Just in case you haven’t been following this series, you can read about my own mixed marriage here. Last week I discussed using what I refer to as “stealth evangelizing” to witness to your spouse or anyone who may not share your faith tradition.
Here’s this week’s tip:
Don’t lose faith.
I’m not speaking literally. Hopefully, your faith is strong enough that it won’t ever be completely lost, although everyone deals with bouts of spiritual dryness even those in “purist” marriages.
From the Catechism:
“Dryness belongs to contemplative prayer when the heart is separated from God, with no taste for thoughts, memories, and feelings, even spiritual ones. This is the moment of sheer faith clinging faithfully to Jesus in his agony and in his tomb.” (CCC 2731)
Although what I’m referring to in this post is not losing the faith that your spouse is experiencing a conversion of heart, this passage from the Catechism definitely applies. Sometimes when I get discouraged and wonder what more I can do to bring Dave to the Catholic faith and feel like my heart is separated from his, I must have a moment of “sheer faith” and “cling faithfully of Jesus.”
Of course, too often I don’t cling to Jesus at all. Instead, I start to pull an Eeyore and think it ( as in Dave’s entering the Church) is never going to happen – poor me! However, I can’t think like this. Truth be told, my actions, my love for the faith may never lead him to participate fully in the Eucharist, but me living a devout life (or at least trying to!) can certainly do no harm. However, even if I become the next Saint Monica and devote my life to perfect piety and to praying for his conversion, it’s ultimately out of my hands.
Heather, of Saints in the Making, is a cradle Catholic who experienced a deepening of her faith once she was already married to a non-Catholic. Suddenly, the fact that he wasn’t Catholic became a source of sadness in her life. Instead of feeling joy that she’d rediscovered her faith, she felt a deep longing for her husband to join the Church. So, she wisely sought counsel in “a dear, gentle and kind priest from Africa.”
“He taught me many things – most importantly that I cannot change [my husband]. Only the Holy Spirit can do that. And he questioned me as to why I cry. Didn’t I understand that the Holy Spirit can do this? Didn’t I trust in Him? So I was told to pick myself up by the bootstraps and put a big old smile on my face and to just love him. I was told to never, ever nag, to not push him away when he didn’t play on my team.”
When I read Heather’s words, I immediately thought of the moment in Adoration when I was wondering if I should marry my husband (this was during our engagement encounter) and I heard a clear voice say: “Just love him.” I don’t think it’s a coincidence that two women struggling with a lack of unity of faith heard the exact same advice.
The bottom line is we must release ourselves from the burden of changing our spouses. Likewise, we must release them from a similar burden of fulfilling us when Christ is the only one who can satisfy our restless hearts. And we must always, always believe in the awesome power of the Holy Spirit.
I have to remind myself that I possess all the tools I need to help bring my husband as well as my children closer to Christ. It’s hard to accept that something as mighty as the Holy Spirit is within me, and it’s certainly not easy to take a step of faith and humbly ask him to work through me and in my husband to bring about a conversion. Yet, it’s only when we place our complete trust in the Holy Spirit, that miracles can begin to happen.
Next week’s tip: “Let the little children come.”