God & Spouse
DEAR FRIAR RICK: I have been married for over 10 years with John, and on the whole we have had a happy marriage crowned with 4 beautiful children. Since we got engaged we promised that we would always be sincere with each other, and that we would have no secrets. I therefore assumed I knew my husband pretty well.
A few days ago my sister-in-law let slip that before we got married he had been sacked from his job for “improper behavior” with a female colleague.
I was shocked to hear this, and when I confronted him about it he swore to me, with tears in his eyes, that it was a false accusation that had caused him great suffering, and that he just wanted to forget the whole affair. But why did he not talk to me about it? Why did he hide such an important fact from me?
Well it seems obvious to me that your husband John was fearful of your reaction and probably quite embarrassed. I can imagine though that this might be quite disconcerting for you. My first reaction is to suggest that “by their fruits you shall know them” – in other words, what is it like to live with John. Have you had any reason to doubt his fidelity to you? Perhaps it was not really a credible accusation. On the other hand this might stir up doubts in you. If he was unfaithful, would you even know it? It’s a hard place to be. I think you did the right thing in talking to him. Unfortunately there may be a subsisting doubt in the back of your mind now. Perhaps it’s not a bad thing for a little while. So often there are clues of a person’s infidelity right before our eyes, but we don’t want to see it. Now that your awareness has been raised you may (or may not) notice some inconsistencies that may raise a flag… unusual absences from the home, working late on a regular basis, being secretive, etc. In time though, you may realize that things are fine. My other concern is why your sister-in-law decided to blurt this out to you. What was her motive? I would want to know more if I were you.
DEAR FRIAR RICK: I often read interviews in which famous people claim they believe in God, but that they don’t go to church. They say: I am Catholic, but I practice my religion privately. Excuse me, Father, but how can anyone believe in our Christian God and not go to Mass, where Christ is present in the Eucharist? Atheists seem to me to be more honest because at least they are coherent.
This is a complex question to which I will try and offer a succinct answer. I can see two different paths that lead to the position that such ‘Catholics’ take, and both of them involve deceiving themselves. The first is most obvious, and it involves a denial of the communitarian aspect of faith. God’s love is for his people, which includes us. Our faith is designed to be lived in community, where we interact with one another. Faith is not a head-trip that we practice in our prayer space at home, but rather the reality of the day-to-day rubbing of shoulders with our sisters and brothers, at work, at home and yes, at church.
Others stay away from church because they find their parishes to be full of hypocrites. Well, my response to them is that there’s always room for one more! It’s such a lame excuse to avoid the church community because it is imperfect. Of course it is imperfect! We are all imperfect! That’s the point. The faith community is the place where imperfect people, we sinners, find the support to move closer and closer to becoming the saints God has called us to be.
This is my last contribution to this column in the Messenger of Saint Anthony. After many years of sharing with you reflections on liturgy, our faith and more recently problems of day-to-day living I am taking a break. Thank you for reading, thank you for reaching out with questions, and thank you most for your continued faith in the Lord and his miracle worker: Saint Anthony. I wish you many blessings of health, faith, prosperity and love during this new New Year.