Monday, May 16, 2011

Becoming a Catholic Couple

Y'all know we're Catholic, right? I mean... I did that whole series on Catholic weddings when we got married. But, I bet you didn't know that Jeff hasn't always been Catholic. He's always been a religious person with a deep faith in Jesus, but he actually grew up going to a Methodist church.

In college, Jeff started attending a gorgeous Episcopal cathedral, partly because they paid him to sing in the choir on Sundays (did y'all know that my sweet husband has an AMAZING voice?). While he was fulfilling his job duties as a staff singer, something about the traditional liturgy of the Episcopal Church grabbed ahold of his heart and made him start to have some serious questions about Christianity and religion and where the right place for him was. He was really captivated by the tradition and belief system of the Episcopal Church, and he started thinking that the only substantial difference between Episcopalianism and Catholicism is the whole King Henry divorce thing and maybe he should be thinking about becoming Catholic.

Jeff's pretty church in South Carolina

At that point, we weren't dating or anything, but we were really good friends. I was in high school, and for the first time I was being confronted by people who were asking me the same serious questions about faith and religion. For the first time, I had to really think about why I was Catholic, what I believed, and why I believed it. It was a period in our lives during which I was learning and questioning because I so badly wanted to have reasoning behind my faith, and Jeff was learning and questioning because he so badly wanted to find the church that was right for him.

We had great conversations about transubstantiation (the bread and wine becoming the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist), the Saints, and other differences between Catholicism and many Protestant religions. I was attending a wonderful church, and I had an abundance of people (along with two parents) that could teach me about these things. Jeff didn't have the same sort of situation, so he read books. He read books on religion, theology, and the history of Christianity. He embarked on a sort of spiritual research journey, and I was just amazed at the way he was soaking everything in. He devoted so much time to his relationship with God, and he inspired me to approach my faith with the same unquenchable thirst. 

One of Jeff's favorite theology books

After all that reading and researching (and a lot of prayer), Jeff decided that his religious beliefs fit most perfectly with the Catholic Church, but he continued attending the Episcopal church through the rest of college. He had a wonderful support system and friends there, plus the great singing job, and it was the best place for him during those years. Plus, the Catholic Church doesn't exactly make it easy to become Catholic, and he needed to wait until he was staying in the same state for an extended period of time to be able to attend the classes.

Jeff with some of his friends from Trinity Episcopal Cathedral

Once Jeff graduated and moved to Houston in December 2009, he began the process of becoming Catholic. Unfortunately, the Catholic Church has some pretty structured systems for this process, including a class that starts in September and goes through the next Easter. Jeff had missed the September start, and at first, he was told that he wouldn't be able to become Catholic until Easter 2011. This was really frustrating for both of us. Jeff was more knowledgeable about the Catholic faith than most Catholics I know, he had spent years praying about the whole thing, and he was just so ready. In a lot of ways, I felt like he was a way better Catholic than me, yet my Church wouldn't even let him take Communion for a year and a half! It was tough. 

Our church in Houston

Jeff was attending the Catholic church by our apartment, but every Sunday when he couldn't fully participate in the Mass it just made him so sad. When Jeff would come visit me in College Station we would go to my church together, and it was even worse. I felt so horrible taking Communion when he couldn't. I had crazy ideas of secretly breaking off a piece of my Eucharist and sneaking it back to the pew for him. We would kneel and pray after Communion, and I would cry. It was heartbreaking to have him there with me, to hear the words "this is my body, given up for you" and to think Jesus wanted to give his body up for each and every one of us! Why is the Church insisting on it being 'given up for you, Katie, but not you, Jeff'?

Here's my church in College Station.

We were starting to be kind of miserable about the idea of Jeff having to wait a year and a half. When I told Jeff that the whole thing was making me resent the Church a little, he decided to try to do something about it, and he scheduled a meeting with a priest at our church in Houston. After talking to the priest about his journey and his feelings, Father Al came up with a solution for him - he would get the diocese to allow Jeff to do his sacraments one at a time like children do as they grow up - Reconciliation, then First Communion, then Confirmation. Father Al actually suggested that Jeff attend both the Catholic church and an Episcopal church in Houston for the time being so he could take Communion at the Episcopal church and feel like he wasn't missing out on the weekly celebration of the Eucharist.

Good old Father Al!

Jeff met several times with Father Al, and last spring Jeff did his first reconciliation. Then in May of 2010 Jeff had his First Communion (and got a certificate just like the 2nd graders do, haha!). He was finally able to receive the body and blood of Christ in the Catholic Church. It was a huge deal for Jeff, and it was a big deal for me too - taking Communion together with my future husband was something I had waited a long time to do. 

Last week, Jeff finally finished the entire process with his Confirmation!

Jeff with Cardinal DiNardo. I don't know why the Cardinal is making that face. Crazy. 

I got to wear another new Banana Republic wrap dress. I'm absolutely in love with this one!

I even curled my hair for the occasion (that happens like, never!). BM Amy would be so proud of me (she curls hers every day!!!). 

My parents, my sister, and Jeff's parents were all there for the Confirmation Mass, and we had a little wine & dessert party at our apartment afterwards. Jeff's very happy to finally just be stable in his religion, and I'm very happy to have a happy husband! It was a wonderful day for all of us. 

We've definitely become a stronger couple because of everything Jeff has been through, and I think we've both been strengthened in our individual faith because of it as well. It's a wonderful thing to have a husband who inspires me to live out my faith and helps me to realize the importance of everything I've grown up taking for granted. Our religion is a really important part of our marriage, and we're very blessed to be able to share such an important part of life and encourage each other every day. 


  1. haha Love your comment about how the only substantial difference between Episcopalianism and Catholicism is the King Henry thing. I was baptized in the Episcopal church, but attended Catholic church in high school and college. When people ask me the difference, I usally mention Henry VII!

  2. yay, i'm so happy for you guys!!

  3. It's so cool to read about your spiritual journey together! Thanks for posting that, I enjoyed it. :)

    My almost-husband also got paid to sing in an Episcopal church during the first part of college! I visited once and sat by this nun who gave me a cough drop...haha. We're both Methodist, but we really love the liturgies and such within our church that come from the Catholic and Episcopal traditions.

  4. You know, some days, I don't want to worry so much about finding someone Catholic to be with for the rest of my live, but after reading this (and almost crying in the middle of work) I can't help but want someone who loves Christ AND me, the way you and Jeff are. I love yall! Btw, I think this is one of my favorite posts ever. ;) Thanks for sharing Katie! (& Jeff)