A Catholic Reader Struggles with Questions about his Marriage to a Mormon
I know you probably get many, many emails and I’m also certain that your time is stretched thin. I have a dilemma that I brought upon myself and everywhere I turn makes it more confusing. First, I am a convert to the Catholic Church, having entered in 2005. I am also a convert to the LDS church a few years later. I married a Mormon a few years ago and we have been relatively happy, until I started going back to the local catholic parish. I have tried to share with her why I believe that I belong in the Catholic Church. The priest here tells me that it would be imprudent to do anything other than go to church with her and to Mass on Saturday. He even went as far as to tell me that I SHOULD be going to the Mormon temple with her. She is very sensitive and I really do love her and don’t want to hurt her.
I talked with the missionaries yesterday about the so-called “Great Apostasy” and they had nothing. I showed them the scripture in the New Testament in their bible and they basically told me that I need to read the BofM and gain a testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith and that I would then see that the “Great Apostasy” was as they claim. None of it makes sense. These folks, including and especially my dear wife have been horribly brainwashed. I can only hope that invincible ignorance is enough to keep them out of hell, but I don’t really know.
How should I handle the predicament that I find myself in? Do I follow my priest’s advice and maintain the status quo, or do I cut ties with everyone of them except for my wife? I did forget to mention that I got a radical sanction last year, so that our marriage is recognized by the Church. Do you have any suggestions, recommendations, ways to minimize the confusion on my part? My catechesis largely came from the Baltimore Catechism. I absolutely love the Church and the liturgy, especially the “Extraordinary Form”. I do accept that Pope Francis in the Successor of St. Peter and I believe the our Lord is fully present in the Blessed Sacrament.
Any help that you may be able to offer would be immensely appreciated. Thanks and have a great day!
First off, let me apologize for my slowness in replying. I have been laboring on a book since last fall and since then have had to cope, along with the rest of the world with pandemic and economic disaster. So please forgive me.
Secondly, let me stress that I am not clergy, spiritual director, or in any way qualified as a counselor, therapist, or marriage expert. Nor do I claim to know much about Mormonism, nor to have the ability to read hearts and minds. I’m basically a loudmouth with a keyboard. So do not take a word I say as The Word of the Lord. If it helps, good. If it seems meh or worse, harmful, huck it overboard without a second thought. I’m only replying because you asked what I think and I feel like I owe you a reply. I don’t at all feel like my reply is necessarily worth the electrons you are burning to read it.
In a nutshell, I think your priest is on the right track. That doesn’t mean I think there is any truth to Mormonism. I don’t. The issue is not Mormonism. The issue is the dignity of your wife as a creature made in the image and likeness of God and the obligation you have (which you obviously feel or you would not be writing) to honor that. Before we are Christian, Mormon, Jew, Muslim, gay, straight, or any other descriptor stuck on us, we are human beings made in the image and likeness of God and therefore entitled to be honored and loved as such. It is, of course, desirable that your wife come to understand that the Jesus she worships with imperfect knowledge filtered to her through Joseph Smith and the Mormon religion has handed himself down to us fully through the sacraments and teaching of the Church. But the best way for that knowledge to come to her is through your love and respect for her. So honoring her where she is, is the best place to meet her and accompany her as the Holy Spirit (not you) reveals Christ to her. The good news about being Catholic is that you not only don’t have to convert anybody, you can’t convert anybody. That is the Holy Spirit’s job. Only he can do that.
So take this as an opportunity to live your faith and not as a threat to it. If, as the Faith teaches,. Jesus Christ really is present in the Most Holy Sacrament and the Church is the primary sacrament of salvation and *you* are a sacrament to her through marriage, then you have an awful lot going for both of you in terms of God being in your corner and working to bless you both. Don’t fret over matters like “Who is going to hell?” God wants nobody to go to hell and that is very good news. Focus rather on how you can bear witness to the love of God at work in your lives. Don’t water down your own Catholic faith, but also don’t feel like you need to pressure her into submission to it. Any choice that is not free is not a real choice and the choice to obey our Lord’s leading in whatever direction he calls us must, above all, be a free one.
So suggest to her (if it’s not already what you are doing) that you both go to Saturday Vigil Mass and then the Mormon Church on Sunday. Talk about what you can do to live the love of God and neighbor. Make love, not defeating somebody in a theology debate, the focus. You are right in understanding that there is no Great Apostasy and therefore no need for Smith’s “revelation”. So be at peace about that. Now listen to your wife, not for truth claims about the Mormon faith, but about what it is she fears losing if she leaves the Mormon Church and what it is she seeks that is good (and therefore from Jesus). That, it seems to me, is your path toward unity in the Holy Spirit. Communion in the Eucharist lies at the end of that road. It will not come from fear or from beating her or anybody she loves in a fight.
Above all, address yourself to our Lord in the Eucharist and seek as best you can to be pleasing to him in love. He will supply what it is lacking and help you with your sins and faults. He is with you both, not against you.
Hope this helps!