My husband was not raised Catholic. He was one of the “nones” as they call them, having been raised with no faith in his family whatsoever. But from a youthful fascination with Catholicism, partly due to the Catholics in his extended family, he was receptive to investigating my Faith when we started dating. He converted a few years before we married. Although we are both Catholic now, the difference in my background as a Cradle Catholic and his as a convert from being raised with no religion at all provides us with much to think about as we build and maintain our Domestic Church: specifically, it has highlighted ways that adults practice their Faith differently.
Due to his being a man as well as a convert, my husband naturally approaches God and the Faith differently than I do. I have learned that I must respect these differences and encourage him by recognizing opportunities for him to use his complementary religious traits.
- Involve the senses. I believe that most men tend to be—and my dear husband certainly is—perceptive with his senses, corporeal. This is one of their great gifts, and it is the reason why my abstract, intuitive, spiritual talk is largely foreign and often perplexing to my husband. He, much more than I do, has a need to experience his practice of his Faith through his senses. Therefore we use lots of sacred music around our home, light candles for our prayers, and have sacred images everywhere. Ultimately, making the Faith real to the spirit and the body is a very Catholic thing to do, and is always a benefit for both men and women.
- Give him a distinct role. My husband has a distinct role as the “priest” of our Domestic Church: he leads the family prayers and prays the blessings over our Advent Wreaths, Christmas trees, etc. As the leader of our family, he knows that he has an indispensable role in our home devotions, and this focuses his purpose and action when it comes to our various religious expressions and practices.
- Do corporal works of mercy. This relates back to men’s corporeal nature. I have found my husband wanting to “get out there and do something,” instead of praying inside all day. He loves to go pray outside with 40 Days for Life when the local campaign is going, and see the people he is praying for (and with). Men are given the responsibility and gifts to help them be caretakers, guardians, and protectors, and their wives can help them by looking for opportunities to serve God as a family in ways that will allow them to use these gifts.
God has truly blessed me in my marriage by giving me a husband who possesses a very different, complementary personality. Every day I am learning the importance of the physical practice of the Faith, and it is accordingly making my spiritual life richer. Deo gratias! May all families experience the richness of practicing the Faith by experiencing what gifts each family member has been given by God, and may they offer back to Him together with joy!