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Marriage Crises Have a Flip Side, Says Pope

Notes They Can Be Secret to a Deeper Love

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 26, 2008 ( There are two sides to the coin in marital crises — even grave ones — and the proper support can help couples turn difficulties into a moment of growth, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope affirmed this today when he received in audience participants in an international Retrouvaille convention.

The Holy Father called Retrouvaille — a program founded in 1977 by Canadians Guy and Jeannine Beland — a “providential intuition.” The program, with a main emphasis on communication, seeks to provide the tools to help put crisis marriages in order again.

“Serious and grave” marital problems “are a reality with two faces,” the Pontiff said. “On one hand, especially in its acute and most painful phase, it seems to be a failure, proof that the dream has ended or has become a nightmare and, unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done. This is the negative side.

“But there is another side, which we frequently fail to recognize, but that God sees. Every crisis, in fact nature teaches us this — is a step to a new phase of life. If in the case of inferior creatures, this happens automatically; in humans it implies liberty, the will, and therefore a ‘hope that is greater’ than the desperation.”

“In the darkest moments, spouses have lost hope. It is then that the need arises for other persons to care for it, for a ‘we,’ for the company of genuine friends that, with the greatest respect but also with the sincere will to do good, are ready to share some of their own hope with those who have lost it.”

In this way, at the moment of rupture, the Pope said Retrouvaille teams offer couples “a positive reference in which to trust in face of despair.”

“In fact, when the relationship degenerates, spouses fall into loneliness, both individually and as a couple. They lose the horizon of communion with God, with others and with the Church.” Then, he indicated, meetings such as those of Retrouvaille, offer the “rope” to avoid being totally lost and to climb the hill again, little by little.

Thus the Holy Father said he sees Retrouvaille couples as “guardians of a greater hope for the couples who have lost it.”

Like Cana

Referring to the scene of Christ’s first miracle — the wedding at Cana — the Holy Father affirmed that “when a couple in difficulty or — as your experience demonstrates — even already separated, entrusts themselves to Mary and turns to him who has made the two of them ‘one flesh,’ you can be sure that the crisis will become, with the Lord’s help, a moment of growth, and that love will be purified, matured and reinforced.”

“Only God can do this, he who wills to make use of his disciples as valid collaborators in approaching couples, in listening to them and helping them rediscover the hidden treasure of marriage, the fire that has been buried under the ashes,” Benedict XVI added. “To revive the flame and make it burn again, not, of course, as when falling in love, but in a different way, more intense and profound.”

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