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Strengthen marriage this Valentine's Day

Published: February 1, 2017

En Español

The Catholic Church in the United States wants Valentine's Day to be about more than candy and flowers. It wants to offer couples support and encouragement for building strong and lasting marriages. In February, the Church partners with other organizations to celebrate National Marriage Week, Feb. 7-14, an event that concludes with World Marriage Day on Feb. 14. Go to marriage events in Arkansas.

These events provide an opportunity "to celebrate the gift and blessing of marriage and to affirm and support engaged and married couples," said Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth. "2016 brought several wonderful opportunities to reflect more deeply on the gift of marriage and family."

One was the release of "Amoris Laetitia" ("The Joy of Love"), Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation that reflects on the strengths and struggles of today's married couples and families. 

Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, then president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), summed up the document's impact last April when it was released. "Pope Francis is calling us to enter more deeply into the beauty of marriage and Christ's teaching. From the opening lines of Genesis to the closing chapter of Revelation, and throughout the Gospels, God speaks eloquently to us about the joys and challenges of marriage and family life," he said. "The Joy of Love is inviting us to share the treasure and medicine of Jesus. The teaching of Jesus inspires us to live out God's hope for us, and the mercy of Jesus heals and sustains us when we fall short. Let us remember that no obstacle is too big for Christ to overcome."

Archbishop Chaput stressed that his office as well as dioceses nationwide have begun "the process of receiving wholeheartedly and implementing faithfully Pope Francis’ rich insights and guidance." He also encourages parishes and families to focus their observance of National Marriage Week on "Amoris Laetitia". Visit the USCCB website to find resources, including a bulletin insert, homilies ideas, a virtual marriage retreat, daily marriage tips, prayer and more.

Marriage Events in Arkansas

The Family Life Office for the Diocese of Little Rock sponsors several events to provide marriage enrichment, support for troubled marriages and education for couples preparing for marriage. See list of events with registration details below. For more information, contact Elizabeth Reha at (501) 664-0340, ext. 373.

Worldwide Marriage Encounter, a weekend experience designed to build communication and allow couples to spend time together, away from the tensions of everyday life, will be held Feb. 10-12 at Coury House Retreat Center in Subiaco. For more information or to apply, visit www.arkansaswwme.org, call Steve and Elaine Lienhart at (501) 312-1119 or e-mail apply@arkansaswwme.org. Another weekend is scheduled for September.

Encuentro Matrimonial (Marriage Encounter), a weekend retreat presented in Spanish for couples seeking to enrich their marriages, will be held Feb. 17-19 at Western Plaza Hotel in De Queen. For more information or registration, call Maria de la Luz Llamas at (870) 642-2256 or (773) 213-9593. Another weekend is scheduled for September.

Retrouvaille, a program designed to help heal and renew troubled and hurting marriages, will be held Feb. 24-26 at Ferncliff Camp and Conference Center in Little Rock. To register, visit www.retrouvaille.org. For more information, contact the Family Life Office. This event will also be held in September.

Convalidation Class, a daylong marriage education program for couples who are married civilly and wish to have a sacramental marriage within the Catholic Church, will be held Feb. 25 at St. John Catholic Center in Little Rock. Register online or contact Elizabeth Reha at (501) 664-0340, ext. 373. Additional dates and locations are available. Events for Spanish-speaking couples will be held in March 11 and Aug. 26.

Pre-Cana Day, a one-day retreat for engaged couples who wish to be married in the Catholic Church, will be held March 4 at Christ the King Church in Little Rock. Register online or contact Elizabeth Reha at (501) 664-0340, ext. 373. Several additional dates and locations are available. Events for Spanish-speaking couples will be held in March 11 and Aug. 26.