Considering converting


#1

Greetings to all,
My name is Sara and I am a Methodist married to a Catholic. We have been married for 3-1/2 years. We were married in my home church with my pastor and the local priest present, after getting permission from the Catholic Church to do so. It was a very meaningful service that recognized both of our faiths.
I was raised in the Methodist Church from birth. My parents are devout and attend every week. However, now my husband and I live in a nearby town about 20 miles from my hometown, and, more often than not, I find myself attending the local Catholic Church with my husband.
Though my husband and I both respect each other’s faith backgrounds (he comes from Irish Catholic ancestry on his dad’s side and German Catholic ancestry on his mom’s side), admittedly, when I first starting attending Mass with my husband after we were married, I felt like I had literally walked into a foreign country. The whole service was very different than what I had experienced, especially the ritualistic aspects and the emphasis on the Eucharist (which my church did once a month as opposed to every week. I also initially felt somewhat put-off that, even though I had been raised a Christian, I was not allowed to take Communion in a Catholic church. Though I understand the reasons why now, I still find it somewhat troubling, as a fellow Christian).
Now, the more I attend Mass with my husband, the more I think about whether or not I should convert. I do have some issues with Church teaching (mainly the role of women). Anyway, I am studying many scholarly books on the history of Catholicism and trying to wrap my head around a culture that is completely different from the one in which I was raised, though I am also intrigued by it.
Also, interestingly, if my personal history had played out differently, there is a strong possibility I would have been raised Catholic: My mother’s father’s family had French-Canadian roots and was Catholic, at least until the early 1900s. At some point in my family’s history, a baby was born but had died before it was baptized, and so had been buried in “Hell’s Corner” in a cemetery. After this, my mother’s family left the Church and became Methodist. Do I understand right, however, that this practice of burying unbaptized babies in such a location is no longer official teaching (was it “limbo?”). This is a real sticking point for me since it directly affected my family; I would hope someone would be able to shed some light on this.
I am primarily thinking of converting for the sake of Christian unity with my husband and for the sake of any children we may have one day. To their credit, my husband nor his family have ever pressured me to convert until I am ready to do so. Because I was raised Protestant, I tend to think like a Protestant, and it is difficult for me to reconcile that with a lot of the mystery and metaphor that surrounds the Catholic experience (though, as a very creative person, I can appreciate this aspect of the faith, which is much different from my experiences in the Protestant church, which have lately, in my home church at least, come to involve a lot of New Age-like things like reading poetry, doing breathing exercises and throwing packets of seeds around the congregation (in celebration of the story of the sowing of the seed in the Bible-I guess it made a point, but the seed-throwing seemed so unnecessary). In contast, I recently attended mass in a beautiful cathedral in Minneapolis with my parents-in-law and husband, and it was a very moving experience for me).
Obviously, I have a long way to travel before I make this decision. I have been reading these forums for some added education, and find them very interesting. Thanks in advance for any input/thoughts/ideas.
Sara


#2

I hope you end up converting! But it has to be for the right reasons. The Catholic Church isn’t another denomination that you join just for unity with your family or because you like the rituals. It is the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church established by Christ Himself, and holds the fullness of the truth. So everything that the Church officially, dogmatically teaches is the Truth.

But you don’t have to understand or accept all of that to start RCIA. You could go to RCIA to learn more about Catholicism, and decide as you go whether to convert this round or the next. You could go several years in a row if you need to.

Pray a lot!


#3

Welcome to CAF, Sara, and to the process of discerning entering into full communion with the Church. :slight_smile:

I too was a “convert” to Catholicism. In actuality, the Church considers non-Catholics who were baptized with the trinitarian baptism to have been reconciled with the Church, not as converts from another faith, such a Hinduism. That’s why a baptized person is called a candidate for confirmation and a non-Christian is called a catechumen when they go through RCIA.

To answer your primary question about the burial of unbaptized infants and limbo, no the Church does not refuse Christian burial to infants of Catholic parents who weren’t able to get their baby baptized before s/he died. The many Rachel Gardens (dedicated to aborted unborn children) in Catholic cemeteries shows this. And as for limbo, it was never a doctrine/dogma of the Church. I know many cradle Catholics were taught as if it were in school, but it was only ever a theological proposition. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that we leave the fate of unbaptized children in the loving hands of God. A more updated theological proposition is that such children enjoy a natural state of peace but they cannot partake of the beatific vision (the fullness of the presence of God) in heaven. IOW, the Church has no definite teaching on the matter since Jesus never gave one to his Apostles.

In order for you to receive holy communion in the Catholic Church you would have to 1) believe what the Church teaches and 2) wish to be fully united to it. The Church takes the responsibility of souls very seriously–it wants to be sure that those who are receiving the very body and blood, soul and divinity of the risen Christ know who they are receiving and are properly disposed to receive. It’s why Catholics may not receive, either, if they are in a state of mortal sin.

I hope you find a warm welcome on CAF and in your husband’s parish. Please ask all the questions you want, we’re here to help you and pray along with you. :slight_smile:


#4

You mentioned having trouble with the role of women in the Catholic Church. Here is a link to a talk by professor Peter Kreeft on women and the priesthood. I hope your faith journey leads you to the Catholic Church.

peterkreeft.com/audio/09_priestesses.htm


#5

I was Methodist from a very traditional background. Our ministers and acolytes processed in. We had “Eucharist” every Sunday with Sung prayers. Very traditional. They followed the lectionary that usually followed the same readings as the Catholic church, and celebrated most feast days.

Many of times we have been at a crossroads in our faith. Like you things have started creeping up in the Methodist church that bothered us. About a year ago we made the choice to leave. Many of times during the transition we thought about converting to Catholicism (actually mainly me). In the end we found a church we both could worship in, and basically feel fulfilled.

I think it is wonderful you are looking the Catholic church. I personally think it is important for husband and wife to worship together in harmony. I also think it is important to participate in communion as a family.

You will be in my prayers as you continue you search.


#6

Thanks everyone for your replies so far…please keep them coming!

Regarding limbo: I also read online that, as of 2007, the Church clarified its position on the subject, saying, as an earlier post also said, that it was never official teaching and more a hypothesis as to where non-baptized infants went after death. Now the Church says they have hope to think that the innocent non-baptized would go to Heaven. I find this reassuring, though it came too late for my family back in the early part of the 1900s. I find it ironic that something that wasn’t even official church teaching was still practiced in their particular case by someone who felt compelled to bury their dead baby in a separate part of the cemetery reserved for the unsaved. I wonder how much hurt this caused untold numbers of parents over the years. I’m glad it has been renounced.

Regarding the “women’s role” issue: Maybe it is because I have a woman pastor at my home church, and I am personally open to the idea of the presence of a woman as head of a church (because I would like to think that particular women are well-suited for spiritual/religious leadership and should be allowed to use their gifts accordingly)–as a thinking woman, I tend to wish the Catholic Church were more open to allowing women to serve beyond the nun/mother option in some leadership capacity. At the very least, I would like to think that someday the Catholic Church would consider re-instating deaconesses, who were a part of the early church.

As you probably already can tell, I am somewhat liberal-minded, though I do appreciate the Sacramental traditions of the Catholic Church and think some elements of my home church are too “spiritual and fluffy” for my taste. Part of the Catholic Church’s overall appeal to me is in the certainty of the teachings and the way it seems to impact the whole of a person’s life in a way I don’t usually see in Protestant churches (though I would argue that my parents’ faith is strong). I do know, though, if I were eventually to convert, I’d have to do it for more than just some stylistic differences I have with the worship experience in my home church.
Please continue to offer your thoughts; I feel like I’m learning more the more I read this site!
Sara


#7

Sara,

On the role of women in the church, you may be working with some false assumptions. It is true that women can not be priests, but that certainly doesn’t mean they/we can’t use our gifts in the church. So many women have proven that over the years. Think about Mother Theresa and Mother Angelica in most recent history. These were/are two powerful women who have had a tremendous impact on the lives of Catholics and non-Catholics. In my parish, I teach Bible Study and lead a book club group. Other women have very visible roles as well. We can’t be priests or deacons, but that’s not an indication that women have subservient roles in the Church. Most of the women I hear complaining about the role of women in the church are not actually in the church or practicing their faith in a visible way. Look a little more closely at the role of women. Read Peter Kreeft’s work on women (he is a great teacher!). You may get a more objective perspective of how the Church views women.


#8

I suggest you go to RCIA. It just started a few weeks ago, so you haven’t missed much. You don’t have to become Catholic if you do RCIA, but you will at a minimum learn more about your DH’s faith.


#9

Another convert chiming in…

I do hope that the Holy Spirit works in you and you end up joining the Church. Honestly, it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. I was Lutheran. And grew up amongst teachings of lies about the Church. There are many, many books out there written by converts. I’m sure you can find some that are written by ex-Methodists. I had a book “There We Stood, Here We Stand” by Timothy Drake that was the conversion stories of 11 Lutherans, they wrote about their experiences, and what led them Home. It was very helpful for me, with how they explained why what they were taught about the Church wasn’t true. Perhaps there’s books like that out there written by converted Methodists. Honestly, I believe that you shouldn’t take lessons from people who aren’t of the faith. How can they honestly know what they’re talking about when they’re talking with a bias against the Church?

As far as the role of women goes, I think the more studying you do, the more you’ll see that women do have an esteemed place in the Catholic Church. Look at the mother of our Lord. No other Christians look to her for inspiration to the extent that Catholics do. I grew up more liberal than I am now, but I was very inspired by how the Catholic Church treats women. I do not think that the Catholic Church will ever allow women priests, and I do agree that it should stay that way. But that’s not to say that women can’t use their abilities. It’s just that God did not intend for them to lead the Church. One thing that amazes me about the Church is their history and how they can look through the lineage of popes all the way back to the beginning.

I think if you put away your thoughts that you’re “liberal” and look more into the views of the Church, you’ll see that their teachings are true and the way it should be. Protestants continually split because they can’t agree on one church teaching or another. Yet the Church stands strong. It’s an amazing thing.

God bless you, and I hope you can continue to learn more about the Church.

And, I’m glad you liked the Cathedral. Was it the Cathedral of St. Paul? That’s actually in St. Paul, it’s the Basilica that’s in Minneapolis. My fiancee lives in a suburb of St. Paul and I absolutely love visiting the Cathedral.


#10

I converted from Methodism in 2002 after being married to a Catholic for 9 years, While the church we attend is very liberal and was not big on proper RCIA catechizing at that time, they have improved the program. You may find that as well, but if you are reading and getting on these boards to ask questions, you’ll get so much more to make the final decision for total conversion.

I wasn’t totally on board with everything the Catholic Church teaches when I converted, but the more I read and experience, the more I love it and the more orthodox I become. (much to my DHs dismay)

Good Luck on your journey!


#11

With that burial thing, I wonder, did the priest act in a way that’s inconsistent with the teaching of the Catholic Church? It just seems extremely harsh to me to bury an unbaptized baby somewhere separate from the family’s place of burial, and to call that place hell’s corner is even worse.

Regarding the Eucharist, interestingly the Catholic Church allows Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox people to partake in the Eucharist, while excluding Protestants. The reason is this: those non-Catholic denominations have a valid priesthood and a valid Eucharist - only a priest can change the bread and wine into the Eucharist. To partake in the Eucharist in the Catholic Church, you need to be Catholic or else belong to a denomination that has valid Eucharist, and believes that the Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. Excluding those who do not satisfy these criteria is done in order to protect these people, in accord with the Apostle Paul’s teaching that no one should eat and drink at the Lord’s table without discerning His Body, lest he/she would eat and drink judgment on himself/herself.

I think the women’s role in the Catholic Church is different, but certainly not inferior to men’s roles. St Catherine of Siena persuaded the Pope to return to Rome, after the Papacy has moved to Avignon (the Avignon exile) for some 70 years during the 14th century. In recent history (20th century), Christ has appeared to St Faustina Kowalska and instructed her about how to establish the devotion to his Divine Mercy (see her book written at the instruction of her confessor, entitled Divine Mercy in my soul). And last but not least, the Queen of all Angels and Saints is Mary. That means that a woman holds the highest place of honor in God’s whole creation. See the following story. :smiley:

starharbor.com/santiago/ocotlan.html


#12

Welcome. I am a convert from Protestant(really, not much religion at all, but my parents called themselves Protestant, they never went to church or talked about God much)…anyway, I did RCIA, but I really learned a lot on my own from reading Catholic books and listening to Catholic Preists. Two priests who are very good and inspiring are Fr.John Corapi and Fr. Cedric Pisegna…frcedric.org

fathercorapi.com


#13

Hello Sara, I am also a convert. I converted at 19 from atheism. I am now 41 married to a cradle Catholic with three children. I understand all your questions about women. I had all those questions and yet I still fell in love with the church. You may want to look at the 3 female Doctors of the Church womenshistory.about.com/library/weekly/aa021599.htm they are theological doctors and great saints. Also it is true that Catholics have a great understanding of, love for and reverence of Mary. The Catholic church especially loves the family and once you have children there is nowhere that welcomes children and babies more and supports you as a Christian family in modern society. There is a very strong feminine aspect to the church in my opinion. Many young people are also attracted to the church, witness the huge crowds at the World Youth Days.

In the history of the church you will find many, many inspiring women Dorothy Day and Elizabeth Seton are two Americans that spring to mind.

I would recommend the book “The Catholic Mystique” amazon.com/Catholic-Mystique-Fourteen-Fulfillment-Church/dp/1931709912/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1255954990&sr=8-1

I just reread it in the past week. 14 women, many of them from Methodist and Lutheran backgrounds tell the story of their conversion to Catholicism. A number of them were ministers or other leaders in their own denomination. It is a wonderful read and definitely inspiring and thought provoking.

May God continue to bless your journey.


#14

THis sort of thing used to be very common, and was heartbreaking to many. Quebec was particularly rather a hot-bed of Jansenism, and had what could be considered a very harsh religious life in many ways.


#15

Welcome!

When I faced a real crossroads between evangelicalism and catholicism more than 15 years ago, I found Karl Keatings “Catholicism and Fundamentalism” extremely helpful - with caveats!

Skip the whole first 1/3 of the book. That part is written for catholics experiencing attacks from evangelicals/fundamentalists and consists of examples of ridiculous fundamentalist attack groups. But DO read the parts that specifically address the areas where catholicism is different than protestantism. Keating writes in a way unique in that he expresses catholic teaching, but translated into vocabulary that protestants can understand and relate to.

Be aware that sometimes it gets a little snide. That’s because the book was written for catholics suffering attacks from protestants. He’s giving them some pats on the back and jabbing back where jabs have been given. Have a thick skin and enjoy the real meat contained inside!

God bless!


#16

Thanks everyone for your thoughts! It is heartening to hear your ideas about women in the church; I’ll read up on the names you mentioned. I’ll also check out the books and links mentioned.
Someone posted earlier that Quebec, in particular, were known for the practice of burying non-baptized babies in separate parts of the cemetery. My ancestors came to the U.S. by way of Quebec, and while I don’t know when this incident actually took place, I wonder if they were perhaps still living there or maybe were attending a church that was primarily of French-Canadian members (??) at the time? I’m not sure of any of this, because this side of my family didn’t keep much in the way of family records (they thought it was “gossip” to talk about family stuff). So, I haven’t done a whole lot of research. I had just heard this story passed down as a sad chapter in my family’s background and when they ended up breaking with the Catholic Church. Since they were French-Canadian, it makes me wonder if the harsh treatment was just the way things were in that era and for people of that background…
Sara


#17

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