How this Family Came to Be
God brought our family together through love of the Catholic faith. The journey to realizing that I was in love with my husband was slow and lengthy. He, on the other hand, recognized he had feelings for me quite early on, but had a long journey to realize that these feelings were more than just feelings, but indeed a calling from God. Let me tell you how we discovered that we were called to marriage together.
In the Beginning
I met my husband in the fall of 2013, about five months after I was received fully into the Roman Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil of 2013. As a young, neophyte Catholic, I couldn’t get enough of the church, and therefore was super excited that my first (and second) year of university would take place at a college connected to a Benedictine monastery. Not only that, but my dorm room was the closest to the church.
When the bells rang to signify mass was starting soon, even if they woke me up, I still had time to slip on a sweat shirt and proper pants and make it to daily morning mass. As I grew more comfortable with the community, I joined the monks for Vespers, then Vigils, and eventually even Lauds. (Lauds was at 6:20 in the morning – probably the biggest challenge for me as an evening person).
The Benedictines were happy to have me join them in their life of prayer. I was, in fact, the only student in residence who attended Sunday mass. I wasn’t the only non-monk to go to daily mass and the Liturgy of the Hours (although some days I was), but I was definitely noticed for being the only student. One by one, different monks came up to me after prayers or before mass, introduced themselves, and thanked me for coming to Church. During these meetings I usually felt a little intimidated (they don’t teach you to talk to monks in RCIA), and it took me some time to work at becoming confident being around these men in black habits. (Being shy never helps either). When my future husband approached me, however, a novice at the time, I didn’t feel quite as nervous as I did talking to the others.
For the first six months we knew each other, we didn’t talk very often. When I was confused about Feast day changes to the Divine Office, or had other questions about monastic life, I usually asked him. He often arrived for Vespers half an hour early, and, as I said, I was quite intimidated by the other monks before I got to know them better. This made him the best option for answering my questions. Sometimes, when I arrived for the Liturgy of the Hours, he would have already opened the booklet at my choir stall spot to the correct page.
Introducing an Eastern Flair
As time went on I got to know him better, and he began sharing prayers from the Eastern church with me. The Byzantine prayer before communion particularly captured my heart, so that even when I attend Roman masses I pray that prayer before going up to receive. You can read this prayer in our subscriber ebook, to be released by April 30th 2018!
Our relationship started to accelerate between the spring and fall of 2014. We confided in each other about God’s Grace in our lives. Everyone else could see that we were falling in love, but I was totally blind to my feelings towards him. God knew that if I was aware of my feelings for him, I wouldn’t have been so open with him. So He kept my eyes shielded from this until it was the right time to know.
As I grew to know my future husband, I started to recognize that he was not at home in the Benedictine monastery. Now, that’s not to say anything against the monastic way of life. Indeed, I still became a full fledged oblate of that monastery. It’s just, it was clear he didn’t belong in that community.
Seeing with New Eyes
Around this time he asked to talk to me after mass one morning. We walked outside the church, by the bell tower, and sat at the benches there. He told me that, since we were being totally honest with each other, he wanted me to know that he had feelings for me.
I was quite surprised, but I told him that it didn’t bother me, and that it wouldn’t change our friendship. I thought I was being nice.
Anyway it wasn’t for another week or two that God revealed to us my feelings for him. It happened after Vigils one evening, when he was showing me photographs of a monastery he’d visited in the United States. As we were saying goodnight, and I was looking into his eyes, God put it into my heart to tell him how beautiful his eyes were.
Once we realized that we shared feelings for each other, he could no longer stay at the abbey. He was dispensed of his temporary vows, and left at the end of October of 2014.
So then we were dating. I did not enjoy being long distance. He promised to visit once a month, but I didn’t think he would do that during my finals season, since his monthly visit would occur a week before I was to come home. (Total waste of gas or bus money, whichever way he visited, right?). He didn’t think so. He came up to see me and brought me about seven different flavours of chips. (I’d also been whining about not having enough money for treat foods – yeah I know, I’m a sinner like the rest of us. Not the best prioritizing there. But it was super sweet of him to do that for me!).
When I was back in the city and we were no longer long distance, I was a better person. It was a bit like this: once I realized we were meant to be together, I couldn’t bare being far apart.
It was the same way with the faith. I realized at the end of grade eight that I wanted to go to church every Sunday. But I wasn’t allowed to. And I fell into a deep depression between that point and starting RCIA.
Being away from one I loved, whether it was God or my future husband, hurt. I can appreciate that now, looking back. And I really appreciate receiving the Eucharist every Sunday, and week days when I am able, because I remember how it was being kept apart.
Anyhow, as we were dating we decided to do marriage prep. My RCIA instructor talked about marriage prep during the process of our Christian initiation. He’d told us that he recommended it even to dating couples. This is because it is good for building communication, and if it’s not going to work the earlier you find out the better.
I have a lot of respect for my RCIA instructor, and I wanted us to do our marriage prep with him and his wife. So I convinced my husband we should do marriage prep now, even though we weren’t engaged yet.
It was really good that I had! Not only was it the last marriage prep my RCIA instructor led, but it was also the last session my church held before our wedding date! My husband proposed to me during the week before our last marriage prep session!
To be fair, we were still thinking of waiting until I was done university before getting married. Even though we were engaged in March, we didn’t visit with a priest to discuss wedding dates until June. But in June, we decided to get married in November! It may not have been a whirlwind romance, but we certainly did whirlwind wedding planning. By the time we picked the wedding date we had about 5 months to prepare ourselves!
Two Become One
On the 12 of November, 2016, we married! My wedding dress was white and green, which made me the happiest bride about.
We married in my home parish, which is Roman Catholic. However, we also had two Ukrainian Catholic clergy serving at the mass. We also followed the Ukrainian traditions of having wedding icons blessed, and singing Mnohaya Lita (Many Long and Happy Years) at the end of the Liturgy.
Two Become One, Again
A month after our wedding, we discovered the joyful news. God’s wedding present to us was a baby! Nine months and a few days after our wedding, Little Fox was born.
She has been a real blessing to us. Every day she teaches us to become more selfless. Generally she has a good temperament. But, she shows off a short temper if we take a “toy” away from her. Or if, for some stupid reason, we don’t want to hand her our food that she could choke on. Or the pen we are writing on our calendar with.
She may be sensitive, but we love her so much.
On the feast of the Nativity of Mary, she was baptized and chrismated into the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. She received her first communion that day. So far she’s well-behaved at Divine Liturgy and enjoys receiving communion when she’s awake. During the early days she nearly always fell asleep during Father’s homilies.
The Future for our Family
Our family is currently in discernment of priestly ministry. We are also looking forward to continuing to grow our family. Little Fox has not expressed any feelings yet about whether she hopes her first sibling will be a boy or a girl. We’ll let you know if she does, but either way God’s going to have the last say. As it should be.