The Domestic Church: Andy and Susie Bezner

North Texas Catholic

Andy and Susie Bezner, with son and daughter-in-law Nicholas and Briley Bezner, at St. Peter Parish in Lindsay.Andy and Susie Bezner, with son and daughter-in-law Nicholas and Briley Bezner, at St. Peter Parish in Lindsay.
Andy and Susie Bezner, with son and daughter-in-law Nicholas and Briley Bezner, at St. Peter Parish in Lindsay. (NTC/Ben Torres)


We first learn about God and His love through our family, which is why St. Paul VI stated in Lumen Gentium, "The family, is so to speak, the domestic Church."

In each print issue, the North Texas Catholic features a local family on its page, "The Domestic Church." Recently, Andy and Susie Bezner of St. Peter Parish in Lindsay answered a few questions about their family and their faith.

 

Question: What are some little things that spouses can do for each other that help strengthen their marriage and love?

Andy:  First and foremost, attend Holy Mass together. We attend the weekend Mass together, and regularly attend Wednesday evening Novena and Mass and Saturday morning Mass at St. Peter. This is such a wonderful way to build the marriage relationship, praying together and attending Mass. Dad used to always tell us, "the family that prays together, stays together!"

Couples must give without counting the cost or keeping score. Duties with the children must be shared. For example, as a husband, don’t expect the wife to do all the cooking, cleaning, and getting the children ready for bed.

Reading bedtime stories to our children, and now grandchildren, is something I truly have loved and look forward to. Taking care of the children when you get home from work is good parenting. It’s not a “chore;” it’s an act of love that the children will witness. We also had a general rule of "I cooked — you clean," meaning whichever of us cooked the meal, the other person did the cleanup. 

One other little thing we do is celebrate our “monthaversary,” We were married on the 29th so every month on the 29th we celebrate our anniversary. We don’t always do anything special, but we say it. We’ve been married 414 months!

There will be disagreements and difficulties, especially in the first years as you figure each other out. However, always remember to say “I’m sorry, please forgive me.” Working together and building your relationship with Christ at the center, will lead to a happy and blessed life. God, family, work has been a guiding framework for our marriage.

 

Question: How do you balance your responsibilities and interests within the context of the family?

Andy:  Balancing work, serving the Church through ministry, taking care of the children, and making time for each other is challenging, but when you prioritize life in a manner that Christ would approve of, it’s not that hard. Serving Christ through ministry is very rewarding. Our children learn by watching our examples. Being involved as a Sacristan, Extraordinary Minister, or Lector I could serve on the altar at the same time my daughter or son were altar servers. I was able to train them how to serve properly, to know what to do, and when. This was very rewarding for me as a dad, and for them as a child, to learn to serve Christ.

Children want our time and attention. As parents, the greatest love you can give a child is your time. The more time you give your child when they are little is repaid with less time that you will have to spend getting them out of trouble as teenagers. Communication is the key; listening to their needs and concerns will go a long way to building a loving relationship.

Parents need a date night to have time for each other, to talk about their life, their children, goals, and challenges of life in the home. When we’re together we can share our burdens as Psalm 68:19 states: “Blessed day by day be the Lord, who bears our burdens.” Communicating with your spouse and discussing ways to be a good Catholic family, goes a long way to keeping the marriage blessed and joyful. Planning together and keeping a disciplined schedule helps to maintain a happy and peaceful home.

Children crave discipline, they may push the boundaries, but deep down they want to do and know what’s right, and that means saying “no” to some of the activities they want to do. Parents are central to their children’s lives and activities. We have choices every day, needs vs. wants, and our children learn how to handle them based on what the parents teach them. One trend we see is parents allowing their children to join many activities. While some are important and fun to do, they can add a lot of unnecessary stress and expense. Often, these activities become priority over any Sunday obligation. We will reap what we sow — we must try to teach our children to sow fruit that will last.

2 Timothy 1:8 says “Bear your share of hardships for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God.” Life is difficult, challenging, sometimes it seems overwhelming, but take one thing at a time, don’t do too many activities, and place your trust in God to strengthen you and your family.

 

Question: How do you pass on the faith to your children?

Andy and Susie: Christ showed us the way by His example and we, as parents, lay the foundation for our children by doing the same. Taking them to Mass as toddlers through adulthood and being involved in church ministries, as I’ve stated earlier, is the key. We’d always say the Rosary on road trips to the grandparents’ home, and have the children say which mystery was next. The joy on their faces when they knew the next mystery was priceless! On the way to school, Susie would have them recite the morning offering and teach them ways to be kind and loving towards their classmates. These are a few ways we would pray with the children outside the home, to create more time inside the home as we balanced our busy schedules.

We always did meal prayers together to teach them the Hail Mary, and the Our Father, and night prayers were always special times to talk about what’s going on in their lives, and why, or who to pray for in a special way. We’d let the kids pick someone or something to pray for besides the “normal” mom, dad, grandpa, grandma, etc; this way they felt like their prayer was special and pleasing to God, because it came from them.

As a parent, one of the things I loved was giving them a nightly blessing with holy water and letting them know how much God loves them and to be thankful for all He did for them this day. Our children watching us pray and learning how to pray from us is good, but letting them say the words of prayers, no matter how slow or long it takes, is something they will remember for a lifetime. The fruit for us as parents was seeing them become involved in Vacation Bible School, youth ministry, Camp Fort Worth, and other church activities along with going off to college and becoming involved with the Catholic Church as a college student and staying active in the faith. This is both rewarding and exciting knowing they are starting out on the right path of serving our Lord thru service to others.
 

Question: How has marriage helped your faith life? And how has your faith life helped your marriage?

 Susie: Marriage has helped our faith by helping us to realize that children are a gift from God and we don’t have to raise them alone. God, through our marriage, is there to help us. Faith helps us realize how important it is to rely on His love to guide and bless us as parents, to do what is right and pleasing to Him, in raising our children in a Catholic home.

Our faith has helped our marriage in trusting in God’s love for us as a family. Trusting in God to guide us in this process takes a faith-filled home. We are blessed with two children. It’s our responsibility first and foremost, to do all that is necessary to get our soul to heaven, then our spouse’s soul, and then our children’s souls. Everything we do should lead us towards this realization, heaven is our true home.

God gave us the sacraments to help guide us along the way to Eternity with Him in heaven.  It’s our responsibility as parents to trust and believe in Him.  Matthew 28: 20 says “I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.” Knowing that God didn’t create us to abandon us; He wants to be with us, but we have to respond to Him too.

Faith in our marriage allows us as parents to offer our sufferings, our crosses, together as a couple, in unity with Christ. Mary suffered with Christ on many occasions. When our children are hurt or suffer, we too suffer, but the suffering can be used for good, just as it did for Mary. The goal is to accept and join these sufferings to Christs’ passion on the Cross for the salvation of sinners.


Question: How has marriage shown you that God isn’t finished with you yet and is still calling you to more?

Susie:  In the beginning of married life, we shared different prayers that we’ve had as individuals. As the years passed, we grew in our faith and our marriage became stronger. We also recognized marriage as the true sacrament that it is and use it to help each other in trying to get to heaven.

In life and in marriage, you have to deny yourself certain things for the benefit of others. Who hasn’t given up that shopping trip, or golf outing, to do something with their spouse? We are always called to do the will of God, it doesn’t end when the children move away from home or when we retire. He still calls us to be disciples as a married couple — the role as husband and wife may change, but we still listen and seek God’s will as a married couple, as He calls us to do more.

I work as a nurse practitioner, and for several years I have given an abstinence presentation to the high school girls, and the senior religion classes, and have been asked recently to join the RCIA program. Andy recently became an installed Acolyte and serves at Mass. Our Catholic faith is an occupation for a lifetime, and we try to listen to God’s call for us as ministers in whatever capacity is needed. Now as grandparents, we see our role as helping to pass our Catholic faith onto them. Recently during nighttime prayers, our two-and-a half year old grandson blessed us with holy water on our foreheads, like we did for our daughter, his mother. It’s wonderful to think about ways to share our faith and traditions with the next generation. Doing God’s work as St. Therese showed by her example can be done by doing the little things with great love. We are always striving to bring others to Christ and have been doing this our entire lives knowing that God isn’t finished using us to bring others to Him.


Question: What are some things you do as a family to continue growing in faith?

Susie:  Spending time with our children. Our daughter has 2 small children so our role as grandparents has begun, and our son recently married. We take any opportunity to share things through our family group text messages. We stay as close as possible, with many miles of separation (they live in Lubbock and Dallas), which is much easier with the technology of today. We share prayer devotions, Holy Spirit moments, and prayer requests. We use the seasons of Advent and Lent for spiritual growth along with feast days or saints’ days to share our faith.

The holiday seasons always provide an opportunity to spend time with family. Our gatherings always include attending Holy Mass together and visiting extended families. My mom is 87, with almost 90 members when we are all gathered. Andy’s dad is almost 90 with over 30 extended family members. What wonderful wisdom to share and be gained from one another. We gather with our siblings and families to share stories about faith, family, and relationships that will foster the growth in our faith. We count on each other for support spiritually and for guidance to help with all the trials and crosses that we may encounter. God is the potter and we are the clay. We strive to listen to His call to grow in our faith and become what He wants us to be; a family growing in our faith in the Domestic Church.

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Andy and Susie Bezner attend St. Peter Parish in Lindsay, where they serve as RCIA instructors and Eucharistic Ministers. Andy is also an installed Acolyte, Sacristan, Lector, and Knight of Columbus member.

Married 34 years, they have two grown children and two young grandchildren.   

The couple attends St. Peter Parish in Lindsay, where they serve as RCIA instructors and Eucharistic Ministers. Andy is also an installed Acolyte, Sacristan, Lector, and Knight of Columbus member.  Married 34 years, they have two grown children and two young grandchildren.

We first learn about God and His love through our family, which is why St. Paul VI stated in Lumen Gentium, "The family, is so to speak, the domestic Church."

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