An average evening at Nighttown has the smooth sounds of jazz lofting over restaurant patrons. However, on Sept. 27, the local music venue was filled with the sound of married couples enjoying small plates, discussion and a reflection by Bishop Nelson Perez.
Marriages of Grace, a ministry devoted to enriching and strengthening Catholic marriages, hosted a Cana Night with couples that ranged in ages and years of marriage from 50 years all the way to a recently engaged couple.
Before beginning his talk, Bishop Perez asked each couple to talk with their spouse about one question, “What was it about your spouse that one day you looked at them and decided that you wanted to spend the next 60 years with them?” He joked that with medical advances it could be 70 to 80 years.
“I was ruggedly handsome,” one spouse responded, which drew laughter from the room. Another woman described her first encounter at a local dance hall many years ago. Later in the evening Bishop Perez stressed the importance of revisiting the conversation of your first impressions, “Go back to where it all started and drink from there often together.”
The bishop used Pope Francis’ "The Joy of Love" as the jumping off point for many of his examples throughout the evening. While civil marriage is a contract that can be broken, Pope Francis writes that marriage is much more than that. It’s a gift given for the sanctification of spouses.
Bishop Perez recounted a conversation with a family member who attended a Pre-Cana day, “What did you learn?” He was expecting “the basics” such as how to manage time and finances but she responded that her role is to make her husband holy (and vice-versa).
As Pope Francis writes, “The married couple are therefore a permanent reminder for the Church of what took place on the cross.”
The bishop closed his presentation talking about the importance of dialogue. Just as one’s relationship with God suffers when dialogue ceases, so too will a marriage. He noted that sometimes we don’t listen but are just waiting to speak. Spouses should listen patiently and attentively to everything their spouse wants to say.
“How often do you pray with your spouse?” Bishop Perez asked. Couples should pray together, including being nourished at the table of the Lord, he said.
The next Cana Night will take place at 7 p.m. on Nov. 8 at Slyman’s Tavern in Independence.