Monday, March 8, 2010

Teams Of Our Lady

Teams Of Our Lady is an international association of the faithful that promotes a spirituality for married couples. The movement began in France in the late 1930s under the direction of Father Henri Caffarel who devised the system (Š€quipes Notre Dame) as a means of assisting married parishioners in their call to holiness. In 1947, the movement received a charter from the Vatican, and in 1992, the Pontifical Council for the Laity formally recognized the group as an international association of the faithful of Pontifical right. In the U.S., the group has come to be known as Teams of Our Lady, or T.O.O.L. Jennifer and I, along with six other couples in the Tomball area, formed a new team last fall.

We have had three meetings and will soon have our fourth this coming Friday. Once a month, the group assembles at one couple’s home to share a meal and fellowship. During the meal, each couple shares their highs and lows since the last meeting. After this concludes, the couples move to another room and commence with the contemplative aspect of the meeting. There is a reading of Scripture, a time for quiet reflection, and then an opportunity for personal intentions for communal prayer. The pilot couple, or the host couple, then reviews the questions that each couple answered in preparation for the meeting, and couples are invited to extrapolate further upon their responses. There is a time for “deep pooling” where a couple can ask the other couples for assistance with a particular issue they are facing, or they can just vent on whatever is troubling them or perhaps something they are really excited about as well. Jennifer and I inquired at the last meeting about how to prepare Anna for her new role as a big sister with little Sara almost here. The answers were quite helpful. Finally, the meeting concludes with a recitation of the Magnificat and some more fellowship as each couple heads home. That’s a general overview of a meeting of T.O.O.L.

My impression so far of T.O.O.L. is very good. I like the tripartite structure of the meeting that allows for fellowship, then spiritual contemplation of scripture and communal prayer, followed by substantive discussion, and finally wrapped up with a recital of Our Lady’s great fiat. I won’t speak for Jennifer, but I have personally found the meetings very rewarding spiritually. It is a great way not only to focus on your spirituality as a couple, but also your individual relationship with Christ. It has certainly stimulated growth in my own personal faith life because T.O.O.L. encourages endeavors, or concrete activities, by which you and your spouse can grow in love for one another and Christ. This has been a great boon for me, especially in coordination with Lent. I have found the T.O.O.L. spirituality converges and complements my traditional Lenten observances.

Clearly, Father Caffarel was an inspired priest who bequeathed a splendid gift to the Church in this movement. T.O.O.L. has the key ingredients a movement needs to bear real and abiding fruit: fellowship, Scripture, discussion, and prayer—all under the auspices of Our Lady who always shows us the face of her Son and points the way to his heart. I heartily recommend that you and your spouse create a team in your local parish if you are not already committed to some group that assists you in the formation of a marital spirituality.

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