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

Yes, this is a much harder challenge than I face, because you have the responsibilities of a father. Husband and wife are supposed to be united, but your wife is not in harmony with the Church’s teachings and your children need to know and embrace the full truth of the Catholic Church. So your duty to be a spiritual leader to your family and instruct your daughters so that they don’t become Cafeteria Catholics puts you in a very painful position. There are no easy answers to it. One just has to stand by one’s principles and speak the truth with whatever grace one can.

That’s a good idea. It’s an extremely hard place you’re at. Your purpose is righteous. Relying on prayer is crucial. Do you think she would be willing to accept establishing a family prayer time once a week on Sundays? The family reading a Bible passage and praying together out loud, thanksgivings, petitions and anything else, for perhaps 15-20 minutes might create certain bonds of faith and unity outside of the family disagreements over doctrine.

Researching all the points of doctrinal disagreement online can give you the knowledge base you need to answer any objection or conflict your wife has. The Catholic Church, as you know, has very good answers to your wife’s errors, and knowing those answers is crucial to being able to help your wife understand them. After you learn the answers, you don’t need to make her hear them. You can just wait for a time to come up when in natural conversation an area of dispute comes up, and then you’ll have the answer and can bring it to her.

Doing research is very valuable for preparation.

Prayer is essential, too. A lot of personal, steady prayer for their conversion, especially praying to our Blessed Mother. Praying for humility is wonderful too, for this makes your prayers more acceptable to God and makes Him able to work through you more perfectly. Prayer is my greatest weapon by far in bringing my family toward the faith. I’ve done a lot of research too, so I have a well researched answer whenever they have a question. But your wife will bring her questions to you in response to the Spirit’s working on her heart. It doesn’t have to be you pushing things on her that she can’t accept. Pray for her to Mary, steadily and systematically, and wait for the fruits to take shape.

When a situation comes up in ordinary conversation where a topic of faith arises, in her presence or your daughters’ company, then let the truth be known if the time seems appropriate to you. If you feel your daughters have received false information but the time isn’t immediately appropriate to correct them, then wait for a while and do it afterward. That’s what I did when my brother David was receiving baptismal instruction. He received instruction from a Protestant pastor about how baptism is symbol alone, and I didn’t dispute him then even though I badly wanted to, because given the setting and time, it wouldn’t have been appropriate. Therefore I waited and after the pastor had finished and left the house, I presented my brother the truth.

Show grace, tact and love, and don’t feel like you have to shove the truth down the throat of anyone opposed to it. At the same time, don’t hide the truth, though. Be bold and give your opinion when you feel it is appropriate and useful.

I can’t always. There have been some very angry arguments. It’s gotten easier for me since I converted. Back when I was in the conversion process was the most difficult. Afterward, the family kind of unhappily accepted it, and lately I’ve seen that unhappy acceptance move toward cautious curiosity.

It helps me a lot that I immerse myself in prayer. I pray against anger and vengefulness every morning as soon as I wake up. I pray for humility and gentleness a lot. This helps my soul to judge the times better, to know when to speak and when to be silent, and to speak with more grace. I have had far fewer arguments and serious clashes since I began praying this way.

Prayer is the answer to all of this. I can’t emphasize enough how it has held me up. God gives me wisdom to know what to do and say and when to do anything. God gives me grace to be His messenger, sometimes silent and sometimes speaking. God does the converting in my family’s hearts, bringing them toward the truth without my having to do anything. God provides the goodness, the conversions of hearts, the knowledge of the mind, the grace in mouth and deed, the courage, the insight, the strength and wisdom . . . EVERYTHING we need in bringing others toward God comes from God, and it all comes from prayer. And who can pray like our Blessed Mother?

I learned this lesson the hard way. I tried to argue people into Christianity for a decade and had zero luck. Nothing was achieved. Then I gave up and now I just pray, pray and keep praying, and I talk to people when they ask me questions or an issue of faith comes up in ordinary conversation and it’s appropriate to give my point of view. I have been seeing some impressive answers to my prayers in the last few months.

The more I did in the past, the less God did. Now, the less I do, the more God does. This is the consequence of depending on faith in Christ through Mary. Everything is best done through Mary, and recognizing this can be part of the humility we need to receive answers to our prayers.

We need to be willing to accept it if God’s answer to our prayers is no. If my family remains unconverted, I will remain joyful in God’s arms. I will accept His verdict whatever it is. My family’s salvation is His responsibility, not mine, and I will fight for them until I die or they convert, but God is final and all He does is right. I must be wholly surrendered to God, accepting of His will whatever trials I must undergo and however many prayers remain unanswered, so that His will may have precedence in my life and not mine. As long as what I want is more important to me than what God wants, He cannot use me.

And we also need to remember that the answers to our prayers come not in response to our prayers but our Mother’s. That’s the simple truth, so we should give credit where it’s due. False pride will not help us or our families.

Yes. It’s tough, but yes, it certainly can be done. If God is more important to you than your family, you’ll do what you have to do.

I don’t know what you mean here by “everything.” My walk with Christ in His Church is not fake. Family unity is a bit fake, yes. The fragmentation that exists is real. St. Paul says in 1 Cor. 11:19, “For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you.” Without the open expression of our differences, there can be no revealed truth.

It is obvious your good wife hasn’t a clue why the Church teaches what it does. Is she at all open to knowing why? She’s bought into the “spirit of the age” as her rule and guide, and since many a Protestant group has the same attitude, it’s not surprising she thinks as she does.

As I’ve read about your wife, I see that she is a person who will not commit herself to something she doesn’t agree with. That is a good thing. If only more Catholics would be that earnest about seeking the truth so they can live the truth instead of just sliding along.

I believe she is afraid of committing herself to the Catholic Church for fear she’ll turn into something she doesn’t recognize and doesn’t want to be–a fanatic. She seems to see the teachings of the Church as unnecessary and perhaps even damaging. She is at the stage where she is fighting against being drawn into something she really doesn’t understand.

The best thing you can do, as I see it, is to live your Catholic faith before her without any pressure for her to conform. Tell her you understand her misgivings and just want to help her understand not make her do anything or believe anything. I think she feels pressured, which is why she is saying Catholic writers are biased. You might want to point out that Protestant writers are hardly unbiased but are writing from their understanding, as well. Be sure your children understand that their mother’s dilemma has nothing to do with them. Confirm their faith and be open to their questions/concerns.

I have been thinking of you and your family for several days and keeping you in my prayers, and will continue to do so. Please don’t be discouraged, but simply trust the Holy Spirit and be at peace.

Lots of great advice already given, but maybe I can just give my own version of what you could try and do, from a new convert-with-zeal perspective:

  1. PRAY! Prayer is the key to all this. You yourself keeping God and his Will at the forefront of all things is vital. Prayer before everything you do involving her, should you buy her a book, talk to a priest about her, talk to her directly, etc… Pray for the Holy Spirit to come to you and to her, and for her conversion, and for your true desire in the situation to come about.

  2. Don’t force anything on her, if the time is not right. If you’re praying thus far as in step #1, then you will most likely know when things are going to fast or she’s not receptive or pulling away. Just let it go. Sure, keep some things available to read that are fresh, relevent to HER (NOT YOU!), and keep yourself available (but not overly), and then things will happen.

  3. Let her do her thing. If she wants to take Communion without going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation first, LET HER! Of course, I say this only given that she knows it is WRONG to do so, and that you have admonished her charitably for doing so. Jesus works through justice too, and sometimes people need to be hit in order to see the error in their ways.

And trust me from my personal experience seeing people, including myself, defy the Church’s teachings and Jesus’ teachings, because nothing goes unpaid (Note: I didnt take Communion yet! :smiley: ) . A stomach ache after Communion, some bad dreams or whatever sometimes happen after people blatantly defy God’s law when they know what they should be doing. Just like a little kid that doesn’t know what pain is and falls down while playing in a playground, scrapes their knee, cries, and learns to be more careful next time. Don’t get too angry at her for defying whatever doctrine or not attending mass, or any other thing that we as Catholics, through God’s wisdom and desire for us to go to Heaven, know is wrong.

I’m praying for your wife, man! Don’t fret and keep going about your business and your life.

Meeting is scheduled for Wed. Thank you for the advice, prayer, and God Bless. ~Crash

Will do…there are a few other items I am wanting to order anyway, so this is a good excuse to put in an order now.

You hit the nail on the head, what I meant was that it seems like the family unity is a bit fake and you confirmed that. I feel that same way with my wife and am treading lightly until I can get this figured out a bit. My walk with God (relationship) grows daily and I am thankful for that. God Bless, Crash

“It is obvious your good wife hasn’t a clue why the Church teaches what it does. Is she at all open to knowing why? She’s bought into the “spirit of the age” as her rule and guide, and since many a Protestant group has the same attitude, it’s not surprising she thinks as she does.”

It all comes back to having ‘faith’. When she see’s the Church do something or say somehting, it’s always from a human vs. divine perspective. She see’s the Church more as a psychologist than as the living Body of Christ. For example…We were recently at a dinner party and she ran into someone from our church who she hasn’t met before. This person was upset with the church because of two things…(1) she’s been a long time lector and the person responsible for lectors gave her some advice on how to improve to meet the current methods for speaking with the congregation, i.e. slow down, emphasize, etc. The woman took it personally and said that she has been a long time lector and the person responsible was out of line. (2) Masses have gotten longer recently because of the music, longer homily’s (wonderful in my mind), greater emphasis on the Eucharist and Communion, i.e. slowing down when handing out communion. This woman said that mass is getting too long (1 hour and 10 minutes instead of the ‘old’ 50-55 minutes. She’s thinking about going to another parish because of this. …long story short, my wife said that our church better accomodate people better or they are going to lose ‘more’ parishioners. << I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, i.e. my wife was siding with the woman instead of the church which is trying to give us a higher qualitiy, more spirtually fullfilling mass.

My wife believes that the Church makes up things to fit the times vs. being directed by the Holy Spirit… Again, the lack of faith makes her feel this way.

I believe she is afraid of committing herself to the Catholic Church for fear she’ll turn into something she doesn’t recognize and doesn’t want to be–a fanatic. She seems to see the teachings of the Church as unnecessary and perhaps even damaging. She is at the stage where she is fighting against being drawn into something she really doesn’t understand.

This is very true. I don’t consider myself a fantatic by any means, but consider myself as someone trying to live out my life as Christ intended. Hmmm - you hit on an important topic, but I don’t know how to get around it. She does she the Church as ‘conservative’ to its detriment, but doesn’t really see the beauty in the things it teaches as really liberating…even though it is. If the Church sides with questioning heatlhcare, or certain elements of it, she thinks that the Church is just promoting more of the same (roadblocks to healthcare reform) instead of standing up for what is right. << thus, fanatics.

Be sure your children understand that their mother’s dilemma has nothing to do with them. Confirm their faith and be open to their questions/concerns.

I told that kids that mom is struggling with her faith, but will make it a point that it has nothing to do with them. Thanks for the advice.

God Bless,
Crash

Outstanding advice. I need to find ‘Agape’ where I don’t have it yet. Thanks for keeping me in your prayers.

For me, the answer has been faith, leaning back on God’s power rather than exhausting myself with futile efforts of my own, prayer, and studying my own religion so I can give an answer when asked a question. Loving and praying more and preaching less.

It feels like falling into bed, resting in faith in God and just praying rather than acting. I’ve found that the more preaching I do, the less action God takes. The less I do, the more God does. Prayer to Mary is the answer, in my experience . . . she acts in her time and she chooses whether to act or not (we are completely submissive to and accepting of her will, whatever it may be), but she has answered my prayers wonderfully and I trust in her to do what is best in everything. I have seen some glorious answers to my prayers to her, and I have seen no positive results to my preaching. God does so much, and I have to do so little. And it’s not like I have any secret glory to my praying. It’s that I ask for Mary to pray and she does whatever praying she feels should be done!

Here’s what St. Therese of Lisieux says, “I take refuge in prayer; I have only to turn to Mary, and Jesus triumphs over everything; indeed all my strength lies in prayer and sacrifice. They are my invincible arms, and I know from experience that I can conquer hearts with these more surely than I can with words.”

God bless you and all your family! :thumbsup:

Hi Crash,

from reading your posts, it looks like your wife is being ‘left out’ from the ‘faith development’ efforts, or that in the least - your efforts have been ‘individual based’ and not optimized for family strengthening.

As hinted earlier, I would like to suggest a ‘family focused’ approach; and I know of one program that is free and online, and offers a comprehensive faith deepening & learning approach for the whole family - take a look at: familyland.be/family_consecration/introduction-to-consecration-to-the-holy-family.html

Vatican approved, and I bet there is a thing or two there that even you didn’t think of. Sure beats doing the same 'ol readings and prayers night after night - this is a 40 day program that builds the families faith.

Even if you cannot convince your wife to participate in the 40-day at-home program of readings & prayers, I suggest you go through it with your kiddos - and leave a copy laying about where she can read it if she wants to know what you are doing. My family does this annually (5 years now), and we know know what it means to live a Christ-like family life.

-YBIC,

GaryR.

Best of luck with meeting Wednesday.I will keep you and your wife in my prayers God bless you both.

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

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

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

***Brother I know where you are at I’ve been there. It is cold and dark, donot let it harm your relationship with God or your wife.
Next pray, for satan wants us all apart, together we are strong apart he will mis direct.
you could even go with her to comfort her, but tell her that God gives us a home and that we go to God for love not our own wants. God tells us to be still and know that He is God. You might ask her if it is God who is giving her these thoughts to change has she heard God tell her. What scripture has she to show this, if God is a God of unity then what unity would this give your children?
If it is only her own thoughts ask her if you might pray with her to rebuke the spirit of seperation, or lies, or deceit. God bless, be loving at all times but show kindness and share her thoughts, go at times with her, show mercy. ***

Peace,
Godbless
littleone

Crash I am keeping you and your wife in my prayers.Thinking of you today for your meeting.God bless

Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us,
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

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 sinners
now and at the hour of our death

All;

First of all, I want to thank you for taking the time to read my post and respond. You’re words have inspired me and provided direction. I am still taking all of your input into account, praying, reflecting on it, and have already made adjustments to my behavior.

Secondly, my pastor provided wonderful advice. After listening attentively for 15 minutes while I summarized the situation as best possible, he simply said, “Love her with all of your heart (meaning my wife), pray, and live out your Catholic faith (important to interpret correctly here) setting an example of that love for her.” He emphasized the need to not give in to misinterpretation of the faith, but share it (Catechesis) when the opportunity arises. It sounds so simple. Doesn’t it?

…I still struggle internally with making the right decisions everyday, Example - Is it more important to get the family to mass 15 minutes early (being a pest along the way) because we “should” be in the proper state for mass, OR on the fact that we we “should” not be eating our meals right before going to Sunday evening mass because we “should” be in the proper state for receiving the nourishing bread of life at communion, etc… OR arriving just in time on a full stomach is okay, because it keeps the peace. Remember folks, rationale (based on church teaching) doesn’t work in these situations for me at the moment. << I’m not looking for an answer here, just wanted to let you know more about some of my daily struggles.

Also, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for everyone to reflect on the sacraments, live them out, and reach out to their pastor in times of need.

God Bless,
Crash

Glad the meeting went well Crash.God can see how sincerely you strive to do the ‘right thing’.
Continue to be the fine example you are being and love your wife and family as you already do.
When she is ready she will see your example and see from your love.
Good luck and God bless you and your wife and family

So glad to read this. Your pastor is a wise man.

…I still struggle internally with making the right decisions everyday, Example - Is it more important to get the family to mass 15 minutes early (being a pest along the way) because we “should” be in the proper state for mass, OR on the fact that we we “should” not be eating our meals right before going to Sunday evening mass because we “should” be in the proper state for receiving the nourishing bread of life at communion, etc… OR arriving just in time on a full stomach is okay, because it keeps the peace. Remember folks, rationale (based on church teaching) doesn’t work in these situations for me at the moment. << I’m not looking for an answer here, just wanted to let you know more about some of my daily struggles.

Also, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for everyone to reflect on the sacraments, live them out, and reach out to their pastor in times of need.

God Bless,
Crash

All you can do is do what is right for yourself. The children aren’t under an obligation if they don’t receive communion, and if your wife simply doesn’t want to fast before communion then she isn’t going to and you can’t make her, as you must already know. You can’t control her and worrying over it won’t help, so don’t worry over it. Another “simple thing” that is hard to do. :wink: She will see your example and want to imitate it in God’s good time (that is if you don’t make an issue of it or act like you’re holier than thou, not that you are likely to do that). Love is what attracts people to others and it is what attracts people to Christ and his Church.

When she sees that what God asks of us he is asking out of love and not mindless “duty” then she’ll “get it”. It is fear that is standing in her way–fear of losing herself and fear of being asked to give more of herself than she can imagine she can. That is her issue, not yours, though. By lovingly showing her the truth, living it out before her, showing her that God isn’t asking too much of you or anyone else and being steadfast in prayer you will have done your part and no more than God would expect of you.

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