Kentenich reminded us (Spiritual Infancy) to be even more like Christ in Mt: 18:4.

At the couple level

Forta is something imposing since it provokes internal reflection in the couple, it is recapturing the initial feelings, awakening feelings you thought were forgotten, it is dusting off actions and attitudes that are downgraded with time.  I remember a talk about Fr. Lorenzo Luetjens’ prayer, in which he said that prayer is to waste time with God. What a great truth and how important it is that we know this in this fast-paced world and effectiveness that surrounds us. Marriage is also about wasting time with your spouse. In the end, prayer and marriage are based on love, which is not measured in effectiveness or time.  Whoever has the capacity to spend time with someone does it because he/she loves that person very much. If someone is at our side with whom we have incurred the sacrament of matrimony, that is, we are Christ’s spouse for the other, we should be willing, in the function of love, to waste all the time in the world with him/her. In Forta impression we had as sweethearts or newlyweds of simply being with one another is recaptured. But not only that, in Forta, Fr. José María García Sepúlveda told us that only a love that is communicated is a love that is fruitful, that enriches and heals. This only happens in a marriage through dialogue. Not in talking.  It is to communicate by baring your soul to the other.

Organizational team

At the level of the organizational team

All the work they accomplished, in the preparation during many months as well in the development of Forta was a constant act of love. Love for Christ and for the Blessed Mother as the source, and love for the Forta participants, who received great attention through a continuous outpouring of themselves towards us the participants. It was pure capital of grace.  I had the immense good fortune to have my sister and brother-in-law and several couples who are friends of our life group and militancy as members of the organizational team. After a lifetime with my sister and seventeen years of group life, one knows the strengths and weaknesses of one another.  To see that those weaknesses were forgotten and strengths overcome, simply for love, for commitment, and to give freely what they had freely received in Costa Rica was touching.  It was touching, because they did it for me.  They did it for my wife, for me, for our marriage, and for each of the participants in an individual and complete way.  And it was not only friends.  Among the members of the organizational team, there were couples we did not know, who came from Costa Rica to give support.

It did not matter; the generous giving of self was from all of them and for everyone. It was a giving of love. Once again, thank you.

At the Schoenstatt level

Forta is a firm and clear response to Pope Francis that we are with him and that we have heard him. In Rome on the occasion of the Jubilee, he asked us to reach out to others. The motto, Schoenstatt reaching out, emerged from here.  And in the exhortation Amoris Laetitia, number 52, he directly asked all Christians, “But nowadays, who is making an effort to strengthen marriages?” Therefore after experiencing this Forta, it is clear to me that Schoenstatt is taking care of strengthening Christian marriages.  Since 1985, when it was born in the Mexican family, it has taken care.  And from there, it passed on to the rest of the families (the order that I list them does not matter) Costa Rica, Ecuador,  the United States, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Italy, Germany and now in Spain. Moreover Forta is truly Schoenstatt reaching out as a gift to the Church and to present day society, in defense of marriage and the family that is under attack by the prevailing ideology of gender.

A clear message, without confusions or interferences

A final question.  It sometimes happens in the Church that depending on what subject or whom you ask, you might get a different answer, which provokes confusion among the faithful.  I have the good fortune of taking a Master of Science course about marriage and the family and defending the family and marriage at the John Paul II Pontifical Institute, an institution created by that great saint, defender of the family and of marriage.  Well, everything experienced during Forta is absolutely sound, and it goes by the hand of what that Master teaches. Moreover it is not that one is more important than the other or vice versa. It is a relief for the faithful when the message received is clear and concise, without confusion or lack of clarity. It is a guarantee and good fortune to be able to say this and to belong to the Church and to Schoenstatt and to have experienced this in Forta.

Forta is God’s gift to Schoenstatt thus it should be Schoenstatt’s gift to the Church.


Photo above: Organizational team. Two men are missing because they were receiving the couples… Service first!

Original: Spanish. Translation: Celina M. Garza, San Antonio, TX USA. Edited: Melissa Peña-Janknegt, Elgin, TX USA

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