Marriage preparation, other ministries to stress prayer, reflection and action
Whether preparing people for marriage, helping with life changes such as divorce, separation or death of a spouse, or organizing pro-life initiatives, the archdiocese’s Family Life Office is incorporating prayer, reflection and action under the acronym SOW-REAPP.
Each letter stands for a concept – "s" is for silence and "o" for openness, for example – and together they represent an approach of encouraging people to take time to grow into any life changes they are experiencing, said Peter Kennedy, manager of family life ministries.
Family Life programs always have included some aspect of each concept, but the office hopes with these changes to take a more deliberate approach, Kennedy said.
It is a concept Archbishop George J. Lucas and priests of the archdiocese have been encouraging, "in terms of inviting people to enter into the discernment process, grow in the life of prayer, and develop a deeper relationship with Jesus in the sacramental life of the church," Kennedy said.
The changes also stem in part from recent church movements and renewals in such areas as Ignatian spirituality, striving to bring the lessons of salvation history found in the Bible into people’s daily lives, and encouraging people to act on their faith – moving from believers to disciples, Kennedy said.
Family Life Director Valerie Conzett initiated the concept and acronym for SOW-REAPP. The office has been developing the approach since July, and it will be incorporated in the coming months, Kennedy said.
Kennedy offered short explanations about letters in the acronym:
"S" is for silence: Time before or during a given program for people to reflect on reasons for being there, faith and life goals.
"O" for openness: Allow space for vulnerability and willingness to change.
"W" for waiting: Develop patience because God works in his own time with people facing new challenges or changes in life, or responding to grief, joy and other emotions.
"R" for receive: Be ready for, and receptive to, Jesus’ promptings.
"E" for examine: Experiences, and God’s presence in them, can be forgotten or missed altogether without proper reflection.
"A" for assimilate: Understand and integrate one’s own story with the story of salvation history.
"P" for plan: Develop practical steps to change in accord with new experiences.
"P" for prayer: Always acknowledge feelings and needs, tell God about them, receive and respond to the Lord’s promptings.