Thursday, February 18, 2010

Going It Alone

"Faith" by Arthur Hughes

I have received a great number of emails from wives who are considering the Catholic faith but whose husbands are either not interested or staunchly opposed to it. Knowing that I am a Catholic revert (someone who left the Church and came home to it in later life) with a non-Catholic husband, they turned to me to ask for advice. After many months of prayer and discussions with my husband, I have finally drafted my humble answer to all those heartfelt questions.

Before I begin, I just want to point out that I am writing from my own personal study and my own experiences. Three months into married life, I returned to the Catholic Church. My (non-Catholic) Christian husband was overwhelmed by this, and we have since been on a truly profound, challenging journey over the four years of our marriage. Sometimes God guided me in doing right by both the Church and my husband. More often, though, I really botched things. So, what I have to offer here comes straight from the humble and contrite heart of a sinner who nevertheless genuninely wants to serve her God and husband and was taught a few things along the way.

  1. The first thing to remember, in contrast to the title of this post, is that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I'm not talking about the "you're not alone because other wives have trod where you tread," however true that may also be. What I actually mean is that you are not alone because you are a wife. You have a husband. He may not be feeling led in the direction that you are, but he is there--your one-flesh joint heir of the grace of life (Genesis 3:29; 1 Peter 3:17)! Never forget who he is: your husband, your partner for life, the man that God made especially for you! Never forget who you are, either: his wife, his "help meet," his beloved, the woman made especially by God to love, honor, cherish and obey him (Ephesians 5:22-24).

  2. YOUR SOUL IS AT STAKE. Before I explain that statement, let me say this: We are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8). Period. Not faith. Not works. Not creed. Grace. God's unmeritted gift of grace. Phew. Okay, now that that's been said, can we move on and say that religion is still important, too? Well, it is. Very.

    In 1302, St. Boniface VIII wrote in his "Unum Sanctum,"

    "That there is one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church we are compelled by faith to believe and hold, and we firmly believe in her and sincerely confess her, outside of whom there is neither salvation nor remission of sins…. In her there is 'one Lord, one faith, one baptism'" (Ephesians 4:5).

    That said, the Church does teach that it may be possible for non-Catholics--and even non-Christians to go to Heaven. In Lumen Gentium, the Second Vatican Council wrote,

    "Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do His will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation."

    However, Vatican II went on to say in Ad Gentes Divinitus that "those cannot be saved, who knowing that the Catholic Church was founded through Jesus Christ, by God, as something necessary, still refuse to enter it or remain in it" (emphasis my own).

    If you are a fallen away Roman Catholic who is feeling drawn back to the Church or if you are a non-Catholic who feels convicted of the truth of the Church's authority in Jesus Christ, then you are morally compelled in the most serious terms to become a member of the Catholic Church and to follow her teachings.

  3. WIFELY SUBMISSION. Aye, there's the rub. As much as many people would like to ignore it, God is very clear that a wife ought to be submissive to her husband in all matters (Ephesians 5:24, 44) except where the husband's will seriously and directly conflicts with the Will of God. This is a very fine line to tread. We women are often eager to "claim" the Will or Voice of God when, in truth, we are only following our own sensibilities or personal convictions. We must steep ourselves in the Word of God and in Sacred Tradition.

    If you feel that your husband is asking you to sin, you ought also to seek wise, doctrinally-sound counsel as to how to proceed and to discern whether, in fact, your husband actually is leading you into sin or just asking you to do something that you have decided is sinful. Speak to your parish priest or ask him to recommend a female spiritual counselor for you if you feel you would be more comfortable speaking with a woman. You must also weigh the severity of this sin. If my husband asks me to commit or turn a blind eye to a venial sin and the consequences of failing to submit to his authority would result in a much more grievous mortal sin, then I ought to obey him. If you are confused on these matters, seek spiritual counsel!

    Do not take for granted how important your wifely submission is! It is the Will of God that you submit to your husband. Remember this before you go around claiming that you know the Will of God and seeking to reject the Will He has already laid out in His Word.

  4. Along these lines, it is vital to remember this: DO NOT USURP YOUR HUSBAND'S AUTHORITY. Scripture is very clear, and so is the Church's teaching. The husband is the head of the wife. This headship has no caveats. It does not hinge on whether your husband is a good guy, whether he is in a state of sin or grace, or whether he is saved. When St. Paul wrote to the Corinthian Church that "the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God” (1 Corinthians 11:3), he knew that he was speaking to some people who had unbelieving spouses. He still said it. No holds barred, no strings attached. If you deny or reject this God-ordained order, you will be headed straight into sin and possibly for divorce--one of the most serious and virulent sins of our day!

  5. PRAY. You are between a rock and a hard place. You feel called to join the true "one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church." You know that it is now vital that you do so. You also know that you have to yield to the authority of your husband. All too frequently, these needs may seem to be at bitter odds, possibly irreconcilable. So, what can you do? Pray. Pray. I'm going to say that again: Pray. If you take nothing else away from this post, take this: Pray.

    Matthew 9:26: "Jesus looked at them and said, 'With
    man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'"
    Which brings us to my next point.

  6. SEEK HIM, AND TRUST. Have faith that God can and will do what He has promised. It can be so easy to despair, to give in to anxiety, or to try to take control. But, remember what Jesus says in the Gospel of Matthew immediately after teaching his disciples how to pray: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life...But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own" (Matthew 6:25, 33-34). Don't concern yourself with how you're going to convince your husband of this or that or what will happen if he says no or how it will all work out. Take God at His Word. Seek first His kingdom; pray, and trust.

  7. CULTIVATE PATIENCE. Of course, I realize that what I've suggested may be just about the hardest thing ever proposed to you. It certainly was for me. So, cultivate patience. My priest likes to point out that "patience" comes from the Latin "patientia," which means "suffering or enduring without complaint." To be patient is to suffer. This sounds yucky and unpleasant, but a life of patience is exactly what Christ calls us to!

    Remember that all suffering in life has the capacity to work for our good. Unite your suffering to Christ's on the cross. Offer it up for the intentions of Jesus' Sacred Heart: the salvation of souls, the reparation for sin, and the reunion of all Christians. Remember that however much you might want to see these things in your own family, Jesus wants to see them so much more--in everyone's family! The world over! Trust me; He's already on it. Just unite your own sufferings to His, and be patient.

  8. DON'T COMPLAIN. Remember, that we are not merely being called to suffering, but to "patientia"--to suffering without complaint. Don't nag. Don't pressure. Don't make your husband's life a living Hell because he won't come to Mass with you or refuses to let you enroll the kids in Catholic school.

    "Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of
    them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives" (1 Peter 3:1-2).

    Don't preach at your husband; it's not your place, and quite frankly, it won't do a lick of good. Above all, do not succumb to a bitter, complaining attitude. Find joy. Enjoy your husband. Win him over, not by manipulating him or brow-beating him with your edition of the Catechism but by being his devoted, loving, joyful wife. Pray for him; live for God. The rest is in Good Hands.

  9. REMEMBER THAT YOU'RE THE ONE WHO'S CHANGED. It can be so tempting to waste your time brooding over why your husband cannot see what you do in the Catholic Church. This is unconstructive and unfair. Remember that you're the one who has changed, not your husband. He's just going on being the same man who you married. Meanwhile, his wife has just up and changed her entire worldview, not to mention her spiritual allegiance! Be compassionate. The poor guy probably doesn't know what hit him. He may want to ignore your conversion. He may be angry about it. He may feel threatened by it. He is going to need time and space, not a daily argument over points of theology.

    Remember that he is still the man you promised to stand by for better or worse. Love him. Cherish him. Obey him. Let him know that you're still the woman he married--even if you do become a Catholic.

  10. DO NOT COVET. Conveniently, in addition to being our tenth point, this is also the tenth commandment. So it should be easy to remember, even if it's not easy to implement. If you haven't gotten to the "covet" stage of your solo conversion yet, you probably will hit it before too long. You may see happy Catholic couples at church. The husband is smilingly holding a hymnal up for one of his half-dozen beautiful, homeschooled children. It's right around that time that the little green monster starts rearing its ugly head in your lonely heart. Do not give into it! It is pure poison in your life!!

    If you're a revert and you find your heart is disastisfied and covetous, get thee to a confessional as quickly as possible. If you're not receiving the Sacraments yet, talk to your priest, repent, and, pray, pray, pray! Moreover, cultivate joy and gratitude right where you are. Remember that your marriage is a sacred covenant ordained by God between you and this man, your husband. Receive your man and your marriage for the GIFTS that they are. Enjoy them, right here, right now! Don't wait for him to convert to enjoy your husband, reverence him, obey him, respect him, honor him, LOVE him. That day may never come. Love him now, just as he is.

I have mainly spoken of principles in this post. I know that there are a lot of pracitical living questions that crop up from this topic, as well.

  • What should I do if my husband insists I use birth control?
  • What should I do if my husband doesn't want me to go to Mass?
  • I'm a revert and I was married outside the Church. I need to have my marriage convalidated, but my husband is against it. What should I do??
  • I want to baptize our children Catholic, but my husband doesn't want me to. What should I do???

To mention just a few "easy" ones, right? If these or any other quesitons are on your heart, please feel free to post them in the comments section or to email me. Each one probably deserves a post of its own, and I will try to get to them as I am able, though it may take some time and I may not be qualified to answer all of them.

In the meantime, know that I am praying for each and every one of you ladies who find yourselves in this difficult position. May God grant you wisdom, peace, and joy in your marriage as He welcomes you--or welcomes you back--into the community of His Holy Church. May you know true unity in your life--the unity of the universal Church and the unity of Marriage.


  1. First, I want to say that I hope my comment comes across as genuinely curious and not troll-ish or wanting to stir up trouble. And, I realize that this blog post may not be the most appropriate place for my comment. I'll leave your discretion as to what to do with this :)

    My dad is Catholic and my mom is Protestant, and that's the way it's always been for them.

    I am Protestant and find that I have many theological disparities with things my dad believes.

    Part of the problem we have is that he insists there is only "one holy and apostolic church," as you have stated.

    My issue is that this writing doesn't come from the Bible. While it very well could have been inspired by God, I'm just not sure.

    When I read the New Testament and explore what it means to be a Christian and a Christian church, I don't see the things that are common in the Catholic Church.

    I don't see mention of a Pope or Bishop or hierarchy, or a confession to a priest, or praying the rosary, or highly revering Mary, or making the sign of the cross, or making atonements for sin, or purgatory, or praying to saints.

    I don't claim to be a Bible scholar, but when I read it, I just don't see a lot of things that are common (or defining) of the Catholic Church.

    Frankly, there are a lot of confusing practices that I've observed within the Catholic Church. I'm confused at them because I don't see them outlined in the Bible -- and on some instances, they seem contradictory.

    I think my issues aren't anything new -- Protestants have had these concerns for centuries, and that's why they're separate.

    What do Catholics think that Protestants do wrong?

  2. Thank you for this honest and open post, Bethany. This is the first time I have posted anything about this on anyone's blog, because I haven't made any comment about it yet on my own blog. I am just not ready to "go there" with certain family members and friends who read it.

    I am blessed that my husband is now on board with me in seeking into the RCC, though a few steps behind simply because I have studied a lot more and for longer. When I first started talking about it he absolutely hated the whole idea.

    Amazingly, we have been going to mass as a family since the first of the year. It has been a very exciting, but scary and somewhat lonely journey (most of my friends here are from the Protestant missionary community, and my seeking has been very solitary). I have no close Catholic friends here in Japan where we live, but I am very thankful for my best friend back home, who is a cradle Catholic, and a few dear Catholic blog friends who have been praying for us and encouraging me via email.

    My prayer the entire time has been that my husband would be the one to actually lead us into the Church, and that our family would be unified. After Ash Wednesday service he pointed out a poster to me that advertised the "Catholic entrance" classes every week after Sunday mass (I'm assuming that's something like RCIA). I am sort of holding my breath to see when he will feel led to start going!

    You are so right to advise prayer, prayer and more prayer! Thanks for your blog. I have learned a lot from you and all that you share. Now I will nervously hit the "post" button!

  3. What an excellent list! I am not Catholic, I am Protestant but this list seems to have come right out of my own life and journey with just a couple of changes. I was what we call a backslidden Christian with a life full of compromise who married a non-Christian. After I married, I returned to my first love, Christ and sought Him. My husband did not join me, but thankfully allowed and even encouraged me to go to church and seek the Lord - so long as I didn't nag or bother him about it. 7 years into our marriage, my husband returned to the church and nearly 8 years into our marriage, returned to Christ our Savior.

  4. I didn't realise that you were a revert with a non-Catholic husband (you guys present such a united front in pics!). Me, too. I love my husband, but it can be very difficult. So many things have to be explained and justified, and I'm not very good at it (both because he doesn't accept the same basis for things that I do, and because I was poorly catechised and then away from the Church for many years). Anyway, this is the best post ever. Thank you so much.

  5. Thank you for this post. My poor husband...first I started attending a Protestant church right after we got engaged, and now (nearly five years into our marriage) I am drawn to the Catholic Church. He is no-holds-barred a wonderful, virtuous, loving man & a great husband, but has no interest in churches of any stripe. Luckily, and almost miraculously, it was easy to convince him to drop birth control. I enjoy your blog very much and have been thinking of asking you exactly these questions, so I look forward to the series! --Alice

  6. As a revert myself, I struggle often with my husband being of a different faith than I. Granted, we share the same belief structure - but what grieves me more than anything is not his unwillingness to consider changing faiths to Catholicism, but the reason why he will not at this point in time.

    You see, his Dad is still alive. And he's staunchly against the Church - he and his wife (DH's Stepmother) are vocal about their dislike, and poke fun at the Church every chance they get. They aren't attending our Daughter's baptism because Stepmother decided to schedule a trip to see her family after finding out that the baby will also be baptized Catholic. It's hurt us to the core. And what's more - DH is AFRAID of what his dad would say/do/think. While it is massively frustrating for me, I know someday, my husband will join the family in our Faith...until then, I can only pray for him. He's a good man, a faithful follower of Christ, so I take consolation in the fact that he already knows Christ's saving graces - he just happens to have some wacky parents.

  7. Thanks for this post. My hubby is not Catholic and I am a revert myself and this is a topic that I have really been praying about lately.

    I would appreciate if you would cover the birth control/children topic. What if my husband wants us to hold off having children until we are more financially stable. I know that the Church says this is inappropriate, but what can I do if that is what my husband wants?

  8. Dear Kacie, first of all, you don't sound a bit snarky. Second of all, I think this is way too big for me to address in the comments section as well as I would like! But, I'll take a stab. Just know that this is extremely abbreviated.

    You are correct that the phrase "one holy, catholic, and apostolic church" does not come from the Bible. However, the CONCEPT is extremely Biblical. St. Paul preaches one Baptism in Christ. The early church (see Acts of the Apostles and Galatians) worked VERY hard to make sure that their teachings were accurate to christ's and also in holding with one another. If you notice, particularly authority was given to what Peter had to say--Cephas, the Rock upon which Christ built His Church. This was the inception of the papacy (the Popes).

    One thing you have to understand is that we all read Scripture through a certain lense--we take certain things for granted, we have certain preconceptions. Catholics call their "lense" Sacred Tradition--the teachings passed down directly from the apostles and interpretted through the power of the Holy Spirit by the Church down to the present day. This is completely different from traditions (lower case t) which all religions have. (Example: Catholics pray the rosary; some Protestants say a special "salvation prayer" during their time of conversion; some people sing "praise and worship" music, others sing hymns. These are mereely cultural choices to help us in our walks of faith.)

    So, when you read the New Testament, you probably don't see what Catholics see. That doesn't mean that what Catholics see isn't there--I would argue that it is!--but you might be looking through a different lense.

    In reference to the particular issues you named, the authority of the papcy, the Sacrament of Confession, and reverence for Mary, purgatory, the communion of the saints, and active participation in the reparation of sins are all Biblical. They are also defined doctrines and dogmas of the Church and have been refined through Sacred Tradition.

    There is nothing in the Bible or Sacred Tradition about praying the rosary or making the sign of the cross. These are traditions with a little t, and it is the spirit, not the action, that aids the believer in bringing them closer to Christ through these devotional practices (among many others).

    We are all one in Christ--there is only one Baptism. So, it's not that Catholics think Protestants are doing things "wrong." We think they just don't have the whole picture. They are members of the one, holy, catholic (which means universal), apostolic Church because they are Baptized in Christ. But, they do not have the fullness of the faith and are not in full communion with Christ's Church, ordained on earth, and built upon Peter, the Rock.

    I hope this makes sense. As I said, I had to keep this short. If you follow my "inroduction link" from the sidebar, you can read some of my previous posts about topics such as Purgatory and Praying to the Saints. If you have more questions, feel free to email me, but as I said, my answers may be necessarily terse.

    God bless!

  9. Sue- Thank you so much for having the courage to share! I cannot imagine how trying it must be to try to build up a community of like-minded believers in another country. But, I wish you the best as you pursue entrance into the faith with your family.

  10. Kate- THANK YOU for sharing! Yes, the situations are very, very similar. And, what an encouragement to hear about your husband's story of salvation. God bless you for the role you played in bringing him to Christ.

    Rebekka- Well, I assure you that it's not fake (our unity in the pictures), but it was hard won! God bless you as you continue to defend the faith (and grow in knowledge of it) and love your husband!

    Alice- My prayers are with you. It is a hard row to hoe, but it sounds like you love your husband very much, so hang in there and keep praying!

    Andrea- That is very difficult. I am blessed that my husband's family is not opposed to my faith. They find it a little strange sometimes, but they are very open and accepting. Our friends however, were not all as accepting, especially some of Brian's lifelong friends and spiritual mentors. Thankfully, not all or even most were this way. His best friend, son of a Methodist minister, was James' godfather! I will pray for your situation and for your husband's courage and conviction of heart. God bless!

  11. Cate- For such a weighty topic in general, this one actually has an easy answer. Birth control is forbidden by the Church. Period. In extreme cases, if a Catholic fears his or her spouse will file for divorce if they do not use contraception, non-abortive contraception (such as condoms) is permitted as a "lesser evil" to divorce, but this EXTREME, and I would advise you to contact your priest if this your situation. If your husband merely wants to delay (albeit with a contraceptive attitude) through periodic abstinence using NFP, this is permissible though not completely sanctioned. It is considered a venial sin (because you are still using your sexuality in a holy way, even if with a less-than-completely Godly attitude). You would not even have to go to Confession for this, though you might still want to. Remember that holy sex involves COMPLETE SELF-GIVING and is meant to promote unity of the couple as well as procreation. So, keep your own heart open to life, be unified with your husband and respect his desires, and pray that God will soften his heart! God bless you.

  12. Bethany- thanks so much for this incredible post. I have the same issue with BC, and the only "solution" so far has been non-abortifacient BC. I have to say, I have a really, really hard time with that, but it's non-negotiable in our house. We also haven't had our marriage convalidated by the Church, which weighs very heavily on my heart, as I haven't been able to receive Communion since I came back to the Church 7 years ago. If you would do a post on that topic, I would be grateful. To Kacie- I would highly recommend "Rome Sweet Home", by Scott Hahn. He is a biblical scholar, and a convert. In fact, he and his wife (Kimberly) both attended a protestant seminary!

  13. Great post, Bethany! I'm so fortunate that my husband and I converted to Catholicism at the same time. I think God knew that I was so weak in faith that having a husband on a different page would have been more than I could handle!

    Kacie -

    I thought I'd offer a few thoughts in case you find it helpful. As a convert to Catholicism, I can relate to many of your questions! Though I came from a totally different background (I was raised atheist) a lot of things that Catholics did seemed crazy/wrong to me. :)

    I don't see mention of a Pope or Bishop or hierarchy, or a confession to a priest, or praying the rosary, or highly revering Mary, or making the sign of the cross, or making atonements for sin, or purgatory, or praying to saints.

    One thing that struck me when I first read the Bible, coming from a background of complete nonbelief (my family did not own a Bible growing up -- I didn't even know that it was divided into an "Old Testament" and a "New Testament") was that I didn't see a lot of major Christian doctrines spelled out in the Bible. For example, after reading the New Testament I felt certain that God is not a Trinity of persons, since it wasn't spelled out clearly anywhere, and I was also not convinced that Jesus was fully divine -- it was clear that He is God's Son, but from my interpretation I thought it could mean that he was only human but just special to God.

    I also began to ask questions about why Christians believe that the Bible is inspired by God in the first place. There were other letters circulating that were written around that same time -- how could I know that the books I was looking at were the right ones? How could I know that the ones with errors were excluded and only the true ones were left in? (E.g. the Book of Esther never mentions God and is not referenced in the New Testament -- how can I believe its inspired?)

    It was also strange to me that one would have to be fully literate and have good reading comprehension skills to come to know Christ; widespread literacy is a relatively recent phenomenon, and before the printing press the concept of the average family owning a Bible would have been unthinkable.

    All of these answers came together for me when I heard a theory that Jesus founded a Church which the Holy Spirit guides in doctrine to this day. It explained how I could trust that the right books were chosen, since it was His Spirit-inspire Church who chose them; it explained how Christians have long held certain beliefs that aren't necessarily articulated in the Bible; it explained how the illiterate and people with poor reading comprehension skills could come to know God, etc.

    Anyway, sorry for the long comment! I just thought I'd share my testimony in case you find it helpful at all. There's a great book called By What Authority that's short and easy to read and offers a better summary of this stuff than I could. :)

    Have a great weekend, everyone!

  14. Bethany -
    Thanks. I have to admit, it breaks my heart that my husband still feels tied down by his parents this way. It makes me feel as if we're 13 year old children, doing something naughty, as opposed to something completely spiritual and acceptable to God. It's caused much bad blood between myself and them, to the point that I now refuse any contact with them or for my kids - they've hurt us one too many times and I refuse to let the kids be open to attacks or be let down once again by them. And what's worse, they're very active in THEIR church - and have painted us as the "naughty" kids who never come to visit, etc. :( Stepmother has even tried to involve their Pastor into "counseling" us in our perceived sin...thankfully Pastor knows that the Stepmother and my husband have not had the best of relationships (she was the other woman....), and that my husband is justified in his behavior in protecting his family.

    I just so wish that he felt as if he could make this decision regardless of what his father thinks. :(

  15. Jennifer- Great points! Thanks for chiming in. The literacy issue was always a huge sticking point for me, too--even as a Christian. I don't think it's any coincidence that the Protestant Reformation and the platform of "Sola Scriptura" coincides so neatly with the invention and development of the printing press in the course of history.

    And, I second Mark Shea's "By What Authority." FABULOUS book--one my husband recommends, too. Actually, Mark Shea goes to church at a parish in Seattle that we used to attend before we moved to the other side of the lake! Small world, but I love to talk up his phenomenal books. So thoughtful, logical, and persuasive.

  16. HRH Sarah - You will be in my prayers, as well. I will start working on a post addressing the issue of convalidation. In the meantime, though, I might recommend that you contact whoever is in charge of such things in your parish office. Canon law can be rather intricate regarding these things, and you may find a wonderful resource in your parish staff memebers! For example, you can actually convalidate without your spouse's participation. I can't recall the details of it, though. Ideally, it's not what I would recommend as unity in marriage is so, so, so important, but if it's the only option, it might be worth pursuing. In any case, it might be good to speak with someone in your parish.

    And, Rome Sweet Home rocks! I love the Hahns!

  17. Kacie-
    Check out Acts Chapter 1. The Apostles elect a successor to Judas. They didn't stop having successors. Apostolic Succession is straight out of Acts Chapter 1. The successors of the successors of the successors down to our present day are the Bishops of the Catholic Church (and also the Orthodox Churches).

    Also, Jesus gave the "keys" to Peter. It's right there in the Gospels. Peter was the head Apostle. Peter had successors elected also.

    Also, Jesus says "Be united so that the world may believe." It's clear that Jesus intended that all Christians would be united in one universal church led by his apostles who would have successors. That's what we mean when we say "one holy catholic (i.e. universal) and apostolic church."

    The Catholic Church is The Church. The world calls us the Catholic Church. We know ourselves to be The Church. And the Catholic Church is the MOST Biblical church of all. In fact, the Bible was just a bunch of writings until a bunch of Catholic Bishops got together and decided which books were inspired. Their decision yielded what is now known as The Bible. Protestants have taken the Catholic's book and accused Catholic's of not being in compliance with it. It's crazy.

  18. Wow, what a refreshing read. Both Dh and I were raised Catholic-me moreso than he- but he practiced minimally when we met. I thought I would end up influencing him, but it was the other way around. I ended up not practicing regularly anymore for several years. When my oldest was born there were many issues (too many to get into)and my dh and I stopped practicing completely. I still prayed regularly and was a believer, but for multiple reasons did not want to go back to church. Dh went to a nondenominational church and I tagged along on and off for a while, but it really felt "not right" to me. Especially communion as a symbol.
    Anyhoo, somehow, someway, God slapped me upside the head and I have started going back to Catholic church regularly and feel like I am "back." My youngest comes with me weekly and goes to ccd. My oldest is the problem (one that is my own making :(() He made his first communion but does not like to attend with me and his brother. He does say his prayers, read bible, etc. My Dh now considers himself "christian" not Catholic - says that church has "done him wrong too many times." However he does not attend church barely at all.In reality, based on his words, I suspect he is at heart a secular humanist.

    I am very perplexed because I feel like I gave up my gift of the Church and let myself be led astray, and consequentially, my children.

    I remember St. Monica and ask her intercession as I pray for my husband's heart and soul to be turned back to the Lord. And also for my oldest son to become more "on fire" for the Lord and to begin receiving Eucharist.

    I also struggle with not wanting, as a parent, to undermine his authority over our children, ie. "dad is wrong." So far I have been able to hold my tongue, and usually will say "Mommy doesn't like that talk, attitude, etc." and make it about my thoughts rather than criticize their father.

    I never would have thought on my wedding day in a Catholic church, that 15 years later all of this would have happened. I am terribly grieved and although I know God forgives, I still feel deeply ashamed that I have let Him down.


  19. Green Mommy
    Thank you for this post. I hope you can post more about this, like how Catholics and Protestants see the Sacraments and how we can handle the differences if we share different denominations.

  20. Hi Bethany, I gave up viewing blogs for Lent, except Sunday--so glad I popped in today and read this. Great post.

    I was baptized, recv'd first holy communion and confirmation in the Catholic church. Then drifted away and years later went to a nondenon/Protestant/evangelical church--which is where I met and married my wonderful husband.

    My husband is not hostile towards Catholicism (though his mother seems to be) but he disagrees with major doctrinal points and is quite content with our nondenominational church. Meanwhile, in the past year or so, I've felt myself drawn to the Catholic church I left behind so long ago.

    My husband, God bless him, has gone to a few masses with me. But as someone who was raised Baptist, he does not believe in transubstantiation--a major dealbreaker,obviously. I'm still struggling to understand that too; my catechism on this was always on shaky ground. I didn't really "get" it in CCD class. (Neither of us are eligible to receive communion so we abstain from that at Mass the few times we go.)

    If I were to decide to revert, I'm almost positive that my husband would go through convalidation with me so I could receive communion. But I doubt he would convert. Would he go to Mass with me? Probably yes, but he wouldn't be able to receive communion if he didn't become Catholic.

    The thought of me sitting beside my loving Christian husband at church, but going up to take the Eucharist alone while he shuffled to the side and was left behind, perhaps feeling awkward or rejected...that pains me so much I can barely imagine it. Do you struggle with that? That is probably the major thing that makes me want to take this process very slowly.

    Thanks again for the well-written, insightful and honest post.

  21. P.S. One of the most appealing things about your blog, to me, is the incredible amount of respect and admiration you show for both Protestants and Catholics. FWIW, not many blogs that I have read seem to bridge both worlds so comfortably.

  22. Thanks for sharing this info, Bethany. On a related topic, is it permissible for a practicing Catholic to marry a non-Catholic Christian?

  23. Brenda- YES, it is absolutely permitted. This is one of the reasons, however, that solid Pre-Cana (premarital) counselling is so, so important, because both spouses need to be aware of the Catholic understanding of Holy Matrimony. It is radically different from what the world is selling. It is also permissible, though inadvisable, for a Catholic to marry a non-Christian or someone who is areligious. However, as I said, this is discouraged.

  24. What a great post! (And I love the picture to go with it- I can relate so well.) I am a revert also... my husband was raised without any faith whatsoever and doesn't seem to have any particular interest in seeking God in his life in any form... however, God seems to be forcing His way into his life in all kinds of sneaky ways. (For example, right now, my husband is taking an art history class, which has focused almost exclusively on religious art, which has required him to study theological terms, saints, events from the life of Jesus, etc. I love how God works in ways we could never expect!)

    I really liked your advice to "not covet" what other people have... when I go to church I am almost always alone with my kids and I can't help but think that everyone thinks I'm a single mother... I also often think about "remembering that I'm the one who's changed..." my entire worldview has changed so much since I got married, and I thank God that my husband seems to love me just as much, in spite of it all. I do try to be joyful, and fun, and patient... and honestly I find that with God's help I don't really have to try very hard. Things that used to stress me out earlier in our marriage (housework, the kids, the never-ending to-do list, money) are now much easier for me to handle...

    Last night we had a discussion and he agreed to start practicing NFP- I am so thrilled and I never thought we would get to this point together. A few months ago, he was ready to have a vasectomy because there was "no way" we were having another child. God has really changed his mind and heart, and I'm convinced that He isn't done with my husband yet.

    I'll pray for you and your husband as well!

  25. Lauren - Thank you so much for sharing your story. I'm sure your honesty will bless others who read it. And, thank you for your prayers. God is always at work, and He is truly, truly good.

  26. I linked to this on my weekly roundup, though I am a cradle Catholic that never left the faith, I have certainly become much more devout since marrying my Protestant hubs. God has definitely blessed me by drawing me closer to Him during our difficulties regarding spiritual unity.

    One thing I do specifically, rather than ask God to convert my Hubs - who already has Jesus, I ask Him to unite our family spiritually. It feels much less sneaky!

  27. I'm guessing Brenda already knows this, but I'll say it just in case she (or perhaps a "lurker") is unaware: If you are a Catholic, regularly practicing or not, you would have to marry the non-Catholic Christian in a Catholic wedding ceremony for it be be considered valid by the Catholic church. (Bethany, please correct me if my wording is off.)

    Some "lapsed" Catholics, including myself, don't find this out until AFTER the fact. It was my fault for not doing the research, but I know I'm not the only person who is unclear on this so that's why I'm saying it now.

    Convalidation is the way to rectify the situation, but in the meantime, it's unsettling to realize that theoretically, the Catholic church sees me and my husband as having physical intimacy in an invalid marriage. That's one of the reasons I can't take communion.

    I just share these things so it can help other people who may be in the position I was then: Very uninformed about the Church I left behind...and never suspecting that one day I'd long to go back.

  28. Joslyn - Good point (and yes, you said it correctly). I was one of those "lapsed" Catholics who didn't know anything about that rule, and my husband and I had our marriage convalidated two Valentine's Day ago by our parish priest. I'm hoping to get a convalidation post up soon.

  29. I feel like this post was written for me! (But I am sure every woman posting here feels the same way hee hee)
    Thankfully for me I am engaged, not married yet. I have a long road ahead of me.....

  30. I too am a revert but I reverted over 30 years ago and I have prayed for my husband every day since. He is from a Northern Ireland Protestant background and says he will never become become a Catholic - though he comes to Mass with me every Sunday! But I pray to Our Lord, St Joseph and St Michael (his name is Mike) every day and I know one day he'll join me!

  31. Potential "revert" here responding to this great classic post with an update.

    My nonCatholoic Christian husband has gone with me to Mass a few times now, and considering his family background, it's truly a miracle how much he seems to like it! He keeps saying he is amazed by how much Jesus is worshiped and spoken about at Mass. (His background had taught him to expect something very different in a Catholic church. His family believes that: Catholics aren't "real" Christians, Catholics worship idols, Catholics think the Pope is the Messiah, etc. His parents are good, Godly people who raised a wonderful son, but they received some misinformation from certain preachers and books.)

    My DH also seems to keep stumbling upon Catholic articles on the Internet, even though he is not searching for them. (Recently he somehow ended up linked to a Mark Shea article from a Protestant blog!) I'm surprised by his agreement with major Catholic doctrines, which I'd previously thought were huge stumbling blocks.

    So here I am, praying, keeping things very gentle and open, listening to my husband as he thinks out loud and letting him do his own research. I used to mention certain articles and books, but now, I don't even do that anymore. I think some sort of momentum has started and I just need to sit back now and let things unfold in God's timing.

    I'm not saying this to brag, and the story isn't over yet, but I hope it can give someone else hope.

    -keeping Anonymous in this one, due to family details


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