Asking for help with a somewhat different family situation


#1

My wife and I were baptized and confirmed as Catholics.

She married what I perceive to be a non-Christian in a non-Catholic wedding. They had two daughters (now they are 12 and 16).

I married a Baptist lady. She and I had a son (he is now 11).

It was morally wrong for us to do it but both of us divorced about 5 years ago. Her husband was an alcoholic and my wife was an adulteress. I say this without judging because all of us have committed the sins of addiction and lust. I have forgiven my ex-wife. Of course we did not know each other before this.

My current wife and I have married in the last year. Our families are combined. I have decided in the last six months to go back to attending Mass and consider coming back to the Church. As a result, I am working on getting an annulment – supposedly this won’t be difficult. Neither prior marriage was a proper Catholic marriage and honestly, they weren’t fully sacremental even from a Protestant standpoint.

My current wife like I said was baptized Catholic – I see her as that even though she considers herself agnostic/new age. She is willing to have our marriage con-validated. The Priest at my church says this is possible. I am willing to raise my son Catholic. He enjoys going to Mass. Her daughters though I am wondering… am I obligated to push them to be baptized in the Catholic church? While they will attend a Protestant charismatic church occasionally, they are not baptized. Would love to hear anyone’s thoughts on this situation. I am willing to do anything that I have to do to please the Lord. I know it doesn’t save me but I do know my obedience to Him is more important than anything else in this world. God bless you all!


#2

I’m not sure what the exact Church teaching on this would be, but as both girls are over the age of reason, it would have to be their choice. If they don’t want to be baptized, you cannot make them. It’s also up to their mother, though. If she doesn’t mind, you could ask them what they want, but if she doesn’t want her daughters baptized, then I wouldn’t push it. They may come to the Church on their own one day either way. I think it was St. Paul who said: “Preach the Gospel, and when necessary, use words”. Lead by example, answer any questions they have, and leave it at that.

As to any future children you may have with your wife, you have an obligation to do your best to raise them Catholic, including baptism.

Good luck, and Welcome back! :slight_smile:


#3

All of these children are over the age of reason (7) and therefore have the right to choose their religion. You cannot make such a decision for them, including your son. Your son would need to be the one to ask for baptism and/or full communion with the Catholic Church.

Of course you should encourage your son to become Catholic. And, witnessing in your own family to encourage your wife to return to the faith and her daughters to become interested in the faith is also an admirable thing to do in charity. I don't know what you mean by "push" them to become Catholic, but no you are not obligated to do that.


#4

Praise God for your return to His Church! Isn’t it amazing how God is truly the “hound of heaven,” persuing us always, chasing us always, even when we have turned away.
Keep on witnessing to your family in a gentle way and you might be amazed at how contageous the love of Christ is. Sometimes when we are on fire for God, we get over-zealous and it can actually turn people off. Especially with your step-daughters, just let your actions speak for you. God Bless and welcome home!


#5

Thanks for the help! 1ke, my choice of word “push” was harsh. I didn’t realize seven was considered the age of reason. I do remember that my mom and sponsor did gently push me to become a full-fledged Christian. I was about 11 at the time. I am wondering about my son. Should I require him to at least go to Mass with me? He does not fight it but I can tell he is at that age where he is less interested than I’d like him to be.

Thanks for the welcome back and your help. God bless.


#6

[quote="philippaul, post:5, topic:190030"]
Thanks for the help! 1ke, my choice of word "push" was harsh. I didn't realize seven was considered the age of reason. I do remember that my mom and sponsor did gently push me to become a full-fledged Christian. I was about 11 at the time. I am wondering about my son. Should I require him to at least go to Mass with me? He does not fight it but I can tell he is at that age where he is less interested than I'd like him to be.

Thanks for the welcome back and your help. God bless.

[/quote]

Yes, you can require him to attend Mass with you and attend religious education classes. You can also engage him and the rest of the family at home through devotions such as the rosary, advent wreath, stations of the cross and lenten family prayer, bible reading, Catholic videos and books, etc.

A father's witness is extremely important to a son's faith formation. Be a witness of a strong, Christian man. Talk to him about being a Christian man. Spend a lot of quality time with him and let him see your faith and prayer life in action.

At 11 it's not unusual for a boy to squirm and complain about going to church, or just about anything else for that matter. It's par for the course. Just be steady and consistent and don't make a fuss. If you are consistent with the attitude that "we go to church on Sunday and that's the way it is" he'll eventually just get in the routine and do it.


#7

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.