Henri Caffarel - His Life in Three Periods

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1. The foundations (1939-1949)

Henri Caffarel responded to the call of couples who wanted to truly live their sacrament of marriage. "The demands of holiness are your concern.  In order to reply to them, you have your very own sacrament, the sacrament of marriage."
The number of Teams grew.  A spiritual orientation was given, that became clearer as the discovery of the grace of marriage progressed.
Publications like "Letter to Young Couples” (1942), "The Golden Ring" (1945), deeply marked numerous couples and their resonance went way beyond the Teams.  Father Caffarel wanted to be understood by all so that the grace of God’s love could be active in all.  He wanted everyone to understand the grandeur of marriage. This is still a relevant challenge today.
A decisive moment in Father Caffarel’s action was the writing and establishment in 1947 of “The Charter of the Teams of Our Lady.” The means described in the Charter are demanding, the Endeavours, especially the Sit-Down, are characteristic of couples’ daily lives. “Once you have seized the spirit of Teams, you will have no trouble in agreeing to their discipline,” said Father Caffarel.  Living the Gospel in a couple’s life, such is “the way to holiness.”

During this same period, two new movements emerged: A Widows’ Movement, called Hope and Life and the Fraternity of Our Lady of the Resurrection, a secular institution for widows.  As always, he did not “invent” these movements, they grew out of the fact that people came to see him with their desire to live a holy life. So, he thought about it, encouraged and accompanied them.

2. The time for Maturation (1950-1973)

The Teams of Our Lady grew and developed. A structure and organisation was established for them.  Large gatherings took place: Lourdes in 1954, Rome in 1959, Lourdes in 1965… These were opportunities to deepen and refine the grace of marriage and its grandeur.  Father Caffarel also insisted on the mutual enrichment of the sacraments of Orders and of Marriage as being “complementary” sacraments that responded to the vocation of love.
A great debate shook the Teams: Were they a movement of initiation or else of perfection? The balance between these two aspects had to be found. Ordeals arose that threatened the unity of the Movement and the liberty of the lay people, its originality and its personality.  In this area, Father Caffarel always showed himself to be in line with the Church, sometimes in an exemplary and courageous manner.  He sent all the Teams members towards their parishes, their dioceses, their apostolate in their professions and in the world.

At the age of 70 and of his own volition, he left his service in the Teams once he had ensured his succession. 

3. Deepening (1973-1996)

In 1966, he was given the house at Troussures, and he made a “House of Prayer” out of it.  Up until 1985, he organised “Weeks of Prayer” during which, in complete silence, the participants spent six days with the great desire to meet God.  Countless people did find the Lord at the House of Prayer in Troussures.  The fecundity of Father Caffarel was inscribed in their hearts, and in each person’s unique relationship with God.  His great desire was to share the revelation that he received at the age of twenty. His final years at Troussures showed the sources from which everything in him sprung.