“Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide, but he shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted.”(IS 11: 3-4)
Only God, Who is our Creator and Who knows us perfectly, from our hearts and our depths, can “judge with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted.” How often our judgments are based on our expectations, our “idealistic visions” or “legitimate” claims, forgetting that the most important thing in our relationships is to respect our differences: “not by appearance shall we judge, nor by hearsay shall we decide.”
“Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths: all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity—greedy, dishonest, adulterous—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’ But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’” (LK 18: 10-13))
Those people “went up to pray.” One prayer was self-centered; the other was centered on God. One made an examination of conscience of “the rest of humanity” and “this tax collector.” The other did the same about himself—“be merciful to me a sinner.” We have a choice. We can be a gift of self or…
„If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” (Gospel Acclamation)
Without priests willing to cooperate with the Family Support Foundation there is no future for the Love and Life Programs. That is why we are very happy and honored to be able to publish the vidoes through which we can meet Fr. Michael Voithofer from St. James and Fr. Bill Safranek, the Pastor at St. Joanne d’Arc parish in Omaha, Nebraska. Fr. Michael and Fr. Bill have taken part in the preparation process to present the I+YOU=WE Program. We’re hoping that in autumn Fr. Michael will be able to present the Program on his own, together with the Coach Couples from our FamilyCare Center of Omaha.
We would like to wish Fr. Michael and Fr. Bill many blessings and graces of the Holy Spirit on this journey! Thank you so much for joining us!
The testimonies are definitely the most beautiful part of the Program. We can all share the moments we remembered in a special way. I am happy to hear the Participants like the Program for being so practical and so insightful on everyday life of a married couple. We are grateful for all the belssings of that time.
For the first time in history we could listen to Fr. Michael Voithofer from St. James parish in Omaha (where I stayed last year), who started learning the Program at that time and now presented it for the first time and on Sunday gave a lecture on Topic 5: Dialogue and Communication. His performance was brilliant, showing the real expertise in the field and making it an excellent part of the whole Program. In September we’re planning a Program which will be presented by Fr. Michael entirely on his own. That gives us a very optimistic perspective for the growth of our Love and Life mission in Omaha. I hope Fr. Bill Safranek will be willing to join in.
The Mass is always the grande finale of the Program. It makes it possible to thank Our Lord and to bring Him all the couples taking part in the Program, entrusting their future to Him.
I would like to thank again all who helped us prepare the Program, and all those of you, my Dear Ones, who have supported the Program with your prayers. May Our Lord reward you abundantly.
Remembering you warmly in my prayers
Martha and Todd – a Coach Couple
Lisa i Kevin – a Coach Couple and the Coordinators of FamilyCare Center Omaha
Fr. Bill Safranek, the Pastor at St. Joanne d’Arc parish and the host of I+YOU=WE in Omaha
Fr. Michael Voithofer, a priest at St. James parish in Omaha, Nebraska, trained to present Program 1
Fr. Michael during the presentation of Lecture 5: Dialogue and Communication
This time our Program 1 in Omaha included 14 couples. The youngest couple has been married for almost 3 years, and the oldest has been married for 42 years, so they can inspire each other. 🙂 It is always a great joy to meet and work with married couples but especially when you can see how important their relationships are to them.
We have wonderful coach couples: Lisa and Kevin (again), Martha and Todd, and always helping as a support, Raye and Dan. I am so grateful because without their help the Program couldn’t be given. Our Polish couple, Dana and Waldek (with great support from Lucy), prepared wonderful meals and amazing cakes for our breaks.
Our local host, Fr. Bill Safranek, not only gave us St. Joan of Arc School but also was present for almost all our lectures to learn the Program and (possibly) to be ready to serve with our Programs for couples in the future.
The first day is behind us. The next is in front of us. We have no idea how many graces God has prepared for us.
“Strive for peace with everyone, and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one be deprived of the grace of God, that no bitter root spring up and cause trouble, through which many may become defiled.” (Heb 12: 14-15)
“Bitter root” can “spring up and cause trouble, through which many may become defiled.” It sounds like we are responsible for “bitter root.” We should check everyday our “planet,” like the famous Little Prince, and look for any trace of bitterness in our lives because bitterness can cause trouble not only in our lives but also in the lives of our loved ones. “Strive for peace with everyone” looks like a good solution and a good strategy against bitterness. If we add a pinch of humor, this also helps.
“My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow me.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord. But a married man is anxious about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and he is divided.” (1 Cor 7: 32-34)
This is about the unmarried man but also about the unmarried woman: he or she is divided. Or rather we should say that with Our Lord’s help, they could be undivided, not divided. There is a solution: the sacrament of matrimony helps the unmarried to be united not divided. United when they pray together, when they receive the mutual gift of self, “which is specific and exclusive to them alone, [when they] develop that union of two persons in which they perfect one another, cooperating with God in the generation and rearing of new lives” (HV 8). He comes to every married couple with His grace because “it is in reality the wise and provident institution of God the Creator, whose purpose was to effect in man His loving design.” Divided or united depends on us—how close we will come to His grace.
‘The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light; on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death, light has arisen.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, ‘Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?’ “ (Mk 4: 37-40)
Our Lord always cares. He came to announce the powerful love of God and how much He cares about us. “Violent squall” or dangerous waves, difficult days with your spouse or feeling totally lonely and rejected or in danger because of our pride–we always can count on God’s help. Sometimes He needs to be asked, seriously asked.
“God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“You need endurance to do the will of God and receive what he has promised.” (Heb 10: 36)
Between “what He has promised” and “the will of God” is our “to do.” He promised to love us unconditionally forever and to be our Father forever, and His will for us is to love one another. As a spouse or friend, my “to do” is very simple: to be gentle, respectful, and creative as a giver, protecting time for us (daily…), open to sharing with my spouse or friend my dreams… Even if we simply need endurance, we should start every day again. And again. And again. 🙂
“Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth; you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.” (Gospel Acclamation)