Catholic moral teaching and my non-Catholic family


#1

As some of you know, I have been studying Catholicism on these forums, and elsewhere, for just over two years now (time flies, it seems…:slight_smile: ). After a long search, investigating the competing claims of Protestantism (easily dealt with) and Orthodoxy (not so easily dealt with), I recently came to the decision that I absolutely must enter the Catholic Church. My confidence in the rightness of this decision has grow considerably in the time since, and I now look forward to entering the Church with great anticipation.

However, I am in Iraq, stationed in a combat outpost in Baghdad. I very rarely spend any time on the FOB (primary base), so I almost never get a chance to attend mass, much less get a chance to actually talk to a priest about entering the Church. So, it appears that I might not be able to actually enter the Church for some time, perhaps not until we return to the U.S. I appreciate your prayers for me during this slightly awkard time of transition.

Anyway, on to the topic. As I have come to understand Catholic moral teaching, I have seen that some members of my own family do not abide by it. They are good Protestants, to be sure, and I’m sure they do not believe they are sinning, but according to the Catholic Church, they are. Basically, within my family, there are people remarried after divorce, and there are people using contraception. I have already expressed my beliefs on these matters to some of my family, though I haven’t actually confronted them.

This is actually a great concern of mine. My father, in particular, is remarried after divorce, and according to the Church, he is basically living in a continual state of adultery. From his Protestant perspective, he has repented of his past sins, and he is truly married. However, I am concerned for his eternal state. Obviously, I would like for him and for my whole family to enter the Catholic Church (Prayers, please!), but even if they don’t right away, for the sake of their souls, I would like for them to be avoiding serious sin.

Any advice on how I can bring this up in a discussion? In regard to my father, I don’t want to go up to him and say, “Hey Dad, how’s it going? Did you know your relationship with your so-called wife could send both of you to Hell?” There must be a more diplomatic and effective way.

In regard to those using contraception within their marriages, this is a bit awkward as well. For one thing, it is easy for me as a single man to criticize contraception. And, my goal is not to fill my staunchly pro-life sister and brother-in-law with guilt. I just don’t want them to sin. Any advice on this issue? This is the lesser of my two worries, because the fix is easier (stop using contraception), whereas my father’s solution is much more painful.

Thanks for the help! God bless!


#2

First of all, congratulations on your decision, and welcome to the journey home!

Secondly, thank you for your service to our country. My bro-in-law did two tours in Iraq, and we prayed for his safety constantly. I pray that you return as safely as he did.

With regard to your conversion, I suggest you contact Father Serpa in the AAA forum, and see if there may actually be steps you can take before your return.

As far as your main question, I have little advice. I only want to share with you that your situation is not unique. Even as a cradle Catholic, I have run into the same problem, and it is distressing. Contraception, fornication, skipping Mass, misusing the Lord’s name, divorce, marriage outside the Church, and even one gay relative (who, I believe, is remaining celibate…but who knows for how long?). It troubles me to no end.

The only suggestion I can make is that you live your life as a faithful Catholic, and pray that God will open their hearts, one at a time perhaps, to the point that they’ll ask about your conversion, or that they will demonstrate a willingness to learn. I had that experience with a relative who married a non-baptised person outside the Church: they have since started using NFP, and have started investigating the process of marriage convalidation. Soon, if they are sincere, they’ll also begin living as brother and sister until the marriage is blessed.

Baby steps – and painfully slow ones, at that. But keep praying! The ones who are sincere in their submission to God will follow His prompting, and perhaps your conversion is just the nudge that some of them need.

I’ll pray for you. Keep your head down! :thumbsup:

Peace,
Dante


#3

Thanks for the post! Very helpful. Also, great user name. I’m reading The Divine Comedy right now, actually (well, not *right *now, obviously, as I’m typing, but you get the idea…)


#4

Hi again - yes, time flies!

Your situation is a very delicate one, and it would be easy, with the best of intentions, to do more harm than good.

I would say there’s nothing you can do in the short term other than to make your own life an example of Catholicism lived in the world. If the subject comes up you should certainly present the Catholic position, but I don’t see how you can do much more than that. Of course, one should always pray for those one loves, and for those in need of prayer. Beyond that, any positive influence you have in these people’s lives will be measured over the course of many years, not over a few theological discussions.


#5

Of course you are, as any good son would be. However, please keep in mind there are three conditions for a sin to be mortal:

First, it must be grave matter.

Second, he has to know it is grave matter.

Third, he must give full and free consent to it.

From what you’re saying, it sounds like your father is unaware he is committing adultery. If that’s true, he is not fulfilling condition #2. The same goes for those in your family using contraception.

If nothing else, this should comfort you somewhat about their eternal state (which, of course, is known only to God).

Hope this helps. God bless you on your journey!


#6

We end our Prayers, during the Liturgy of the Hours, with this blessing:

“May the Lord Bless us, protect us from all evil, and bring us to everlasting life.”

Pray for all whom you love, and for those that you do not yet know you love. Prayer is the surest way to help effect change of hearts.

And I pray for you, also. May the Lord bless you, protect you from all evil and bring you to everlasting life as He Shepherds you home, both eternally and from this war.

Thank you for your service to our great Country. “For those who fought for it, freedom has a taste that us protected will never know.”


#7

When I registered, Dante seemed the perfect candidate – especially due to the “in the middle of our life’s journey, I found myself in a dark wood” bit. Seemed, well, appropriate. :wink:

Being an English teacher, I rather dig your handle as well. Billy Shakes wielded a mighty iambic pen, indeed!

Peac


#8

I would say pray, don’t preach. If they ask, speak up.

Your best witness is your Godly life.


#9

Continue in prayer for your entry into the Catholic Church. She welcomes anyone with open arms, like a mother who misses one of her beloved children.

However, I am in Iraq, stationed in a combat outpost in Baghdad. I very rarely spend any time on the FOB (primary base), so I almost never get a chance to attend mass, much less get a chance to actually talk to a priest about entering the Church. So, it appears that I might not be able to actually enter the Church for some time, perhaps not until we return to the U.S. I appreciate your prayers for me during this slightly awkard time of transition

.

I would pray and since it makes impossible for you to enter into the RCIA program here. Though I have been to the RCIA program in Camp Victory, it focuses primarily on the Liturgical readings on the Mass as part of its lesson.

I think there should be a better RCIA program in MNC-Catholic Chaplaincy that covers an overview of Catholic beliefs, the sacraments, and major precept of the Church.

I’m also deployed in Iraq and my prayers are with you.

Anyway, on to the topic. As I have come to understand Catholic moral teaching, I have seen that some members of my own family do not abide by it. They are good Protestants, to be sure, and I’m sure they do not believe they are sinning, but according to the Catholic Church, they are. Basically, within my family, there are people remarried after divorce, and there are people using contraception. I have already expressed my beliefs on these matters to some of my family, though I haven’t actually confronted them.

This is actually a great concern of mine. My father, in particular, is remarried after divorce, and according to the Church, he is basically living in a continual state of adultery. From his Protestant perspective, he has repented of his past sins, and he is truly married. However, I am concerned for his eternal state. Obviously, I would like for him and for my whole family to enter the Catholic Church (Prayers, please!), but even if they don’t right away, for the sake of their souls, I would like for them to be avoiding serious sin.

Any advice on how I can bring this up in a discussion? In regard to my father, I don’t want to go up to him and say, “Hey Dad, how’s it going? Did you know your relationship with your so-called wife could send both of you to Hell?” There must be a more diplomatic and effective way.

In regard to those using contraception within their marriages, this is a bit awkward as well. For one thing, it is easy for me as a single man to criticize contraception. And, my goal is not to fill my staunchly pro-life sister and brother-in-law with guilt. I just don’t want them to sin. Any advice on this issue? This is the lesser of my two worries, because the fix is easier (stop using contraception), whereas my father’s solution is much more painful.

Thanks for the help! God bless!

Pray for them. You said that you expressed your opinions on the matters on moral issues in the lines of divorce and contraception. I don’t know how much of them were able to see the errors of their ways, but I think praying for them would be helpful.

In the case of your father, you desire for him to live a more saintly life. When I read your commends, the first time that came into mind is the quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who,* through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church**:

Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in** their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience** - those too may achieve eternal salvation.*

Your father is doesn’t know the moral wrong of living in sin as a divorce man. Out of ignorance he doesn’t (forgive me if I sound insulting) it is a sin. Yet he sincerely seek the Lord. We can pray for him so that the God’s grace may move him, and in time, he will surely be moved by his conscious to make the proper corrections to live a more Christian life.


#10

I just told someone just 10 minutes ago…

Would you give a baby a steak to eat?

No of course not. You would give him baby food.

Look at how long your journey took you.

St. Augustine’s mother St. Monica prayed 20 years for his conversion.

We have to think “In God’s time not mine.”

You know it is when we start asking questions that we learn. But if we don’t know the questions we will never know the answers.

Ask your father,alittle at a time, the questions that you asked yourself.

For me it is the history. (cradle Catholic) I did not know why we do the things we do. But researching the Protestant Reformation answered alot of questions. Then the history of the Saints in the Catacombs in Rome! The history of the Bible.

All you have to do is plant the seed. Have faith that God is with you and hears you. The Holy Spirit will do the rest. We want so much for our families. We desire Heaven for them. God gave everyone the freewill to follow Him, all we can do is pray,evangilize,and follow the example of the saints who lead the way.

Pray for those you love and if you don’t know how to ask God for what you want have faith because He already knows. May the Lord be with you.And thank you for fighting for our country.


#11

Thanks to all of you for your very helpful and encouraging posts. I have found my family to be far more understanding than I had feared about my interest in Catholicism. They don’t agree with my conclusions, but they don’t seem to fear for me, which is good.

God bless!


#12

I have a somewhat similar situation with a non-family member.

I am a cradle Catholic. I have a Protestant acquaintance who recently divorced, and is about to remarry (January). The divorce was particularly nasty, IIRC, or at a minimum there is significant animosity by this person toward the ‘ex’. I know this person only via e-mail through a Lord of the Rings fan group – we have never met face to face.

I am unsure how or whether to initiate a conversation with this person about the issue.


#13

Be sure to bring up these points: 1. At one time all Christians opposed artificial contraception. All Christians believed it was intrinsically evil and went against natural law. It wasn’t until after the Anglican Lambeth Conference in the 1930’s that Protestants began to approve of the use of artificial birth control.

You should get some copies of Janet Smith’s talk–“Contraception: Why Not” so you can give them to your family members when the topic of contraception comes up. Dr Smith gives a great explanation of the Catholic view of sexuality.

**2. At one time all Christians opposed divorce and remarriage. ** This is clearly taught in the Bible too. If your family members are sola Scripturists, it would be hard to explain away Jesus’ own words:

He said to them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.” --Matthew 19:8-9

He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” --Mark 10:11-12

"Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and the one who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery. --Luke 16:18

Regarding the Catholic teaching of divorce and remarriage, we teach what we teach because Christ was so clear about it.

But you are right. These moral teaching are hard for some people to accept and will keep many people away from the Catholic Church.


#14

I agree with this plan. Confrontation rarely works and often blocks any further progress. Your family is doing the best they can by their own lights. As you progress in your spiritual voyage, they are bound sooner or later to ask questions. If they are the right ones you have a chance to share what you believe without laying blame on them. Your life as you live it and your prayers for them are what’s going to matter.

Thanks also for stepping up for our country. It is a real sacrifice to lay your life on the line and maybe even lose it for us, your countrymen and for those Iraqis who want only peace. You and your family are in my prayers. Richard


#15

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