During this time of crisis MFL Westminster has been inviting different voices to share their insights on ways to deepen our insights into the vocation of marriage andways to explore married spirituality.
Our thanks to Janet and Paul DeBoo from Teams of Our Lady for this reflection.
Last Friday (third week of Easter) we heard at Mass the account from Acts of Paul’s momentous conversion outside Damascus. Saul who left Jerusalem clutching warrants and breathing threats was steeped from birth in Jewish prayer, scripture, teaching, law, and faultless observance, but not in the spirit of God who enlivens all those things. In its absence he found latitude and license for vicious contempt. Saul meeting Jesus outside Damascus found his hollowness exposed by true holiness: “But what were once my assets I now through Christ Jesus count as losses” (Philippians 3:7). In a similar way, my own habitual faith observance needs at some point a burst of recognition for the immensity and power of Jesus’ own love for me, and all it has driven and still drives him to do and endure for me. I need this insight to transform and elevate my observance from duty into song.
As members of Equipes Notre-Dame (Teams of Our Lady), a Catholic lay movement for married couples encompassing 155,000 members in 13,800 Teams across more than 90 countries, we have sought during this pandemic to redouble our commitment to the Endeavours (spiritual disciplines, especially of daily prayer and scripture reading) that fan our spiritual life. Our Team ethos impels concern, assistance, and as necessary shared grief among the members of each Team, whether married couples, widowed members, or priests or religious as spiritual counsellors, many in high-risk demographics. Exploiting Zoom and other digital astuteness, Teams have tried their best to preserve the pattern of monthly Team meetings, but above all to persevere in communicating, trading spiritual inspiration and encouragement through email exchange. The priests among us have exercised their ministry to offer Masses for members of the movement and all our fellow humanity, attracting national, supra-national, and worldwide live-streamed attendance.
We married couples of Equipes Notre-Dame, not only during Coronavirus but constantly, ponder the mysterious sacramentality of being married. We try to cultivate our awareness that the day-to-day banalities of our shared life, alike with its upheavals and triumphs and tragedies, disguise a contact with monumental grace. For on our wedding day we had a guarantee from Jesus, in the same way that every Sacrament harbours a rite to which Jesus has pinned and guaranteed a grace. As it were, on that day, he said: “Make no mistake that I alone can bring you joy, and alone I wholly deserve all your love. But I see and understand, and I am happy for you to have discovered happiness in, and so great a desire to join yourself to, this person in whom indeed I moulded a measure of my beauty. Therefore, I tell you: love this person of your free choosing, loving whom so fills you with joy, in token of loving me. What love you pay and pour out to this person, whose love fills you with joy, whom you most enjoy to love, I take as love paid to me. Moreover, to make your love a truly worthy token that images my own self-emptying and bottomless love for you and all my Church, I bind you henceforth in love to each other until your dying day. Guard preciously as sacred this love you feel today, neither forgetting nor letting it stale. Let no other love come between your love for each other; love each other and discover me.”
Father Henri Caffarel, who founded Equipes Notre-Dame, succinctly said: “Teams of Our Lady have as their essential aim, to help couples strive after holiness—no more, no less.” All our prayer, scripture, and faith study, individually, as couples, and in our Team, aim at vividly connecting with Jesus so his love can drive and shape our lives through every season and circumstance.