The most recent meeting of Relationships Enrichment took place on Monday 29 November at 8pm in the Upper Room. We considered the Sacrament of Marriage and its Liturgical Celebration. It was also be possible to participate via Zoom.
The content of the evening’s session (reflecting on Marriage and Scripture) is applicable to couples discerning Marriage, preparing for Marriage or simply Married.
If you’d like to receive a link, email Fr James at [email protected] or phone at 086-107 2930.
(Should you have a couple you’d like to present on, do let us know!)
Seven couples attended John and Bridie McCarthy’s excellent presentation on Fertility Awareness on Mon 15 November. To plan your family in a natural way requires good communication between husband and wife, they said. It respects the dignity of the woman. Moreover, the work put into tracking one’s fertility has many other advantages for a woman’s health and wellbeing. Being open to receiving life in a natural way requires generosity and sacrifice, yet yields rich rewards. This is clear from a growing trend among couples to switch from artificial to natural means of family planning: “If only we had tried this from the beginning!”
Relationships Enrichment meets regularly on Mondays. We draw on the teaching of the Catholic Church, as well as on the help and advice of experienced married couples.
Listed below are brief accounts of some previous presentations
On Mon 11 October, we had another enjoyable “blended” (face-to-face & online) session for couples.
Committing oneself to be Faithful and Fruitful Forever (the three Fs) is a good start, but it needs to be backed up by the cultivation of many virtues (eg humility, tenderness, patience, mercy, forgiveness). A discussion followed on advice about the appropriateness or not of Natural Family Planning, and reasons why sexual intimacy is reserved for Marriage.
On Monday 10 May, Marek and Michaela told us the beautiful story of how their common interest in hiking brought them together and allowed them to get to know each other and eventually marry last year!
On Monday 12 April Darragh and Kristina did very well – telling the story of how they met and their decision to bring forward (& not put back) their wedding because of Covid.
What Makes a Good Marriage, Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo
We were delighted to have the Papal Nuncio in Ireland join our Relationships Enrichment group on Monday 15 March. Archbishop Jude drew from his own experience of his parents’ love for each other many practical counsels which he shared openly with couples in a very special meeting. Put God first, he said; prioritize the sacraments and family prayer. Yet he also gave lots of practical tips on communication, how to love your children and how to make your marriage stand the test of time. We are deeply grateful to him for his warmth and his wisdom.
On Monday 22 February, Paul & Delphine volunteered to share a “testimony” of their journey as a couple and how their Christian faith has helped them to understand Marriage and each other. It was inspiring to hear them explain how listening, understanding and forgiving continue to be an essential part of their relationship.
At our first meeting of the year on Monday 11 January, Sol and Mike took us through the story of the marriage of Emperor Charles of Austria-Hungary and of his wife Zita. Their married life took on so many unexpected turns yet they were very faithful even after having been exiled to Madeira, Portugal, following the collapse of the empire.
On Monday 7 December 2020 we had a special presentation from Fr Andrew Black on Christmas in the Holy Land and the significance of Christmas for relationships. Fr Andrew, who is studying Scripture in Rome, spoke about a visit to the Holy Land which overlapped with the Advent and Christmas season.
Our meeting on Monday 23 November featured a famous writer who fell in love with his future wife as a teenager but had to wait till he was 21 before he could propose Marriage to her. Unity in their relationship despite differences in personality, tastes and attitude to religion provided scope for a lively discussion.
On Mon 9 November there was lots of discussion following a presentation profiling a Royal Couple (from an earlier century) who at first seemed to have agreed to marry for expedience yet whose love for each other really matured as their relationship developed.
On Monday 19 October Eamon and Giselle profiled the marriage of Aquila and Priscilla, a fascinating couple from the first century AD, who did everything together, from changing home several times, to befriending St Paul and Apollos, to making tents, to having Mass in their home – if only we could do that now!
Our first Autumn meeting (via Zoom) on Monday 5 October went very well. Photos were displayed from Kerry and from Spain, and stories told from Wales and Dublin.
A record audience “tuned in” for our virtual meeting on Monday 29 June which featured the screening of a wonderful talk on Marriage by Scott and Kimberly Hahn, entitled: Living Sacrament – Primary Channel of Grace. There was a very lively discussion afterwards.
On Monday 15 June we were joined from Scotland by Emmet Dooley and his wife Lucy who hails from there. Married for ten years, having changed homes multiple times and had four children along the way, they talked about challenges they faced and how God has helped them find solutions every time.
In early June, Fr James gave two presentations: the first on the Holy Spirit, and the second on Parenting and the “God Question”. Soft copies of his slides are available on request.
Brian and Catherine O’Flynn were our guest couple on Monday 25 May. From their wonderful store of memories they drew many a tale as they traced how they met as teenagers – a poetry book at the library – how they kept in touch despite attending university in different cities, how they faced many challenges to their faith, how they married young, how they did the Camino de Santiago with the children, and, of course, how they still renew their decision before God every day to be faithful to each other till death do them part.
On Monday 18 May we were joined by Andrew and Valeria Larkin. Married with two young children, they talked about the importance of seeking solutions from the first moment. The bigger the problem the greater the need to seek a solution together. Using examples from personal experience – including a dramatic airport “nightmare” – Valeria and Andrew showed how a readiness to listen and seek solutions makes even the worst of problems bearable and strengthens one’s Marriage enormously.
On Monday 10 March, it was one story after another from Karen Hickey as she shared her experience of how she and her husband Mark from quite different family backgrounds make decisions about rearing and educating their three young children. She also talked about the pain of miscarriage and the consolation of being able to bury one’s child’s remains. Husband Mark offered complementary insights when he spoke to our group on 11 May. He stressed the need to learn to strike the right balance between paradoxical differences, e.g. sensitivity/anxiety in women and insensitivity/anger in men.
John and Jennifer Kehoe made a most welcome return visit on Monday 10 February. Following John’s insightful introductory reflections on 25 years of Marriage, Jennifer talked us through the classic Five Languages of Love – very useful to know for a successful loving relationship!
“One can have friendship without intimacy but not intimacy without friendship” was one of the observations made at our first gathering of the New Year, as we discussed Love and Friendship. Jesus as Extraordinary and Ordinary Friend was another theme covered in a most engaging session.
A most enjoyable pre-Christmas gathering took place on Sunday 15 December 2019 after 12 noon Mass, with couples bringing very tasty dishes for the celebration.
Our November 2019 meeting proved to be a very pleasant one. It was nice to be able to welcome Eamon and Giselle back after their recent wedding, while others had news of first babies on the way!
A few ideas from the podcast Jay Shetty interviews his wife for the first time were discussed on Monday 30 September. Themes included where to meet the person you love, different love languages and how to balance family commitments and personal priorities.
On Sunday 25 August after 12 noon Mass, we met to mark the first anniversary of Pope Francis’ encounter with couples in St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral during World Meeting of Families in 2018. It was a very happy occasion with a variety of dishes, plenty of chat and a fun quiz afterwards.
On Monday 12 August Fr James gave a presentation on a sermon of John Henry Newman on Infant Baptism. Newman will be canonized in Rome on 13 October. The session prompted discussion about the immortality of the soul, the necessity of Baptism, and the special role of parents in their children’s spiritual as well as all-round education.
On Monday 15 July, Michael and Harriet told us about ‘The Ten Commandments of Listening’ and ‘How to be a Good Quarreller’. It was part of a very helpful presentation on Communication and Conflict.
In June, Harold and Anne-Claire talked about how contemplating the different mysteries of the Rosary and praying it together regularly as a couple can strengthen married life. Eamon and Giselle talked about how, due to cultural differences, news of one’s engagement can be received quite differently by each party’s family. More generally, they observed that while cultural diversity is good, solid moral values (such as fidelity and fruitfulness) ought not to be compromised.
John and Bridie McCarthy gave us a very encouraging presentation on Fertility Awareness (NFP) on Wednesday 27 March. They enhanced their superb presentation with various tips about ‘special dating nights’ for spouses, and about family life together.
On Monday, 11 March Laura Giust gave a very nice presentation on the life of Chiara Corbella, a young mother of three who packed a lot of joy into a short life.