To set the meaning to this new Section – Daily Life – we begin with a novelty: the CANA week-long retreat in everyday life that has just been launched for the CANA couples in Slovakia. How can we discover again the sense of the ordinary, of everyday life as a couple and get closer together to the Lord? This new formula, inaugurated in February, is very popular! Ondrej & Alenka, CANA leaders, share how they were able to implement it, along with some reactions of the participants. Later on, in this new Section, we will present topics on the daily life of couples and their families.

CANA in everyday life – for a deeper, stronger love – an online retreat

We live in a time when there is a lot of uncertainty and we have to try new things. This was the case this year for the CANA Fraternity in Slovakia. By early February 2021, we had planned a week of silent retreat. However, there was the health crisis in our country, and in early January we asked ourselves whether we would cancel, change the dates or offer couples at least something that would bring them closer to God and to each other.

The Community proposed us to offer a new on-line program: “CANA in everyday life – for a deeper, stronger love.” We welcomed that possibility very much. So, we invited all couples who have known CANA since the year 2000, and 54 couples registered, including 28 couples from the current Fraternity. We were very pleased that 26 couples, who are not currently in the Fraternity, came to join us.

This on-line retreat as a couple is designed so that participants can follow it while working, so they don’t have to use vacation days.

How did it go?

We all started on-line together on Zoom on Sunday afternoon at 5 pm. It was beautiful to see so many. familiar faces again a few years later. During the week, participants were able to organize their personal daily schedule reserved for the retreat (approximately 1.5 hours) according to their reality, with an additional group sharing time: one on Monday and Thursday evenings and one on Saturday morning or Saturday afternoon.

During the week, the training consisted mainly of a short teaching, a time of personal prayer and a time as a couple. Each day, for the time of personal prayer, it was possible to follow a “guided prayer”, also available in replay. Every morning at 5 am, couples received all the information for the day by email.

On Saturday, we finished the retreat all together visually with a Zoom meeting at 3 pm. And on the last night, we encouraged the couples to prepare for themselves a romantic dinner, as a conclusion of the retreat.

What participants told us

Silvia: I was very happy to have had the opportunity to live this retreat on-line. I was able to step back from my daily chores and to think about how to move forward as a couple, how to take care of ourselves, how to pray more.

Peter: I think I’ve received a lot from this formula on-line. I did not believe in this proposal for myself, as I had already experienced a retreat with spiritual exercises in silence … and there it was, this became a completely different experience. Also, I consider this retreat on-line to be a very beneficial and valuable moment for me.

Lad’ka: I really liked that formula because it didn’’t require preparation and separation from the family; it was easily accessible. I particularly liked the fact that couples who had already experienced the CANA Week a long time ago were also able to participate. Also I liked the fact that the Community and the CANA Fraternity were very united.

Raso: This retreat has been a very nice change for me. Personally, I really enjoyed the time of the guided prayer.

Lucka: They helped me take a break in the midst of this whirlwind of domestic and school chores and see couples I hadn’t seen in a while.

Merci: I really enjoyed sharing in a sharing group. We didn’t know the participants – and yet we were able to open our hearts, talk about spiritual and secular issues. Even in this time of pandemic, we need to share.

Here are some more fruits of these spiritual exercises

Silvia: I have learned to enter into personal prayer well, for more love in our marriage; I will better listen to my husband.

Martin: This retreat has helped me to become aware of God’s presence in my everyday life and the need to take time for our couple.

Eva: They helped me stop, think and restart in everyday life and in prayer.

Libor: We have once again experienced the strength and unity that comes from community life, from the closeness of friends and from being able to deepen our spiritual life.

Milada: I realized that even at home in this on-line space, it is possible to experience the intense presence of the Lord.

Joseph: It was the first time I followed these spiritual exercises, and I experienced them as a second CANA Week.

Patrick: My wife and I had a great week.

Yes, it’s possible!

In your apartment or home, with your work and children, yes, it is possible to live a precious time of spiritual formation that brings the heart of spouses and the Lord closer together.

Praise be to God!

Ondrej & Alenka VANDAKOVCI CANA Fraternity Slovakia