This is Not my Battle

I have a few things rattling around in my head of late.

Aside from my Little Monk and his signs of anxiety, I have been reflecting on my wonderful marriage

English: St. Dominic

English: St. Dominic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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 up for 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:

Wisdom 7:13-14

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.

crucifixion-with-the-virgin-mary-magdalene-and-st-dominic-1442 

 

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20 thoughts on “This is Not my Battle

  1. As you know, this strongly resonates with me. I completely agree with you that we shouldn’t worry about this in the sense that we shouldn’t try to do God’s job. :) I do see my daily prayers for this intention as my efforts to evangelize my husband, as well as the way that I live my Catholic life. I think that’s the most effective thing. Strong arming somebody just never works, not that our personalities lend themselves to that anyway! Constant prayer is our best friend. And I totally understand your feelings. My husband is so good about the whole Catholic marriage and parenting thing (big can of worms there, I’m sure you know all the issues that I mean!) that it’s easy to think, “hey, maybe?!” but then he’ll say something about his atheism (nothing forceful, just about his lack of faith) and then I feel crushed, like “will my prayers ever come to any fruition?” But I think the key is not getting discouraged. Our job as wives is to get our husbands to heaven. Even though that seems daunting, I try to remind myself how many husbands don’t have their wives praying for them, and that our efforts have to count for something. :)

    Remind me to tell you the story of my good friend Irena, a former staunch atheist. :) In fact, I blogged about it, so let me find that…

    http://lifeofacatholiclibrarian.blogspot.com/2011/03/tale-of-two-masses.html

    The story is in the later part of that post about 2 Masses we attended on the same weekend. It’s good stuff! It’s just a wonderful story to remind us that things, and people, can change. Even when it just doesn’t seem possible.

    xo!

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    • I loved this post, Tiffany! Anyone who gets to this comment, head on over and read it. It’s a beautiful story.

      You and I have a lot in common…two kids, husband with the same name, both atheists, both supportive of our Catholic faith and are partial to vigils.

      My husband, has never been baptized. That, is where they differ.

      Praying for all of your special intentions (and Mary’s!)
      xo
      Cristina

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  2. You are already doing all you can do for your hubby: you pray for him. However, prayer is meant to help us change and meet God’s will. God doesn’t need to change: He is perfect. I need to change my heart and mind. Besides, there are instances when people live a holy life despite their ideas. Your husband seem to have a Catholic heart. It’s his mind that has to be won over. It takes time because men come to the Lord through their heads while women seek Him through our hearts. Big difference. Many blessings.

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    • I was worried for him. For his soul. For his salvation. it’s not for me to worry. God loves us all. God knows my husband’s heart, no matter what he’s called on the outside by others. I mean, I knew that, but now I KNOW it. After praying about it for quite some time. Thank you as always for your beautiful insights.
      Cristina

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  3. Hey dear, my hubby isn’t a practicing Catholic. He was raised Catholic, went to Catholic schools, but was never Confirmed and says he never “felt it.” He’s been wonderful, and willing to do whatever I asked of him to stay in the good graces of the Church. Has no problem with all I give to the Church, and even follows my blog (and contributes somewhat). However, he won’t come with me except on rare occasions (unless someone we know is doing something special – IE Confirmation, First Communion or in the Children’s Christmas pageant).
    I think you are doing all that you can. Just keep the door open and pray. I keep talking to God about it – and just say, I know he’s a good man and God, you know what’s in his heart. If it’s your will for him to come back to the Church – help him get past whatever roadblocks he’s having issues with. Help me to help him. And I just try to be open. He asks questions here and there. So, something is working on him. But he digs his heels in at the slightest bit of pushing, so I stay back and just support him however I can.
    I would have (and have) had the same issue answering that question. We want whatever is best for them. Do we think that’s the Church, yes… but do we want them to do it for the wrong reasons – no. We want them to do it because they’ve fallen in love with the Jesus and his Church the same way (or moreso than) they fell in love with us. We just have to keep praying that the example of our love will bring them to Christ, whenever that is.

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  4. God has a plan for you and for your husband. Just from how often he attends Mass and how supportive he is of your faith it certainly seems like God is already working in him! Keep on praying and I will pray with you. Ask St. Monica for her intercession….she prayed for so long for the conversion of her family and her prayers were most certainly heard. God bless!

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  5. Beautiful story and writing Christina!! This so reminds me of my marriage, only I was the agnostic/atheist and my husband the cradle Catholic. Then Christ came for me one morning while sitting in Mass I attended for several years because my then 8 year old son wanted me to go with them. Down the road I converted and am still continually taken by the beauty of Christ’s Body in His Church. The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist drew me through all obstacles. You just never know….Will pray for you all….God Bless

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  6. Hi Cristina, My husband was not Catholic when we met and at the time I was Catholic in name only. We were married in the Church and (after my reversion) ultimately decided to raise our children Catholic and send them to Catholic school . He is now Catholic but I never asked him to convert. I didn’t even mention it to him. It was completely his (and God’s) decision. I know your husband well, and as Fr. Heaven says, he is the most Catholic atheist there is. All in God’s time. He will join you! Love, S

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  7. Thanks for writing that, good to know I’m not the only one married to a non-Catholic. My husband tends more towards anti-Catholicism so I feel the need to censor myself constantly. He grew up as a Jehovah’s Witness and is very hostile toward religion, and I don’t think he would have married me if I was Catholic before we got married. He’s not an atheist, more agnostic. Mostly just indifferent. The whole situation for me is VERY DIFFICULT, but I have just resolved to live out 1 Peter 3:1-2 in obedience to God. Things have gotten quite a lot better lately. I have hope that as time wears on he will be less threatened by my faith and then I can share my heart with him in that area again. I think he’s gradually softening…he bought me a Catholic book, a miraculous medal and a St. Clare medal for my birthday!

    Anyway, it’s really great that your husband goes to Mass with you, he must have so many graces poured upon him whether he knows it or not ;)

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    • My Dear Rachel – my husband was raised Jehova’s Witness as well. I don’t know how I would categorize him. A Catholic wife supporter? For #TeamCristina??

      I read something once that helped me. In the book I am reading currently, this was SO helpful for me: “‘If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?’ For simple honesty reveals how much remains to become and to do, in order to be ‘convicted’ Christians, true followers of Jesus [which we are]. Often they have an intuitive sense that the changes called for, in themselves and in the world, will not come about through human means alone, but must be born in hearts fully opened to God and to the transforming power of his love.”

      Praying for your strength and God’s will.

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  8. Its very interesting to hear similar stories when it comes to our spouses. Sometime when I get a chance, I’ll fill you in on what I am referring to.

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  9. Pingback: I am a crazy, ginormous Catholic convert | Filling my Prayer Closet

  10. Pingback: 7 Quick Takes Vol. 11: Big Bad Wolf Edition #7QT | Filling my Prayer Closet

  11. I love so much about this. As an atheist, I can relate to how your husband feels.

    I think it’s beautiful that you support one another’s beliefs and don’t let them get in the way of a wonderful relationship.

    The entire world could take a good dose of what you and your husband are standing for.

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    • Precisely why I keep my body in the spiritual and my toe in the secular. I can’t respect both in my home and not in the blogosphere. I also can’t respect it in the blogosphere and not in my home. I want to better the understanding between groups and the perceptions (negative and hurtful) they can be. I hope to help a little in that area and my husband is a HUGE inspiration to me of that.

      Thanks for your kind words Carrie-Anne.
      :)

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