Article by Julita Kantod
Tawau : To err is human, to forgive, divine. Extending God’s forgiveness is necessary in all married life. In conjunction with the Extra-Ordinary Year of Mercy, the Family Life Ministry of Holy Trinity Parish Tawau initiated a relevant and meaningful seminar to all church married couples and those who had their marriage blessed. The seminar, themed "Love and Forgiveness in Marriage" was held on the 12th to 14th August 2016 at the Parish Catechetical Hall.
A stable family is closely related to the healthy relationship between a husband and wife. As pillars of the family, their concrete examples contribute to a strong foundation for the children to follow. Living in resentment, revenge, anger, hatred and unforgiveness are among the contributing factors of an unhappy family especially between husband and wife which is usually taken for granted by most couples.
The objectives of the seminar are:
- To provide opportunities for couples to be more merciful to each other
- To create awareness among couples that without forgiveness and mercy in their relationship there will be no peace in the family and
- To encourage couples to live the culture of "Forgiving" and practice it in their journey
A total of 115 participants consisting of 54 couples and 7 singles attended the seminar, which commenced on Friday 12th August, evening.
Rev. Fr. Philip Anthony Muji presented the topic on the Sacredness of Marriage, focused on the ‘Vow of Marriage.’ He touched on the sanctity of marriage that requires determination, perseverance, patience and a struggle to uphold the beauty of marriage. He said, "The relationship between husband and wife is a bond instituted by God himself. This institution should be protected, respected and valued so that everyone who is born of this institution becomes the Light to others. Hence, the couple too become the witness and symbol of Christ's love for the Church. The Vow of Marriage itself enables a couple to respect, love and be compassionate to one another."
After the session, all couples had the opportunity to renew their marriage vow witnessed by Rev. Fr. Philip followed by a special prayer for all couples. It was indeed a very touching moment for each couple as they recited the vow they once declared and pledged again after many years of being married.
The next day, August 13th from 7.00 am to 10.00 pm, the seminar began with the Enthronement of the Bible followed by a Praise and Worship session.
The second topic "Year of Mercy and Family" was presented by Sr. Liza Augustine fsic, who is also the Spiritual Adviser for the Family Life Ministry of Holy Trinity Parish, Tawau.
She affirmed that every family needs a loving environment which can be achieved where there is no hatred or anger within. She said, "In the family, especially between husband and wife the spirit of mercy must be upheld. It is the key to happiness, peace and a way to strengthen the bond between them. Christ has given us a loving heart so that we can share that precious love to those in need.”
She concluded by saying, “Being compassionate and merciful can change a person to be more loving and more open to accept other peoples’ mistakes."
Julita delivered the third topic based on the theme of the seminar – ‘Love and Forgiveness in Marriage.’ She emphasized that the ability to forgive is an act of love that comes from a sincere heart. It is an internal action involving acceptance, sacrifice, humility and unconditional love. She said, "We cannot live in a state of anger, hatred, revenge or desperation caused by ego in order to forgive those who have hurt us. We are the loving children of God who is Love Himself. Therefore being loving is expected of us. If we find it hard to forgive then we must first contemplate how Christ bore all our sins on the cross but yet still forgave us.
The next activity for the couple was a reflection on the fatherhood of St. Joseph for the husbands while the wives reflected on the motherhood of Mary. The couples shared on their reflections. The couples were requested to write a love letter to their spouse. After lunch, another short reflection was presented by Mario on the Holy Family of Nazareth as the Model Family for all families in the Catholic Church.
The activity throughout the day was filled with sessions for both husband and wife as they read their love letter to their spouse followed by sharing from five couples on their journey as husband and wife.
In the evening, was the reconciliation and consecration of the couple in front of the Holy Cross of Jesus. The reconciliation session was to ask for forgiveness and be forgiven that through the grace of God that they may continue to journey in love and mercy.
The seminar concluded with an Agape Night held on August 14, 2016. The dinner was to thank God for the renewing of their relationship, for the many inspirations and strength received through the seminar. The dinner reception was celebrated with much happiness, joy and peace.