“Ask a Priest: I Feel Drawn Back to the Church, But What If My Husband Resists?”

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Q: I was raised Catholic and my husband was raised Pentecostal. Before getting married, we decided to compromise and go to a non-denominational Christian church because neither of us wanted to convert to the other’s religion. We have a great marriage and have been attending our new church regularly. But I am unhappy. I am pregnant with our first child and I desperately miss the Catholic Church. I have become depressed over the thought of our son not being baptized and raised Catholic. My husband does not believe in infant baptism. He also doesn’t believe in the Trinity. He reads the Bible daily and prays more than anyone I know. I feel that if he really understood Catholicism, he would love it, but I don’t know how to make that happen. He feels betrayed now for me even bringing up the Catholic Church again. With each day that passes, I keep praying he will change his mind, but what if he never does? I cry all the time and am so sad over the issue that I worry if the stress will harm the baby. What can I do? –S.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: Thanks for your note. It is good that you feel a desire to return to the practice of the Catholic faith and to raise your children in the faith. That means the Holy Spirit is working in your heart.

You mention that you have a “great marriage.” A really great marriage is one that would help you grow in your faith and your union with Christ. That means living the fullness of the faith as best you can.

Part of that living of the faith means to trust that God’s grace is at work in your life and that this painful situation is not outside of God’s providence. You can continue to love your husband fully even as you begin to take steps that could bring you back to the fullness of the Catholic faith and the grace of the sacraments.

That said, there are several issues you would need to deal with.

First, since you married outside the Catholic Church, your marriage isn’t recognized by the Church. Here the question arises about how your children would be raised in the Catholic faith if you yourself are in an irregular situation.

Second, notwithstanding his intense prayer life and Bible reading, your husband apparently doesn’t embrace the core belief of the Christian faith: that God is a Trinity of three Persons. This is an odd position for a self-styled Christian. That, and your husband’s opposition to infant baptism, would indicate that there is a deep chasm between your beliefs and his.

Perhaps it would be good to reconsider your position about the Catholic Church. Your instincts seem to be telling you that your current denomination isn’t satisfying. That is understandable. The Catholic Church guards the fullness of God’s revelation in Christ, including the sacraments.

It might be good to consider attending Mass again, or at least talking with a priest at a local parish. You might not be able to change your husband, but you can change your own course. The first man of your life is Christ, not your husband. Jesus is your redeemer. If you stay close to him, all the other relationships in your life will find their proper place.

If you want your baby baptized in the faith, the ideal path would be this: Seek to get your marriage recognized by the Church; make a good confession; and return to the life of the sacraments. (For more reading on helping your marriage, see the For Your Marriage site.)

In the meantime keep praying for your husband. And count on being included in one of my Mass intentions, OK?

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