I a a recent convert to Catholicism from the Methodist Church as of this past Easter. I’ve been happily married to my wife for 16 years. During her childhood, her family attended several different Protestant denominations but was never really rooted in one tradition. As a result, she was never baptized/confirmed and was never given any solid instruction in the Christian faith. I have tried to get her to attend church with my son and I, but she has thus far refused. She will say to me that she believes in Jesus Christ but feels that “church is not for her right now”. She is very loving and supportive of my conversion but seems to have little interest in the church.
I have been very patient and so far have avoided starting arguments over this. I am on fire for the church right now and want her to come along and share the joy that I’m experiencing. It saddens me that she seems so apathetic about it. She once told me that she feels embarrassed that she was never baptized and feels that everyone is staring at her when she has gone to Mass with me in the past. She has expressed a willingness to read - I need some help and firepower to bring her along. Any suggestions?
I think I would contact Marcus Grodi’s group The Coming Home network which works with adult converts and may have some good ideas on how to work with your wife. It sounds like you have been more of the faith force in the family from the beginning and she has been more along for the ride. If she think that people are staring at her in Church when she goes with you, trust me, that is more or less in her head. No one is able to know that she isn’t baptized etc. You are also going to have to take it slow with her. Even though you sound very enthusiastic and really desire for her to attend with you, I would focus more on loving her and being the best husband to her. That may woo her more that handing her a book to prove your point.
Yes, she is a believer but just seems apathetic. She tells me that she sometimes feels bad that she doesn’t go to Mass with us but feels that she is a good person etc. and doesn’t feel the need to go. She has also dealt with a lot of emotional pain due to serious medical issue that prevented us from having more children after the birth of our son. I sometimes wonder if she is angry at God and that is presenting an obstacle for her. I know that I have to be patient - just feel sometimes that I am out on a limb by myself and not sure how to approach the issue.
I appreciate the advice- I’ll concentrate on being the best husband I can be and reach out to the Coming Home Network folks. Again, thanks for the advice and I appreciate any other guidance that anyone on the forum can provide.
The majority of people the United States (and indeed, one may well say Western society as a whole) hold a nominal view of religion these days; that God exists and receives our prayers, but that the only thing necessary to serve him is to follow one’s own moral conscientious. The majority of these folks still identify themselves as Christians, Jews, or Muslims, and attend their local church, synagogue, or mosque, respectively, and feel that their belief systems are compatible with one another. This view of religion is patently contradicted by history, however; for example, the Qur’an explicitly states that Christ was not crucified, yet the New Testament teaches that Christ’s dying on the cross served a salvific purpose. In that light, Islam and Christianity are diametrically opposed to one another and cannot possibly find common ground. Yet there are “Christians” who take no qualms with attending a mosque to pray or vice versa. Unfortunately, many people of religious affiliation in our day also hold to the fallacious belief that all historical and scientific evidence contradict the tenets of their faith, and that they could not possibly hold to them in any logically coherent way. This myth can be attributed to the historiography of our day, in which historians are also willing to fabricate information concerning the religious views and sexual orientation of eminent persons in history and portray organized religion in a strictly negative light.
That being said, you can begin by encouraging your wife to read edifying works without being overbearing or forcing your beliefs upon her. Pray for her to come to know Christ and dialogue with her about her reading. A person’s propensity for a religion is often more determined by the actions of its believers than by the doctrines that it subscribes to. Good luck, and may the Holy Spirit lead her to the truth.
I also feel that giving her books is probably not the way forward. From what you say she has gone through a very difficult physical and emotional time and is most likely still suffering. Get to know her better and better, make time for her, show her she is cherished and loved. Don’t lecture her or nag her. I would suggest very simple things such as asking her if you can pray together as a family. Then pray some simple prayers that your son can join in with and a short gospel passage - nothing overwhelming or anything that a child couldn’t understand. You can do this for five minutes after dinner each evening. Be caring, loving and open with your wife - God has his own timetable and the Holy Spirit moves in different ways for all of us.
One thing that come to mind is asking others to pray for your wife and especially for her spiritual and emotional healing. She is very vulnerable right now so don’t bully her into the faith, let her discover things at her own pace. Maybe ask some fun and loving Catholics over for dinner so you can both make more Catholic friends.
Blessed Mother Teresa’s various devotional books are full of brief reflections that are very moving.You might consider, rather than books, using music, like John Michael Talbot ’ s or some of the albums of the Daughters of Mary, things that speak to the heart; and as the heart grows warmer, the fire of the Spirit and the Holy Sacrifice will draw her on.
I would recommend to you the book “To Save you” from father Jorge Loring. The book explains in a wonderful and amazing way the catholic doctrine and the church. I think it should be a must read for everyone. Also the book can be downloaded for free in PDF (and this is with permission of father loring as he always stated all he cares is for people to understand the church doctrine and he didn’t care about money) from the internet which makes it even easier to obtain and read. Share it with her it is truly a wonderful book (and even for you and your kids)
Definitely, St. Therese of the Child Jesus’ s Story of a Soul. Not so sure about St. Faustina’s Diary, Some of the latter can seem very strange, particularly the mystical marriage. I recommend Practice Makes Catholic; the book I would have liked to have had in RCIA. Practice Makes Catholic explained many Catholic practices and a lot of Catholic world views in a simple understandable fashion. I think that both The story of a Soul and Practice Makes Catholic could help a Protestant see that the Catholic Church is not so alien.
St. Faustina’s diary would be too much for a nominal non-Catholic. I understand about Story of a Soul but again, it may be over the top for a nominal non-Catholic. Converstion stories are better and may speak her language more so than these two.