Courtesy of Heather Anderson Renshaw. All rights reserved. Courtesy of Heather Anderson Renshaw. All rights reserved.

Barring any unforeseen illnesses, childcare snafus, or general mishaps, my beloved and I will spend the afternoon on St. Valentine's Day with several other couples in a meeting.

A meeting? you say. On Valentine’s Day? With other people? That sounds, um, super romantic!

Well, it’s not just any meeting. Our monthly Teams of Our Lady get-together is an oasis for my husband and me to share mutual support with other sacramentally married couples and our chaplain. Because living as a sacramentally married couple in today’s society is tough, yo. Even on Valentine’s Day.

David and I joined Teams early on in our marriage. We showed up for the informational meeting with an infant in tow, wondering what in the world all this “Teams” stuff was about. What we heard was compelling enough for us to join, and we’ve been active for a dozen years.

So, what is Teams of Our Lady, anyway?

The Teams movement began in 1947, when married couples in France approached their parish priest, Fr. Henri Caffarel, asking, “Father, how may we grow in holiness as married couples?” Fr. Caffarel began meeting with the couples regularly, and today there are over 10,000 Teams worldwide.

We gather at each other’s homes once a month, enjoying a potluck-style meal and sharing our spiritual highs and lows for the month. We read Scripture, pray a Psalm and for one another’s intentions, discuss a topic intended to help uplift and encourage our marriage, and share about how we are doing with our endeavors. Our Teammates have seen us through serious illnesses, financial difficulties, marital strains, childbirth, death, baptisms, First Holy Communions  ... and we've become godparents to one another's children and life-long friends.

While it is really encouraging (and fun!) to get together with other couples who are striving for holiness in today’s crazy world, the heart of our Teams commitment is the six endeavors, which are most important to daily Teams life:

  • A regular reading (or hearing) of the Word of God;
  • A daily period set aside for personal prayer and meditation;
  • A daily time between husband and wife for conjugal and family prayer;
  • A monthly in-depth conversation between husband and wife called the sit-down;
  • A rule of life; and
  • An annual couples' retreat

While the configuration of our Team and our family dynamic has changed over the years, the things that keep us going are the same. We know it’s worth spending extra time and effort on our marriage, even if we’re sometimes tired or disillusioned, and we whole-heartedly believe that fellowship with and accountability to other sacramentally married couples is edifying and important.

So, while special dinners and chocolate and cards and thoughtful gifts are nice ways to commemorate St. Valentine’s Day (or any day, for that matter), I’m grateful that, this year, my husband and I have the opportunity to reconnect in a way that uniquely honors our sacrament. How about you? What are you doing to nurture your Sacrament this Valentine's Day and throughout the year?

P.S. Lest you think the Teams of Our Lady movement is some sort of post-modernist, touchy-feely mumbo-jumbo, it is officially recognized by the Vatican and has a Decree of Recognition issued by the Pontifical Council for the Laity. For more information:

Copyright 2016 Heather Renshaw