Friends In Christ:
I am happy and blessed to tell you that this Saturday, December 17th, my wife, Mary Beth and I will celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary. To add to the specialness of this day we have been invited and we will be attending a wedding in Florida on Saturday for the daughter of our Cursillo sponsor. What a great way to spend the day. We will start our day off Saturday morning by attending mass at our former parish Blessed Trinity in Ocala, Florida, where we were members when we made our Cursillo weekend 24 years ago. God has blessed us with 24 of our 35 years of marriage as Cursillistas.
During our 35 years of marriage, God has blessed us with 7 children, 5 who are with us here on earth and two little angles that are in heaven. We had two miscarriages and in the past I would have just said we have 5 children, but during my 8 day silent retreat God reminded me in the silence that we have 2 little angles with him. I am sad to say we never named those two until after that retreat. It is yet another blessing to know Nicholas and Rosa are with our Lord and praying for their mom and dad. Our 5 children with us still are Tom, Katie, Betsy, Andy and Philip. We have one daughter-in-law Julie, and 3 Grandchildren, Reagan, Meredith, and Emma. Our son Andy is engaged so next summer we will be adding yet another to our family.
Like all marriages we have had ups and downs, pains and sorrows, but much more joy and laughter, and an abundance of great Christian friends. We have had 3 of our 4 parents return home to Jesus and my mother has recently been in bad health and just recently fell and broke her back and is currently hospitalized. Our parents had a deep faith in Jesus and they passed onto Mary Beth and me our Catholic Christian faith.
Mary Beth and I were high school sweet hearts and we each attended 12 years of Catholic school. I was one grade ahead of Mary Beth in school and we got married as soon as she graduated from high school while I was on Christmas break at Ohio State University. Mary Beth was 18 and I was 19. Yes, we were young and some people wondered if a marriage at this young age would last. But we had a secret weapon. Throughout all the good and tough times we have never lost sight of the fact that it was a marriage of three, God and the two of us. Our favorite wedding picture is the two of us standing in the front of church with the risen Christ with his arms raised behind us in the picture, almost as if he had his arms around us. Mary Beth has been my best friend for nearly 40 years. She has been my rock. She has an incredibly deep faith. Shortly after our Cursillo weekend I was asked to give a witness talk at an Ultreya. I referred to Mary Beth as the song says as: “The wind beneath my wings.”
In Cursillo we are called to bring Christ to all of the environments in which we live. Certainly marriage is one of those environments. In Cursillo we are challenged to Piety, Study and Apostolic Action. In other words we are called to communicate with God, to get to know God and to then share our relationship with God with others. Isn’t that what it takes to sustain a successful marriage? We must communicate with each other, we must work to really know and understand our spouse, and then we must bring Christ to each other.
Just like on this Saturday when Mary Beth and I will re-commit ourselves to each other in marriage and to that process of communicating, knowing and sharing God with each other, let’s all re-commit ourselves in our daily Christian journeys to the process of Piety, Study and Apostolic Action.
Recently one of my 4th Day Letter readers, a Cursillistas and new friend of mine shared this story with me.
4th Day with Christ
Earlier this year I surprised my wife with a 50th wedding anniversary trip in October to the Holy Land with Franciscan Univ. and Steve and Janet Ray. As part of the trip we renewed our wedding vows in Cana. What a glorious setting to have our vows renewed, the same place our Lord turned the water to wine. Besides the special Cana event, I’ve been searching for ways to grow my Catholic faith. Having Mass in Christ’s Tomb, Garden of Gethsemane and other key holy sites along with Steve Ray’s spirit filed teachings provided me with what Paul talked about in Ephesians 3:21, …..”HE will do more than we can ask or imagine”.
One day in Jerusalem, we left our hotel at 4:30 AM for a short ride to the ancient city wall to walk the Via Dolorosa, do the Stations of the Cross and have Mass in Christ’s tomb. My wife became ill on the bus and had difficulty walking with the group due to her sudden illness. She staggered to some restrooms near Calvary. After gathering herself we rejoined the group at Calvary where she was able to take her turn to kneel, pray and return to her seat overlooking Calvary. She was still weak and shaky. A women from our group came over an inquired how she was feeling and said the Lord had given her a “gift”. The gift was to feel just a very small sample of his agony during His walk to Calvary. The Holy Spirit resonated the lady’s “gift” comment and it continues to resonate with a deep love and emotion within her every time she receives communion now. HIS love and how HE suffered for us is overpowering at time.
I pray each of you find your way to visit the Holy Land and experience HIS presence. It is a spiritual life enhancing pilgrimage.
Thanks, John for sharing your story. What a beautiful witness of faith and of love. I can only hope for the blessing of 50 years of marriage and the opportunity to be in Cana for that special day.
It is true; God has called us all to bring Christ to the world. He has called us to bring light to the darkness. He has called us to bring his love to all of the environments in which we live every day. Our marriage is one of those environments. While attending mass each Sunday, my wife always reaches over and holds my hand during the homily, as the priests opens up the words of God that we have just heard in the 3 readings from scripture. We are called to internalize those words of God as we go forth from mass and the act of holding hands during this part of mass reminds me each week of our commitment to God and to each other.
Whether you are single or married I pray that God will bless you as he has blessed us. If your spouse has preceded you to Heaven to be with God, I pray a special blessing that you can have peace and comfort in knowing that your spouse is in the presence of God and that one day you will be reunited. If for some reason your marriage has been broken and ended in a divorce, or if you are experiencing a trying time in your marriage, I pray for a special blessing on you to heal all of the hurt and brokenness you may be experiencing.
- How can you use the Cursillo process of Piety, Study and Action (communicating, knowing and sharing the love of Christ) to renew and grow your relationship with your spouse?
- Could you set time every day to pray together as a couple?