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Scenes from my first Christmas

Yes, this is my First Christmas.....as a Deacon of course. Fr. Andrew reminded me and the entire congregation of that, along with the story ...

Saturday, December 31, 2011

A time to review and reflect!

The end of the year is in sight and like everyone else I'm looking back on everything that has happened in the past year. I made it a point to keep a journal in 2011 and quite honestly it was better than I thought. I struggled with it, I was inspired, and at times just like oatmeal (bland)! I'm reading my daily reflection from WAU (the word among us) and they asked to review a journal if you kept one. I looked through January and the emotions inside of me came rushing forth. I laughed, I cried, I was surprised, but mostly amazed at what was in there. I was kind of shocked at what I had written down, and ever so thankful that I was inspired by Our Lord to persevere!

I looked at my goals for 2011 and I really think that they need to continue to be my goals for 2012!

                         Patience: I still need to work on this one!

Challenging people: I'm working on arguing less with people
and to stop trying to prove I'm right!
Listening:  much better, but still needs work!
Visible: the constant challenge to be seen as a witness at all times and not just in
certain places, always 24/7!
Presence: working to being in the moment with people, taking the time
for others, definitely the most important part of my ministry!

Finally, I need to pray that I don't lose sight of what is before me!

My hope is to be able to acknowledge on 12/31/12 that I was able to say honestly:
I refuse!
Please check out the video!

Bonjour et Adieu mes "Amis"!


PS Happy New Year to all of you!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Persevere! That was one of the final words I heard from my former pastor and good friend Fr. Rich today. The last time I saw him and talked with him was this past June at the Rite of Candidacy. I saw him earlier this month at the Installation of Bishop Peter, but we didn't get a chance to connect. I've known Fr. Rich for many years when we were Boy Scouts together and he hasn't lost his positive outlook in life.

He stopped by my store for only a few minutes to say Hi, present me with a few gifts, and a card for Terry and I. He asked how classes were going and I shared honestly that I preferred last years format to this. He was so glad that Mike and I are sharing this journey, and stated how much he pushed for something to change so that we could finally have Deacons in the North Country. He emphasized that the northern part of the state is in desperate need of help in many ministries.

As he was ready to leave he said..."God Bless you and Terry and remember to keep persevering!"

Bonsoir et Adieu mes Amis,


Sunday, December 25, 2011

What did you want for Christmas?

I got out this morning around 1:15 am from the Midnight Mass, and I called my daughter that I would be picking them up shortly from a friends house. I then called Terry at home and she said..."how did you know I was home?"  I told her I was hoping you would be home and she then gave me the best Christmas gift ever...."They gave me the day off today!"

So we didn't have to get up early to celebrate Christmas together. My best friend called to wish us all a Merry Christmas and we all gathered for brunch at my folks.

This year I got a great present, the time being in the presence of my loved ones!

Bonjour et Joyeux Noel a tous!


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Joyeux Noel (Merry Christmas)

This is a bittersweet Christmas for the Couture family this year. For the first time in over 29 years Terry and I won't be celebrating Christmas Eve together. We both grew up celebrating with family on Christmas Eve. The good news is the children are both here for Christmas and we will gather together in a few hours. Terry has to work tonight and be with those children who don't have what we have, and that is a stable family life. So our blessings are very precious even when we are apart.

Tomorrow morning we will gather as our immediate family has done since we got married over 27 years ago. We began a tradition that started with just the two of us early Christmas morning and we continued that ever since. Fortunately Terry had the schedule changed so she could be with us tomorrow morning, but she needs to work again tomorrow afternoon. We will definitely cherish the time we  have together.

Tonight I will be going to Midnight Mass which is something I came back to a few years ago. The music, the nostalgia, and thrill of being with everyone in a large church is quite special for me. I also have the honor of being a Eucharistic Minister this evening and this just makes it that much sweeter.

I would love to thank all my brother candidates at this special time. If there is anyone else I would love to spend Christmas with is with all of you. Blessings upon you and your families.

Bonsoir et Adieu mes Amis!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

"You Called?"

For many years now I've taken vacation time wrapped around Christmas. For the past few years something magical has been going on. My best friend has been well aware of this time, and he knows I would do almost anything for him. It seems like every year he calls and asks for me to do him a favor and pick up a Christmas gift for his son. About a week ago I reminded him of this and asked him if he was better prepared this year! He just looked at me and laughed. He hadn't asked yet, but I just started my vacation.

Yesterday he called, and I wasn't around at the time. I called him back and said "you called?" All he did was laugh after I asked the question. I knew what the answer was and he tried to explain to me that he had a plan that didn't work out. I couldn't help but laugh at him as this has become a new Christmas tradition. He offered to pay for the gas and even buy me a sandwich at Subway! Wow! Talk about sweetening the pot.

Well Terry is off today and when she gets up I'll ask her if she wants to join me on an road trip for my buddy. After all, aren't traditions what our lives are made of?

As far as my spiritual calling is concerned, I'm better prepared for Christmas than than I've been in the past. I made an appointment with our new associate for reconciliation and I have to say I'm really happy with my choice of confessor.There's a lot of wisdom in this young man, and he's going to only get better. I met with my pastor/spiritual director last night just to keep in touch and share with him my thoughts and solicit his impressions. He is a tough man to meet with, but the extra effort is really worth it. I relate very well with him on many levels and feel very comfortable with him. He shared a small book with me to read that was spiritual. I think he's getting to know me well.

So this week I'm juggling two calls the Lord's and my best friend. Ironically they are two in the same.

Bonjour et Joyeux Noel mes Amis!


Sunday, December 18, 2011

"And it was worth it!"

If there is one thing that I tire of is overused cliches. You know the ones "think outside the box!" yuk!, "if by doing this I can help but only one person, it would be worth it!" You hear these and so many all the time, you sometimes wonder if they really mean it. I'm referring mostly today to the one about helping only one person, and would they really be satisfied if one and only one benefited by what you did!

I have a couple of stories to share that reinforce the benefits of doing good if only  one person gets it. On Friday morning Terry and I attended a funeral Mass for a friend, and we were looking to sit with my folks. On the way to be with them Terry met with a friend who is in her grieving ministry program. She had recently lost her husband, and this will be her first Christmas without him. As we were walking by, this woman reached out to Terry and she embraced her very deep and tenderly. The eye contact was amazing and the embrace was one of true love and sharing. I was extremely touched by the event. Even though they have a small group, there is good that is coming out of this and it is definitely worth it!

The next occurred last night at a local store. I didn't really want to go because I wasn't feeling very good but it was a chance to be with Terry so I said yes. We weren't in there for very long when a young girl came running up to Terry and again it was a wonderful sight to see. It was an embrace of warmth, love, and caring. They spoke for a while and Terry asked me to leave them alone. I continued the errands and soon Terry was back with me picking up the final items. Terry had a glow to her, that was very special. As we were leaving we met up with her once more, and again they hugged each other. Terry asked if the truck was unlocked and then asked the young girl if she wanted to see our dogs. They grabbed each other's hands and raced to the truck like little school girls. Again, this was a tremendous sight to see that has left me in a very emotional mood. This morning during prayer time all I could think of is what happened the last few days. I asked Terry permission if I could share the details of these events with all of you, and she said yes!

I remember telling Terry last night that even though she has a tough job, was there any doubt that at this time in her life she belongs with these children. It isn't her first choice, and definitely not second or third, but it is definitely the Lord's choice.

Again, looking back at what transpired before my eyes......"I would have to say that ....
It was worth it!

Bonjour et Adieu mes Amis,


Friday, December 16, 2011

Which Mitch? and Praying!

Yesterday was another road trip day for a company meeting. I traveled with my assistant to Lebanon and we gathered with other employees to receive training on service and adding value to our products. I have the most seniority of all managers in the company and I'm usually paired with the youngest members. After 26 years of service you would think someone would have all these service issues down pat and could opt out of attending these seminars. Well, even the senior person has to be there and probably it's more helpful for others, as I'm more of a sounding board than someone trying to take this all in. At the end of the training we had to present to everyone a product that was selected for us and how in conversational form we would share this information. I was last and I felt that it was another opportunity to speak publicly and share (without notes) how I would present our value to the customer at the point of sale. I received a comment from an assistant after my presentation that...."I'm ready to buy that product!" It reminded me of a statement my pastor made that..."You have seven minutes to sell your product!" I didn't have much time to prepare but it lasted only a couple of minutes. Please don't get offended by the idea of selling something as trying to sell God, I can relate to the passion that is needed to present a message and also sell a product. Either way you need to be prepared and believe in what you say and do.

When I got home last night I checked my emails and saw a message for a doctors appointment at 9:30 am. I didn't remember one so I got up early, took a shower and showed up a with plenty of time to spare. They took me in right away, got me on the scale (yeah, I lost two pounds) and then took me in the exam room. Something was odd today, the nurse wasn't my usual nurse, but maybe she was out. Then the exam room was different and then I said..."Who am I seeing today?" Well, the answer wasn't my regular doctor and then I thought...."You have the wrong Mitch!" My son and I share the same name and nickname and I'm use to being the wrong Michael or Mitch Couture. Oh well, I left quickly and picked up a coffee for Terry and I.

Praying, yes I will get to this right now. I came across divineoffice.org from Geoff at the last formation weekend. I checked out the site and I really love it! When I'm alone to do prayers I listen and follow on the pod casts that they have. It really is a very enjoyable way of praying alone with others! Check it out, I give it two thumbs up!

Bonjour et Adieu mes Amis!


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Always the aspirant!

Some of you may have noticed that even though since June our group is now officially known as candidates, I haven't changed the name of my blog, and honestly I really don't intend to. I guess the easiest way to explain this is for a couple of reasons. First being, it took me a while to think up of a name and it would probably cause some confusion and unnecessary changes if I decided to change it.

But the real reason is that I think that the word and what it means to me suits me just fine. The more I'm on this journey the more I realize that I will forever be aspiring to be more than I am. I'm proud of the changes in my life, but I'm also well aware that I'm still the sinner who needs reconciliation. I'm humbled by the fact that He picked me for a special mission, and like a good team player I don't want to let Him down, even though I know at times I will.

What I'm most proud of is something very simple but extremely precious. Terry again last night mentioned what she loves the most of what is going on in our lives is that we talk and listen to each other better than before.That comment has been coming my way more than ever before. We have made some changes in our lives and obviously the results are an additional benefit through subtractions. 

Bonsoir et Adieu mes Amis!


On the road again!

There is another constant about living in Burrlin besides long winters. No matter what the event is in life you need to be prepared for a road trip. Tim Samples the Maine comedian would say appropriately....."You can't get there from here!!!" and believe me Berlin is one of those towns. Chore number one, fill up the car, grab two cups of coffee, and drive for 2 hours and 20 minutes. Check, all systems go!

Thursday was a day I was so looking forward to. I told Mike several times that I had been checking my mailbox daily to see if we would be getting an invitation to the Installation of Bishop Peter. I was definitely not disappointed with the day at all. Terry kept staring at me at various times and said..."you look so happy to be here!" Indeed I was, and as I look back to where my life was several years ago, I can only say I'm here because of the Providence of Our Lord.

We capped the wonderful day off by having supper with some great friends who live in Manchester. We always make it a point to stop by to see them whenever we are in the area. It wasn't anything extravagant as we ordered pizza and spent time with them. We left Manchester at about 8:30 and yes it did make for a long day, but it was well worth it.

Our next road trip happened last night. I'm working the weekend with an employee on vacation and my boss scheduled a Christmas party. I asked him if we could close the store early so I could make it to the party. I closed at 4 and we had the routine down. Go home pick up a warmer jacket check, gas tank full check, program the gps check, pick up two cups of coffee check, and drive 1 hour and 50 minutes check! I got transferred to a new district about two years ago and events like these gives Terry and I a chance to make new friends and enjoy the quiet time in the car together.We got home shortly before midnight and once again enjoyed an evening spent with new acquaintances but most of all quiet time with each other.

My next road trip is Thursday in West Lebanon for a district meeting, there is a routine! The drive is 2 hours , and the constant remains the same....."Get ready for a road trip!"

Bonjour et Adieu mes Amis!


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Are you ready for Homiletics?

I'm sure the title is a dead give away about what our most recent formation weekend was all about. Terry didn't want to join me this weekend for two reasons, it's too cold inside of the building (yes I was reminded several times...too cold and you live in BURRRLIN!) and she didn't want to hear 23 candidates giving their first homily. Mike and I traveled together for the trip and he had a special treat for me, listening to Queen (my favorite band) on the way down.

As usual it was great to be with everyone again. We all had little treats that were given to all of us, and they were awesome! Thanks Mark & Valerie! Myth #1 it was cold inside of the building in the morning and then it was fine for the rest of the weekend. Myth #2, it was fortunate for everyone especially the wives that we didn't have to hear 23 homilies on the same subject.

Fr. Michael, I felt gave us all a very good sampling of what we are getting into and the basics on how to prepare for this. I could go on for quite a bit of time on what I took away from the weekend, but I'll share only one!

We need to preach to those who regularly attend Mass and relate the homily to what is going on in the world, and we also need to preach to those who are not going to Church and have decided to check us out! I know those aren't his words, but they are my take on this. I'm looking at this in a totally different light and I think most of us are seeing things through a different lens because of this experience.

Tomorrow is a special day as all the Candidates and their wives will be gathering at the Cathedral to witness the installation of our new Bishop! We have been getting more communications from the Diocese and when you combine tomorrow's event with the added emails, we all feel very welcomed! Thank You!

Bonsoir et Adieu mes Amis!


Monday, December 5, 2011

Humility.....One moment at a time!

Another Formation has come and gone and like all of them in the past I have learned something very valuable from this past weekend. I will share this all with you shortly, but something else is really stirring inside of me.

There were three events that created some very humbling moments for me. On Saturday I got a chance to talk to David and he shared that he follows my blog about once a month. He told me that he has been able to relate to what I write about and that he has enjoyed it. Now comes the part that really left me speechless, he told me this.......
"I feel that I'm walking with you, and that your words are our voice!"
I'm still even now tremendously moved by these words and as I've stated recently the Lord has been speaking to me through people I know. Thank you so much David!

My next moment this weekend again was totally unexpected. I was scheduled to be a Eucharistic Minister and I was very proud to have been selected at one of our gatherings. The moment came suddenly as Deacon Arnold presented to me the Blessed Sacrament. I was prepared to offer the Chalice with the Precious Blood and instead he taught me something special with no words spoken. Moments like these hopefully will occur some day and I will never forget what I learned that day. Again, this was a very proud and humbling moment in my life. Thank you so much Deacon Arnold!

The next moment actually occurred this morning before Morning Prayers. I read the church bulletin to catch up with what was going on in the parish. At the end of the bulletin was a short paragraph asking the parishioners to continue to pray for Mike, Elise, Terry, and myself as we continue on our journey of formation to the Permanent Diaconate. I remember posting on Saturday how much we all need prayers to support us all, and of course Our Lord had already inspired our Pastor to continue to keep everyone aware of our journey and our need for their continued support. Thank you so much Fr. Mark!

The Lord teaches and speaks to us all in so many ways and fortunately I was able to listen and really enjoy the moments.

For all my brother and sister candidates I thank you for your support and I am extremely honored and humbled to be "YOUR voice out there!"

Bonsoir et Adieu mes Amis!


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Preaching without notes!

This is the title of the book for this weekend, and yes we will be getting our first introduction to sermons this weekend. It's early Saturday morning and yes I'm up for this one. As I have stated before, we have two priests who follow this path to a T. They are excellent homilists and they preach without notes. So what do we need, PRAYERS!

Today and everyday we as a group ask for your PRAYERS and continued support for the work The Lord has begun in us.

Bonjour et Adieu mes Amis!


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Alleluia, it's getting better all the time!!

Well classes have been over formally for two weeks now and I have really enjoyed this break. I've gotten the chance to spend more time with Terry, to bowl, and enjoy Thanksgiving with family. There's been just one little thing left to do. Just a five page reflection paper. Piece of cake right? Not really, as I'm starting to invest more time in my writing, and  my critic (Terry) told me it's getting better all the time (just like the Beatles song!) Oops! The corny side of me just came out again. 

Anyways, I wrote my paper on the Great Reformation with a twist. My reflection was that I believe that the Church has always been, and will always be in a state of reformation. I was literally moved into writing this paper and best of all I'm very proud of my effort. It's not really about the grade, rather it's about putting myself out there and wanting to improve myself.

Alleluia, it's finally over for this class and it's time to look forward to another formation weekend. I know I haven't posted very much in a while, but with Advent upon us I'm sure I'll make up for it!

I'll finish the night with a little reading for this weekend and look forward to wrapping up some chores tomorrow afternoon.

Bonsoir et Adieu mes Amis,