Listening to the Word of God, the CANA retreat “Inner Healing for the Couple” is designed to review one’s personal and conjugal history. Each person can welcome a grace of forgiveness, healing and liberation, for oneself and for one’s couple.
After this retreat in Martinique (February 12-18), participants and one spiritual companion testify: in a few days, each couple went through a real adventure. The first names have been changed.
John: a divine adventure
To bear witness to the graces that the Lord has bestowed on me during this “Inner Healing of the Couple” retreat is a blessing. Personally, I can say that the Holy Spirit has renewed me by allowing me to access my “deep self”, to reveal to me unsuspected wounds that pollute my relationships and to free myself from it. This spiritual retreat had a concrete, immediate impact on my couple. Just like the blind in Mark 8, 22-26, a new vision, full of sweetness and imprinted with a different Love for my wife, has revealed itself.
In the beginning
The Lord had prepared me for this time because I had no struggle to be available, and as soon as I arrived the welcome of the brothers of the community “set the scene” … and the first words of Jesus resonated: “I await you”, “obedience and trust”. Accustomed to living the different phases of CANA retreats, I had looked ahead and prepared myself to face our main difficulty as a couple: couple times requiring communication, in any form, are for me a dreaded ordeal punctuated by misunderstandings, arguments, anger and closing in upon myself! “This will be another a time when my wife will take a churlish pleasure in accusing me of all wrongs and complaining about anything and everything… and as I want to be in obedience, so I accept to suffer retired within myself!”
As soon as the modalities of the retreat were presented, I had convinced myself that Jesus was on my side, that He would allow Benedict to finally acknowledge her wrongs… It must be said that the word she had received on arrival meant a lot: “Keep quiet! … Listen!” Keeping quiet, a separate room and meals apart … again a wink from the Lord who will work primarily my wife!!! At least, that’s what I thought…
He invaded me and filled me
The Holy Spirit invaded me from the first day, the day after a night rocked by the word taken from Exodus 2, 1 “… Moses answered; Here I am…” I felt an unfettered inner peace and felt receptive to the signs and calls of the Holy Spirit. The days were rhythmic and all along, I say along, God’s will for ME became clearer!!! Yes, because it was me! I, who thought I suffered from no evil, no un-Godly bond, no wounds; on the contrary, I suffered every revelation during heart-to-heart prayer with Jesus. Removed from all distraction, through sharing and witnessing with my spiritual companion, in forgiveness through reconciliation with Jesus, Benedict and myself, but above all in Love, carried by the prayer of the brethren! And what about the time of personal healing: “I was blind and Jesus healed me.” In the instant, my gaze landed on my wife with modesty, emotion and compassion! With certainty, we have seen the Holy Spirit heal us, each of us… To allow us to walk behind him as a couple, all three of us being together!
I have retained a sentence of a wise man that is so true, that I project in my relationship as a couple but also in my daily life: “I am a broken person in front of another broken person” …
To sum up this divine adventure, I answered “Yes” to Jesus’ call with my brokeness, I was obedient to him and He filled me beyond my expectations.
Jonathan: a real springboard
This retreat on “Inner Healing for the couple” was for me a real springboard. Indeed, it allowed me to become aware of my flaws, in order to face them.
It is essential to be in truth with Christ in order to be in truth with one’s other-half.
It was difficult for me to become aware of my weaknesses and the situations of short-comings in which I could settle. With the help of the Holy Spirit, I was able to create a painting highlighting my wounds and how they come out, then my sins. Once this painting was made, I felt free and I was finally able to work with my wife and Jesus on what was wrong.
Also, I learned to accept my wife as she is. With her strengths and weaknesses. Instead of praying for her to change, I pray to the Lord differently today:
“Lord Jesus, thank you for the woman you have put with me, give me the grace to accept her with her qualities and defects. Allow me to remain humble and help me to consider her as a partner and not an adversary.”
Moreover, on the day of our wedding we said our “YES”. At this retreat, we said our “YES to God”. And as with marriage, we must constantly make the effort to ensure that this “YES” continues. This effort is daily. Every day we have to give up what we have identified as being wrong in us.
Let us be strong with Christ; it is He who is our guide!
Let us take ourselves gently, because the road is long and difficult, full of pitfalls.
To conquer without peril, to triumph without glory.
Our goal is to earn our place in heaven in order to be in the glory of Christ!
Claire, wife of Jonathan
A week before it started, my husband offered to participate in the “Inner healing of the couple” retreat. We had put this project to God in prayer, and we registered. I was sincerely convinced that if God wanted us present, He would allow us to be freed from our professional obligations, even at the last minute.
When I went there, I thought God would help my husband, and therefore our couple. I was convinced that He had already revealed to me my past wounds, and that it was therefore on him that all the work had to focus.
Go deep: at one point in the retreat, our Lord showed me a painful truth. Some defence mechanisms and behaviours had been established a few years earlier when I was going through difficult and traumatic ordeals; and they had allowed me to survive.
I realized that they had now become sins, sources of suffering for my husband, and therefore my family. It wasn’t easy to accept, because I was really proud of some of the traits I learned. I had finally become the strong woman who no longer allowed herself to be crushed as I had dreamed of being all my youth. In the end, I had become too authoritarian, too hard and categorical. I didn’t leave his place to my husband.
Thanks to God, I was able to understand it, and give it up in order to begin a path of healing. I was able to renew my YES to God, and my YES to my husband. I thank God for this time lived as a family.
Jacqueline: We have seen the glory of God
To be a spiritual companion at the CANA retreat “Inner Healing for the couple” in Martinique is to live by the grace of God! My husband and I had the privilege of accompanying this retreat from February 12 to 18. We have approached this service in faith, having so far only experienced being spiritual companions during the “small” exercises of St. Ignatius (Editor’s note: the 7-day retreat).
I then discovered an innovative type of retreat, combining a personal interior journey and a couple’s journey. Very interested in psychology, by issues regarding couples in general, I attended the Lord’s school.
The training times for spiritual companions were extraordinarily rich. The participation of Father Sostène, a priest and psychologist from the diocese, was a great added value. And as the Lord does nothing halfway, He came to visit our couple through the teaching-testimony entrusted to us.
I might add that we have seen the glory of God who, by raising each one in his personal life journey, has revived the couples!
Thank you, Lord, for this service!