Dear God, back in 2012, my wife was confirmed into the Catholic Church. While I went through the Rite of Catholic Initiation for Adults (RCIA) with her, I decided not to be confirmed, but I still continue to worship with her.
We both wrote companion blog pieces back in 2012 about our experience back then (Megan’s series and my series). I read them all this morning–six for her and five for me. But that was six years ago and it was all still pretty new then. I thought it would be interesting to sit and pray through with you this morning what has happened over the last six years.
I guess it starts with the fact that we still attend our local Catholic Church with her being Catholic and me not. Even though I don’t go up for the Eucharist and I silently omit parts of some of the prayers with which I don’t agree (e.g. “ever virgin”), I pretty much feel like a member. While I’m not in any of the men’s groups like Knights of Columbus, we are active members of a couples group called Teams Of Our Lady (TOOL) with six other couples. There are a few people in there who came to the Catholic Church as adults, but I’m the only one who isn’t confirmed Catholic. No one seems to mind. I still stand by my statements from years ago that the people I have found there earnestly love you. It’s hard to ask for much more than that.
Here are some observations that I would now share:
- One big thing is that we have really seen some personal trials over the last six years, and I am glad that we have continued to worship together. I don’t know how we would have gone through some situations with our children, our parents, or our careers and not be in a place where we are sitting together on most Sunday mornings.
- We ended up having to find a compromise regarding communion. I am not allowed to participate in the Eucharist in a Catholic Church. I completely understand their logic here and do not hold that against the church. They believe that the Eucharist is something that I don’t believe it is. They don’t want me taking it if I don’t believe it. That’s fair. But I do miss communion, so on the big holidays like Easter and Christmas Eve, we go to a Protestant Church where I can have communion.
- If she’s ever out of town on a Sunday morning, I will sometimes have a Protestant Sunday–mainly so I can have communion. I have found that our local Episcopal Church is the most reliable in having communion every Sunday and they have an early service which I prefer.
- I attended an ACTS Retreat. I don’t want to say too much about this because they try to keep the contents of the retreat secret so that there are no spoilers for attendees. Let’s just say that I thought it was incredibly powerful and I really saw the Holy Spirit move in some of the men’s lives. While you don’t have to be Protestant to attend, it is definitely Catholic in flavor and theology. I don’t think I’ll do it again, but I am glad to have experienced it. I’ve found similarly powerful experiences at retreats at Laity Lodge.
- We changed priests about a year ago. As with ALL leadership changes in ALL churches, there are been some who have been happy and some who are unhappy. The observation I would make about the Catholic Church is that you don’t have church splits and just start another Catholic Church. In 1993, Riesel, Texas, was a town of 800 people and five Baptist Churches. That would never happen for Catholics. People might go to a different Catholic Church in a different town, visit a Protestant Church (e.g. Episcopal) until the current regime leaves, or just stop going to church altogether. I know of people who did that with the last priest and I know some who have done that with this priest. But in the Catholic Church, you aren’t there because of the priest. You are there to worship and take part in the Eucharist.
- Our children are grown and out of the house. One of them doesn’t have anything to do with church (that I know of) and the other sometimes visits with relatives in the town where they live. My wife and I pray together daily for both of them and have faith that you have them on the path that you have for them. I still can’t help but feel like that whole period of transition for them came at a critical and formative time and they were somehow damaged by not having continuity of church family at that stage of their lives. And the transition had nothing to do with my wife becoming Catholic. We were transitioning before she started attending St. Mary’s.
- My wife seems to be really happy in the Catholic Church. She has no regrets, and, therefore, I have no regrets either. If she’s out of town on a Sunday she will usually try to visit the local Catholic Church. And I can say that, while I am not 100% lock-step with Catholic theology, the people I have found there earnestly love you and Jesus. I can’t ask for much more than that.
If I were advising anyone going through something similar, I would give them the advice my friend gave me way back in the spring of 2011. I told him that Megan was going to the Catholic Church, I was going to a nondenominational church, and I was feeling disconnected from her spiritually. He told me the words that I would say to someone else in that situation: “You need to suck it up and go to church with your wife.”
Father, thank you for continuing me on this journey. The last few years have been hard, and I hope I haven’t let you down too many times. I know that I’m grateful for you, your love, your help, and your provision. Thank you for my wife. Continue to lead us, to bless us through others at church and to bless them through us. We are your community, one holy, catholic (with a little c) and apostolic church. May we all bring you glory.
In Jesus’ name I pray,