Easter Monday is a special Monday: a special day in which everyone is happy.
Most people do not work and spend their free time with their families, around a table full of delicacies. On that day, when the families gather, the New Families of the Focolare Movement decided to organize a meeting for married couples in the Faro citadel at Krizevci. It was an opportunity to combine the useful with the delightful: a nice trip with the family and participation in the programme of the meeting, whose title had immediately intrigued me and my wife: “Rediscover the beauty of life as a couple.
We have only been married for five years and our married life is very beautiful. However, because of all the obligations and concerns of life, we felt we needed a day to dedicate fully to our relationship so that the beauty of married life would not fade away without us noticing it. We are vulnerable people and we always need to renew ourselves. That is why every year (and every Sunday) we celebrate Easter: we want God to give us the possibility to renew ourselves so that, with his help, we can live the newness that Easter brings us.
The program began in the morning with Holy Mass. Followed by a short presentation by all of the participants, with an interesting novelty: everyone had to introduce themselves and thank, in addition, their spouse for something beautiful that he or she had done recently. This was only the beginning of a rather unusual programme, in which participants were invited not only to listen to the lectures/relations but also to participate actively, within the couple and in the group.
We listened to the presentation of Roberto Almada, Focolarino, psychiatrist and Italian priest, translated into Croatian, which we were able to follow with the help of a power point. We have seen that the crisis within marriage is present in different ways in many stages, from the beginning to the end and that it can, once overcome, help the couple to take positive steps, to mature.
The first exercise as a couple moved us to tears (especially my wife): we had to remember what made us fall in love when we met. We said it to each other by writing it down and trying to understand if there is something that may have tarnished, over time, that initial enthusiasm.
After lunch and a short game, the cartoon “You are special”, based on a story by Max Lucado, introduced new and interesting workshops. We spoke about the importance of communication in Marriage, of recognizing the dangers that exist when things are not expressed in the right way, that is, looking to the positive. At the end of the workshop there was the testimony of a very experienced couple, Josephine and Mirko Reizl, who spoke about the different periods, even of the crisis, that they have lived through in their years of marriage. It was a true testimony of communion within marriage and of trust in the Lord: all the steps taken are the fruit of a slow process, of a journey within the couple which, over time, has brought about changes, just as the pearl in the shell has done. And this is the way it should be in every marriage.
The story of the pearl that is formed in the shell was the motto, the light motive, of the meeting and was presented to us by a couple who guided us through all the exercises: Michela and Piero Acler, an Italian couple with over thirty years of marriage who have, within the Focolare Movement, a great experience of working with married couples.
We heard many interesting things from them, but most importantly we have seen how much they are still working on their relationship: even after so many years, a marriage can be beautiful, perhaps even more so than before.
The process of pearl in the shell begins when a grain of sand falls inside it, causing discomfort and pain. But slowly, because of the pain, seen as a metaphor of “dying to ourselves”, a beautiful pearl is created. This was witnessed by the Acler couple : it was visible in their eyes, it was seen in the way they looked at each other and how they read the messages within the above exercises.
Sometimes it seems to me that some marriages are blocked on Good Friday and that tortuous relationships have prevented joy from manifesting itself. It can almost seem that this is the true reality of marriage, especially after a number of years of married life. We Christians, who follow the Risen Christ, know that this is not the case. We know that marriage can be joyful and that you can overcome all the “Good Fridays” without which you can not get pearls. Sometimes people just have to see how much of a chance this is. And so the example of the married couple Acler is therefore very precious.
The program organized by New Families reminded us of the newness that Easter brought to our lives, and consequently to our marriage and family. Finding the beauty (and pearl) of married life means living Easter; thus our families become truly “new families” and, as such, can renew the whole of society. The danger is when we Christians think that a crisis can crush us.
The danger is to think that, as Christians, we are not in danger of running into a crisis. We often have a superficial relationship with our wife/husband and we don’t communicate the important things. Then time flies by. That is absolutely wrong.
My wife and I are still at the beginning of married life, when everything seems wonderful. But this meeting was equally of great help to us. Not only have we rediscovered the “pearl” of our marriage , but we have also discovered the pearl of this type of program that monitors and supports married couples in their journey. Unfortunately, there are few such programmes today, but there is nothing more necessary and important than working with families. In this sense the Church must do much more, because helping the family means helping society.
Thanks to the Focolarini for the wonderful Easter Monday .