Father Henri Caffarel wrote:
“The Endeavours, therefore, are quite demanding. They call for an effort on the part of the individual and the couple: an effort of discernment, creativity, and fidelity that embraces our entire being; an effort we assent to inwardly, not one that is imposed on us from without; an effort that begins with the acceptance of some minimum requirements.
“These are calls to extend ourselves even further. They open up for us the possibility of realizing for ourselves a true meeting in our lives with Our Lord, which is the point of departure for true conversion. ”
The decision to make the Endeavours part of one’s life comes from the heart and is a specific effort of will. The Endeavours are instruments meant to awaken in us attitudes that, little by little, lead us toward a more Christian way of life. They are not ends in themselves, nor are they obligations to be fulfilled.
To search for union with Christ, to live with Him and like Him, that is the primary objective of the Teams of Our Lady, as presented to us by Father Caffarel. The Endeavours are practices, concrete exercises that, practiced daily with commitment both personal and as a couple, can lead us to a true meeting with Our Lord. “The Endeavors are not arbitrary duties to be added to those already incumbent upon us in life. On the contrary, they are the starting point of a profound path of Christian conversion in perseverance, in truth, and in communion. Such a path can truly transform our lives.” (Alvaro and Mercedes Gomes-Ferrer – Sharing on the Team Endeavours)
1. Regular listening to the Word of God
The regular reading of the Word allows team members, not only to know God, but especially to root themselves more deeply in the Gospel. It makes each spouse enter into direct contact with the person of Christ. This personal contact is the pillar of any spiritual life since “ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” (Bl. John Paul II)
The Teams of Our Lady invites each member to read the Word of God regularly, making time to read a passage of the Bible, especially the Gospels, and meditating on it in silence in order to understand better what God is saying to us through Scripture.
2. Daily Personal Prayer
We are called to make time for the Lord, for an intimate moment with Him, and to live in His presence. Daily prayer develops in us the ability to listen to God. It means making time to be alone with God who loves us. It is a time of silent ‘heart to heart’ listening to God, of discovery and of welcoming God’s plan for us. There are no rigid rules for praying: each person decides what is appropriate for them in terms of when, where and how. What seems most important to develop this deep union with God is perseverance and regularity.
3. Conjugal and Family Prayer
Christ is present in a very special way when the couple pray together. Conjugal prayer becomes the common expression of two individual prayers and should come naturally from a life shared together. If the husband and wife each have their own style of prayer, then it is important that they try to develop a common way of praying, in order to discover and experience a new dimension to their married life.
When there are children, it is important to set aside a special time for family prayer. The home is the first place of learning for children. It is for the parents to pass on the faith to them and to make the home a place where they feel at ease with prayer.
4. Monthly Sit-down
The Sit-down is simply a period of time set aside by a couple each month, spent in a calm atmosphere, in the presence of God, looking at their lives together. Today, with the speed and turmoil of a busy lifestyle, it is essential that we make time for each other. It is vital that we sit down, look closely at ourselves and our marriage, to recall the ideal that brought us together and finally, to pray for guidance.
5. Rule of Life
The Rule of Life is an Endeavour which permits and encourages a personal review of those aspects of our life which we should change or improve. As with the other Endeavours, it leads us in the direction of spiritual and personal growth. However, different from most of the Endeavours, the Rule of Life pertains more particularly to each person of the couple. The Rule of Life is not an objective attainable in itself, but it is a means, a tool to help us to move forward. It must be reasonable and accessible, at the same time demanding, but tied to what is truly essential in our life.
Thus, if the Rule of Life has as its objective to bring progress in the Christian life, we must make an effort in three areas:
- to free ourselves (from what?);
- to nourish ourselves (with what?);
- to discipline ourselves (in what?).
“To draw up a Rule of Life, we must first come to know ourselves, our weaknesses and hurts, the points we need to work on. Others can help us choose this rule. What better way to avoid deluding ourselves? Of course, a spiritual journey does not advance smoothly or regularly. Rather, we often have to stop and ‘take our bearings’ in order to set out again in the right direction. That is why we must revise our Rule of Life periodically.” (Alvaro and Mercedes Gomez-Ferrer)
6. Annual Retreat
Team members are encouraged to make sufficient time each year for a retreat, as couples if possible, so that they can reflect on life in the presence of the Lord. The retreat is a special time to stop, to listen and to pray. It is an opportunity to be recharged spiritually. It is also a special time for an examination of self and of one’s life in general – particularly the direction of one’s growth. This Endeavour asks each couple to make every year a residential retreat of at least 48 hours, husband and wife together as far as possible, as Christ calls us to do: “Come away to some lonely place by yourselves and rest for a while.” (Mk. 6:31).