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“Ask a Priest: What If I Don’t Feel Up to My Boyfriend’s Level of Faith?”
Q: My boyfriend of almost four years is Catholic and is interested in the continual development of his faith. His ideals are that we work on our faith together by going to Mass, confession and praying together, etc. I consider my Catholic faith to be a part of my life but not something that defines me, whereas faith is very much his whole life. When he discussed more about the idea of our getting married, I decided to put the relationship on hold. I did this because I felt that I needed to engage in more introspection on my own faith and consider what our lives would be like, together forever, with such varying levels of spiritual understanding and commitment. I am interested in discovering more about myself and how I identify with the Catholic faith. Is there anything you could suggest I do to further my understanding and discover if this is something meant for me? And, is it selfish to continue in this relationship if I know I won’t be someone who helps him develop his faith and spirituality? — A.M.
Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC
A: You mention, “If this is something meant for me.”
If you mean the Catholic faith, I would say yes, definitely. Jesus wants everyone to embrace the fullness of what he revealed and passes down through the Church.
To learn more about the faith it would help to read the Youth Catechism (YouCat) or the heavier Catechism of the Catholic Church. You might also find useful some of the resources at Catholics Come Home.
You might want to consider doing a retreat at a solid Catholic retreat center. If you later get engaged, think of doing a “Three to Get Married” retreat.
As for continuing the relationship even if you don’t think you can help your friend develop in this faith: Relationships aren’t static. They grow, they mature.
Your friend is probably influencing you for the better, and you might be doing the same, though in a different way. In other words, your friend’s presence in your life could be God’s particular blessing with you.
That your faith might not be as strong as his could be an incentive for your friend to intensify his prayers and sacrifices for you, which in turn could help his faith grow. Your willingness to examine your own life more can be an exercise in humility, which could help you grow in your faith.
The upshot is: Don’t be too quick to give up on the relationship.
It sounds as though there is a lot of good will here, on your part and your boyfriend’s.
Remember, too, that marriage is a sacrament which brings its own graces for spouses.
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