Bruno et Anne-Marie Coutellier

married, ccn, Lyon

8 juin 2024

First session Cana , July 1980

« A poor man who loves another poor man »

An initial session on the theme of married life brought together some forty members of the Charismatic Renewal in 1975 at La Baume Sainte Marie in the south of France, including some members of the very young Chemin Neuf community. This community, made up of couples and single people, some of whom were consecrated, was thinking about creating a session that would enable couples to be renewed in their faith and in their love, in a context where the durability of couples is increasingly tested.
Les Pothières, session Cana, juillet 1980

Having just celebrated our third wedding anniversary, we accepted an invitation from one of Bruno’s sisters to take part in a first session for couples organised by the Chemin Neuf community from 22 to 27 July 1980. We arrived at Les Pothières in the Beaujolais region, the community’s first house of welcome, about thirty kilometers north of Lyon, with our first child, who was just six months old. There we met about twenty couples, accompanied by a few couples and single people for service.

For a few months, we had been taking part from time to time in a prayer group in Paris, where we lived, challenged by a living expression of faith and a charismatic dynamic that was new to us. In the run-up to this session, we had a few misgivings, particularly for me (Bruno) about having to communicate about things that were close to my heart and to overcome my shyness; for me (Anne Marie) about having to entrust our child and not really knowing what to expect. These concerns were quickly dispelled by the simple, warm welcome and the eager, cheerful guides.

As soon as we arrive, we are offered a varied and nourishing program, made up of testimonies, teachings, time spent as a couple, sharing in small groups… all harmoniously punctuated by times of personal prayer, as a couple and liturgical times. This is not a time for training in married life, even if fundamental teachings are given, but rather a place where each person and each couple finds the time and space to hear the Word that God wishes to speak to them and the blessings that he wishes to shower upon them. From this perspective, the grace of community life comes into its own, full of joy and dynamism.

40 years later, we still have strong memories of this week, which is still relevant today, as it was the starting point for individual journeys in faith, and as a couple in our commitment to each other. Several highlights remain engraved in our memory. Following a central teaching on the mystery of Love (Love = happiness + suffering), the testimony

of a couple from the Gospel of Cana on the second evening, which gave its name to this mission with couples since that day, reaches out to us in our unconfessed poverty and fragility. Small groups of couples, accompanied by a couple or 2 single people, help us to find ourselves in the questions raised. Simple but effective tools help us to listen and communicate, such as the letter we are invited to write to our partner on several occasions. Dances from Israel allow us to evolve as a couple by integrating our couple into a joyful collective movement. The importance of joy and celebration, through collective life, living together, washing up and so on…!

Particularly the active presence of the Holy Spirit, that third person of the Trinity that we had somewhat left aside and that this charismatic context allows us to discover. What’s essential is what we have each received personally and for our couple.

Bruno: « The main thing I discovered during this week was that the love I had for Anne Marie didn’t depend on me, but was given to me, and that as a result, I shouldn’t be afraid of lacking it in the future, like a spring that can’t dry up. I could be myself in order to be loved, leaving behind an appearance that might be more attractive than reality, but different from myself. »

Anne Marie: « From the very first day, a teaching on God’s love touched my heart and what I was going to discover throughout the week was this Love, God who loves me ‘just as I am’, who doesn’t ask me to be perfect, who tells me ‘let yourself be loved’… A discovery! That was also going to affect our life as a couple, because I realised how difficult it was for me to believe that Bruno loved me just as I was!

A path was opening up, « a poor man who loves another poor man » a couple testified, « the good wine is for the end »…  » We are still living today this grace received during this week which was also for us the time of the baptism in the Holy Spirit! We are still living today from the grace we received during that week, which was also for us the time of our baptism in the Holy Spirit! The following September, we began a cycle B training course (now called Emmaus) with the Chemin Neuf Community. Over the following years, we would gradually hear the call to follow Christ in our commitment to community life.

The discoveries and insights gained during this Cana session have acted as seeds throughout our lives together, helping us to grow as a couple, as parents and now as grandparents. ■ B. & A-M. C.

Cet article fait partie du numéro 078 de la revue FOI

CHEMIN NEUF CELEBRATES ITS 50TH ANNIVERSARY

september-october-november 2023

Autre   Vie de l'église   Vie de la Communauté  

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