Cinderella Story?

Cinderella story? Well, sort of… Love at first sight? Maybe. All I know is the first night I met my husband I was smitten. We talked for about an hour before I was abruptly whisked off by a friend in need. No phone number given. No promise to see each other again. No abandoned glass slipper. But, my Prince Charming? Definitely.

Fast forward four months…
I saw him from afar on my college campus and remarked to my sister, “I think he’s cute!” She then exclaimed, “I know his brother!” (Our big city can be quite small.) “But you can’t date him – So and So says: HE’S MORMON!” My Catholic heart sank and I put the tall, handsome blonde out of mind. I then thought to myself, he wasn’t a very good Mormon, because the night I met him, I swore he was drinking and smoking– minor vices when you are 22 years old and the boy is cute enough.

Fast forward two more months…
I crossed paths with him again– this time with a different set of friends. Wow.  God sure keeps placing this guy in front of me just to tease me. So, I nervily asked him if he was indeed Mormon. Now don’t get me wrong. Mormons are perfectly fine people; I just never thought my Prince Charming’s beliefs would vary so drastically from my own Catholicism.  However, he chuckled and said, “I’ve been called lots of things, but Mormon has never been one of them.” I sighed with relief and this time, he remembered to ask for my number and well, the rest is history.

No, he was not Mormon, but he was not Catholic either. When I first met my husband, I was the typical young woman crazy in love – almost immediately. I was 22, idealistic about this new relationship and anxious to start a relationship and life with this amazing 24 year old guy. This posed a real concern for me. I had a priest tell me once, “Don’t even date someone who is not Catholic – it’s just not worth it.”  But this guy was worth it.  He was respectful and respectable; he loved me more than I could imagine, but he was NOT CATHOLIC.  We proceeded to date for several weeks when I asked him to go to Mass with me one Sunday.  He didn’t hesitate and eagerly accompanied me to my parish church.  I remembered how wide-eyed he was—stained glass, an enormous gold mosaic of the Blessed Mother—familiar images to me, but foreign to him.  We had the “talk” about religion, when he revealed to me that he never really went to any church.  He “guessed” he was Christian.  His mother was Congregationalist and his father Southern Baptist.  He was baptized, but none of this meant much to him as his parents never instilled any dogma.  They never even attended any services.  From that point forward, he went to Mass with me every Sunday.  He was a quiet observer and though I answered questions he may have had for clarity, he did not say much about it.

Fast forward six months…
He asked me to marry him, and I emphatically agreed, upon one condition: no, I did not mandate he convert. I did, however, ask that he learn about Catholicism because that was how we would raise our children. That much I did insist upon. He never questioned my desires and consented. Deep down, I prayed that he would convert, but I never felt I could ask him to do that for me; he would have to do that for himself and for God. Now I know some Catholic women would disagree with this course of action, but I felt deep down that something greater than the both of us was leading us in this direction. I prayed to St. Monica. I prayed to the Blessed Mother. I prayed to Lord Jesus Himself. Maybe if I was devout enough, maybe if I was a good example and I showed joy in my faith, maybe if I was the woman God wanted me to be, he would not be able to help but want to embrace my faith. 

We were married on a beautiful winter’s day the following year, beneath the gold mosaic that framed the altar and like any good Catholic couple (or at least half of this couple,) we were expecting our first child within a year of our wedding. We had our beautiful son baptized in the same church where we wed. Two years later, again, we were blessed with another precious boy. This time, two months later at our baby’s baptism, and once we had acclimated to life with two children, my husband said, “I’m ready.” I said, “Ready for what?” I think he had rehearsed this in his mind and heart dozens of times. He said, “I’m ready to become Catholic. I am going to RCIA.” My heart leapt for joy and I wanted to jump up and down, and had I not been nursing a tiny baby, I might have! I remained calm however and said I would do whatever it was he wanted and needed me to do to help him. I was his sponsor and he received Reconciliation (that one is still hard for him,) received the Eucharist (that one he delights in,) and was confirmed at the Easter Vigil that year.

Fast forward thirteen years…
I still have my Prince Charming, and he is Catholic now.
I owe St. Monica.

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