From a reader…
I am a convert from Lutheranism, and my wife and children remain irregularly practicing Lutherans. My wife says that my absence for Mass every Sunday is a selfish betrayal of family time, and that our whole family suffers. I do not want to upset her, particularly since her bad moods affect our children, but I cannot live with the idea of regularly missing Sunday Mass. What can I do?
Marriage is difficult. Mixed marriages are even more difficult. Successful marriages require lots of prayer, communication, and compromise. Compromise does not entail giving up things that are essential, but rather finding ways to give a little in order to make peace. Compromise where one party is forced to give up something essential is not really compromise, but rather capitulation.
Depending on where you live, there might be other Masses that are possible to attend. Is there an early morning Mass you could attend, before the rest of the family is up? Or a Mass later in the day? Or perhaps even a Mass on Saturday evening?
If there is not another Mass to attend, which might accommodate the family schedule, then the onus on you is to ensure that before and after Mass, you’re giving your all to your family.
Let’s say, for example, the Catholic Mass is at 10 AM, and the Lutheran service that your wife and children irregularly attend is at 10:30. Wake up early and prepare a nice breakfast for your family to enjoy (as they are not enjoined to fast before worship), even if it’s an egg casserole warming in the oven as you toddle off to Mass. Let your wife know that she need not do the dishes after their repast because you’ll take care of that as soon as you get home. Kiss your wife tenderly when you return from Mass (or when she returns from the Lutheran service) and let her know the joy you feel from being able to receive Christ and how your newly found Catholic faith strengthens you as a person, strengthens your love for her, and strengthens your marriage.
If she starts to see your Catholicism not as some sort of a rival in the marriage, but rather as an asset to you and to the marriage itself, she may become a bit less hostile.
Regular applications of flowers and chocolate can help, too, … so I’m told.
Look for other ways, after Mass, to maximize your family time. Read some Scripture to your children, pray a psalm or two with them. They, too, need to see their father’s Catholicism as something which makes him a better person and a better, more loving father, not as something that takes him away from them.
Certainly, pray for your family’s conversion, but in the meantime (or if that doesn’t happen), you need to show them by your actions how your Catholic faith makes you a better man, and thereby a better husband and father.