This past weekend we celebrated an Easter I will never forget. EM the atheist is now, EM a_theist!
A weekend filled with family, friends, and some mucusy puke – thank you Theo’s post nasal drip – was one of the most memorable of my life.
I remember being a little girl and praying each night for my future husband. Praying that wherever he was, whomever he was, that he would be the right man for me when the time came. I, like most other girls, had an image as to what that guy would be like. While many of the attributes changed throughout the years, I no longer required his last name to be Hanson – one thing never changed. He would be Catholic. It wasn’t even something I considered could possibly be any different.
Then I met EM. He wasn’t Catholic, and while I had always hoped to marry someone who shared the faith, I knew that this was the man for me – Catholic or not. Then words my mama always said flashed in my mind, “Never say never…”
As those that have read my previous post know, I never pushed EM to the faith. I prayed with all my might that he would one day come to know and love God, but I never forced it. You can’t force those things. They are deeply personal, and seeing the profound faith he now has is beyond what words can describe.
So when it came time to celebrate Easter and EM’s Confirmation we decided to rent a beach house and invite our family and close friends.
We couldn’t have had a more perfect weekend – ok maybe just a little. Friday night Theo suddenly came down with a fever, then later that night he developed a nasty cough, and we almost lost him after Easter dinner – this kid will probably kill me one day. Yet, the time spent with those that love and support EM was so incredibly special.
The boys had the best time running around the decks and going up and down the stairs – 3 floors = MUCH stairs! Thankfully they were thoroughly carpeted and with 6 kids only one took a tumble!
The Easter Vigil is my favorite mass and yet the most harrowing mass to attend with small children. Mass started at 8, we got there 7 (to make sure we got a pew front and center – no way I was missing this!) and had our first meltdown at 7:05. Then again at 7:10, 7:20 so on and so forth until mass started. But if you’re wondering if it ended there – oh no my friends it did not! Thankfully with the friends we brought and their littles I felt as though I was in good chatty toddler company. Yet my child was special. He had to poop and he made sure everyone knew! Then off we went, TEN MINUTES LATER – we returned. Now thinking all would be well from there on out I sat and tried to enjoy this special occasion. Nope – T the poor sweet baby that threw up blueberry stained mucus on his khakis (right before we were supposed to head out the door) only wanted daddy. But you know who else only wanted daddy? You guessed it! Sebastian. Which, during any regular Sunday wouldn’t have been an issue – but today wasn’t any regular Sunday. It was Easter Sunday and EM’s Confirmation and First Communion.
The time came for EM to be called up to join the others that were being initiated into the Church (around 30 this year) and S had to go with him. So moments before EM was about to be confirmed S ran on up and hopped into his “daddn Ed Michael”‘s arms. Thankfully everyone found it absolutely endearing! What wasnt endearing was when he told daddy he had to go potty – yes again – while others were receiving the sacrament and it forced me to carry him out kicking and screaming. Why kicking and screaming? Because he only wanted daddy of course!
So we had a wee chat out in the Narthex (the common area) and rejoined the others soon after. It was glorious! 30 new members to The Faith and the entire congregation broke out in applause and Sebastian broke out into hysterics! “NOOOO CLAPPING!!!!” Thankfully our priest is a saint and finds my kids adorable. So he simply smiled, made a joke I didn’t hear, and we quickly ducked back into our pew.
BIG STEP ONE, check! CONFIRMED he is! Elated am I!
Now on to BIG STEP TWO! His First Communion.
The time came and those receiving for the first time were called up. A moment EM anticipated with so much excitement! He was the third to go up and receive! Then Sebastian once again had to spice up the occasion – with outbursts of “I WANT MY DAD!!!!” Poor EM couldn’t even get back into our pew to pray before I had to carry S out … AGAIN!
I must say however, that it is in moments such as these that I am so incredibly thankful for our parish. They truly embody all that it means to be pro-life and embrace those whose kids might need a wee exorcism. They simply smile and say “well I guess he doesn’t love his dad,” jokingly. Nope – not at all!
A few kicks, a few “NO!’s” and a few candles turned into boats in the Holy Water font and we made it! We made it through a day that I will never forget! A day that while not exactly gone according to plan, it went exactly according to HIS plan! A day that my atheist, “there is no soul,” “I’ll never believe in God” husband joined The Faith he so deeply loves.
Many might not understand why people convert, many may think it is only done for others, “I’m converting for my spouse” or because “it makes me feel good”. But let me tell you something about Catholicism. It does make you feel good – yes – because you are filled with the Holy Spirit and get to receive the Body and Blood of Our Lord in the full presence each time you attend mass. But becoming Catholic isn’t about just a feeling. It’s about a deep realization that there is a God. He sent His only Son, who died for us. Who gave all He had for us. So that we could live. So that we – these flawed sinful humans could one day join Him in all His Majesty at the eternal banquet. Those that have a true conversion of mind, body, and spirit, do not do it for others – they do it for themselves. They do it because THEY believe! Not because someone else does. They do it because THEY want to be one step closer to sainthood. Not because someone else wants them to be.
EM would have NEVER done it for me and I would have NEVER allowed him to. It isn’t about me. It is about HIS relationship with Our Lord. His and his alone! A relationship that thanks to the prayers of OH SO MANY, and the intercession of Our Lady and many great Saints, is blossoming. He radiates a new sense of joy that once was not there. As he once told me – it is as if you have been standing on one foot your whole life and didn’t know it until you finally stood with two.
I have struggled to write this post because the emotion of it all has been so hard for me to articulate. With the way mass went – while yes I was able to pay attention – my attention was also elsewhere. As I write this I am filled with such happiness for this man. Such love for our amazing God that loves us no matter what. Whether were believe in Him or not, He NEVER stops loving us. He never stopped loving EM and He was there with open arms welcoming Him home when EM chose to love Him back.
And now that I’m filled with tears streaming down my face – I’ll post some fun pics from this weekend!
ps. Thank you JJ for capturing this memorable weekend!