Wednesday, December 29, 2010

let me explain...

... it seems to touch a nerve when I try to write about personal aspects of my life in regards to dating and marriage. Which is precisely why I don't post often on the subject or, to the best of my ability, be as vague as possible about details. Besides, this isn't a blog about dating, or being single. Or divorced. There are much better writers on the subject than I.

On more than one occasion I expressed how I could never date a non-Catholic or one that barely practices is faith. This is not to say I am condemning woman who marry outside their faith. Neither is this a statement of supreme piety on my part. In fact, it shows the exact opposite of my pious nature.

Please, remember when I write, I am writing on topics solely from my perspective based on my experiences and limitations. Yes, limitations. The temptation is easy to internalize some generalizations made here, perhaps causing defensive reactions and comments. Again, that is not my intent. I can not possible know everyone reading this and their story. I only know my own.

So my decision to not date outside my religion is based on what I know of my own nature. Pure and simple. If you're a women who married a non-Catholic and he converted and you both lived happily ever after that is fantastic. I often say God puts certain people before us for His design. I think it is wonderful any time two spouses can share a common faith no matter if it didn't start in that fashion. The end result is all that matters.

However, I am not that woman. I lack the spiritual strength, patience and restraint to marry a non-Catholic. And if the end result of dating is marriage and I won't marry some one of a different faith, then it would only follow to reason that I needn't bother dating non-Catholics.

I struggle enough to practice my faith to it's fullest as it is and I acknowledge my penchant for joviality and mischief... to put it charitably. Dating non-Catholic men was too much of a test, a temptation. It was in my best interest to remove the temptation all together.

Listen, I personally can not change anyone. I can not convert a man. That is a job for the Holy Spirit. Of course we can try and be positive influences to someone considering Catholicism, but that type of experience is life changing enough without trying to start a relationship at the same time.

I am also from the school of thought that a woman can not, must not, ever date "potential". Whether you agree with me or not, or have your own experience to prove me wrong is not the point. Again, I am speaking strictly of myself.

Dating potential means that I am dating a man who I think has potential to better himself... if only he change in some manner or fashion. I am at an age where I do not have the time to patiently wait for a man to reach his potential, and personally, men my age should have already reached their potential to some degree more or less. If the man I am dating needs to do this or that, convert or change in some dramatic fashion than he is not the one for me. And vice versa. Note; I did not say he is not good enough for me, just that he is not for me. He may be at a stage perfectly suited for some one else. Just not me.

A close friend of mine who instructs young couples going through pre-cana summed it up like this; "When you marry another person you share everything with them. Sharing faith is not a another item on a check list of shared interests. She likes foreign films. Check. He likes kids. Check. We both like sushi. Check. It is the foundation that all other aspects are built on. Why would you want to start your marriage off with a wedding in which you can't even commune together?"

Coupled with my weak spiritual nature his advice made sense and sort of sealed the deal on my decision. I know it makes dating that much more difficult, but I am ok with that. Like I've said before, I desire heaven more than I desire a spouse.

Again, I am not saying that women or men who have chosen to date and marry outside their religion are spiritually weaker or value their eternal life any less than I. Please do not take my decision personally. Just know that my decision came with a lot of prayer and the final resignation that I will never reach a level of spiritual perfection as St. Rita.


The Ranter said...

I married a non-Catholic, a not practicing, not raised anything man. I pray for his conversion almost every day. Do I recommend this situation to anyone? No. It is a hard, difficult road full of obstacles. I applaud you for your decision, as it will most likely lead to fewer heartaches in the future. God bless.

shadowlands said...

"I am at an age where I do not have the time to patiently wait for a man to reach his potential"

Blogging sentence of the year!! You tell it how it is sister!

Seraphic said...

When I was a teenager, I knew I could marry only a Catholic. I was made to feel like a very bad person, a bigot, for this when I was in university.

It took me a very long time to realize, once again, that I could marry only a Catholic. And (late in time) I DID marry a Catholic, one who is relieved to be married to a woman who (unlike previous girlfriends) wants him to be as Catholic as he can be.

Babs said...

Having married outside of Catholicism, I can attest to the wisdom you have written.

Rick said...

Your witness guide others. Keep it up. Good job on the clarification too. God bless.

Saint Michael Come To Our Defense said...

Let us pray as Christ wants us to pray; with humble and contrite hearts.

Remember the souls in purgatory, the poor, the widows and orphans.

Pray for Priests and Religious, living and deceased.

Pray for marriages. They are the net worth of our communities. Marriage is so important God raised it to a sacrament. The first public miracle of Christ was at a wedding, and not foretold by prophecy.

If someone in your parish has a baby, go to the Baptism. If someone has not baptized their children, help them.

I sat in Mass once and heard the Priest chastise a family for not having baptized their child, then he lowered the boom on the people present at Mass and told them they were all guilty of a lack of Charity for not having helped the family Baptize the child.

Pray the Devil not stand in the path of two people that should meet and marry.

Pray that God not abandon us in our sins.


s-p said...

When it comes to men, they don't keep running after they've caught the bus. We usually don't get better after Cana. :) Stick to your guns and don't marry a "fixer-upper project".

Adoro said...

You know Crescat, the stuff people say to you and the offense they take at your prayerful decision is a lot like what I experienced in my own discernment.

It's that unsolicited advice problem; there are a lot of people who simply can't keep it to themselves.

Of course we all realize they do mean well, but yes, it's hard to be on the receiving end of someone criticizing a decision you labored long and in deep conversation with God at which to arrive. It's even more frustrating when the person criticizing you is taking your decision and applying it to themselves as though you intended a slight.

Prayers for your discernment - no doubt God will lead you, and in fact, has always been leading you!

Agnes B Bullock said...

Spot on as always Kat! STICK TO YOUR GUNS!!!!

NBW said...

I agree with Agnes and s-p; stick to your guns and don't marry a "fixer upper project." From experience it is VERY hard work and could lead one to despair at times.

Faith said...

Well, I did marry a Catholic, but he's not religious. He's a Christmas/Easter Catholic. And sometimes it gets to me. But he's a better person than I am. He's a good man, and that's not an oxymoron, either. But, I do wish I had someone to pray for me, and with me, for a change.

joan said...

Chiara said...

Well said. You are in my prayers!

Anonymous said...

It always shocks me when what you obviously intended as a personal perspective is taken to be a slight by a reader. I think this points to the fact that they likely hold or have held the same viewpoint and cannot integrate it into their life and remain unchanged!

You must ignore those kinds of comments Kat. This is YOUR blog about YOUR spiritual journey. Nobody else need board your train if they do not want to do so.

For the rest of us, we find strength, fellowship, and solace in your words.

You have after much prayer and discernment chosen the holy way, the harder way, and you will be the more joyous for it after all is said and done.

May God continue to bless you and your ministry of blogging that is such an inspiration to others.

Lola said...

My parents don't share the same faith, both Christian, but my father was raised Baptist.

My mother's advice to me before I met my husband, "It's lonely going to mass without your husband."

Anonymous said...

I married a Catholic who turned atheist while we were married. It's a roll of the dice, no matter who you marry. And Lola's mother was IS lonely going to mass without your husband. But there's plenty to pray for while you're there.

Josephus Flavius said...

There are enough problems in the world that you shouldn't invite more to come to your home... and stay there. The world already pulls on you, begging for you to conform to its wishes and view of the world. It wants you to save the trees, keep population down through any means possible, charge until the magnetic strip no longer works, syncretize your religion into a pitiful kumbaya faith that doesn't get in the way of Sunday football or a utopia based on carbon neutrality and individualism and false egalitarianism. Don't start off unequally yoked and expect to pull towards god at the same speed or even in the same direction. You won't plow the field with any ease.

"And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."

Anthony S. "Tony" Layne said...

Your instincts are sound. It's as often as not as irritating and alienating to the man who's considered the "fixer-upper opportunity" as it is frustrating for the woman who wants to do the fixing. If you can't spend the rest of your life with the flaws he has, it's best to just walk away.

Unfortunately, the hypersensitive, like the poor, will always be with us, and will take personal affront no matter how charitably and impersonally you phrase your posts. That leaves three options: 1) quit, which in your case would be a loss for us all; 2) say a lot of bland, neutral nothings; or 3) be yourself and take the bruisings along with the blessings. Option 3 has the most potential for heartache ... but also the most potential for fun.

Anonymous said...

Well said.

eko said...

AMEN, sister! :) If I had not married a Catholic man - well, I would no longer be married. It is our Catholicism that gets us through. We have a rocky marriage - and it is far from perfect, but we always, ALWAYS have Mother Mary, Jesus - prayers...HOPE!

I just watched Pride and Prejudice (Kiera Knightly version - which I hesitated seeing for YEARS - but adore now more than the Firth version) and I suspect if Lizzie had been Catholic this would have been one of her blog postings. ;-)

God Bless
Happy New Year!

TCN said...

The assumption here is that, somehow, marrying a non-Catholic means you are on a mission to somehow fix him up. That might be someone's intention, but was never mine.

I understand Kat's position clearly--it isn't an easy road to follow remaining a good Catholic without the direct and constant support of one's husband. I lived that way for several years and it was indeed a trial, and not one I would wish on anyone.

On the other hand, I believe that in my situation God intended that I be tested in faith, and also that my husband be led to the faith--certainly not by me, but by the inevitable exposure to it that my presence meant, and also by the power of the Holy Spirit at the prompting of Our Lady. I was not drawn to my husband because of his faith, but because of his innate goodness, which God has put to very good use, and also because we are "soul mates," whatever that means. We do not fight, we hardly disagree, we are open to each other's loving correction, etc. These things were there before his conversion. These things matter as much in a marriage as faith, and I firmly believe that Our Lady had these plans long before I met him.

Kat, there are many good Catholic men out there. You will meet one, or several, and one of them will be the right man at the right time. I didn't marry until I was 35, and at the time it seemed like it took forever. Today is our 13th anniversary, and I can't really remember how life was before we married.

If we knew God's plans in advance, He wouldn't be much of a God, would He? God bless us all in the New Year.

La gallina said...

People in comboxes get offended if you say the sky is blue. Ignore them.

Ivy said...

Married a non-Catholic I thought would convert. Instead, he joined another (Christian)church he loves. I didn't, so Sunday we go our different ways. Don't miss him ( and don't need him) at Mass-it's me and Jesus. When I come home, we talk about the sermons.Very edifying...
I say it is most imp. to marry someone with a strong Christian base. The Catholic may grow away, as many husbands of wives I used to be jealous(b/c hubby went to church with them) of have done as they have gotten older. ( Ever notice all the older ladies at Mass? They're not all widows-hubby chooses to stay home). Better to have at least a practicing Christian at home. They know right from wrong and it shows in the day-to-day challenges of marriage.
Don't feel badly if you think you've offended someone.It's your blog-state your case!

The Crescat said...

TCN, you make some very valid points and I thank you for the thoughtful reply.

Suburbanbanshee said...

My mom certainly doesn't regret marrying my dad (a very old-fashioned non-liberal United Methodist), and he fully supported raising us Catholic and sending us to parochial school.

But it was never any secret that it wasn't easy for her going to Communion alone, or for him to stay in the pew alone. He was a very strong example for us kids, but you have to wonder how much stronger a dad he could have been. Every so often we run into the limits of his ability to take Marian devotion or interest in the Pope, and it's just sad. I pray for his conversion.

It can be done; but it's not something most people would or should want to sign up for, especially on the long haul.

laurazim said...

When we were married, we were both Catholic, but neither practicing. (An option conspicuous in it's absence in your latest poll...)

The beautiful thing was that our conversion happened together--and thanks be to God, because we've met, along the way, several couples who really struggled in this way, with one being drawn very strongly, very compellingly to Holy Mother Church in a far hastier manner than the other, which can create confusion, resentment, and very difficult challenges. But I really think that with careful discernment, God will draw us to whom He intends for us. And if He makes it known that His will is for us to be drawn to someone with whom we equally share our faith, then that's wonderful. I think it's hard to find anyone who is "equal" in faith, but some will probably disagree with this. If He makes it known, as He has clearly done so with you, Kat, that we should be wary of pairing with someone who does not share our faith, then that is definitely something to regard. Some of us are called to help convert others, and that's valid, too--St. Paul, anyone? ;)

Ben Trovato said...

When I married my wife wasn't Catholic, but agreed to convert prior to our wedding. The priest who was meant to receive her into the Church told her not to convert, as she would be doing so for the 'wrong' reason. It took her another 12 years or so to convert... I still question the wisdom of that priest, but maybe he was right.

Dr. Eric said...

My dad still isn't Catholic. Growing up was hard in that respect, if there was a conflict over Church matters my dad would instigate it.

He always said he would convert once he retired. Now that he's on permanent disability he still hasn't converted.

As for myself. I didn't want a marriage like that, nor did I want to put my kids through a tiny religious war. I told my wife when we were dating that I would only marry a Catholic (and this was when I was a baaaaad Catholic) and she eventually joined RCIA. She was baptized, confirmed, and received her first communion on Holy Saturday and we were married the following week. We will mark our 10th anniversary this year.

Stick to your guns. Life is too long to settle.

Anonymous said...

Funny and at the same time profound blog post.
I liked a lot the "I desire Heaven more than I desire a spouse" part. I think that you have the right attitude and I also like what you call "lack of patience" and is, in my eyes, rather a natural conclusion for very religious people.

Do not forget that the Church doesn't desire mixed marriages and until a few decades ago used to say it rather loud (actually She used to say it harder than I do it now). This She did not to hurt people, but to help them to better understand the difficulties of mixed marriages and help them to a married life with more chances of success and happiness.

"Thy Will be Done"... Still, best wishes to you!


just evelyn said...

I can't imagine being devoted to the Eucharist and considering marrying someone who thinks He is a cracker and I am an unintentional idolater.

K said...

You are so right, Cat. I am married to an agnostic. In the beginning, it didnt' seem to matter, but after cresting middle age, I am coming late to the understanding of just how weak I am and just how much weaker I am without the proactive support of a coreligious spouse. My poor kids, what have I done. Stick to your guns, girlfriend.

Saint Michael Come To Our Defense said...

Dear Just Evelyn,



just evelyn said...

St. Michael:

Why, "Ouch"? It's either Jesus or a cracker, and even a cracker that is a symbol of Jesus would not be worthy of adoration.

That's really what it comes down to, isn't it? That's why I had to become a Catholic. I talk to Jesus in the tabernacle and in the monstrance. I worship the Blessed Sacrament. If that isn't Jesus, I'm either deluded or an idolater. I have good friendships with people who don't believe as I do, but to be one flesh with someone who doesn't acknowledge the most intimate relationship I have? Couldn't do it.

Saint Michael Come To Our Defense said...

Dear Just Evelyn,

Angels say everything with just one word: Nonserviam--Michael.

Your comment was very short on words but heavey in Magisterium.

The Truth hurts. Thus the ouch.

Saint John Vianney spoke like you commented.


Shelley said...

I have a friend who was explaining to my two teenage daughters the necessity of marrying a Catholic.

Her husband of thirty years doesn't profess any religious faith at all. When she married him at age 20, she said it didn't seem all that important and that love could conquer all.

But the day after they were married was a Sunday. They were on their honeymoon and she had checked out Mass times at a nearby church. She got up to go to 10:30 Mass on the first day of her honeymoon and her new husband yawned, turned over in bed and said, "See you later, honey."

She said, "My first gut reaction was, What have I done?

And then there came the times when their children were born and she had to stand at the font in the front of the church without her husband there, promising along with her to help that child's soul gain heaven.

"The loneliest times of my entire life," she said. "I love my husband. We've been married for three decades. But there's always been something missing from our marriage, a void that has never been filled. Don't do as I did."

Saint Michael Come To Our Defense said...

A woman complained to Saint John Vianney; “I prayed for thirty five years for my heretic husband to repent, and he committed suicide by jumping off a bridge.”

“Just before he hit the water,” replied Saint John, “your husband did a perfect act of contrition, thereby saving his soul. The Lord did answer your prayers.”

What are fifty, sixty years of suffering, compared to an eternity of bliss in Heaven?

We should not create bad situations, but when we have them, we must persevere in the Faith.

A woman that perseveres outdoes a woman that whines and cries.

A woman that perseveres teaches her children Faith, patience and how to Trust in the Lord.

A woman that sheds tears before the Blessed Sacrament moves God to immediate action.


Natasa said...

People who are offended by your position are probably married to a non-Catholic and regret their decision.
Don't settle. Life is too long to be lonely in a marriage.

just evelyn said...

one of my spiritual directors commented that many Protestants would accept the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist better than some Catholics, and maybe they aren't Catholic because they don't like papal authority or some other issue. That's a good point--labels don't always tell the whole truth. I think that I could at least date a protestant who believed in the Real Presence, because he wouldn't be much of a protestant and would be hip-deep in the Tiber by that point. Once you know it's Jesus, there is nowhere else to go.

Heather said...

When I got married, my husband was Catholic and I wasn't. By the Grace of God I converted after we had been married about 7 years. If I hadn't married him, I don't know if I would ever have come in to the Church. That having been said, when I talk to our kids about marriage, I have told them they should marry Catholic, and not just any Catholic, but real practicing Catholic.
When I look back on our engagement and the first five or so years of our marriage, I shudder at how much grief I caused my husband with my lack of respect and understanding of his Faith. I can only thank God that we somehow managed to stay together. Things worked out for us, but I wouldn't want my children to go through that.

Mark Scott Abeln said...

Here is a link to an old pamphlet: Don't Marry a Catholic, by Daniel Lord. Wise advice.

Anonymous said...

Though I don't plan to marry this late in life, if I had married, it would be a devout Catholic who dosen't smoke. NO exceptions.

Daniel F. Kane said...

Entering the conversation late, I echo Denita's sentiments exactly. When I finally got serious about finding a wife, I ran through dozens of one night dates.

I approached this like buying a suit - I tried it on and if it did not fit, I put it back in on the rack in the same condition I found it. Only if the suit fit did pursue finding shirts, ties and the rest.

So too with discerning first marriage v single v religious life and then (if marriage) to whom?

There are many who marry non-Christians, non-Catholics, etc. and in some cases, maybe most turn them towards the Truth of Catholicism. Just the same, I never felt that way.

Having "just" standards such as religion and being free from addiction(s)is NOT the same as having vain or selfish standards like income, height or hair color standards. Those are properly described as shallow.

I enjoy your blog.

Erika said...

You are a wise young jedi! ;)

Erika said...

PS: My hubby of almost 7 years (and five children to prove our love) and I met on (not getting any commission here)...what used to be known as of prayers and the Lord put us together in 3 days. I was in FL and he was in NY...I love how they match our Catholic compatibility...strictly are making and excellent choice and one that was spoken of pre-Vatican II (or so my hubby says). Ironically, he is a convert from Southern Baptist and much more of a Traditional Catholic than I was, a cradle Catholic! You are in my prayers! :)

Jeanne said...

Having married a non-practicing Catholic, I echo the sentiments "...there's always been something missing from our marriage, a void that has never been filled. Don't do as I did."

It is really hard to bring kids up in the faith when your husband is so negative towards it. On the other hand, I think my kids realize that there is a difference between the two of us. I don't know if they connect it to faith at all, but from comments they make sometimes, they notice.