When I was a teenager (and up until my dad died when I was in my late twenties), he always stressed how important it was to date catholic men. My husband reminds me from time to time of that Thanksgiving Day when my dad asked him point blank, "So are you Catholic?" To be honest, back then the faith and religious denomination of the guys I dated was the last thing on my mind. Rolling the clock ahead to today...oh what wisdom my dad possessed! I cannot tell you the numerous ways today that I am so very grateful to have married a catholic man that shares my faith!
Marrying someone of the same faith has facilitated so many areas and major decisions in my adult life and in my husband’s life; to name a few our family traditions are in sync, there is no question that we attend mass every weekend as a family, in fact our weekend is planned around attending 4:30 mass on Saturday! We pray together as a family before dinner, not only do we say grace but my husband implemented a new plan a few years ago in which we go around the table before we say grace each taking a take a turn to thank God for one thing, one person, one situation that we are grateful that day. It is such a powerful, beautiful tradition that honors our Lord and humbles us as a family on a daily basis. Prayer extends to bedtime. I typically pray with our children at bedtime, sometimes reading from the Bible or from a daily devotional.
Another reason I am so grateful for marrying a catholic man is that when we had children there was never a question in what faith we would raise them. It wasn’t a question of whether we would Baptize our kids, but when. The same with them receiving their First Communion, the Sacrament of Reconciliation and our son was recently Confirmed. Just as our parents did, we are sacrificing and sometimes even struggling to send our children to Catholic schools. Our children learning about God during the school day is way more important than a new fancy sports car in our driveway or a larger home! After all, we are talking about our children who have souls and not some car that will end up in a junk yard someday!
It is so peaceful, so unifying to be in sync with my husband about to how to raise our children and about our spiritual traditions and beliefs. And all of this trickles down to our marriage. Being united with my husband on these extremely important issues that are intertwined with our spirituality, with our core beliefs and morals for ourselves and for our children is, I have to believe a major reason why our marriage is so successful.
I once heard a priest say that our goal for our spouse should be that they spend eternity in heaven! Wow! Talk about a game-changer! Instead of looking at my marriage and my spouse and asking my self questions such as "what can I get out of it?" or "what has he done for me lately?" When my life's goal and questions becomes, "how can I help my husband get to heaven?", suddenly my self-centered questions change to "how can I love my husband today in a way that demonstrates God's love? "What simple acts of kindness can I do to make my husband's day better?" "How can I build my husband up with words of truth, kindness and love?"
Even without words there are so many ways I feel that God calls me to model His love to my husband. Because my husband is Catholic, he is not too surprised if he sees me paging through the Bible or reading a devotional. He has now become accustomed to seeing my Rosary changing spots around our home. I believe that God uses these nonverbal examples for speaking to my spouse too! As St. Francis of Assisi said, "Preach the Gospel at all times, only when necessary use words."
Thank you Dear Lord for my awesome catholic husband, marriage and children!
One spring day in 2012 I was listening to a Cd of the Catholic apologist, Jeff Cavins, and it hit me like a TON OF BRICKS when he said, "your children are going to live for ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever" (I even counted-he said "forever" 7 times!). He continued, "they will either live forever in heaven or in hell, and God gave them to you to take care of." When I heard Jeff say that my kids could live forever in hell, that was a sobering idea for me. I honestly had never thought about the possibility of my children spending eternity in hell, but that day I did and the horrendous, excruciatingly painful and gut-wretching thought made me begin to take my children's spiritual lives much more seriously! God said to me loud and clear, "Hey it is time, there is work to be done, your two children, the ones I have given to you to take care of, I want them to be with me in eternity, it is your job to put things into place now on earth. There is so much you can do to lay the groundwork for their path to eternal life in heaven with me!"
Up until that point my husband and I had done quite a bit to raise our children in a Catholic home and to believe in God. Both of our children were baptized as infants, they have both received their First Communuon and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We have sent them to Catolic schools since kindergarten, we attend mass every week, we pray before dinner and at bedtime etc. I felt we were doing a pretty good job of raising our kids in a spiritual environment but God wanted more! That day God impressed on me that it was my husband's and my responsibility to continue to seek out new ways to insure that our kids will spend eternity in heaven.
I vividly remember the day I listened to that Cd and these words for the first time, I was painting my son's bedroom baseball theme. He LOVED to play baseball at the time so when we switched his theme from a toddler design room to a "grown up" boy room, the consensus was unanimous-A Minnesota Twins decor it would be!
The Cd continued on the theme of prudence, a word I had not used often. Jeff Cavins described prudence as looking at the end goal (my children spending eternity in heaven) then backing up from the end goal and making decisions today that aim at that end goal becoming reality.
The very next day I inquired with our church on how my son could become an alter server at mass and how I could become a reader/proclaimer and distribute Holy Communion. These were small steps that I could take to integrate our family more into our church, our parish and the mass. It took about three months for my son to be trained in as an alter-server and me as a proclaimer and a Eucaristic Minister. It was and continues to be exciting for my son to alter serve (now he trains new servers in). I still get nervous to read at mass and to distribute communion. I leave my comfort zone each time I am scheduled to do either ministry but at the same time it is so exciting and spiritually moving to participate in the mass! I cannot explain the power I feel all around me when I am on the alter reading God’s Word or distributing Holy Communion , all that I can say is it must be I can say is it must be the Holy Spirit! Three years later our daughter is now an alter server and our son has become an usher-which was his own doing!
Since that early spring day when God called upon me to step it up a notch in terms of laying the framework for our children to spend eternity in heaven, nearly every weekend our family is somehow involved in the mass. My husband is completely supportive and I think I am safe to say he is proud that his children and wife are involved in the mass.
But my search for ways to lay the framework for my children’s eternal well-being did not stop there. After much prayer I felt God wanted our family to invite our priest over for dinner. This actually took about two years occur. I brought the idea up to my husband and he was open to it but then I got cold feet and tabled the idea for a while. I always made the excuse that the timing was not right.
Meanwhile there was a transition of priests can in our parish. I immediately felt I knew our new priest because he reminded me of my dad in that he is a proud Irish Catholic and his demeanor and appearance are similar to my dad. I began to feel God weighing on my mind that it was time to invite Father Mike to our home for dinner. This would be another step I could take to expose our children and ourselves to “a glimpse of heaven”.
towards laying the in that he to children spending heaven in eternity is getting to know our wonderful priest more personally. Our family has invited him to dinner which he has accepted and recently he joined our family at a play that my son was in. Our priest is a positive and powerful influence on our kids (and on us) and I am so happy he has become more of friend to our family than a ‘mysterious’ and ‘strict’ man which is how I used to envision priests as a child.
To be continued…
Theresa G. is fascinated by the topics of God, spiritually and the Catholic Church. As her faith and knowledge about these topics grow, her desire to write about them grows as well. Maybe you will be able to relate to one of her articles and maybe they will affect you in a positive way!