Couples benefit from marriage talk
Twenty Catholic couples united during Lent to gain marriage insights at a Couples’ Lenten Reflection and Dinner at Metairie Country Club, sponsored by Regnum Christi, a lay movement that sprouted from the Legionaries of Christ.
Legionary Fathers Stephen Ellis and Jacob Dumont mingled with the couples, ranging in married years from three to 41 years, and Father Ellis, Regnum Christi chaplain, discussed the meaning of sacramental marriage and gave tips for better communication within a marriage.
St. Joseph’s intercession was called upon as the head of the household and father of all families for “his prudence, charity and fatherly protection.”
Father Ellis said God placed importance on marriage beginning with the marriage ceremony in Mass, calling marriage a ‘covenant’ where the man and woman support each other and form a bond with God. Jesus’ ministry on earth began at a wedding – the wedding of Cana.
“In God’s mind, marriage is the original sacrament,” Father Ellis said. “It is older than the priesthood. It is older than the Eucharist.”
In the sacrament of marriage, there is a “deep relationship established between the married couple and God.”
God intended for husbands and wives to administer sacramental graces to each other, he said.
Father Ellis joked about differences between men and women and how to foster better communication in marriage.
He had couples compare the vision of Mary in contemporary culture to God’s vision of Mary; reflect on Jesus launching his ministry at the wedding of Cana; think about how their marriage vows are reflected in their relationship and how each spouse acts as a channel of God’s grace and listens to God through the other person.
He said God’s plan sees “marriage as a mission” that benefits the entire community by being a building block of society. God told his followers “to make disciples of all nations,” the shared charism of Regnum Christi and Legionaries of Christ.
Father Ellis suggested that, even though sometimes difficult, couples are called to support each other in their pursuit of holiness using their God-given graces. “Your job is to get your spouse to heaven,” he said. Children are part of their mission, the height of the fruit of God’s love. And, couples should be witnesses to those who cross their path.
He left couples with a simple acronym to recall when talking to each other: LUV. “L” stands for listening intentionally as their spouse speaks; “U” is to try to make an effort to understand what the other is saying; and “V” is to validate what is said by articulating what was said back to your spouse. The better spouses understand each other, the better their communication, Father Ellis said.
“It’s great to take a nice pause during Lent and reflect on what’s most important – faith and family,” Ray Jeandron III, who attended with his wife, Michelle, and parents Ray Jr. and Mary, a Regnum Christi member.
Regnum Christi, a lay apostolic movement, has more than 20,000 adults in 30 countries who work to evangelize the Gospel and form people in faith in their homes, parishes and community. In Louisiana, Regnum Christi teams have formed in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Lafayette and Lake Charles. Approximately 140 belong to Regnum Christi teams on the north and south shores who meet weekly to discuss the upcoming Gospel readings and hold monthly formation mornings.
“We’re trying to see virtue in the world around us,” Lauren LeBlanc, Regnum Christi women’s section leader, said.
Fathers Ellis and Dumont are among four members of the New Orleans Legion of Christ community. The growth of Regnum Christi prompted the addition of Legionaries of Christ priests in the area, said Father Dumont, superior of the local community. Father Stephen Dardis and Father Robert Decesare round out the community.
“The whole idea of Regnum Christi is living in a deeper, more personal relationship with Jesus Christ,” Father Dumont said, “and using the gifts that God has given and to develop those gives to serve the church.”