Sunday, April 25, 2010

Marriage Encounter Weekend: a Review

Back from OKC where Tracy and I spent the weekend at a Marriage Encounter weekend. It was a mixed bag, I think.

On the one hand I do think it is good to stop and focus on the the reason you got married to your spouse in the first place. ME does a really good job of helping couples reconnect and rekindle. And you know that can't be bad, to quote the Beatles.

Another salutary practice is the recommended daily practice of "Dialoging" -- where a married couple each write each other a "love letter" on a specific topic. I cannot help but think doing something like that would have a wonderful effect on a couple's intimacy and connectedness. In these days where marrieds barely find the time to say hello and goodbye each evening and morning, the effect of a daily exchange of love letters between them could not help to revolutionize any marriage.

But it wasn't all wine and roses, either. Or if it was, it was like ripple cut with sugar, and Bette Midler's sappy song, The Rose -- which they actually played at one point to set the mood or something. (Seriously -- they did that.)

Much too much time was spent on finding weird ways if describing your feelings, e.g., "When you bounced that check dear, I felt angry and my anger was the color of winter sunset in the Rust Belt after there's been a big layoff at the Caterpillar plant. It left a bitter taste like Brussel Sprouts that have been reheated in a microwave oven once too many times." Yeah, I kid you not. It was just like that for hour after droning hour.

I've written before about the feminization of the Roman Catholic Church, and here's another example. Worldwide Marriage Encounter fairly screams of the feminine worldview and the all important topic of one's feelings. A huge portion of the weekend was given over to how to discuss, analyze and describe precisely how something makes you feel. The materials have an entire appendix devoted to suggested similes and adjectives to be used to describe feelings.

I'm a Roman Catholic too, but one adhering to a different rite -- the Extraordinary form of the Latin rite, also known as the traditional Latin Mass. Our liturgy, our sacrments and our practices harken back to the way the Church was before the revolution imposed by the aftermath of Vatican II. The difference between the two liturgies is as far as the East from the West. One of the things that jumps out at you is the masculinity of the pre-Vatican II rite when compared to the way Mass is celebrated today at most parishes each Sunday. 

The new Mass is feminine in so many ways. Long gone are the controversies over whether girls should be allowed to serve as altar boys, and the typical Novus Ordo (trans. "new order") Mass is shot through with lay women serving in every possible role except that of the priest -- the alter Christus.  There are women cantors, women reading Scripture, and women assisting at the altar, and even women handing out the Body and Blood of Christ, Himself -- all of which was completely unknown and actually prohibited for the 1,935 year history of the Mass prior to Vatican II.

So too, the feminine touch is evident in nearly everything the Catholic Church does these days. From marriage prep to offices of the chancery -- if you removed women from the day to day management of the Church, virtually every chancery in America would be a ghost town of empty desks not to mention ringing telephones. Though Marriage Encounter is put on and run by married couples, the feminine touch of the program is unmistakable and for me, off putting. 

Ben Callicoat
(918) 409-2462

They're making a movie of your life story, here:

Bonum, Verum, Pulcrum.

What you do every day matters more than what you do once in awhile.

Posted via email from fbcallicoat's posterous


  1. Anonymous10:56 AM

    I went to the WWME assured it was not a social event and that my wife and I would have our privacy respected. NOT !!! We arrived and the wanted to take pictures of us. WHY ??? They wanted to put name tags on us with first and BIG BOLD LAST NAME. When we arrived at the meeting room the presenters came around asking Who we are, Where are we from, and other personal questions. I stated we we there for a private weekend to which a presenter stated if I didn't put on my name badge that I would "have a problem" that weekend.
    Complete and utterly NOT private. It was a big social with couples inter mingling, presenters mingling and no privacy respected.
    My recommendation is do not go if you think this is going to be private. Be ready to socialize. Be ready for your picture to be taken. Be ready for people to ask about your business.

    1. Anonymous11:45 PM

      My wife and I went on a WWME weekend over thirty years ago. It is still seared onto our memory. When we arrived Friday night we endured the welcome couples' "love bombing" for the better part of an hour. Name tags and assigned seats at every meal were de rigeur. By lunch on Saturday we were seated with a team couple. That continued, with various team couples and the priest, for the rest of the weekend. I guess they early on saw our lack of cooperation, if not complete contempt. Happily, WWME has been shrinking since before 1980. I don't think it will live to see its golden anniversary in 2018.

  2. Anonymous8:15 AM

    I just attended a weekend. To the previous commenter, I think you have a different notion of privacy. What my wife and I shared about our relationship was private. There are other couples on the weekend and are told to minimize idle talk. The only time "socialization" is experienced is during meal time. Sounds like you wanted to be anonymous.

    To the blogger, the feminization of the church is a result of men failing to be the leaders God has called them to be. I run a men's leadership program at my parish and sadly, very few men attend.

    Men have feelings and I for one am thankful that WWME has given me to the opportunity to talk about them with my wife. She respects and subjects herself to me as the spiritual leader of our family, the domestic church,

  3. I understand your point of view regarding WWME's emphasis on expressing feelings and agree it is symptomatic of the de-emphasis of anything masculine in the Catholic Church. I recall when in the Lamb of God Covenant Community--Catholic only when it was convenient--we sang such ditties as, "Isn't He beautiful, Beautiful, isn't He?"

    I don't have a problem with expressing my feelings to my wife nor her with me. The problem I and my wife have with WWME is the love bombing we've experienced since the weekend. You want a feeling? We feel like we've been told "We're your friends now." No thanks; "covenant community" was bad enough for that.

    Thank you for this post.