We recently featured Janae and Ryan's beautiful Texas summer wedding and were delighted when they also submitted their engagement story. Janae and Ryan's met on their university tennis team, where their shared love of Jesus and tennis brought them together--even though Ryan was not yet Catholic. Through Janae's prayers, love, and a book by Scott Hahn, Ryan entered RCIA and entered the Church a year before their engagement. When he proposed to Janae, he chose to do so at the shrine where he made his first Confession, and we can't think of a more romantic spot for a proposal!
In Ryan's words: Janae and I met on the UT Tyler tennis team. From the time Janae and I started dating I knew it was part of God’s Divine plan. Faith had very little to do with my life the few years prior to us dating. My sophomore year in college I began to truly experience the mercy of God when my roommate and I went to Bible study. This is when I began to really encounter Him, and when He began the healing process in me. I opened up to those closest to me about my journey and my past, and the next day I went on a date with my future wife.
Janae is holy, and made me strive to be holy! I was completely unworthy to deserve a chance to lead her, but she graciously trusted her heart to me. Janae and I dated for nearly two years before I proposed. It is crazy looking back how He used a completely incredible woman to sanctify me, and grow me. God held our hands and led us to marriage. Looking back, there is nothing more obvious in my entire life than that Jesus wanted Janae and me to be married.
However, there is a twist in this story that shows God’s providence. When Janae and I were dating she was Catholic, and I was Protestant. What bound us together was that we both loved Jesus. As we began to become more serious, we talked about how we wanted to raise a family in the same church. Out of respect for Janae, I began to look into Catholicism.
While Janae went to Peru for a mission trip, I was spending time at home and making a long road trip to visit family. Janae decided to leave me the book Rome Sweet Home by Scott Hahn. This is where the twist in my spiritual journey began! I discovered so many new beauties to the faith that I was never aware of. I continued to read, discuss with my family, and soon couldn’t wait any longer! Six months later I joined RCIA and became Catholic on June 2nd, 2015. Since then, having access to Confession and the Eucharist has been unbelievable. I want others to feel the supernatural grace of the Sacraments and to experience God firsthand in the Catholic Church.
On July 3rd, 2015 Janae and I went to a Latin Mass at the Mission of Divine Mercy, the place I made my first Confession. The mission has beautiful grounds and a walking Stations of the Cross. After Mass, I led my beautiful bride to be down a path that led to an empty tomb with a cross. It was there that I asked her to be my teammate for a lifetime through the vocation of marriage. Looking back, I am glad I proposed at this particular place. The cross and the empty tomb symbolize the crux of the Christian story and our call as a married couple. The cross is the greatest symbol of love. Jesus suffered unimaginable pain and died in the most brutal fashion. Just as Jesus died for me, I offer the same sacrificial love to my wife. St. John Paul II wrote that “Spouses are the permanent reminder to the Church of what happened on the Cross; they are for one another and for others the witnesses to the salvation in which the sacrament makes them sharers”(Familiaris Consortio). Janae and I are bound together and united by this cross. God has placed a teammate and helpmate by my side to help me on my journey towards heaven. If I ever find myself on Calvary hill, I know Janae will be like my Veronica and be there to wipe away my tears, and I hope to be like her Simon of Cyrene and help carry her burdens.
The biggest piece of advice I can give is to discuss everything and anything before marriage. This is person is going to be your best friend through life and it is important to establish that open line of communication. We are only a few months into marriage, and we are already seeing the joy and intimacy that came as a fruit of these conversations. It may not always be pretty or easy, but it is important to talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly! Also have those completely weird and random conversations. Express your hearts to each other often! Jesus works in those words.
In Janae's Words: 15 months ago Ryan gave me a pretty ring on my finger and endless joy in my heart but none of that compares to the joy of our Lord. Ladies, my advice is learn what it means to be the bride of Christ. It will teach you so much about becoming the bride of a man.
Photo Credit: Brother of the bride | Engagement Location: Mission of Divine Mercy- New Braunfels, Tx