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By Deacon Tom Fogle and JoAnne Fogle | March 2012

"I want my wife to come to Mass with me." "I am not a Catholic."

"I want my wife to come to Mass with me."

Mike says: I recently came back to the Church after having been away for a long time. Susan is not a Catholic and is not interested in attending Mass with me. I feel very sad and lonely going by myself. I’d like her to join me.

"I am not a Catholic."

Susan says: Mike wasn’t a practicing Catholic when we got married, and my background is Methodist. I’m happy he’s feeling fulfilled at church, but I am not interested in going – and if I were, it would be to a Methodist church.

What do they do?

It is not unusual in today’s culture that a husband and wife do not share the practice of a religious tradition. We wonder where God is in their relationship. Some social scientists suggest that couples with a shared spirituality (shared values and a common mission) can reduce the probability of divorce dramatically. Couples who have integrated God into their marriage and have learned how to pray together can expect to lower their chances of divorce even further. Most married couples who truly wish to do all they can to protect their relationship would not hesitate to develop a relationship with Jesus and invite him into their marriage as an active partner.

As rediscovered the blessings of returning to the practice of his Catholic faith. We would recommend he let the Holy Spirit work in the Holy Spirit’s time, and not your time! Mike should continue to set a good example for Susan. At the appropriate time, he can share with her what he has discovered in returning to the Church. However, an appropriate time may not be every day or every Sunday. Mike could ask Susan to accompany him on special days, such as Christmas and Easter. It doesn’t appear to us that Susan is against the Catholic Church, but she doesn’t seem interested in having a relationship with God – as indicated by her lack of interest in going to her own church.

Mike may want to catechize Susan about the basic gestures and postures of the Mass before she attends one. That could lessen her discomfort with the unfamiliar.

It may be that once Susan sees how important faith is to Mike, and his enthusiasm for a relationship with Jesus, she, too, may wish to share in that relationship. Developing a shared desire to have God a part of their marriage relationship should be their primary focus. We understand the disappointment Mike may be feeling, but would encourage him to be patient and non-judgmental as he prays to the Holy Spirit for guidance. Romans 15:19 provides another useful guide for Mike, “… pursue what leads to peace and to building up on another.” Worship is a community act. We recommend that Mike ask Susan to accompany him to a parish potluck or church social event so she would be able to meet (and feel comfortable with) other members of the church community. Susan will discover very quickly there are a great number of non-Catholic spouses who attend Mass on a regular basis. When God wills it, through the Holy Spirit, Susan’s heart will be open to the wonders of his blessings. In the meantime, keep praying for a conversion of her heart to be open to a relationship with God, fostered by your continued example.