Ask a Franciscan

What Would Becoming Catholic Add?

Q: My husband and I have been married for 13 years. He was raised Protestant; I am Catholic. Before we married, we decided that our children would be raised Catholic.

We are fulfilling this promise. My husband believes all that Catholics teach. He believes in his heart that Jesus is present in the Eucharist. There is one problem: My husband resists the idea of becoming Catholic, of converting to this faith. When I ask, “Why?” he replies, “I don’t need a piece of paper to prove my relationship with Jesus.”

How can I help him to become whole in the Catholic faith without detouring the good that he is instilling in our children? They have a terrific bond with him and are highly influenced by his actions. I know the Holy Spirit is working on him, and I would like somehow to help without causing my husband to dismiss the idea.

A: Your husband is, of course, correct in saying that a piece of paper won’t prove his relationship with Jesus—no matter to which Church your husband belongs. Lives open to the Good News and the effects of grace reflect a person’s relationship with Jesus.

But isn’t the more important consideration, “Where is that relationship with Jesus being fed? Where is it being nourished, challenged and deepened?”

No one’s relationship with Jesus today can be totally self-made. Our knowledge about him comes most directly from people who were not themselves eyewitnesses to Jesus’ life. We regard the Scriptures as unique forms of God’s revelation because a faith community tells us that they are.

We do not believe alone, in complete isolation from other believers. If that relationship is being fed primarily in the Catholic Church, wouldn’t it make sense to become a full member? You did not mention your husband’s family. His reluctance to become a Catholic may be a way of avoiding difficulties with his parents or other family members. In fact, many Catholic parishes find that the majority of adults in their RCIA program are spouses of Catholics. RCIA members often want to worship as a family.

What your husband loves most about you is probably very much connected to your religious faith. Although he might not put it in those terms, that may be the case. Perhaps it is time for him to consider joining.

In all of this, God’s grace and responding to it are primary. If your husband remains opposed to the idea of becoming Catholic, it’s best not to force the issue.

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