It’s been a long minute since my last post.
In all honesty, even though it sounds like a cop-out the only explanation I have for my long absence from the blogosphere is life happened.
I was recently engaged when my last entry went live, and with a wedding date of 6 months from the day of our engagement things just started happening almost as soon as I hit “publish.” Even for a small wedding (37 people, including the bride, groom, and priest) taking place in 6 months, there was a lot of work to get done.
And then once we walked down the middle of my church, had some cake, and took some photos, we were in full swing to prepare for my BigSis’ wedding later that same summer.
From there, life just became a blur. A happy, blissful, stupidly cute blur.
Oh, and we got a dog.
On the 17th of this month, we’ll be celebrating 11 months of marriage — 11 months that I can only describe by quoting Pedro Casciaro: “Dream, and your dreams will fall short.” Because let me tell you, looking over previous blog entries where I was discussing my love life and my relationship with God (and sometimes both together), I realize now that everything I have experienced and endured while trying to follow Our Lord was His way of testing me in fire and refining me into the woman that would deserve the man I now call my husband.
I am a Catholic who had not one but two crises of faith (one in late adolescence and one in my early twenties) who grew up in the Catholicism of Opus Dei, and I ended up marrying an atheist who was raised in a Protestant home.
If anyone ever tries to tell you God doesn’t have a sense of humor, feel free to point them in my direction. I’m well aware that describing the faith-dynamic of my marriage sounds like the beginning of a joke.
But it’s not a joke at all, and while I can see the humor in it and say that God really does have a way of making life turn out so weirdly and unexpectedly, I know in the deepest part of my heart that my vocation to married life (and eventually motherhood) means I am tasked with a serious lifelong mission. And the fact that a man of science and reason, not of faith, was given to me by Our Lord and bound me in Holy Matrimony makes it all the more serious to me.
In First Comes Love, Scott Hahn states:
God knows it is not good for us to be alone . He doesn’t want us to be alone. It’s the oldest story in the world, and it’s written into our very human nature: He wants us home.
As a wife, this is the point of my vocation: to help my husband live as good and meaningful a life as possible so that we may eternally rejoice in God’s kingdom together. It doesn’t matter if he’s an atheist; not only is this one of my core beliefs, it is one that he has chosen to accept and, even without RCIA let alone the slightest iota of faith, one that he wants to support for my sake.
I promised my atheist husband that I would never beat him over the head with the Baltimore Catechism or the Compendium, that I would never make his conversion a requirement to be in a relationship with me, and that I would never force him to to Mass if he did not want to go. In return, he listens respectfully to me when we debate about religion, he never ridicules or belittles my faith, and goes to Mass more often than other Catholics I know. He has even held my hand while I’ve prayed out loud for guidance or for a special intention, and genuflects before stepping into our regular pew at my church.
Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine an “inter-faith” marriage working so well, even though I was open to the real possibility of it and readying myself for the challenge of being a practicing Catholic in a relationship with a non-religious person. Our courtship and engagement together lasted 364 days (we chose to celebrate our first anniversary as a couple by getting married on the 365th day, and God saw that it was good), but in that short time I never once felt shortchanged on any level by our differences in beliefs.
When we discussed the direction in which we wanted to take our relationship and I stood my ground and said I wanted to get married and commit for life, and if he didn’t like that then we should part ways sooner rather than later, he respected me enough to tell me that he was also of the same mindset.
Later when we talked about getting married and I told him that marriage to me meant getting married in the Church in any way possible, he told me that as long as I was marrying him he was cool with it.
Because of his acceptance and willingness to support me in my faith — not only did he come, and still continues to go, to Sunday Mass with my family and me whenever possible, he also made no argument about doing the Archdiocese-mandated Marriage Preparation course and had a long one-on-one chat with our parish priest — we were blessed with a dispensation to get married in my parish chapel with the full Catholic Rite of Matrimony.
Yes, you read that right: I married an atheist with the full matrimonial liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church.
And he never complained about “doing it my way.”
I may not have married a Catholic, but I am truly blessed in my marriage. My husband’s name is Pierre, the French form of Peter, and he truly is the rock upon which I continue to build my house for God. It does not matter that he is an atheist: what matters is that there is love in his heart, and enough of it for him to support me in any way he can while I go about my faith each day.
He has seen me at my worst and knows where I have been and what I experienced before I found him, and he has forgiven and accepted and loved with all his heart. And because of this, while I will never force a conversion upon him out of respect for his free will, I will always pray for him and always trust that God holds him in His hands just as He has held me. Continuing to live my faith and follow God so that I am a strong example of Catholicism for him and for our future children while being respectful of his beliefs and of his free will is what I must do to keep our union harmonious and to keep God in it.
When we were dating, Pierre walked me home in the night even when we lived on different ends of the city. By the graces given to us through our marriage I know he will walk with me to my Father’s home in Heaven.