My Catholic wife is struggling with her faith - Any advice?


#1

First of all, I have been happiliy married for over 14 years (and still am), my wife grew up in an agnostic but healthy family environment, she has always loved her Catholic friends, she converted to Catholicism prior to our wedding (happily), we have two wonderful girls (11 and 13), and she wants our girls to grow up with a strong faith. She also wants to grow in her Chirstianity, but is having more and more questions about many Catholic traditions and doctrine.

'm a faithful (don’t like the word strong) Catholic involved with the church and diocese, but she is the one now struggling with her faith. Outside of going to mass for years, religion was not a focus for her while I continued to grow in my faith. I’ve ‘nicely’ tried to bring her along for the ride, but the more discussion we have on religion, the more it makes her question her own faith. I thought that my being involved with the church, plus girls religious education classes (co-teacher), community service outreach, reading of scripture and books, giving the girls faith based direction, etc. would make things better, but it seems to be having the opposite affect.

As an example…Just this morning, my youngest was worried about facing her classmates because she knows that she did poorly on a test and the teacher would be returning the tests today during class. When I said that mom and dad loves her (my wife was present) and said that she doesn’t have to do this alone because God is always with her…just say a prayer to God as you enter class and ask for his guidance, I could tell that my wife was struggling herself with the statement…although good advice for those who ‘believe’.

Okay, enough babbling. I guess that I’m asking for any advice that someone might have to help her grow in faith. She recently started attending a protestant service on Saturday (lots of lights, cameras, and bands) and continues to attend Sunday mass with the familiy. She dislikes things about both environments and really is just struggling internally with how to find peace and then grow in her faith.

Outside of talking with my pastor, I’m reaching out to this community for some advice.

Thanks for hearing me out and God Bless.
Crash001 :slight_smile:


#2

To be honest…if she is struggling with faith, a protesant group probably isn’t a good place to go - especially one with bands and fanfare. She needs Christ, not just excitment.
Theology over emotions is a good strategy for those who are struggling…emotions can change but the truth of the Church does not. It is easy to get caught up in fun or emotions, I think many health and wealth rock and roll feel good churches can leave you as spiritually vacant as new age type stuff.
How about some apologetic books to get her excited about the Church Jesus started 2,000 years ago! Jeff Cavins has a great book I just finished…I can’t think of the title but the subtitle was something like a rebel returns to the Catholic Church. You can just look him up on Amazon.

Of course there are some old stand bys - Scott Hahn, Marcus Grodi, etc…
Does she watch EWTN? They have some great stuff on there like The Journey Home.


#3

Is it possible that, having grown up in “an agnostic but healthy family environment” she converted to Catholicism, not because she really believed it, but for the sake of family harmony? If so, perhaps the facade is starting to wear thin.


#4

Don’t get me wrong, her conversion was without any arm twisting (LOL) and the Catholic faith (mass, homily, etc.) has moved her and benefited our family in so many ways, so no facade. I think what has happend is that she’s never really ‘dug deep’ into her heart and started to make the words real. As she’s peeling back back the onion (scripture, faith, traditions, etc.), so to say, she is now stuggling. It probably doesn’t help that she has some strong beliefs that she is now discovering fundamentally disagrees with the Church. There are other parts that she wholly embrases. What’s interesting, is that there are parts of the protestant faith that she disagrees with and constantly says, she has a real knowledge gap and feels that the protestants do a great job at a 10% depth level of Christianity and that real/faithful Catholic’s are like super hero’s understanding the other 90%. She is struggling with that first 10%, so the thought of growing to 100% (which we all aspire to do) is just beyond her at this time.

Side Note: She’s an incredible lady, mother, and wife, so I don’t want to make it sound like she’s a bad person in anyway, shape, or form.

Does that help?


#5

So, what is the part of Catholicism she can’t embrace? If we know that we might be able to advise you. :slight_smile:


#6

Thanks for the feedback and I agree with you, i.e. a protestant group is probably not a good place to go. She (NOT me) feels that the protestant church is providing her that foundational theology in small chunks, i.e. an easy to understand (clear, concise) way. I cringe when she says that it’s 99% the same (or basically) anyway, i.e. the same Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I love my protestant friends, but it’s the details (and there are lots of them) that make us different in our beliefs, starting with the Eucharist.

To answer your question/suggestion about EWTN, Catholic Books, etc…anything with a Catholic slant is perceived (unfortunately) as ‘with a slant’. I watch lots of EWTN and read lots of Catholic books and they (along with general bible reading on her own) is not of too much interest. I have a copy of the Catechism and many other resources at home, but nothing has ‘stuck’.

Hmmm.


#7

I would not suggest her to go to a Protestent Church, nothing against our brethren outside of the Catholic church if they are Baptized in the name of the Trinity and ignorent of the True teachings of the Church. But I was once a protestent not to long ago and am converting to Catholicism. The base of the Protestent is by saying a salvation prayer and you are saved, you don’t even have to live for God, if you said that prayer you are saved. Which does not add up because “Faith Without works is dead” I would do everything in your power to kindly coax her to become fully connected with the Church. I will pray for your wife and your family. God Bless you!


#8

Good point! Maybe just letting her define what it means to be Christian at a high-level is a good place to start and then go from there.

She says she’s struggling with Faith in general, but maybe if she can start with what she believes and doesn’t believe in is a good starting point, i.e. One God, Father Almighty, etc. She doesn’t believe in making it known that you’re Catholic unless someone asks. She believes that being a witness to Christs solely consists of going to Church and loving your family and neighbors, but not challenging anyone when they have different beliefs than your own.

She says that she’s Catholic, just disagrees with many things that the Church teaches. Some statements make me believe that she’s the perfect protestant (unfortunately). She says that I’m Catholic just because I was raised that way and that God is reaching out to all people of the earth (we’re all equal) through many forms of communications and religions. “The Muslim faith is a wonderful religion and there is no need to try and convert Muslims (or people of other religions) for that matter.” Again, cringing. We need to accept everyone and their beliefs for who they are.

Another Example…bottom line, she thinks priests should be allowed to get married and believes the Church will definitely change its stance on this issue. She cites the recent outreach by the Anglicans as a first step where the Church is wanting to change, but has found a way to do it in a way that saves face. I cringe, show articles to her from EWTN, but she doesn’t buy it. She doesn’t believe that reconcilliation is needed except for what is performed at the beginning of mass (repent for our sins). Again, cringing.

Another Example…would never go to to priest for marital problem since priests don’t understand what it means to be married. On the other hand, a psychologist is okay. Cringe.

Another Example…birth control has no inheret evils. Cringe.

When I suggest that she’s not in communion with the Church, she says that lots of Catholics disagree with the Church on many issues and that I’m gullible if I accept all of the Church teaching. Again, cringing.

Again, good point…maybe I just try to see where she is at (beliefs/non-beliefs), be happy that she attends Church and supports raising the kids Catholic and help her grown from there. The problem is that I don’t know how to help her grown when she disagrees with many facets of the Church.


#9

Thanks for your suggestion, prayers, and blessings.


#10

Doesn’t your parish have some kind of Catholics Come Home program where faith doubts and questions can be asked and discussed without judgment or pressure to conform? It does wonders for those struggling like she is and can prevent losing them due to ignorance or fear or even guilt.


#11

Yikes!!! Hope I didn’t give you the impression that I was suggesting otherwise. That was CERTAINLY not my intent.


#12

It doesn’t, but just today I read in our Catholic paper that there is a lot of support for the Catholics Come Home Program at a diocese level and there will be lots of adds / commercials airing soon. I think that I will dovetail into that program and see if there is interest there for my wife. She may be open to something like that…great idea.


#13

You didn’t…I just wanted to reassure you that she really is wonderful and just trying to come to grips with her own faith. It’s something hard for me to understand, but getting there.


#14

All;

I reallly appreciate having a this forum to help discuss things.

Just writing and getting replies helps me re-adjust my compass on how I approach things.

Please feel free to keep the suggestions coming.

Just today, I was listening to Catholic Radio and heard about a 3 volume book series, The Faith of our Fathers by William Jurgensen and ordered them. My wife saw the Amazon order confirmation come through on our email and said that she likes that I read things like this. I’m hoping that she decides to pick up volume 1 and start reading herself.

When I have trying times like this, I always pray and think ‘Agape’ love. I need to be okay with where she is at and hope for a (another) conversion heart. Please keep her in your prayers.

Crash001


#15

My family is Protestant and I’m living with them, so I’m in a somewhat similar position. The answer, as far as I can tell, is to pray to Mary for a heart change, for the heart change is what’s necessary before an intellectual change can take place. Prayer is the best answer to this. You’re also providing encouragement or Catholic comments when the time seems right, or the faith topics come up in conversation. That’s good.

Prayer is the most central thing. You can also study the various issues where she deviates from Church teaching. There are good Catholic articles on all these online, for you to read if you type in key words on Google. That way, you can give an answer if the Lord inspires her to become more open to the Church’s position.

Another key thing about prayer to Mary is it has to be humble. We have to pray while understanding that if it isn’t God’s will to answer the prayer at all, that’s okay, for He knows better. And if it’s not on our timetable but will come years or decades down the line, that’s okay too. It’s God’s will that counts, not ours, and we are fully submissive to whatever His will is. That’s central to praying humbly.

I think that’s the best advice I can give. I’ve seen some wonderful results in my family because of Mary’s prayers, which I’ve been seeking steadily since my conversion. And Mary’s prayers brought me into the Church myself, IMO, so I know experientially that this is a powerful way of seeking and receiving God’s grace. So that’s my recommendation :).

Anyway, may Mary pour out on you, your wife and your children all of God’s blessings.

Oh Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. Amen.


#16

I just finished listening to a CD by Scott Hahn called “The Healing Power of Confession” by Lighthouse Catholic Media. I thought it was a great explanation of probably the most misunderstood sacrament that Christ gave to us. Our church has CD’s regularly for people to purchase for a $3.00 donation and they have so many great speakers who address Catholic issues. You can order them online if your church doesn’t offer them. They are great for the car and I have often stayed in my driveway to finish listening to them…especially this one by Scott Hahn.

I would also like to suggest a book called “Rediscovering Catholicism”…a very easy to read book which discusses many of the issues some Catholics find troubling and have left the faith because of their misunderstanding. It is by a young man named Matthew Kelly (I think that is his name). It definitely lit a fire under me and as a result I have gone on to read so many other good books.

I hope this helps.


#17

Thank you very much for your input. I fully embrace the power of confession, but as a Cafeteria Catholic, my wife doesn’t see how one sacrament can impact the other…thus, the buffet lifestyle. Argh. I printed 'Understanding the Healing Power of Confession" and will present it to her when the time is appropriate. I also reviewed the book called “Rediscovering Catholicism” on Amazon.com and it looks like it would be a real good read for her…if I can get her to read it. Again, I plan on presenting it to her. Great ideas and God Bless.


#18

My suggestion is go and have a private word with your priest about this.Don’t tell anyone incl. your wife you are doing this, and ask him for advice.He will be the one with knowledge and ability where we will not.I think forcing books on her is going to turn her away even further.Forcing anything on her will discourage her.Speak to your priest in confidence and pray for her.Let her see your fine example of a practising catholic and od not force it on her.She will be encouraged by your lack of forcing her I think.Just let her see your example.
A prayer for your wife

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with Thee.
Blessed art Thou among women,and
blessed is the fruit of Thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us now, and
at the hour of our death.
Amen


#19

Prayer to our lady makes a lot of sense and so does providing encouragement and comments from a Catholic perspective makes sense. The challenge that I have is that she takes a truly protestant view on things that affects our daugthers and their Catholic upbringing, i.e. they ask where mom is (…she’s a XYZ Church) and then they want to know why. She explains beliefs from a Christian (protestant) perspective that are contradictory to Catholic beliefs, she feels comfortable skipping mass (setting a bad example for our daughters) - sometime - on days where she goes to XYZ Church instead. She sees no problem wanting to bring our daughters to XYZ Church and our parish mass. She won’t go to confession (again…the girls ask why) and when I would like to make it a more frequent and enjoyable experience.

As I stated in earlier posts, I am struggling with how to help her grow in faith, but a faith of truth and not one that it going to grow us apart vs. together. Argh. I plan on scheduling a few minutes with our pastor this week and get his spiritual input as well.

How do you manage to live Cathlolic in a Protestant household without getting frustrated? Can you liveout your Catholic faith without the support of your family? It just seems like everything would become ‘fake’, in limbo (grey area), until you can come together as a family with the same love of God.


#20

I went online to see what you meant when you said you printed out “The Healing Power of Confession”. There were several different articles by the same name. I would hestitate to just give her the document to read…it is probably much of the basics of what she already knows. The CD by Scott Hahn is different…the human aspect he brings to his talk and the ways he relates his own life to coming to terms with Confession when he converted are so interesting and entertaining at the same time. Order the CD for yourself to listen to and you will see what I mean. I am not sure how old your children are, but you could also listen to it with them. I just can’t say enough good things about it:)


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