Charism and Mission in ChurchEncounters of Married Couples is a private international association of the faithful of Pontifical right, with a juridical personality, created in accordance with the law of the Catholic Church. The main objective of the Movement is to revive the unity of marriage in a possibly widest extent within society. Various activities are focused on strengthening, and at times reviving, spouses’ unity within marriage and with God, reflecting and witnessing the heart of the matter of the Sacrament of Matrimony. The particular concern is undertaken to show that the effects of the Sacrament of Matrimony are everlasting and its’ grace can be experienced throughout all life. The Movement’s activity helps married couples discover and experience that “Jesus’ gift does not end in the mere fulfilment of the act of the Sacrament of Matrimony, but it supports and sustains married couples all through their life“ (Fam.Cons.56), and inspires to attain holiness, answering God’s vocation to live in marriage and family. We complain that the Sacrament of Matrimony is the spiritual reality realising in the dialogue of the husband and wife.
Encounters of Married Couples offer married couples, a three days closed retreat. During these days husband and wife are encouraged to follow a dialogue workshop, founded on psychological and theological basis, which leads them to an encounter, in a meaning of a communion of persons. (communio personarum, Fam. Cons.19). In Poland Encounters of Married Couples have worked out the principles of dialogue, which are to guide towards unity in marriage and unity with other people. We take those principles as the God’s gift. They determine attitude towards life and are a way of existence in the present world. The spouses’ understanding and their conjugal love, inspired by the Movement, have a fundamental influence in further formation of their parenthood. Thus Encounters of Married Couples have become, throughout dialogue, the school of Christian formation for the whole family.
A basic form of activity of the Movement is a three-day, closed retreat for married couples, regardless to their age, marriage experience, religious involvement, or kind of problems, that keep them in unity, or drive them apart. The retreats are conducted, according to a strictly observed programme, by three leading married couples and the priest.
Married couples, willing to take part in the retreat encounter, do not meet any formal restrictions. Leading couples are always particularly sensitive and open, to the participants who experience serious problems in finding mutual understanding, often threatened by divorce. It was not seldom, that after taking part in the retreat, participants would withdraw, the earlier summoned divorce applications from the court. The programme is easy to accept for persons being, at a time, far from Faith and Church. Participation in these retreat, often happened to be for them, a turning point in this matter.
The participants of consecutive retreats, are always new coming couples. After having attended this meeting, they are given an opportunity to continue their involvement through various forms of post retreat encounters. These, are always focused on spouses’ work within their marriage. Involvement in retreat, inspires participants to carry on the spirit of love and dialogue, to their families and to society they live in. The programme is formed in such a way, that married couples can follow it, referring to their own life experience. The ecumenical attitude is considered of special importance.
The formation of leading couples is based on their own dialogue, on the Church Teachings concerning marriage and family, and on basic acquirements of interpersonal communication psychology. The international congregation of leading couples, that takes place every two years, is focused on common prayers, instruction workshops, as well as, exchange of experience among participants. Every second two years a council of communities leaders of the Movement, gathers responsible married couples with priests from all centres.
Basic guidelines of activity in countries, with mixed national and religious traditions.
The retreats organised by the Movement, are primarily, a school of conjugal and family love. They serve reviving these attitudes, especially in countries, where the family bonds and virtues were destroyed by totalitarian system. The Movement is sensitive and careful to the local cultural and national traditions, as well as to the present social situation. The retreats are always conducted in native language of the participating couples. Oftentimes, the retreats were conducted for groups of mixed national and religious provenance, consistent with ecumenical principles. In this way, we want to carry the spirit of dialogue and evangelising love, to possibly furthest extents of social life. We aspire to preserve unity in multiplicity, and to build unity, in the spirit of love of God and Neighbour, in obedience to the Teaching of the Church. Guarding the entity of programme, we allow structural and organisation autonomy in various Communities, on the condition, that they sustain bonds with pastoral ministry of local Church and with the whole of the Movement and they respect the Statute of the Movement.
The apostolate programmes:
1. Basic retreat – for all married couples.
2. Basic retreat for couples living in a second relationship following divorce – seeking solution for their problems.
3. Basic retreat for married couples awaiting child adoption.
4. Programme for priests, persons living a consecrated life, and seminary alumni.
5. Second stage, advanced retreat programme.
6. Holiday programme for whole families
7. Enocunters for engaged couples; a workshop programme for couples preparing to attend the Sacrament of Matrimony (so called Evenings for Engaged and Retreat for Engaged).
Till January 2015 about 2000 retreats has been given for married couples, in which participated moreover 20.000 new couples. In Evenings for Engaged and Retreat for Engaged also nearly 20.000 couples has participated.