Aside from my Little Monk and his signs of anxiety, I have been reflecting on my wonderful marriage to my husband. On the 2 hour trip to NYC, I sat with the president of my chapter (I love how that sounds by the way!) and we talked about how I came into the faith, our families, why I blog, why he’s a Third Order Dominican, my childhood and of all things, social media. He asked me if it’s hard to be married to someone who is not Catholic. This, for me, is a difficult question to answer – even though I answered that it was half-heartedly.
My husband is a self-proclaimed atheist. My favorite priest, Father Heaven thinks he’s agnostic and so does my chapter president. Here’s why: my husband goes to mass with us every week and on holy days of obligation, pushes to send the boys to Catholic school, married me in the Catholic faith and waited (wink wink) for months to consummate the marriage after I entered the faith on Easter Vigil (we were married in October), waits for us when we make confession, pushed me to go to the special mass for the Dominican order, babysits the kids while I teach RCIA, sing at wedding masses, during chapter meetings, church choir rehearsals and sits with me as I make rosaries – and even picks the colors. He will sit with them and make sure they kneel and say the mass responses as I cantor, and wink at me after the Responsorial Psalm, because he knows how nervous I get. More importantly, during mass he says the prayers, kneels with everyone else, follows along with the readings, smacks the boys in the back of their heads when, on the rare occasion they *gasp* sit after receiving Communion instead of kneel (happened once), led grace at dinner once, but usually chooses who says grace every night. And says Amen. He even just offered to buy me a huge Nativity set for the fireplace with a hay filled bassinet for Jesus to be placed into on Christmas Day and immediately wasted no time in getting a cross hung up in the doorway given to us by Fr. Heaven. A couple of weeks ago, I was feeling particularly anxious and had no reason for it. Sometimes I get that way. My husband suggested that I pray, read my bible, and then take a hot bath. My husband knows that I need that sometimes.
So, back to the question posed, is it hard to be married to someone who is not Catholic? People assume we both are. Very Catholic. When I recounted my trip to my husband he said that he didn’t think it was hard. He thought it was rather easy. He said unless I’m bothered that he isn’t and want him to convert, then he’s fine. That sat heavy with me. As a Catholic, an evangelizing, preaching Catholic, shouldn’t I want my husband to convert? Yes, yes I should. Do I want it to be forced? Do I want it to be because he wants to make me happy? No. The part of me that is his wife, his friend, the help mate of his life wants him, if it is His will, to want our Lord without any forcefulness from me. But, have I been too lenient? Should I try? I feel that every prayer that I pray for his conversion, for the softening of his heart to God’s knock is my “try”. I pray for my husband every day. In all things, but mostly for faith. I feel that if he made the leap he would see that while the control of this life is no longer truly his (as it never was) and that there is Love that flows from that, from the life that He wills; the beauty that He shows and shares. I read this newsletter from Aquinas College in Nashville titled, Dominic and the Living Word, that I strongly suggest you sign upfor as it is just riddled with wisdom:
Just as St. Dominic imitated Our Lord by sitting up with the innkeeper, we must be about the New Evangelization. By sharing the Gospel of Life, we remind the world that there is hope for man: not in the things of this world, but in Christ who sanctifies our human existence, with whom a genuine encounter is desired in every human heart.
…But as to what is within…
Our Lord directs the attention of the Pharisee to his inner life, the place where this encounter with God happens. This encounter of love has the potential to reorder and purify all of man’s activities.
So maybe it is easy to be married to a man who is not Catholic. Maybe it doesn't matter if he thinks he is atheist, if anyone thinks he's Catholic or agnostic or if we never know. It’s not my battle to win for him, nor is it my place to find a label to fit him. I don’t have to worry if I have enough faith for the both of us. God has enough faith in all of us. I just ensure that I give God all the reason in the world to trust me, to keep my heart open to Him, to stay near his feet when I pray, to deepen my faith and keep my fingers outstretched to His heaven and He will take care of the rest.
St. Teresa of Avila pray for us on this, the day of your Memorial. So fittingly the reading today from the Liturgy of the Hours - which so happens to speak to me as well on this topic:
Simply I learned about Wisdom, and ungrudgingly do I share - her riches I do not hide away; For to men she is an unfailing treasure; those who gain this treasure win the friendship of God, to whom the gifts they have from discipline commend them.
St. Dominic, on this Tuesday and every Tuesday as this is the day we pray especially to you, pray for us. Peace be with all of you.