How We Met
As told by Mater, the writer
It took me weeks to drum up the courage to attend the young singles group at our parish. I was in a new city with a new job in a new phase of life, and I knew no one in the area outside of my co-workers. One cold Friday evening in February, I drove up to the Adoration Chapel at our Church where the young singles group was praying inside. I slipped into the back pew unnoticed. And there He was: Jesus, sitting in the monstrance on the altar.
After a few minutes of telling Jesus just how nervous I was, asking Him for friends, and praying for my future husband (Jesus, please let me meet him here tonight!), my eyes began to wander around the room. No, distractions are not good in prayer, but I have to be honest. I was playing the old Are They A Young Single Or Just Here To Pray? game. And then my eyes landed on my future husband, kneeling in what I would soon learn was his usual spot in the second pew on the left. I'm near-sighted and could only see a sliver of his profile, but my heart was immediately drawn to that blurry back of his head. I couldn't explain it, felt my face flush, and quickly got back to prayer with what is becoming one of my go-to prayer phrases, Jesus, what are you up to now?
Over the course of many daily Masses, holy hours, and late nights in the parking lot of the church, after book club or movie nights or Mass, leaning up against our cars, I got to know the tall meteorologist from the Midwest. I fell for him more with everything I learned about him: he is a pasta enthusiast; he finished his PhD in record time; he really (really) loves weather and interstate highways; he has a spreadsheet for everything; he competes in triathlons, multiple softball leagues, and golf teams all simultaneously; and that man serves His Lord with everything he has. I was painfully aware of how he met and exceeded my criteria for my dream husband.
Meanwhile, I was praying a novena to one of my best saint friends, St. Rita (it's no coincidence that she is the patron saint of impossible causes!), praying daily to be united with my husband soon. I have known since I was a little girl that my calling and path to sainthood was to be a wife and a mother, and (needless to say) I was ready to enter into my vocation.
One night after the young singles group had met to participate in the Stations of the Cross the first Friday of Lent, I wished the group goodbye and slipped into the Adoration Chapel. As I got out my rosary beads, Pater's figure appeared in my peripherals. I tried to continue on with my rosary, but I was very aware of this handsome, holy man's presence kneeling a few rows back across the aisle. Distracted is an understatement. Hail Mary full of—wait, he moved, is he leaving? no—grace the Lord is with thee—maybe if I turn my head like this I'll know exactly when he leaves then I can—FOCUS—blessed art thou among women and blessed—yes this is perfect, when he leaves I'll get up too so we can talk in the parking lot—blessed is the fruit of Thy womb, Jesus—no, he'll know, I'll look stupid—Holy Mary, Mother of God—he moved! No he didn't. Dang it, PRAY!
I finally gave up. Jesus. I can't do this anymore. I'm not praying and I'm sorry. I really like him and I want to talk to him outside and maybe even want him to ask me on a date one day. But this is ridiculous. I give him completely to you. I want your will to be done, not mine. I trust you. I'm going to get up and leave right now, not this half-pray half-stalking operation I've got running. If it is not your will for us to be together, for him to be my husband, do not let him get up and follow me outside. I don't want to waste my heart or my thoughts on something that you don't want for me. Okay, here we go. I'm getting up.
I let out a big sigh and genuflected outside of my pew. I saw Pater in my peripherals—he was genuflecting, too. Ignoring the fact that my heart was beating about ten times its normal pace, I walked out of the chapel, Pater following closely behind me. Once we got outside, I turned to him to begin some small talk, hoping that the contents of my prayer and the ramifications of Pater actually following me outside were not written all over my face in one big, goofy smile. We didn't get far into the conversation when Pater interjected, "Do you want to go on a date with me Saturday night?"
Unable to hide my disbelief (That was fast, Jesus!), I stopped walking and stared at him. Just stared at him. It was at least a couple of seconds before an awkward "yes I would love that" stumbled out of my lips. No, that long pause was not just in my head. Pater would later tell me it was the longest ten seconds of his life. Thankfully, we overcame that slightly awkward start and me literally vomiting from nervousness/excitement before he came and picked me up for said date, and the rest, as they say, is history.
As told by Mater, the writer
Fast forward six months. Six wonderful, joyful months, full of hiking, weather documentaries, hockey games, brewery hopping, road trips, softball games, daily Mass/Adoration, cookie dough ice cream, and weekly drives to Latin Mass. The happiest six months of my life.
Now, I had an idea that this proposal was coming (stealth is not one of the hallmarks of a scientist). In fact, I had figured out it would happen within a two-week timeframe. Because we normally have a standing date once every two weeks, Pater knew that the moment he asked me out for a dinner date, I would know immediately what was going on. So, in true Pater fashion, I received a Google calendar invite to six dates over the course of those two weeks.
If our first six months together were the happiest of my life, these two weeks were by far the most agonizing.
Date 1: Pater recreates our second date. We go to the same restaurant and sit at the same table. Instead of ice hockey (because it wasn't hockey season), we got ice cream and walked around the park while a street performer played trumpet. No proposal.
Date 2: Pater recreates our first date. Same restaurant. Same dessert place. Same walk around the pond. No proposal.
Date 3: Pater pulls up to a beautiful park. He unpacks the car: picnic blanket, fancy cheese and crackers, a vegetable platter, homemade pasta salad, a bottle of wine, my favorite chocolates, and the Battleship game. No proposal. He then takes me to the perfect spot to watch the sunset. No P R O P O S A L.
Date 4: Pater takes me to the spot where we were when he knew he wanted to ask me out (Firehouse Subs). Then he takes me to a fun, local brewery with swing dancing lessons and games. I bested him in an intense round of foosball, but no proposal.
Date 5: Pater takes me to a fun Italian joint downtown. We go walking around this beautiful park and over these bridges (Pater temporarily forgetting my aversion to fish and ducks and enduring me constantly trying to change his course--sorry Pater). He takes me to a gazebo and makes me the happiest girl in the world by dropping down on one knee and asking me to marry him. Don't ask me what he said because I got so nervous and excited I honestly have no idea (at least I didn't vomit this time, right?). Apparently I interrupted him so many times (I don't remember that either) that he couldn't say everything he wanted to anyways, so it all worked out.
Date 6: We enjoyed the first of many dates as fiancés, me flashing my ring to anyone with eyes and over-using Seinfeld's "Where's my fiancé? I lost my fiancé, poor baby!", the joy of the moment eclipsing the distressing agony the previous two weeks had been.
As told by Pater, the scientist
It was Friday, March 3 when I mustered up the courage to ask Mater out on a date. We were both in Adoration, and I planned to leave when she did so that I would get a chance to talk to her. I had just spent the last 15 minutes half-praying and half-calculating that there was a 75% probability that Mater would say yes, when she got up to leave. With only a short, 100-foot walk between the Adoration chapel and the parking lot and assuming we would walk at a pace of 2.5 mph, I quickly calculated that I had a window of approximately 27 seconds. The pressure was on. As we both walked out of the church into the brisk clear evening, we were met by a calming 5-mph northeasterly breeze. But it did nothing to calm my nervous, racing heart. Even though it was only 42°F, I was sweating, but with a relative humidity of 49%, my perspiration quickly evaporated into the dry air.
"Do you have any plans this weekend?" Mater asked, jump-starting the conversation.
Perfect, I thought, this should be easy. Just play it cool.
"I have an intramural basketball game tomorrow afternoon, but that's about it," I responded. "What about you?"
"Just cleaning my apartment and doing my taxes," Mater said, as she smiled like an angel and gazed into my soul with her beautiful brown eyes.
I took a deep breath and blurted out, "Do you want to go on a date with me Saturday night?" Several seconds passed. I began to panic, as I mentally reduced the probability of success to 25% using Bayesian statistics.
Finally, Mater responded, "Yes, I would love that." I was ecstatic. 100% probability! For our first date, we went out to dinner at an Italian restaurant and went for a 0.67 mile walk around a lake. As planned, the weather was perfect (53°F and clear). By the 3rd date, I knew I wanted to marry her.
When August rolled around, Mater knew that a proposal was coming. So to make sure it would still be a surprise, I planned an Engagement Extravaganza - six proposal-worthy dates over the course of 2 weeks. On Wednesday, August 30 at 6:37pm, after rerouting several times to give harmless fish and ducks a wide berth, I dropped to one knee at 29°43'39.2"N 90°09'25.4 W and asked Mater to marry me. At 6:38pm, I became the luckiest man in the world.