by Deacon Tony Zimmerman
Whether a planter for an apartment balcony or patio, or a flower bed and a lush lawn, most people spend time, money and labor this time of year to beautify their dwelling with flowers and blooming bushes. We would never just plant and forget these beautiful gifts of God found in nature. We know they wouldn’t last for long.
Pope Francis wrote in “The Joy of Love”: “In marriage, the joy of love needs to be cultivated” (126). If we simply walk out of the church on our wedding day and forget the beautiful gift God has given us in our spouse, our marriage may well look like lifeless flowers exposed to heat and drought.
A little further on in “The Joy of Love,” Pope Francis wrote: “Marital joy can be experienced even amid sorrow; it involves accepting that marriage is an inevitable mixture of enjoyment and struggles, tensions and repose, pain and relief, satisfactions and longings, annoyances and pleasures, but always on the path of friendship, which inspires married couples to care for one another: ‘they help and serve each other’” (126).
Very simply, if we desire the joy of marriage to support us in the normal highs and lows of life, we have to commit to regular sources of enrichment. This is why the Joyful Marriage Project: Build Your Ultimate Dream Home was launched by the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas this past February.
Online at: www.JoyfulMarriageProject.com, you will find various forms of enrichment for your marriage in three-hour sessions on a Saturday morning or a Sunday afternoon, located in a parish, often with child care provided. There is an online email marriage retreat which nearly 150 couples have experienced.
Some of the enrichments support couple prayer. Others provide practical tools for everyday use to strengthen communication and affection.
There are also sources for weekend enrichment such as Worldwide Marriage Encounter or “Living in Love” retreats.
Go online to: www.JoyfulMarriageProject.com. It has been visited by nearly 14,000 people to date. Or go to The Joyful Marriage Project on Facebook at: Joyful MarriageProject. There, you can read the remarks of one of 35 couples who attended a Recharge retreat held on April 2 at Mother Teresa of Calcutta Parish in Topeka.
Upcoming events include: “Everyday in Love,” a great date night opportunity to be held at Holy Spirit in Overland Park on June 2, 9, 16 and 23; and a “Living in Love” retreat scheduled for June 10-11 at St. John the Evangelist in Lawrence.
Watch for information regarding a day for enriching couple and family prayer to be held on Dec. 2, presented by the School of Love and the office of marriage and family life.
Take time to cultivate the joy in your marriage!