Questions Young People Ask Before Marriage by Fr. Donald Miller, C.SS.R.
How to Judge a Boyfriend’s Conversion
How is it possible to be sure that a boyfriend, in becoming a convert to the Catholic Church, is truly sincere in his conversion and not merely “going through the motions” for the sake of marriage?
I went out with this boy for a while, liked him quite a lot, but finally told him I would have to stop seeing him because I was determined never to marry anyone but a Catholic. Almost at once he said: “Then I’ll become a Catholic.”
I have seen similar cases in which the converted person turned out to be anything but a decent Catholic after marriage. I don’t want that to happen in my case. My boyfriend is taking instructions, but how can I be sure he is sincere?
This is a very practical and important problem because there have indeed been many cases in which a boy went through all the requirements for becoming a Catholic, but turned out later to have done so only for the sake of “getting the girl.”
On the other hand it must be remembered that sincere converts make the best Catholics of all, and a Catholic girl should be very happy over the prospect of marrying such a man.
There are certain signs of sincerity in one who is taking instructions to become a Catholic that the girl should look for. She should, if at all possible, accompany him to the instructions he receives from the priest, both to give him confidence and to watch their effect on him.
If he is sincere in his study of the faith, he will show it in three ways:
1) By asking questions both of the priest who instructs him and of his girlfriend. A man who goes through a whole course of instructions without ever asking a question or raising a doubt, is probably not really interested in the faith at all.
2) By commenting to his girlfriend on the new things he is learning and on their wonderful appeal to his mind. If a man takes instructions to become a Catholic and never has a word to say about their effect on him, he cannot be very sincere.
3) By showing a new interest in prayer and church services within a short time after beginning to take instructions. True conversions are always marked by sincere prayers and a quickening desire to enter into the life of the Church. A man who would go through an entire course of instructions and never of his own accord go to Mass or any other Catholic church service until after his reception into the church, would offer evidence of indifference to the whole thing.
One final thing that a girl should do: she should bring up moral problems that being a Catholic raises in one’s life and see how her boyfriend would solve them. If he balks, for instance, at the Catholic principle concerning birth-control, and holds out against it, he is not sincerely converted.
Choice of Loves
I am in love. The man I love is wonderful. I have never met anybody like him. Other men with whom I have gone out have almost invariably made indecent advances; this man never has. He respects my religion and would do nothing to lessen my regard for it. He even says he would like to become a Catholic.
There is only one drawback to my happiness. He was married before in the Protestant Church in which he was baptized. I promised to marry him because surely God will not condemn us when we need each other so badly.
It is good that you have written to me so that I can answer shortly before Christmas. You say you have already made your decision. This means that Christmas is not for you. You have renounced it and rejected it, and none of its beauty or joy can have any meaning for your soul.
You say that “God will not condemn you because you need each other so badly.”
Despite your feelings, God has already condemned you. He who left heaven and gave up warm houses, soft clothing, even honor and respectability, and ultimately His life, to save you for heaven, has already pronounced sentence on a decision like yours.
He called marriages such as the one you have promised to attempt “adulterous”. And He said that there will be no unrepentant adulterer in heaven.
Therefore, take, if you will, the benefits of this attractive invalid marriage. But know what you are taking. You will never, so long as you live with this forbidden partner, be able to go to confession and receive God’s forgiveness for this or any other sin. You will never be permitted to kneel at the altar railing and receive the Son of God into your heart. You will never be able to look at a crucifix and say: “He died for me; therefore I will love Him and He will save me,” because you are rejecting Him by your bad marriage.
And there will be no “good tidings of great joy” for you on any Christmas, because what Christ came to give to those of good will, you will have exchanged for a home in which God cannot dwell.
It is not worth it, child. I know it is hard for a girl to give up a man whom she loves greatly. But so was the stable hard, and the manger and the cross. You don’t need any particular man in all the world. You do need God….the God-Man….and you will need Him forever. Don’t give Him up for any love.
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