1. DAILY INDIVIDUAL PRAYER
Personal prayer is entering into the presence of God, a meeting with a loving Friend. As each of us is unique as a person, collective prayer is not sufficient. We have to practice personal prayer in order to develop, deepen and strengthen our faith and our relationship with God. One should find at least fifteen minutes or even half an hour when one devotes himself entirely to God. In our Movement, the practice of individual prayer is called the Tent of Meeting; the name is taken from the Book of Exodus. When the chosen nation fled from slavery in Egypt (Ex 33:7-14), Moses pitched a separate tent outside the camp in which He used to talk with God “face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.”
It is essential to find appropriate time and place as it helps to concentrate and to be persistent in prayer. It is very fruitful to combine prayer with Bible study in order to look at one’s own life in the light of the Word of God.
2. REGULAR STUDY OF SCRIPTURE
The basis of spiritual life is listening to the Word of God. Regular reading of the Bible makes us more attentive to God’s Word, more active and persistent in following Christ. We may be able to find in that Word the answers to the questions which arise in everyday life. The Church’s teaching on the use of Scripture in prayer, especially the tradition and principles of Lectio Divina is helpful for drawing from the biblical text the living word in order to direct and shape our lives.
Apart from individual Bible study, spouses are encouraged to read and contemplate Scripture together regularly in order to recognize God’s will. It means they should listen to the Word of God together. They start this with the sign of the cross and then read aloud the passage line by line. After each line, they stay in silence for a while to reflect and then each of them says what they understand about it and what it means for their individual lives, for them as couple and a family.
St Paul reminds us that „all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness” (2 Tm 3:16).
3. DAILY COUPLE PRAYER
Couple prayer is the prayer of a husband and a wife who together, next to one another, stand in the presence of God to worship and praise him, to give thanks, to listen to him and to ask him for the grace to better live the sacrament of matrimony and for grace of serving him through their life according to his expectations.
Through the prayer, they submit to the Lord and they also express readiness to fulfill their Christian vocation in their marriage. Their prayer also embraces the whole Church and the whole world.
Couple prayer helps us to get closer to each other, to know each other better, and it deepens our unity. Even the couples who have been married for many years find that couple prayer enables them to discover the soul of their spouse and their spiritual life. It becomes an intimate and unitive encounter with God and themselves. Persistent and humble couple prayer becomes a meeting with the Living God especially if the prayer includes reading and reflection on the daily Scripture together because it helps to recognize God’s will. The prayer then becomes the response to God’s Word, revealing our thoughts and our problems. We may also pray the Rosary, the Liturgy of the Hours, the Chaplet to the Divine Mercy, Psalms or sing religious songs, etc.
4. DAILY FAMILY PRAYER
Family prayer is necessary in opening towards God and in deepening the spiritual life of a family; it significantly influences all areas of life.
Family is the basic environment in which a person learns prayer. This is why it is important to introduce children to prayer with love, so that it leads to a rich relationship with God and with other family members. Each family will discover and grow in their own way of praying together, but it is important to apply appropriate forms of prayer at different stages in children’s development and in connection with the current situations that the family is experiencing. Family prayer should be simple, varied, and spontaneous. A family can talk to God using words as well as gestures. They can listen to Him through the words of the Holy Bible.
Family prayer should not be just a routine, but a style adjusted to changing needs, interests, sensitivity, liturgical periods. During family prayer, children should also try to lead the prayer and take the initiative.
The words with which the Lord Jesus promises His presence can be applied to the members of the Christian family in a special way: „Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted for them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:19-20).
5. MONTHLY COUPLE DIALOGUE
Couple Dialogue is a scheduled uninterrupted period of time spent by the spouses together once a month in the presence of God .
Its main aim is to seek God’s will for the spouses and the family, to celebrate, nurture and deepen love, strengthen the union of the spouses, increase mutual trust and reinforce happiness.
Couple dialogue is helpful in getting to know each other better and in discovering more and more beauty, kindness and value in the spouse.
Couple dialogue is a good way to resolve conflicts, remove misunderstandings, tension and anxiety by frankly talking about distresses, sufferings and disappointments. We learn to see the deepest aspects of each problem, analyze the motives that underlie our manners and behavior which helps to make concrete resolutions on how to improve our marriage.
It is possible because we sit down with humility and patience, with open minds and calm hearts preparing ourselves by praying and giving ourselves and our conversation to God inviting Him to help us accomplish what He has envisaged for us.
That is why we reflect together on what has happened in the particular spheres of our life recently. We carefully examine our relationship with God, our marital physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual union, upbringing of children, relationships with our in-laws, neighbors, workmates, etc.
All in all, a couple dialogue is a strongly unitive experience helping to progress towards an ever richer union with each other based on mutual understanding.
Above all, it is a religious act which brings fruit only thanks to God’s action we pray for.
6. RULE OF LIFE
„The rule of life is systematically working on oneself as an individual, on the marriage by the spouses together, and on the family”. (DC Principles, p. 13)
The rule of life is supposed to help us follow Jesus, to set off on a pilgrimage in this world seeking His ways. It is a tool that we have at our disposal to increase our ability to love and improve the quality of our life with God and with our neighbors.
Rule of life is part of a program of life. The rule is like a long road that consists of smaller steps. Selecting a general rule of life can be done with the help of those who know you very well (spouse, children, confessor, our spiritual community).You also have to ask God about His will and His plans towards you.
Practically speaking, the rule of life is a precisely formulated direction given to our life for each month (preferably as a result of monthly couple dialogue). It is a set purpose and definite, constant effort, work on what is necessary and urgent to be done or achieved in a given period of time.
The rule of life is most often personal but it can also concern married life and the spouses may plan a joint effort that they want to make in order to change something for the better in their marriage and family.
When we undertake the practice of the so called „rule of life”, we respond to God’s call to grow in holiness which He addressed to all of us individually in the Sacrament of Baptism.
7. YEARLY RETREAT
It is important for us to be able to step away from our everyday life, everyday problems and worries in order to offer that time to God and to look at our personal life, marriage, and family life in His Light and make necessary adjustments and amendments.
A fifteen-day Oasis retreat provides an experience of Christian life and helps in achieving Christian maturity. Each day begins and ends with prayer and the Holy Mass is the central point of each day. During small group meetings the Oasis participants read the Bible and Church documents and share their faith and their reflections.
Each evening is a special quality time for integration and building relationships with the others: camp fires, dances, joyful games.
The Oasis retreats are often held in the mountains as the mountains seem to be somewhat closer to God where one can ponder over the beauty of the created world. We may also spend two weeks with the Creator at the seaside – and praise Him at sunrise and sunset while walking along the beach. We can also deepen our faith in the desert of a huge city, among its citizens and tourists; visiting churches and monasteries, and also people – both clergy and laity – who have influence on the spiritual atmosphere of the city jungle.
The fifteen-day retreat is a kind of a “spiritual spa”, it strengthens our faith and can be compared to charging our spiritual batteries. The time of retreat is the time of collecting your life again, regaining what is most important in your life with the help of the Word of God.