The day I married my husband was one of the happiest days of my life. While true, that’s an unremarkable statement, one we’ve all probably uttered at one time or another. But for me there was a shadow behind it: the day I married my husband was the day I accepted that I would never walk into a Catholic church again.
He was raised without faith. I was a fallen-away Catholic. We lived together before marriage, bought a house and a dog before marriage. We were immersed in liberal, secular graduate education, in an ocean of moral relativism, on the fast track to all kinds of worldly success. And I knew, truly, that there was no way this man, the love of my life, would ever darken the doors of a church.
And knowing that, I chose to be with him instead of God.
God, as you have probably guessed, laughed. As the prophet Jeremiah so beautifully put it, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
My grandmother was a devout, lifelong, faithful Catholic, who sat stoically through our ridiculous parody of a sacramental wedding. She was originally from Mexico, and I grew up proud of my Mexican heritage. Even during the ten years I spent wandering apart from the church, she continued to talk to me about faith, to tell me she was praying for me, to speak a blessing over me every time we parted.
During our honeymoon -- not coincidentally in Mexico -- we took a bus tour of the Aztec temples around Mexico City. At the end of the tour, the guide essentially kidnapped our bus and took us to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patron saint of the Americas.
At this point, Todd and I were both totally ignorant of Our Lady of Guadalupe. We didn’t know who she was, didn’t know anything about the apparition. The Basilica built in her honor is on Tepeyac Hill, the site where she appeared to St Juan Diego. Without the faintest understanding of the significance of where we were, within days of our essentially pagan wedding, Todd and I stood directly underneath the miraculous tilma of Juan Diego, which Our Lady used to convert thousands of Native American Indians to the One True Faith.
Under her mantle, before the idea of church even crossed our minds, our conversion to the faith began too.
In hindsight, it’s easy to see how my grandmother’s tireless prayers and the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe were instrumental in my eventual reversion, and my husband’s conversion. There is no one who has fallen so far that God cannot reach down to them, despite what I believed on my own wedding day. The intercessory prayers of others and the power of the Blessed Mother are some of the most powerful instruments he has to do this.
I’m reminded of another couple I know, who prayed a rosary every single day for thirty years for the conversion of the woman’s sister and brother-in-law. Guess who triumphed?
We all know someone in our lives who has left the church, or who we think would never consider entering it -- even those who view Catholicism with ignorance, derision, or outright hostility. Remember this: Nothing is impossible for God. You may think your prayers and your actions don’t matter, but I assure you, they do. My grandmother’s prayers mattered. That bus driver’s action mattered.
Whose conversion do you need to pray and work for today?