In this time of prayer for Christian unity, Georges and Elizabeth, an interdenominational couple, share their difficulties and their journey.
Georges (Reformed Protestant) and Elisabeth (Catholic)
We attended the CANA Week in 1992, after eight years of marriage. Eight years that were rather dry and tense in terms of our faith… and our couple! We had been married in a beautiful church in a very nice ceremony with a pastor and a priest but without a Eucharist…
Our relationship was in trouble
The subject of faith had not been discussed much between us until then, the discussions often turning short because I was then (it is the protestant who speaks) in a primary “anti-Catholic” position. I explained in a rather peremptory way and with excellent arguments (based on the Bible of course) all that was not “biblical” in the practices of the Roman church. Elisabeth, who didn’t know much about Protestantism at the time, was a bit defenceless… We did not participate in any celebrations, neither in the Lord’s Supper nor in Mass (except at Easter and Christmas with our respective families, but together) … other tensions existed in the couple (I was rather focused on my professional success, among other things). Our relationship was going to the dogs!
At the end of 1991, Elisabeth’s father died after a serious cerebral accident and many months of immobilisation. A priest from the Chemin Neuf Community accompanied the family and prepared the funeral celebration. Elisabeth, who still today cannot say what drove her, asked the priest – in tears – if, exceptionally, I could receive communion that day. This priest, rather than accepting, chose to meet with us several times and finally advised us to participate in a CANA Week, blessed be he!
A change in our lives
This CANA Week was definitely a change in our lives. A major event was that, to our surprise, the local bishop had authorised the Chemin Neuf Community to practice Eucharistic hospitality and at that first Mass we were both able to take communion together, weeping. This was not our expectation for this session but it was in fact a truly founding moment.
This CANA week was also a moment of healing for Elisabeth, thanks to the sacrament of reconciliation, and for me the discovery of Catholics practising a faith in which I could recognise myself (prayers, reading and meditating on the Bible, “colloquy with God” etc.). We left on a high; of course, we had some storms, and still do…!
The same faith, the same Saviour who loves our couple
But since then, we have always participated together in the Lord’s Supper or at Mass, each of us being involved in our own Church. Elisabeth works for the diocese of Nanterre, I am a member of the presbyteral council of my parish and a preacher on occasion. We joined the Chemin Neuf Community in 2002….
The differences are still there, it is still not easy for either of us to participate in the life of the other’s Church, but we know that we have the same Faith, the same Saviour who loves us, both of us, that He loves our couple and that He committed Himself to us on the day of our wedding, even if we were not really aware of it on that day.
BRUNOR (a Christian cartoonist) created this illustration at our request during the creation of an ecumenical prayer group that brought together parishioners from the two churches (Protestant on the right and Catholic on the left) that face each other in the rue Cortambert in the 16th arrondissement of Paris.