Sanctity of Marriagegreenspun.com : LUSENET : Catholic : One Thread
Hi, I'm hoping someone can answer my question. I am a Nazarene who lives in California. My fiance, who previously was Nazarene, has started studying Catholicism and I am thinking he will probably convert. We have visited a few Catholic churches together (one particular chuch on several occasions) and I have tried to keep an open mind about it, but have seemingly failed. These churches are not warm, no one has any fellowship, and there is far too much ritual for my comfort. At the Nazarene churches I have attended my whole life, everyone went out of their way to greet newcomers, and there was a simple program of singing the beautiful old hymns of 'Amazing Grace' or 'How Great Thou Art', which I dearly love. When I have been in the Catholic church which we have visited before, I also didn't "feel" God. My fiance contends that religion is not about "feeling", but I disagree. I believe in order to worship God, you have to feel His presense in the place where you go to seek Him. I am not feeling Him in the Catholic churches I have visited. There is far too much ritual and it feels sterile. After I have left one of these services, I leave feeling as if I have not attended church because I feel as if I have not worshipped God, because I didn't feel his presence. That said, I believe it has been established that I have no desire at this point (and probably ever) to convert to the Catholic faith. That said, what, and will someone please tell me EXACTLY would I need to do in order to have our marriage blessed by the Catholic church, if my fiance became Catholic? As far as I understand, the union would HAVE to be blessed by the Catholic church or it would not be recognized, correct? Does this apply if he becomes Catholic after we are already married? And what about children? Is it true that the marriage will not be blessed by the Catholic church if the one who is Catholic does not promise to raise the children Catholic? Why do the children have to be raised Catholic in order for the marriage to be blessed by the church before the children are even born? It seems absurd to me that the church should have such a rule regarding child bearing, when determining what religion the children should be raised should be a decision that is strictly up to the parents. Sorry for the lengthy posting. If I have offended anyone, I apologize. I am feeling conflicted and angry.
-- Brooke (WingedPotato@hotmail.com), June 03, 2004
have you try the evangilcal, baptist, Lutherine or Christian and Missionary Alliance churches?
You might have different feelings too.
-- Henri (email@example.com), June 03, 2004.
My fiance, who previously was Nazarene, has started studying Catholicism and I am thinking he will probably convert.
He was "previously" Nazarene? He is not Catholic now? I take it that he is still Protestant, but "independent" of any affiliation. (Getting his status nailed down is important, for the purpose of answering your later questions and comments.
We have visited a few Catholic churches together (one particular chuch on several occasions) and I have tried to keep an open mind about it, but have seemingly failed. These churches are not warm, no one has any fellowship, and there is far too much ritual for my comfort.
There are THOUSANDS of Catholic parishes. Many of them are not like those you have visited, being much "warmer" than what you found. Even some of those you visited may be "warmer" on some days than others.
As far as "ritual" goes, that is something that a person like you (non-ritual for over 20 years) must become accustomed to. You can't expect miracles overnight. Then you need to think about the fact that it makes no sense for Christians to dislike ritual -- because Jesus and the Apostles took part in rituals all over the place, and so did the early Christians, as we can tell from their writings of the first couple of centuries. What you see in Catholic churches is just a carrying on of the original kind of Christian traditional worship.
I consider you mistaken in believing that ritual should be suppressed. You must be unaware of the fact that about 80% of all Christians in the world today (Catholics, Orthodox, Anglican communion, Lutherans, and others) continue to participate in ritual worship. You must also be unaware of the fact that 0% of Christians prior to the 1500s took part in NON-ritual worship services. You ought to stop and think about the fact that the manmade Nazarene denomination is doing things wrongly, contrary to God's will. He was the one, both in the Old and New Testament times, who prescribed the forms of ritual worship. Why disobey him?
At the Nazarene churches I have attended my whole life, everyone went out of their way to greet newcomers, and there was a simple program of singing the beautiful old hymns of 'Amazing Grace' or 'How Great Thou Art', which I dearly love.
Some Catholic parishes have greeters, though this is optional. The two hymns you mentioned are sung in many Catholic parishes -- along with other hymns that you would find familiar and unfamiliar. Please try to avoid jumping to conclusions about Catholicism. It is some wide territory for you to explore!
When I have been in the Catholic church which we have visited before, I also didn't "feel" God. My fiance contends that religion is not about "feeling", but I disagree.
I'd have to say that you are both wrong. The role of feelings varies from person to person. Neither of you can expect the other to be identical. Emotions have a role to play in most Catholics' religious life -- but one has to understand their place and their limitations. Feelings, which can change from day to day, must be accompanied by reasoning and solid truth. If you are hooked on feelings and care about little else, you have no firm foundation.
Perhaps what your fiance is trying to communicate to you is this:
What would you rather be, #1 or #2?
#1 A person with some amount of feelings and emotions (from a little to a lot), combined with the fullness of doctrinal truth (faith and morality), plus all seven of the sacraments.
#2 A person with emotions and feelings galore, combined with partial doctrinal truth (mixed with error), plus only two of the sacraments (Baptism and Marriage).
He probably is beginning to see that #1 describes a Catholic, while #2 describes you as a Protestant. I hope that you won't continue to settle for far less than God is offering to you.
I believe in order to worship God, you have to feel His presense in the place where you go to seek Him. I am not feeling Him in the Catholic churches I have visited. After I have left one of these services, I leave feeling as if I have not attended church because I feel as if I have not worshipped God, because I didn't feel his presence.
Yours is a very unusual experience indeed. Most people, whether Catholic or not, seem to have their strongest experiences of the presence of God in a Catholic church -- because He is present in the most marvelous way, in the Blessed Sacrament of Holy Communion (later reserved in the tabernacle). The very Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus is present at and after the holy sacrifice of the Mass. If you have not sensed God's presence in a Catholic church, it must be due to the distress you are feeling over the unfamiliarity of the place and its lack of the "warmth" that you long for. You may need to visit a church other than at the time of Mass, so that you can sit alone with Jesus, who is waiting in the tabernacle for you to visit him.
I believe it has been established that I have no desire at this point (and probably ever) to convert to the Catholic faith.
I am confident that this has not "been established" at all, especially if your fiance does convert. His prayers and good example will probably help you to become a Catholic some day.
That said, what, and will someone please tell me EXACTLY would I need to do in order to have our marriage blessed by the Catholic church, if my fiance became Catholic? As far as I understand, the union would HAVE to be blessed by the Catholic church or it would not be recognized, correct? Does this apply if he becomes Catholic after we are already married?
If you get married in a Protestant church (or before a J.P.) before he becomes Catholic, the Church will assume your marriage to be valid and will recognize it as such after the conversion.
If he becomes a convert before you get married, his new pastor will have to get the Catholic bishop's permission for him to enter into a "mixed marriage" with a non-Catholic (you). This permission will probably be obtained with ease. The priest will explain to both of you what the Church's law requires, with respect to the exchange of vows, witnesses, marriage preparation, etc..
And what about children? Is it true that the marriage will not be blessed by the Catholic church if the one who is Catholic does not promise to raise the children Catholic?
The non-Catholic doesn't have to promise anything, but only needs to be made aware of the Catholic's promises. The Catholic must promise not to leave the Church and must promise to do all within his/her power to raise the children as Catholic. Obviously, this is something that you must thoroughly discuss before getting married. If you strongly disagree on what will happen to your (future) children, that may be a sign that you should not get married.
Why do the children have to be raised Catholic in order for the marriage to be blessed by the church before the children are even born?
The Church wants the children to be raised Catholic because the Church rejects "religious indifferentism." The Church knows that she was founded by Jesus, has the Sacraments and the fullness of truth with no error mixed in -- and thus has all of what is best for every child. In light of that, it would make no sense for the Church to say, "Oh, that's OK if you want to raise your kids as Nazarene, because it doesn't rattermatter if they learn some doctrinal errors and will miss out on Holy Communion."
It seems absurd to me that the church should have such a rule regarding child bearing, when determining what religion the children should be raised should be a decision that is strictly up to the parents.
I hope you can see, from what I just illustrated, that it is not "absurd" at all to "have such a rule" about a promise. It is simply the Church carrying out her role as "spiritual mother of mankind." Besides, the Church does leave the final "decision" "up to the parents." What you need to realize is that no good Catholic parent who really understands his faith would agree to raise the children as non-Catholics. Why would he agree to deprive them of Holy Communion, for example?
Sorry for the lengthy posting. If I have offended anyone, I apologize. I am feeling conflicted and angry.
Apology accepted. Please think about why you are feeling "angry." Is it because you are accustomed to having things your own way all the time -- but you see that you cannot have your way this time? (In other words, are you spoiled?) Are you angry because you realize that a married couple should practice the same faith, but you think that it would be too great a sacrifice for you to change, even for the sake of the children? Is it because you realize (at least subconsciously) that you should be Catholic, but that it would be too humbling to admit that you have been following a manmade tradition that teaches some errors and is missing big parts of the Christian life (e.g., Holy Communion)? Those are rhetorical questions for you to answer only to your heart, not to me.
-- (Defender@fThe.Faith), June 03, 2004.
Welcome to our forum. I was delighted to hear your story because I too was raised attending the Nazarene Church. Now I am planning to convert to the Catholic faith, after much study and prayer. God has shown me that the Catholic Church is the original Christian Church and still remains so today, because God's establishment does not change.
Brooke said: After I have left one of these services, I leave feeling as if I have not attended church because I feel as if I have not worshipped God, because I didn't feel his presence.
I understand what you mean, because I used to feel this way when visiting Catholic services too. However, God has become real to me there, more real than ever. You know in Revelation when it says that Jesus is coming soon? This refers to His coming to us at every mass in the Eucharist (communion) -- it is the true Body and Blood of Christ. I ask you to pray to God sincerely that He would show you His presence in the Catholic Church, because it is there more than in any other church! The Catholic Church is the one established by Jesus Himself!
Jesus' presence is real in the Eucharist, more real than in any other Protestant church. Sincerely pray to God to be able to recognize His Truth and His presence in the Eucharist, and He will make His presence real to you. Now when I go to mass, I have a sense of heaven. I feel closer to God than I ever felt in Protestant churches, and every week I look forward to the day when I can go to mass again. I savor every moment of my time there -- God has given me such a longing for Him. Pray to God that He will instill this desire in your heart also. Talk with your fiance and ask him why he wants to convert -- ask him to show you what he has discovered about the Catholic faith.
Now to address your concerns. Another thing I have noticed is that while people seem less friendly at the Catholic Church because they may not talk to others, this is for several reasons that are maybe not obvious on the surface.
1. Reverence for the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist. Some people believe that we should be silent while inside the sanctuary out of respect for Christ.
2. Numerous mass times. Most Catholic Churches have 3 or 4 Sunday masses, so when you visit, you may not see the same people again. I have been attending a parish for about a while now and I still barely can tell who is visiting and who is a regular. It just takes time to get to know people. When you get involved, this will happen. You can decide to be the one who approaches others with kind greetings.
3. Lack of enthusiasm. It's partially true that out of the masses of Catholics at the services, there may be less people who are enthusiastic about their faith. But you will find this in Protestant churches as well. Also, lost in that crowd are MANY who truly love Christ. Unfortunately, church attendance becomes a ritual for people (Protestant and Catholic), and although that is sad, at least they come and hopefully God will speak to them. That said, you can find a good parish with lots of opportunities for involvement, as I have done. At my parish, the priest holds weekly Bible studies on Thursday nights. Also, various groups of parishoners get together throughout the week to discuss the Scripture readings for the coming Sunday mass. These are just some examples. Also, if you hang around this forum, you will find many wonderful Catholic people who are knowledgeable and excited about their faith. Feel free to ask us any questions if you wish to better understand the Catholic faith.
Also, you might be interested in listening to the story of this man who was a Nazarene pastor and converted to the Catholic faith. It is a beautiful story of the miraculous. You will find it at this website: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/frmselecrprog .asp?seriesID=-6892289&T1=journey. Check number 7 on the list (careful though, as this number changes with updates). It should say "Nazarene minister" at the top, and his name is Doug Gonzales.
-- Emily ("firstname.lastname@example.org), June 03, 2004.
...Continued from above post
Now I'd like to address your feelings about Protestant and Catholic church services. My mom expressed sentiments extremely similar to what you are saying right now. She was a part of the Nazarene Church for 24 years, and now she wants to return to the Catholic Church also. She wrote a story about her faith journey that I can send to you by email if you like. It is wonderful and I think will be helpful to you, as it shows from Scripture and logic the truth of the Catholic Church. Please send me an email if you would like to read the story. I will provide an excerpt below that relates directly to your situation.
QUESTIONS FOR THE LORD - by Emily's Mom
In spring 2003, I was weeding in the front yard, and praying while I was weeding. I asked the Lord, “Why, if the Catholic Church is the true church, are they less vibrant in Mass than Protestants are in their services? The average Catholic seems less interested in worship than the average Protestant.”
I didn’t expect an answer so quickly, but the Lord answered me right away with a rebuke: “Is your worship vertical or horizontal? Are you looking around you to buoy your worship by everyone else’s? Do you go to worship for a ‘feel good’ experience amongst other Christians? If your worship is dependent on what other people are doing, then you are too conscious of them. Concentrate on Me and not what you will get out of it.” All that I could reply was “Oh…Forgive me, Lord.” I realized I had been too me-focused.
But I did venture to ask another question. “Why, if the Catholic Church is the true church, are they less active in their faith than Protestants. Protestant churches raise up more Bible-hungry, missions-minded people that are more open about as well as more knowledgeable about their faith. Why do I see more fruits in Protestantism? Lord, I am used to warm fellowship and other people being excited about their faith.” Someone pointed this out to me and says, “The Truth should have more fruits. See, Catholicism can’t be the true faith.”
I didn’t get my answer right away this time, but it did come in an unusual way. As I was reading a Bible story to the daycare kids out of the Old Testament (specifically about Josiah when there was great idolatry and workmen found scrolls while doing repairs. These scrolls had been neglected and unread for years. Idol worship was rampant.) I realized there was much corruption at many points in Israel’s history among the priests as well as the people. During these spiritually barren times, did the teachings of Judaism become untrue because the people weren’t obeying it? NO! That would make truth dependent on the fickleness of people! Let God be true and every man a liar!
Then if the Catholic teachings are true (and they were considered true by most Christians until the fifteenth century, but most importantly they were considered true in the centuries directly following the apostles), do they suddenly become false because many Catholics today are spiritually indifferent? What if suddenly there was a great revival of faith among Catholics and they became fervent in their serving the Lord? Would the Catholic doctrines suddenly become true? Of course not. Therefore, we cannot measure truth of doctrine by people’s behavior.
Well, Brooke, may God bless you. Pray to God to show you His Truth -- that cannot steer you wrong. If you decide not to convert and remain Nazarene, while your husband becomes Catholic, I think that will make things difficult for you. Please put this matter to prayer and ask for guidance from God. This is not something to be taken lightly. I completely understand your situation, because this is exactly how my dad feels. He is still Protestant, and he feels hurt and betrayed that my mom wants to become Catholic. The difference is that my parents are married and thus must work through this together. You and your fiance are not married yet, so you need to pray to God and consider what is the best decision. I think a marriage between a Protestant and Catholic can work, but it will be difficult.
Please commit this matter to prayer and give the Catholic Church a chance. Ask God to show you the truth of it, as He has shown me. God bless you, Brooke. I will keep you in my prayers.
-- Emily ("email@example.com), June 03, 2004.
While your fiance is right in saying that religion is not about subjective "feelings" but about objective truth, you are also right in saying that we should expect to experience God's presence in our place of worship. However, God's presence consists of much more than warm fuzzy feelings. Friendly greetings and inspiring hymns are good things, but any gathering of people can hug one another and sing songs together. There is much more to complete Christian faith than that. You do not experience God's presence in the Mass because you don't understand what the Mass is, or what happens there. If you did, you would not only have "warm feelings" when you are there, but would be in absolute awe at the fact that Jesus Christ Himself is actually present before you in the flesh, come to fulfill His promise "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day." (John 6:54) Does this happen in a Nazarene service?
You claim that "determining what religion the children should be raised should be a decision that is strictly up to the parents". Could you offer a biblical basis for that statement? My Bible says that Jesus Christ founded one Church for all mankind, and said that all people were to belong to that one Church. I find nothing in the scriptures suggesting that the founding of thousands of conflicting manmade churches 1,500 to 1,900 years later is in accord with God's plan. Conflicting "truths" are not truths at all, for truth cannot conflict with truth. History plainly reveals that the Catholic Church is the one true Church founded by Jesus Christ Himself on the Apostles. The one to which Jesus said "the Holy Spirit will guide you to all truth", and 'whatsoever you bind upon earth is bound in heaven". God Himself has decided what religion children - and everyone else - should belong to. His Church has a solemn responsibility to Him, its founder and God, to help people fulfill God's will by entering His Church, and to avoid wandering off into unauthorized denominational religion.
-- Paul M. (PaulCyp@cox.net), June 03, 2004.
I forgot to mention something, Brooke.
You said that Catholic "churches are not warm, no one has any fellowship" and that "At the Nazarene churches I have attended my whole life, everyone went out of their way to greet newcomers"
I meant to tell you a couple of things.
First, you need to know that Catholics come to church primarily to worship God, to take part mystically in the actual passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus -- made present on the altar in holy Mass. This makes the roles of preaching and fellowship quite secondary and tertiary in what a Catholic does at church on Sunday.
Second, Catholics can be just as "warm" as Nazarenes, but they have different times and places to demonstrate that warmth. Most Catholics have their fellowship through activities that take place away from the church building and often on other days of the week. If you take a good look at Catholic parish bulletins, you will begin to see what I mean about this. The fact that the fellowship of Catholics takes place in times and places different from those to which you are accustomed has probably contributed greatly to your wrongly judging them as not warm enough.
-- (Defender@fThe.Faith), June 03, 2004.
you do not need to go to a church to feel the presence of Christ. Just bow down on your knees, as Him to come into your life. Surrender your life to Him; let Him take control of your life; let Christ be your King at heart. You will see that your life starts on a new journey. YOu'll find peace and joy.
-- Henri (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 03, 2004.
Different Masses (even within the same Parish) have different "personalities". Generally, if you're looking for fellowship, try attending the 9:30 am and 11:00 am Masses--those are generally family-oriented, and often have "fellowship" (i.e. coffee and donuts) afterwards where you can stay and chat awhile.
There is also another way to look at ritual, in terms of comfort. You can go to any Catholic Church and it will be the same, more or less, and you can follow along, even if you don't speak the local language. You cannot say that of most other denominations.
-- GT (email@example.com), June 03, 2004.
Hi Brooke, Please don't let anger and confusion into your head. These are weapons the enemy uses to keep us apart from the wonderful blessings and gifts God offers us through the Eucharist. God gives us truth, the devil seeks to confuse. There are wonderful catholic parishes out there full of the loving people.
Maybe God is calling you to be the "Welcome Ambassador" as you approach a new church. You may need to be the one who greets, welcomes and befriends those catholics in the church you may attend. God works in interesting ways, doesn't he? If you join a new church with your fiance, maybe God is preparing you for a new ministry of welcoming new parishoners?
You describe a very comfortable environment in your current Nazarene church. God is not looking for your fleshly personal comfort. God is seeking you and your fiance right now because he has called you to higher spirituality. He wants you to be closer to him through the Eucharist. Growth in God can be painful because he is searching for those who can withstand the difficulties of this demanding and carnal world. He is preparing you to be a soldier in a spiritual battle.
When you experience personal trials, do you still feel that warm cozy presence of God? Not always- but you pray, have faith, and let God handle the trial. That is when God's peace and warm love comes back. This is called spiritual maturity. Believing, praying, trusting especially when you do not have that feeling you described.
Brooke, he is personally calling you! Heed His voice and His plea. Open your mind and pray for HIS will in your life...not your will. Your openness will bring you blessings unsurpassed in your relationship with your new husband, marriage and life.
God blesses his faithful. May God bless you. Jennifer
-- Jennifer (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 03, 2004.
Dear Brooke, congratulations on having the guts to ask the hard questions.
Have you ever been part of a crowd at a sporting event where your home team won an inspiring victory? Did you feel a warm sense of fellowship with your fellow supporters as you all cheered and sang songs for your team together? Would you describe this as “feeling God’s presence”? Would you make this sport your religion? (Some people actually do!)
We all naturally feel warm when people around us repeat the rituals of the culture we grew up with. I’m sure Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists “feel” God’s presence through the songs and ceremonies they take part in together. Does that make theirs the true religion founded by God?
As a "cradle" Catholic, I have to say that whenever I have gone to a Protestant church I've found it very "cold", no matter how welcoming the people were. Protestant services seem to fall into two categories: those which are purely an intellectual exercise in Bible study (which I find tolerable but very narrow); and those which try to put on a fantastic show to appeal to our emotions (which totally turns me off).
-- Steve (email@example.com), June 03, 2004.
I know there was no ill intent, but for the sake of accuracy, Eastern Rite Catholics do not simply "maintain a connection to Catholics". They ARE Catholics, through and through. They are in full submission to the Pope and the Magisterium, and they believe everything that other Catholics believe.
-- Paul M. (PaulCyp@cox.net), July 26, 2004.
Eric Manchester is prohibited from posting in the future owing to his indecent/vulgar play on words when describing Catholics. The offending post has been deleted.
-- Ed (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 30, 2004.