The future of the family — individual families and the institution in general — is filled with hope. But only if we relearn the art of loving, looking to serve the other, rather than to please ourself.
That was the message internationally renowned theologian Father José Granados, DCJM shared during a marriage retreat on Oct. 22 at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas.
“There are ways of living our affections, our relationships, our sexuality, that isolate us in ourselves,” Father Granados said. “It is crucial to understand that all loves are not equal and to teach people, especially the youth, how to build one’s life upon true love.”
Using his theme, “My Body for You,” Father Granados explained how the sacraments of marriage and the Eucharist arise from and nourish the same covenant.
Fifty retreatants — 25 couples, young and older — attended the retreat from three states.
Father José Granados, author of books including Called to Love: Approaching John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, written with then Supreme Knight Carl Anderson of the Knights of Columbus, was vice president of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Rome. St. John Paul II established the Institute to further the study of his Theology of the Body.
“There are many challenges for the family in the 21st Century,” Father Granados added. “I think the most important has to do with the truth of love. There is a way of loving that moves us out of ourselves, that embraces our whole life, and that allows us to share a common world and a common history with the beloved person.”
Father Granados was named in 2013 a consultor to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and in 2018 a consultor to the Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life. In 2019, Father Granados’s last year at the Institute, students protested changes to the school’s governance.
The Center for Family Life at Benedictine College hosted the retreat. Tory Baucum, the director of the center, used the retreat to bring together couples from throughout the Archdiocese.
“Father Granados is a true son of St. John Paul II,” said Baucum. “He has drunk deeply from his writings and common sources in the Tradition. For example, he wrote his dissertation on Augustine’s doctrine of the Holy Spirit within Trinitarian life.”
Baucum cited the priest’s background. “Trained as an engineer and then as a patristic scholar, all in the context of vital, cross-cultural friendships of the Disciples of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, has given Father José Granados a mission of great singularity: to take the mission of the Family as the mission of the Church into the 21st century. He is helping all of us answer the call of love in truth.”
Baucum served for 30 years as an Anglican Pastor, seminary and university professor. He spoke at the Vatican’s 2015 World Meeting of the Family in Philadelphia and was brought into the Church by Father Paul Scalia and Father Dominic Legge O.P.
Asked what feedback he had heard from the retreat, Baucum cited one retreatant’s comments:
“Father Granados presentations make you start out saying, ‘Wait. What?’ Then, by the end, you say, ‘Oh. Wow!’”
Carol Lintner agreed. She coordinates marriage preparation for her Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas, parish. She attended the retreat with her husband, who also participates in marriage preparation.
“Wow,” she said. “I was so moved by Father José’s spirit.”
“His words that touched me most were explaining the spirit of conjugal prayer from attending Mass together,” she said. Father José shared the story of the Archangel Raphael interceding for Tobiah and Sarah, saying: “Your marriage to her has been decided in heaven!”
“Through a Sacramental Marriage and continuing to receive Eucharist as a married couple,” she said, “grace is given to us as a gift and is a renewal of forgiveness between a couple. The task is to build up Christ Church within our families and with our Church family together through action of being missionaries to the continued building up of the Church universal.”
Father Granados said Baucum and Benedictine College are doing important work in marriage and family for both individual couples and the universal Church.
“A key idea for the Center for Family Life is that the path of the Church passes by way of the family. This was John Paul II’s vision for his Pontificate, as ‘Pope of the family,’” said Father Granados. “The Disciples of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary also draw their inspiration from John Paul II’s vision of the person, love, and the family, and see in the family a path towards a future of fruit.”
Father Granados said St. John Paul II’s signature phrase, “Do not be Afraid” is perfect for families.
‘Do not be afraid of acknowledging God’s gifts and of living up to them, so that your life can be great and beautiful,” he said. “And the family is the privileged place where God entrusts us with his gifts of love and life.”
Whatever challenges the family faces, he said, we can “be not afraid “ because, said Father Granados, “the family possesses the capacity for renewal.”
“It is crucial to accompany wounded families and to offer them a path for healing, so that they can embrace the fullness of human love and dignity,” he said. “This is crucial for the Center for Family Life, and this is also the inspiration for the Disciples in their pastoral work in parishes or education.”
The Center for Family Life will be hosting its second annual Family Week retreat for the entire family May 28-June 1, 2023. Find out more information and sign up for notifications about Family Week at benedictine.edu/FamilyWeek.