Fr. Constantine Nasr Leads Marriage and Family Encounter Weekend
On February 10-12, 2012, The Basilica of St. Mary, in Livonia, Michigan hosted their annual Marriage and Family Encounter weekend, led by Father Constantine Nasr, pastor emeritus of St. Elijah Church in Oklahoma City. This was Fr. Constantine’s second visit to the Basilica for this retreat, and he once again shared with the participants his extensive research on what he’s learned over the years as a priest, regarding what it takes to maintain a successful and faithful marriage. Fr. Constantine is the author of the Conciliar Press book entitled, Mastering the Art of Marriage: Staying Together When the World Pulls You Apart, and much of his research is documented within the pages of this spiritually enlightening and engaging book.
The two day retreat was designed for both married and engaged couples of all ages, and for single individuals interested in learning about the sacrament of holy matrimony. The invitation was sent to all parishes in the greater Detroit area, and those couples who participated, ranged from being engaged for 5 months to being married for 5 years. The seminar was truly an inter-Orthodox event, with couples coming from the Antiochian Archdiocese, from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, from the Romanian Archdiocese, and even from a local Melkite parish. The commonality among those couples attending the workshop was their strong love for one another, their deep faith in God, and their relentless determination to make their marriage work. It was beautiful to see such a group gathered together to discuss the sacrament of marriage at a time in history when societal statistics concerning marriage record 3 in 4 marriages ending in divorce.
The mood of the retreat was a joyful one, filled with both laughter and tears. There were shared observations and experiences. The participants took personality assessments to learn more about each other, established a shared vision regarding the sacrament of marriage, and determined together the true foundation of what a Christian home looks like. Fr. Constantine’s presentation was extremely engaging, and the couples shared a few moments of laughter when he shared personal stories of how he and his wife have dealt with life’s daily struggles as husband and wife over the years. In addition to the lecture, the participants had an opportunity to pray together, and there was an overall sense that the Holy Spirit was truly among us.
Among the important topics that were discussed during the weekend were the following:
- A Successful Marriage is based on 40% Intimacy, 20% Verbal, 20% Body Language,
and 20% Subconscious
- Wives Love Your Husband (1 Cor. 7:3)
- Husbands Love Your Wife (Eph. 5:35)
- Rules of Marriage for the Wife
- Rules of Marriage for the Husband
- Twelve Marriage Rules for Saints
- Read the Bible and the Song of Solomon
- Understanding the Betrothal Service: the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony
- God is in the Center of Your Marriage. The Source of Life = Beginning and End
After attending the seminar, there was a general consensus among the participants that the retreat was greatly beneficial, and we all highly recommend Fr. Constantine Nasr’s book, Mastering the Art of Marriage: Staying Together When the World Pulls You Apart, written on the faith of the Orthodox Church to preserve the sanctity of the sacrament of marriage and the family unit. Especially exciting to learn from Fr. Constantine was the fact that the proceeds from the book all go towards supporting orphans in Palestine.
In reflecting on the weekend, and on Fr. Constantine’s advice, we learned that for a Christian marriage to be successful today, it’s important to occasionally look at yourself and the commitment you made with your spouse, and to rediscover together the feelings you had as a newly-wed couple: refreshingly optimistic and passionately in love. It’s also good to listen to the experiences of couples who have been married for an extended period of time and whose relationships have been forged together throughout the years, and strengthened through enduring struggle and hardship. And we learned, most importantly, that it’s critical in marriage, to always open your hearts to one another, because it’s through not being afraid of making yourself vulnerable to your spouse, and seeking humility within your marriage, that are the key ingredients to a true and lasting loving relationship as husband and wife.
We thank Fr. Constantine for coming to Detroit and for sharing his wisdom with us. We also thank V. Rev. Fr. George Shalhoub and Rev. Fr. James King for hosting this seminar. And we encourage other communities to take advantage of hosting inter-Orthodox workshops like these in your own regions.
Submitted by Sylvia Kaub, engaged to be married to Mr. Rannie Ansara from the Basilica of St. Mary in Livonia, MI, April 2012