There’s a time for everything! In tune with today’s young couples, CANA is renewing itself with CANA REFRESH. In a Catholic parish near Lyon, the first two stages have been completed. After a time of listening and discernment, it’s now time to act!
CANA’s renewal with CANA REFRESH continues throughout the world, particularly where couples want to get together to listen to each other, to understand the situation in their country and to welcome the Holy Spirit who breathes through them. In Hong Kong, for example, a group of young couples has been formed and will be starting soon. In Switzerland, a couple’s walk has been proposed for several years. And right here in the parish where the Maison CANA is located in Anse, a group has just completed the five meetings proposed to initiate this renewal.
Parish of Anse – a wonderful experience
We followed the U theory and also the sequence proposed in Pope Francis’ book “A time for change”, in three stages: a time to see, listen and feel, then a time to discern and choose, and finally a time to act.
We began by discussing what each of us saw of the situation of the couples around us in this semi-rural, semi-urban parish on the outskirts of Lyon (population 21,000). Everyone was able to share their pain at seeing couples around them in great difficulty, sometimes even after only a few years of marriage! The question of parenthood often came up: it’s really difficult to bring up children in this very open and (too) fast-moving world. So how can we not commit to doing something for them, with them? Yes, but what? It’s a tricky question, because it involves the intimacy of a couple’s life!
Then each couple went to meet other (young) couples (10) and interview them about their lives. It was a great surprise to see how happy these couples were to share in depth what they were going through, sometimes painfully. The half-hour interviews often lasted twice as long, such was the couples’ need to talk about their issues as a couple and as parents. Some even started crying on the phone. We all received a lot. It was a wonderful discovery that encouraged us to go further.
Marriage is no longer a given
At the heart of the process, we could see how helpless we could feel in the face of all the challenges that emerge from the questions of today’s couples and families. Marriage is no longer a given. Seeing all the divorces and separations around them, many people are afraid that it won’t work! How can we proclaim Jesus Christ in such a context? How can we give hope? How can we help and provide tools for living as a couple and bringing up children? Many have also said that they would like to find places (including in the Church!) to help them, to listen to them, to welcome them as they are. Unfortunately, Mass is often the only way into the Catholic Church. Not easy for non-practising people! At the end of this phase, many of us felt a little powerless in the face of the immensity of the task! But we also heard the call to persevere.
How can we move forward in our own way?
With so many needs expressed or felt, how do we move forward? We took the time to come up with ideas based on everything that had been said and on our own experience and ability to get involved. The idea at this stage is to be able to identify what it is possible to do in the parish and its context, in our own small way. No matter how modest. Here are the main themes that emerged:
- preparing for marriage and what happens afterwards – the first few years (not so easy!),
- support for couples in crisis (an increasing number, even young couples),
- helping parents with their children’s education (particularly with regard to Internet access),
- managing a (too) busy day-to-day life – helping couples to develop good habits and choose their priorities,
- offer a simpler relationship with the Church, less focused on the Mass…
Inspiration that brings joy
But there was one subject that stood out more than the others and gave us all a great deal of joy in imagining it: a Festival of Families open to everyone and not just to couples who come to Mass more or less regularly. It’s about showing a different face of the Church. And reviewing how the parish presents itself to the outside world. There’s a lot to be done in that direction! We’re now praying that it will come to fruition.