With the permission of my husband, I wanted to share the greatest love story of our lives— our marriage and its return to the traditional Catholic faith.
In 2013 when Liam and I began hanging out, I was a very lapsed Catholic (going to Mass on Sunday’s and unworthily receiving Communion) and Liam considered himself a proud agnostic. I invited him to Mass once we began dating and he told me that it was imperative that I knew he would never attend Mass “for me” (he grew up going to Catholic school but never had any fond memories of the Faith). I remember thinking, “oh well, it’s not like I’ll marry this guy” and we kept dating in the most secular way possible. Then one Sunday in February 2014, he did attend Mass with me and neither of us are sure why. It was in a little non-denominational chapel at Virginia Tech that had the hand of God in place of where a Crucifix should be. We left Mass that evening and just chuckled because, dang, it was goofy. Goofy as it was, we continued to attend Mass, hopping around Floyd county Virginia to churches that weren’t shaped like squares or had a full band and on Easter that year, Liam proposed after Mass. We had been dating a little under five months.
When I told my mom we were engaged, she gave me the second-most important piece of advice I’d ever gotten (she also gave me the first but that’s a different post for another day). She told us she didn’t assume we’d have a Catholic wedding, but if we did, to actually practice our faith and do it right. Soon after our engagement, Liam left for Army training for a month while we both contemplated my mom’s advice. While at training, Liam befriended a man who was serious about his faith, and joyful through it all. He was a Mormon. I received letter after letter with Liam exclaiming that maybe we just choose wrong, that the Catholic Church had failed us and we should consider converting. We made many plans to attend a Mormon service after his return, but it just never worked out. We found a darling little chapel in Newtown, PA where we could marry after doing Pre Cana, so we decided that we would practice Catholicism until/unless it became unbearable. For this, our friends made a religion out of making fun of us, continually testing our self-control and patience until May 23rd, 2015, our wedding day.
We basically had the most Novus Ordo wedding ever. Alter girls—check. No Mass just a ceremony as to not offend the entirety of our non-practicing wedding guests—check. Choosing the feel-good readings and homily—check. But THANK GOD for sacramental graces because it was still a day I look back upon very fondly. I believe my uncle got a video of me screaming “yes!” to welcoming children during the ceremony. Little did we know how seriously God would take that! Our bridal party joked about our many children in their speeches and I had like five straight scotches. It was a good day.
We honeymooned and found a nice square church a mile from our apartment in Pennsylvania. We made fun of Mass on our way home and couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t right—this couldn’t be all there was. Fast forward two years to February 2017 and we were invited to Latin Mass by a gal who I had met once (now Declan’s Godmother). They were like, really into it so we decided to see what the fuss was about. I’ve written quite a lot about our experience in the Traditional Mass in previous posts and don’t need to remind my readers about real respect (or lackthereof) for the living body of Jesus Christ.
It was at this time when I noticed a substantial shift in the life of my husband, who began to take an active interest in the why’s and what’s of Catholicism instead of just criticizing how poorly the Novus Ordo Mass was done. As I’ve mentioned many times, our research made us angry and embarrassed to be associated with the modern Church. People assume that Liam is only “religious” because of me. Ha! He is 100% a better Catholic than I am and I am in awe of the amount of time he spends on his knees praying for our family. When we hit spiritual barrenness in Fort Leonard Wood, MO, Liam decided we’d make the 25-minute drive to a more reverent Novus Ordo Mass and also made the choice that while living here on Fort Leavenworth, we would make the 35-minute drive with the children to the Traditional Mass in Kansas City as to no longer scandalize them.
Joining Old Saint Patrick’s Oratory has made our weary souls rejoice. Our hearts are being majorly pruned and that is both challenging and a bit painful to explore the fullness in ALL aspects of our faith—not simply what the post Vatican 2 church has deemed important. It means remembering that the goal of our lives is to love Jesus and get our children and spouse to Heaven. This requires intentional and thorough formation that simply cannot happen within the Novus Ordo “grab-bag” (you just never know what you’re going to get!) While many things are left to chance, God gave Liam the chance to Captain the ship—so much so, that he and I discerned that our ship is meant to stay here permanently, in Kansas City, among the friends that have quickly become family to us. God willing, we close on our dream home next week.
Our faith continues to refine and define what’s important to us and sadly, we realize the more we learn about God, the more we dislike the culture of death that surrounds us and even infiltrates the modern Catholic Church. I am lucky to have a spouse that challenges me to love better and to speak truth here, where it is well known that the consciences of some are pricked by this blog’s mere existence. In a world waiting for us to mess up (and we will!), and to suffer (oh, we have!), we are confident in the love and mercy of Jesus Christ, and his most blessed Mother– so truly, there is only joy.