This Week’s Message
When Spouses Have Different Beliefs
By Donna Erickson Couch
After the romantic dust of my marriage settled, fundamental life questions surfaced when my closest friend died in a car accident. As I grieved, my husband, Dana, comforted me as best he could. However, when I talked about my need for God and Church, he was silent. Eventually, he told me that while he did not mind if I wanted religion again, he would not participate. Ten years into our marriage, I not only forged my way back to faith alone, but embarked on a life-changing spiritual quest. Through years of confusion, I prayed and suffered in silence as I tried to reconcile my love for God and for my non-participant husband. I worried about my role in Dana’s salvation and agonized over how to raise our children in the faith alone. Years passed until I finally made peace with my anxieties. I eventually received four transforming insights.
First, after a few years married, it is common to experience a spiritual awakening. Upon completion of confirmation classes or during college, many drift away from their faith. When thoughts turn to marriage, faith is frequently downplayed. We may accept the naïve presumption that love is all you need. Later, perhaps after the birth of a child or two, it is common to experience a need for church again. Frequently, those who return are surprised to discover a treasury of meaning in their renewed faith. Along with elation, however, thoughts may linger about the negative effects this will have on a marriage. Second, authentic spirituality is not divisive. As my inner life grew, I felt an increasing distance betweenDana and me. When I tried to describe my feelings to a friend, he quoted Jesus: “I have come to bring not peace but the sword…and one’s enemies will be those of his household(Matthew 10:34-36).” Though discouraged, with the help of prayer and a spiritual director, I found deeper meaning in this biblical passage. I learned that even though our incompatible religious beliefs could feel insurmountable, time quells the fear. Like marriage, we commit to God for the long haul. It is natural to sometimes experience tension.
Third, the inner journey is a solitary journey. In another scripture passage, Jesus says there is no marriage in heaven (Mark 12:25). If we look at this as a blueprint for our spiritual journey, then an important insight is revealed. While there are many companions on the outer journey, no one can walk the inner path with us. While we can try to describe our personal relationship with God, no one (not even our spouse) can share this experience completely. God calls each of us into a mystical marriage, demanding that we forsake all others. And fourth, all relationships mirror the divine relationship. All relationships teach us about God. Can we observe the divine in everyone? Equipped with a bigger vision, we welcome the challenges of living with those who, without words, can teach us about the subtleties of God’s presence. Meanwhile, spiritual directors and friends can help us process our complex relationship with God. Frequently, others serve this need better than those with whom we live.
If you are experiencing a spiritual awakening while married to someone on a different page, take heart. The challenge of living a God-centered life provides an opportunity to repeatedly experience what it means to fall in love — with your spouse, your faith, and the Lord. When God means something different to your spouse, it is not the end of the world but rather thebeginning of a profound encounter with love’s sacred mysteries.
About This Week’s Message
The author of this week’s message, Donna EricksonCouch, is an author, catechist, lay minister, and spiritual director. She is author of “Together But Alone: When God Means Something Different to Your Spouse (2008).” If you enjoyed this week’s message, be sure to check out “Bringing Home the Word.” A new edition of this weekly newsletter for both family and individual reflection is posted every weekend on our website (click link below). Peace and blessings to all! — Father Jim
Youth Faith Formation
Fall Faith & Family Mass
Saturday, September 23rd
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says: “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them: for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs (Matthew 19:14).” In response to the Lord’s call, all parents, grandparents, godparents, and children of all ages are invited to join Father Jim for our annual “Fall Faith & Family Mass” on Sunday, September 23rd at 11:45am in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church.
During Mass, Father Jim will offer a special blessing and homily for all families and their children. And during this new school year, we will celebrate four more “Faith & Family Masses” on Saturday, December 1st at 4:00pm in Saint Ann Church; Saturday, January5th at 4:00pm in Saint Ann Church; Sunday, March 10th at 11:45am in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church; and Saturday, May 11th at 4:00pm in Saint Ann Church.
Save the dates! Mark your calendars! Invite your families and friends! Now more than ever, let us reaffirm that Mass is our class! Jesus is our teacher! Let us reaffirm that every child in our pews is a precious blessing from God! Every family that joins us for worship is a special gift from God! For more information, please contact Betsy Works at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome! Always!
Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish
Our Lady’s Guild Penny Sale
Monday, September 24th
All parishioners, friends, and guests of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport are invited to join Our Lady’s Guild for a “Penny Sale” on Monday, September 24th at 7:00pm in Our Lady’s Hall. As always, the Penny Sale will feature great prizes, a 50-50 raffle, our famous homemade sweet bread, along with other delicious homemade foods and snacks. Donations will be accepted at our parish offices (located at 74 Pleasant Street in Gloucester) until the day of the Penny Sale. All proceeds of the Penny Sale benefit Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. For more information, please contact Julia Garcia at 978-281-2678 or Beth Fosberry at email@example.com. Please join us! Bring your friends and family! All are invited! All are welcome!
Holy Family Women’s Guild
Harvest Pie, Bread & Craft Fair
September 29th-September 30th
Fall has arrived! In celebration of the new season, the Holy Family Women’s Guild is sponsoring a Harvest Pie, Bread & Craft Sale on Saturday 29th at Saint Ann Church from 9:00am until 4:00pm; and after all weekend Masses on Sunday, September 30th in Holy Family Parish. Offerings will include freshly baked pies, quick breads, and a variety of harvest crafts. All proceeds support Holy Fami- ly Parish. For more information, please contact Lydia Bertolino at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome! Thank you in advance for your generous support!
The Assisi Project
Saturday Morning with Saint Francis
Saturday, September 29th
Founded in 2007 by Father Jim and Cliff Garvey after their first pilgrimage to Assisi and Rome, the Assisi Project is a Fellowship of Franciscans in Spirit with friends and followers in the United States, Canada, Africa, and Europe. Our mission is to help adults of all ages more faithfully live the Gospel of Christ and grow closer to the Church through the inspiration and intercession of Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi.
The Assisi Project meets on the last Saturday of every month in Saint Ann Church for Mass, formation, fellowship, and faith sharing. Our next gathering is scheduled for Saturday, September 29th beginning at 8:00am. This month, we will begin a long-term and in-depth focus on the lives of the saints. We will be reading and reflectingon Robert Ellsberg’s new book, “The Franciscan Saints.”All fellow parishioners are invited to join the Assisi Project! You do not need to travel with us to Assisi to be a member of the Assisi Project!
Members of our fellowship all around the world, who range in age from 16 to 93, also pray for those who ask for prayers. If you would like to join us or if you would like us to pray for you or your special intention, please contact Cliff at email@example.com. Saint Francis of Assisi, pray for us! Saint Clare of Assisi, pray for us! Our Lady of Angels, pray for us! All are invited! All are welcome! May the Lord give you peace!
Fall Day of Prayer & Reflection
Joy & Suffering with Padre Pio
Saturday, October 6th
Earlier this year, Pope Francis visited the House for the Relief of Suffering, a hospital founded by Saint Padre Pio. Afterwards, Pope Francis celebrated Mass at the Shrine of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, Italy. In his homily, the Holy Father preached about the call to suffer and the three words that summarize the life of a saint: humility, prayer, and wisdom. The pope said: “All of theology is contained here! If you have a problem, if you are sad, if you are sick, abandon yourself into the arms of Jesus!”
The Roman Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina on September 23rd and the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi on October 4th. In commemoration of these two great saints, and as part of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport’s “Year for Discernment”, all fellow parishioners and friends are invited to join Father Jim, Cliff Garvey, the Legion of Mary, and the Assisi Project for a Fall Day of Prayer & Reflection: “Joy & Suffering with Saint Pio” on Saturday, October 6th at Saint Anthony Chapel.
During this four-hour mini-retreat, we will explore the life, ministry, and patronage of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina and his special meaning for those who are called to suffer. This special morning of prayer and reflection will proceed according to the following schedule: Celebration of Holy Mass at 8:00am; First Reflection & Faith Sharing at 9:00am; Eucharistic Adoration & Rosary at 10:00am; Second Reflection & Faith Sharing at 11:00am; Angelus & Closing Prayers at 12:00pm.
Throughout the morning, there will be scheduled breaks and time for faith sharing, fellowship, and refreshments. Coffee, tea, and bottled water will be available throughout the morning. After our closing prayers, all are invited to remain for picnic lunch. During Mass, a collection will be taken in support of our adult faith formation ministry. If you would like to join us for our Fall Day of Prayer & Reflection in honor of Saint Pio and Saint Francis, please contact Cliff at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! Bring a friend! Bring your family! All are invited! All are welcome!
Established in 2014, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport is a collaborative of two historic parishes: Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. Working together as a Roman Catholic community united in prayer, fellowship, and service, we are committed to living the Gospel of Christ, sharing God’s love and mercy with all people, and rebuilding the Church in Gloucester & Rockport. All are invited! All are welcome! Always!
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