I grew up in a religious family. I spent every Wednesday of K-12 at my obligatory weekly catechism. I've never slept past 8:00 a.m. on a Sunday. At a young age, I received Holy Communion, I enjoyed the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and was a confirmed Catholic at the age of 12. I loved being Catholic and told myself at a younger age that dating someone who wasn't simply wouldn't work.
I came to college, continued practicing my faith, never missed a mass. I continued going through the routine of the Catholic church and was what I considered to be a "Good Catholic." I have strong values, but to say that I perfectly lived them out would be a stretch of the truth. I had my share of drunken escapades and random make-outs in my freshman year of college. I justified my less than holy lifestyle through relativism and regular attendance at church. I was still a devout and passionate Catholic saving myself for something bigger and someone better but it wasn't until the beginning of my junior year of college that I found a reason for why the Catholic church was my home.
Though I spent my life in search of the "nice Catholic man" that mom promised was waiting for me, in the summer going into my junior year, I found myself head over heels in love with a Baptist (INSERT DRAMATIC GASPS). Though he wasn't Catholic, he attended church with me. I soon found that everything was questioned; he asked questions that I realized I couldn't answer. I spent my entire life in this church. Why did I not know what "PAX" meant, why we pray with saints, the significance of the rosary, why the priest is wearing purple, or the reason why we call him "Father"? ..."Why can't I receive communion?"
I spent my life believing in the Catholic church. But why? It took no time to realize that I was terribly uneducated. My instinctive answer to every question was a sad, "Well... Because."
Dating a non-Catholic was the best thing that ever happened to me. From the beginning, we vowed to grow closer to each other only through Him; we promised to live a Christian relationship, we set boundaries and made the decision to wait with each other. To answer his questions, I educated myself. CatholicAnswers soon became my most frequently visited website. I read books and attended Catholic conferences and retreats, listened to audiobooks, podcasts, and talked to priests. I finally had the opportunity to fully fall in love with the church that held my heart. I never expected him to convert to the church, but if I valued his presence in mass next to me, I realized I needed to find my own value for being there.
Had I dated the "nice Catholic man" I sought, I never would have had the opportunity to rediscover Catholicism. Two years later, this virtuous man that has taught me the meaning of self-sacrificial love is joining my hand and my heart in the Catholic church. Leading him through conversion has been the best experience of my life and through it, I have found reasons for why the church is my home that are finally able to transcend beyond "because my parents raised me here."
This is not to say that rediscovering Catholicism will only occur through dating a non-Catholic, but had I not opened my heart and mind, I would still be an uneducated Catholic stuck in a routine. There are a multitude of ways for you to find your heart in the church again, I was just blessed enough to find mine by losing myself in the love of another.
Proof that a relationship can be founded upon the ripped off
corner of a scrap piece of paper.