20, 200, 2000. The Church lives on.

20, 200 or 2000.  The Church lives on.  

20 + years of MARFAM and Retrouvaille, 200 years of the Catholic Church in South Africa, 2000 years of Christianity.  These are good dates to remember, to commemorate and celebrate.  They may be good news or bad news at times but they are all achievements for the good of all families in society.  The Family Apostolate is relatively new in the Church in South Africa with the earliest initiative by the Schoenstatt movement in 1949. More focused marriage movements started only in the late 1970s.  See www.marfam.org.za/introduction-to-the-family-apostolate/

I have chosen the above heading because I discovered with interest that both Retrouvaille and Catholic Engaged Encounter are offering a marriage programme this upcoming weekend 22-24 February in Gauteng region. CEE aims to prepare couples for a lifetime commitment. Retrouvaille is helping them to pick up pieces when the wheels are in danger of falling off.  Chris and I and MARFAM had a hand in setting up these programmes over the years. What I find is missing at the moment in this marriage three-some, in our region at least, is Marriage Encounter, the original programme of enrichment for the Sacraments of Matrimony and Holy Orders according to the ME vision statement.  Marriage in the Church and society needs all the support it can get and during this month of February MARFAM has been seriously promoting marriage and family life as a whole with the theme LOVING FAMILIES MATTER.  In fact our family theme for the year is EVERY FAMILY MATTERS.  However marriage, according to the Church and society, remains the ideal foundation for well-functioning families.

Couples will be putting time and effort into these programmes.  Priests will be there too.  The rest of the Church community whether we are married or single, widowed, divorced or separated can keep them in our prayers.  They are, will or should be sacraments of the Church, for the Church, modelling God’s love and mercy to us as expressed in the article.  www.marfam.org.za/marriage-and-the-eucharist/

Ironically at this time in Rome Pope Francis will be meeting with Presidents of Bishops’ Conferences on the issue of abuse of minors.  Clerical abuse of minors is not the only form of abuse and one cannot but wonder if the church was truly family-centred would such a problem persist.

Marriage Encounter is planning a new programme in the region in April but is active in other parts of Southern Africa as are the other programmes. For details http://www.engagedencounter.co.za, http://www.retrouvaille.co.za.  Marriage Encounter: Thabile Ngcobo (TB) NgcoboTB@telkom.co.za

MARFAM continues its contribution with its THOUGHTS FOR THE DAY www.marfam.org.za/daily-reflections/ and as Lent is coming up with various Lenten programmes and STATIONS OF THE CROSS for families, widowed and bereaved.  www.marfam.org.za/publications-info/

In a truly family-centred church now and in future MARRIAGE MATTERS!  And FAMILY MATTERS!

TRowland. FAMILY WEEKILY 20February 2019

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