After three years and many prayers said by friends and family, my husband decided to come into full communion with the Catholic Church on Pentecost of 2015. This year is his first Lent and his first Easter as a Catholic in full communion with the Church.
I have pictures and video and we’ve been very private about it because when an atheist becomes a Catholic, it’s a huge to-do and my husband is a very no-frills kinda guy.
I’ve known about his decision since the evening before he left for Poland. That was the end of October 2015. Can you imagine how hard this was to hold in? He asked me to come upstairs and I thought he just needed help picking a tie or the right pants for a meeting. He held my hands and told me. I’ve trained myself for so long to not have a response when it comes to matters of faith and my husband. Sure, he would ask questions in the beginning (when I was a new convert) and I would get so excited I thought “this is it!” only to be let down when he would say something completely contrary. Of course, this was my own issue. I was trying to control the situation. I was trying to gauge whether he was being called home. It’s a form of pride, isn’t it? We all know that dying to self is never easy, but especially not for this big-ginormous convert to the faith.
It took me days and nights of prayers, 54-day rosary novenas to come to terms with this not being something I fight on his behalf. The fight for his faith, for his hope, for his charity (you know, like the rosary? That’s how I prayed for him). I learned to physically soften my face when he mentioned God. I learned to lean into God and His timing. I almost trained myself not to have any reaction at all on matters of faith. I learned to respect his boundaries and not to enforce my own – even with my own “this is really good for you” Mommy-ness. Because mothers mother everything, don’t they?
When he said “I want to be Catholic” time stopped. All those days and nights of prayer and waiting, hoping and wondering what it would be like, was placed at my feet much like I had placed this cross at God’s feet. I didn’t know what to say. My face blank, I just asked him to repeat himself, nodded and said “OK, how do you want to do this?” I didn’t know if it was real. I knew that there were a lot of steps between wanting and being Catholic. My mind raced as I thought if this was really happening and how I could be sure not mess this up <—there’s that pride again. He was leaving for Poland the next morning for a couple of weeks so I had time to really get it, and I knew that also gave him time to change his mind. (I should have known better though, my husband is an all-in or all-out kind of guy).
I spoke with our priest and explained how we didn’t want any “fanfare”: no RCIA classes, no announcements and for all of this to be kept very quiet. Our priest completely understood and respected our wishes. Our priest came to our home and spoke with us (we didn’t even tell the boys until a week or so before the baptism), and my husband visited the priest in his office too. Father made a very funny comment when my husband asked if he would be ready even without RCIA. He said “living with your wife is RCIA enough!” and he chuckled his good-hearted chuckle and reassured him that he would be ready. He was given a couple of books (if you would like to know which ones they are, please send me a message) to read and I was open for any questions he would have. My husband had been attending Mass, holy days, celebrating Christmas, Easter, Lent, Advent and following my lead with regards to what we taught our children. In retrospect, we as a family were catechizing my husband every day by living our faith for the last (almost) three years.
On the day of his baptism, the water was cold and I was anxious. I was expecting him to change his mind even when he was walking towards the font. I was expecting the conflict to come in and the pendulum to swing in the other direction. Part of me imagined what it would be like and I prepared myself not to have a reaction should it happen. To accept, understand, offer it up and love always. To keep St. Therese de Lisieux’s Little Way close to my heart as I had for years.
The night before his baptism he had a “Catholic Bachelor party” complete with meats, cheeses, wine and swearing (all in the comfort of his home and pajamas by himself). He was baptized on a Saturday. Afterwards, we went to a lunch with family and celebrated.
When we were alone, I shared with him how I had been praying every day that God would plant the seeds of conversion in his heart and now, how I bent most of my thoughts on that very phrase. And now that those seeds have grown and blossomed, I don’t know what to pray for anymore. Without missing a beat, he said “Pray for my journey.”
I am not naïve to think that this is over. An equally-yoked marriage can easily become unequally-yoked again, and round and round it goes like any relationship. As humans we meander and change, we can be stubborn and forgetful (and I’m not just talking about his faith here, either). But for now, though, just for now all I can think to myself is God is really good.
Copyright 2016 Cristina Trinidad