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Cruise urges couples to aspire to ‘total’ marriages lived with joy

Dr. Ray Guarendi leads a breakout session aboard the Good News Cruise — a six-night Caribbean experience from Jan. 26 to Feb. 2 that brought together 400 Catholic married couples from around the country to deepen their relationships. COURTESY PHOTO

by Libby DuPont
Special to The Leaven

“Jesus did good things on boats.”

This opening line of Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann’s homily on the first full day of the Good News Cruise was a sentiment the participating couples would come to echo. Organized by Corporate Travel Services and sponsored by Ave Maria Radio, this trip brought together 400 Catholic married couples from around the country to deepen their relationships within the context of a six-night Caribbean experience from Jan. 26 to Feb. 2.

In addition to the amenities, activities and excursions offered to the larger population of the ship, Good News Cruise participants were able to enjoy daily Mass and access to the sacrament of reconciliation, thanks to two bishops and 10 other priests who accompanied the group. There were also keynote talks given by Archbishop Naumann, Dr. Ray Guarendi, Teresa Tomeo, Father Mike Schmitz and several other Catholic speakers, as well as smaller breakout sessions, a concert with Sarah Kroger and a few other private social gatherings.

Having access to more events was not the only thing that set apart the group, which comprised about 20% of the onboard guests.

“We are not here to escape reality, but to pierce it,” said Rachel Bulman in a talk she gave with her husband, Deacon Jason Bulman. In their talk, Rachel shared how uncomfortable she was early in their marriage when Jason would gaze on her with love. As time went on, she learned that marriage is intended to be a mirror to God’s love, and through Jason’s gaze of love, she learned to allow God the Father to love her more deeply.

This thread of marriage as a mirror that helps us see reality more clearly was woven through many of the presentations throughout the week.

Al and Sally Kresta spoke about how marriage reflects back weaknesses, but it is intended to be a safe look, a look that loves despite faults.

Guarendi warned against what he called the “law of social entropy,” in which couples tend to slack in relationship as time goes on. Instead, he encouraged couples to apologize, to speak kindly to their spouses and to not take things too seriously.

Father Schmitz invited couples to take a new look at the marital embrace as a source of growing in “grace and glory” (quoting St. Thomas Aquinas) and a means to living the whole of marriage with totality, freedom, faithfulness and fruitfulness.

The inspiring sessions came packaged with the rare opportunity for couples to spend uninterrupted time together processing what they had heard and catching up with each other.

When asked her favorite part of her day on the beach in Labadee, Haiti, Rosanna Bamsey of Woodbury, Minnesota, replied, “I feel like we were able to finish all the conversations we’ve tried to have over the last six months.” 

She and her husband Bob were on the cruise celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary. As a couple in the midst of raising eight children from preschool to college age, the cruise was an opportunity to step back from the chaos of family life and reconnect as a couple.

Since it was a Caribbean cruise, participants were treated to warm sunshine, sparkling blue water and the sunrise over tropical islands. After the freezing, dreary January experienced in Kansas, couples relished the beautiful nature that surrounded them. Even more awe-inspiring, however, was the opportunity to get to know so many other couples striving to live the church’s bold but joyful vision of marriage.

“It was awesome to be able to just start talking and feel at ease with everyone, knowing that we were all there for the same reason — to grow in the love of Christ through each other’s experiences and lives,” said Annie Riley of Lenexa, who attended with her husband Shawn.

While a floating marriage retreat may not be for every Catholic married couple, we can all take some time this Lent to allow the beauty of matrimony to pierce the reality of our everyday lives, realizing its potential to bring us and those around us closer to Jesus.

As Archbishop Naumann said at the closing liturgy on the cruise: “Yours is an evangelizing sacrament, to hand the faith not across geography, but across generations. We have no guarantees, but a marriage lived with joy attracts others.”

For more information about next year’s Good News Cruise, go to the website at: goodnewscruise.com, or contact Brad DuPont in the archdiocesan marriage life office at: bdupont@archkck.org.

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Libby DuPont

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