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Trading summer sun for spiritual renewal

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Instead of basking in the sun of a summer day, 150 couples committed themselves to one another at Our Lady of Hope Church in Potomac Falls July 8. Father Paul D. Scalia, episcopal vicar for clergy, encouraged the couples to model their relationship after the Eucharist through presence, sacrifice and communion.

“If my talks are useful, that is great,” Father Scalia said. “If not, focus on God and tune me out. It is a win-win.”

Father Scalia said couples should make time for adoration together. “By God’s grace, He is enabling you to be present to the spouse,” he said. “How does the other need us?”

Sin and distraction keep couples from being present to each other.

“God is entirely present,” he said. “He is a model for all spouses for attentiveness.”

Father Scalia pointed to technology as being a major distraction and urged the couples to be mindful of their time. He told the husbands to not underestimate the gift of simple presence.

Thérèse Bermpohl, director of the Office for Family Life, which sponsored the retreat, said the office is trying to offer opportunities for couples to be connected to the Lord.

Bermpohl noted the importance of taking time away from the world to listen and be connected.

“We need that silence to grow,” she said. “If we are not nurturing our marriage and taking time to listen to what the Lord is saying that is where we see the world falling away from God. Listen and spend time with the Lord. People know the value of that.”

One couple that knows that value is Sandra and Wilfred Sardelli, parishioners of Our Lady of Hope. They have been married 43 years and can be found at church reciting the rosary, attending adoration and praying together. “We connect very much spiritually,” said Sandra. “We have always had faith and with God we can get through anything.”

Sandra sees a difference in couples today.

“Every marriage goes through difficult situations, but people don’t want to work at it,” she said. “Two people need to communicate and go to church together. It is important in a marriage.”

Charlotte and Joel Sellier, parishioners of St. Catherine of Siena Church in Great Falls, have been married for nearly eight years. Charlotte said the couples retreat was a shot in the arm for their relationship. “It is sort of like taking out an insurance policy on your relationship and renewing it through the church. Leaning into the church to strengthen your marriage is really important,” she said. Sellier said it is also important to be connected with the church. “It is a place that is helping you and is always going to be a place to strengthen your relationship,” she said.

Charlotte said she went into the retreat thinking she would get practical tips out of it but got that and more. She said it was nice to be able to connect on a spiritual level in her relationship and liked Father Scalia’s analogy of a smart phone icon opening people up to more things. “He reminded us also that our relationship and marriage can be an icon for others,” she said. “People can see and learn something else about Christ and the church through our relationship and our witness to Christ through our bond.”

Meg Brito, a parishioner of St. Theresa Church in Ashburn, has been married for one year. She said the retreat is a great way for people to refocus. “Family is the cornerstone of life,” she said, “and having a strong marriage and family is the key to happiness.” 


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017