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Rediscovering the Joy of the Family

OPENING PRAYER

 O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the heart of Jesus as a fountain of mercy for us, I trust in you.

From the Divine Mercy Chaplet

SCRIPTURE READING

Psalm 146

Praise the Lord, O my soul;
      I will praise the Lord all my life;
      I sing praise to my God while I live.
Put not your trust in princes, in man, in whom there is no salvation.
When his spirit departs, he returns to his earth; on that day, his plans perish.
Happy he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord, his God,
who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever, secures justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets captives free; the Lord gives sight to the blind.
The Lord raises up those who were bowed down; the Lord loves the just.
The Lord protects strangers; the fatherless and the widow he sustains,
      but the way of the wicked he thwarts.
The Lord shall reign forever; your God, O Zion, through all generations

AMORIS LAETITIA

“The life of every family is marked by all kinds of crises, yet these are also part of its dramatic beauty." (n. 256)

On the other hand, joy also grows through pain and sorrow.  In the words of Saint Augustine, ‘the greater the danger in battle, the greater is the joy of victory.’  After suffering and struggling together, spouses are able to experience that it was worth it, because they achieved some good, learned something as a couple, or came to appreciate what they have.  Few human joys are as deep and thrilling as those experienced by two people who love one another and have achieved something as the result of a great shared effort.  (n. 130)

INTERCESSION

May Christian families be “lifted up” through acts of mercy, charity and forgiveness, imitating Christ who came not to condemn but to save, we pray to the Lord:

CLOSING PRAYER

Prayer in times of suffering and need

God of all mercies, God of all consolation,
comfort us in our afflictions
that we in turn might comfort those who are in trouble
with the same consolation we have received.
Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers

CONTEMPLATION AND ACTION

 How does our family help lessen the pain or suffering of others? How does showing care like this draw us closer to Christ?  Who is the joy of the Gospel made visible when we struggle together?

Set aside a few minutes each day to pray for someone you know who is going through a difficult time.

REFLECTION

Rediscovering the Joy of the Cross by Judy Ouellette, Christ the Divine Mercy Parish, East Millinocket

Love.  Walking down the aisle, a couple has no idea what life has in store for them.  God has a plan for them, and hopefully, they will live up to that plan.  For George and me, it was a time of excitement and hope, with a future that was in the making.  We wanted a family and, of course, to live happily ever after.  Six years later, our first daughter, Ann, was born.  What a true representation of a couple's love and God's plan.  A new baby just changes everything!

Family gatherings, busy with work and family, we are on this journey of life.  Daily prayer and attending weekly Mass are essential on this journey.  God is first, with family next, and then work.  After much prayer and discussion, my husband decided to enlist in the National Guard -- more income for our growing family (welcome Pam) and to serve his country.  Two years later, we moved to our first house with our two young daughters.  What joy and excitement!  Five months later, his supervisor at his job tells him that the plant at which he is working will close.  What to do?  Our trust in God keeps us going. We truly believe that things will work out.

He applied for a similar job at a Millinocket mill, and of course, he is hired—another blessing. But this means travel, taking George away from our Portage Lake home and family.  But God is good.  Our family continues to grow with the addition of our first son, Mark.  Then, another blessing:  a wonderful couple that used to live in our town and were like family to us offered George a home with them in East Millinocket. He begins seven years of traveling back and forth, being away from home, weekends with the Guard, and a completely new responsibility for me. I must take care of the home front, and most importantly, the children, by myself.

Baby number four, Michelle, is yet another blessing, but it is also during this time that we find out that our newest daughter is ill.  We are not sure what the problem is. In the meantime, I become pregnant again with our fifth child.  Thank you, God, for Christopher.  When he comes into the picture, it is then that my fears are confirmed - Michelle has special needs.  After much testing and evaluation, we discover she is mentally challenged.  This means three trips weekly from Portage Lake to Presque Isle for occupational therapy, speech therapy, and some physical therapy—but we have God as our pilot.  With five wonderful children at home, life is hectic but good.

In hopes of being together, our home in Portage Lake has been for sale, but it is not selling.  When you feel you just can't do it anymore, you offer it up to our heavenly Father.  Through the intercession of our Blessed Mother, George comes home to let me know that our wonderful friends and adoptive family have offered us their East Millinocket house until our house sells.  We are overjoyed!

It is quite an adjustment. Through the next year, we learn to become a family once again.  The following year, the sale of our former house allows us to purchase a home in East Millinocket.

We would soon be faced with another trial.  While attending his yearly Guard training, George is injured in an accident. Due to his injuries, he must go on disability.  We are on a roller coaster ride to get him his benefits and medical care.  Through it all, our saving grace is our faith in God, the support of family, near and far, close friends and people whom God has placed in our lives to help us weather the storms.

After many years as a full-time homemaker, I am blessed to begin a job outside the home that provides medical insurance.  Although he is in constant pain, my wonderful husband tries to be brave; he puts up a good front.

Our extended family is always there to help us and love us.  Whenever circumstances seemed hopeless, mom and dad were there with reassuring words.  Family and friends supported, encouraged, and prayed for us.  We have never lost faith! We never went without food and shelter.  Just as we needed money or were faced with some other urgent need, God made sure it came to us.  One example: I needed $200 for a bill and had nothing to spare. Out of nowhere, I received a card in the mail with a check for – you guessed it – $200.  Over and over again, God has guided this family and showed us time and again that true faith and love triumph.  Without that faith in God, I am sure that we, as a couple and as a family, would not be here 45 years later and counting.

Through suffering and so many challenges, we are sure that Jesus has been with us.  What Christ did for us on Good Friday is so much more than what we as a couple have gone through.  Faith, hope, and unconditional love -- isn't that what the sacrament of marriage is all about?  And Good Friday always leads to the new life of Easter.