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SPRING 2004
Vol 38 No 3


Editorial
SPIRITUALITY FOR EARTHLINGS

Frank Andersen MSC
THE LONG JOURNEY HOME: SEARCHING FOR EUCHARIST TODAY


Kerrie Hide
THE LONG JOURNEY HOME: SEARCHING FOR EUCHARIST TODAY

Tony Kelly CSsR
REFLECTIONS ON SPIRITUALITY AND THE CHURCH

Michael Trainor
ON THE RISE AGAIN: NEO-FUNDAMENTALISM IN AUSTRALIAN CATHOLICISM (PART TWO)

Andrew and Liz Chatelier
MARRIAGE: GROWING IN LOVE

Denis Uhr MSC
KEEPING ALIVE THE MSC TRADITION

REVIEWS

Kevin Mark
NEW RELIGIOUS BOOKS BY AUSTRALASIAN AUTHORS




 

Marriage:
Growing in love

ANDREW AND LIZ CHATELIER

Andrew. When Liz and I got engaged we had a celebration Mass and as part of it we read the poem Footprints. For us this poem expresses our sense of God’s presence in our lives, then and now. We’d like to share that with you now, to begin with …

Andrew and Liz (by turns):

One night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the Lord. Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand; one belonging to him, and the other to the Lord.
When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life.
This really bothered him and he questioned the Lord about it. ‘Lord, you said that one I decided to follow you, you’d walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why, when I needed you most, you would leave me.’
The Lord replied, ‘My precious, precious child, I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.’

—Author unknown.

We’ve been married for almost five years now and this church is where it all began.

First Impressions

Andrew. I remember the first time I met Liz—or, rather, heard Liz. She used to read at Mass and sing and I remember being in awe—as if every word she said or sang was to me and only me. She had the power to touch your emotions…
As I looked closer I saw this beautiful, radiant, exotic beauty of which little has changed. She used to sing and read at this church once a month and then in three other parishes, and I’d wander in and out of this church at different times seeing her only a couple of occasions but always wondering when I went to Mass if she’d be there.
I can tell you, it made me a stronger Catholic, or should I say, church goer. Well, things developed and once Liz discovered I was interested in her she wore more and more glamorous clothes! (There are a few stories there.)
Eventually, after exchanging music CDs, photos and chats … we had our first date at Bondi. Both of us were on our best behaviour and not much was eaten or said – many blushing glances and tentative words.

* * *

Liz. My first impressions of Andrew were: ‘Oh Lord, how great thou art!’ But then I thought, how on earth am I ever going to get him to notice me, knowing all too well that good Tongan girls don’t go running after men – the men do all the running. But God seemed to have read my desperate thoughts, for before I knew it Andrew was working with my dad doing odd jobs around Tempe church, which meant I got to see him more often. But Andrew hadn’t made any moves, let alone signs that he was remotely interested in me.

Courtship

Liz. Finally, after months of polite ‘hello-s’, ‘good-bye-s’, ‘how are you-s?’ and ‘what -have -you-been-up-to-s?’, Andrew finally asked me out on our first date—Bondi beach! Never has my heart pumped so hard and so fast, never have I blushed on and off like Christmas tree lights, and never have I felt so warm and fuzzy than on that day. Even now, when I think about it, my heart still flutters.

* * *

We courted for two years during which we experienced much turmoil, coping with cultural traditions, rules and expectations. This put a lot of strain on us, raising questions whether it was worth going through so much pain and stress. The answer was ‘yes’; the pain and stress were beside the point. It was God’s plan. This was his way of preparing us for the Sacrament of Matrimony, tough as it was. But it did help us grow stronger in our belief and love for Him and for each other.

Marriage

Our first year of marriage was like a roller-coaster. The honeymoon was definitely over. Here we were, two different people with different personalities, different upbringings—there were lots of differences. Except for one thing: we were (and still are) extremely stubborn. We used to fight over the smallest things, from frustrations over wet towels left repeatedly on the bathroom floor to, ‘You said you’d be home by five, its now five past!’ Things were often blown out of proportion as emotions were running high and both wanting to be always right and be the one to say: ‘I told you so!’

Learning to say sorry was another thing that didn’t come easily or was not said quickly enough, but was expressed or said in many different ways—a smile, a little love note, a cup of tea or simply, ‘I’m sorry’.

But it wasn’t all doom and gloom, for our first year had its glory days too. We enjoyed the pleasure of each other’s company alone for hours on end, sleeping in, going out, hanging out, spontaneous weekend escapes, and undisturbed peace.

Children

Andrew. I’d always known Liz would be a good mother, so it wasn’t a matter of when to have children but how many. Liz has an amazing aura about her. She’s passionate about anything and everything, she’s captivating and a vital person. Having children was no different.
Suddenly two became three and then four. any problems or difficulties we faced as a married couple were now compounded … Lack of sleep, food and often money put a strain on things. Yet in the midst of it all there was God. We believe God is the one who brought us together, keeps us together, and makes it all possible.

In the past we often attended Mass and the sacraments on time; now the fact that we’ve made it to church is a blessing … children washed, dressed and peaceful – not to mention mum and dad. Much of our time now at church is spent focussing Ashleigh, diverting her attention, teaching her when to stand and sit, and also answer numerous questions about: ‘Who’s that?’ ‘What’s that?’ and ‘Why? Why? Why?’

Amidst all this confusion and carrying on, there’s Joshua. Putting him to sleep, feeding him and pacifying him. To top it off, there’s invariably, ‘I need to go toilet!’ from Ashleigh, followed by a mad rush to the door outside, only to discover she didn’t need to go after all.

Prayer and Family

God is there through it all, drawing us to the church, being part of the community and receiving the graces and strength from receiving the Eucharist.
Our prayer life is always up and down. Yet Liz is always constant. She prays continuously— when we leave the house, when we’re in the car, before or after special days, on good days and bad. So together we try to acknowledge God’s presence: thanking Him, praising Him or asking for His blessings.
In the chaos of our daily family lives these prayers are often short sentences that start with the sign of the cross and end with a hearty ‘Amen!’ from Ashleigh. God is there in our midst, not always first, sometimes last before we sleep. But God, we believe, is the guiding hand in our marriage and family life.

And so the circle of life for us continues. Ashleigh is nearly three years and Joshua just eight months. This is just the beginning. Each day is a challenge, knowing when to say yes or no to our children and to each other, when to give in or give up, when enough food and vegetables is eaten and when its not. As parents we are role models and instruct our children by our words and actions. They learn from what they see and hear.

When Andrew and I have had disagreements, voices are raised, tones change and the mood is hostile. Before we know it, Ashleigh is there between us mimicking our behaviour, and this usually stops us in our tracks.

So now when we fight, it’s not if we’ll make up but when. For every moment, minute, hour or day spent in anger, frustration or silence impacts on all of us: how we operate in our family, how we spend our time together, and the way we treat others when they come into our home or when we’re out and about.

We believe God is there at those times, guiding us as we learn to give and take, as we respect each other’s differences and live as Christ showed us.
That is our challenge as a family and a married couple. This we believe is our vocation of marriage.