How do I navigate a Traditional relationship?


I’m Jewish and my boyfriend of 2.5 years is a Traditional Catholic. I am faithful in my religion, and he is definitely faithful in his. He goes to Mass on Sundays (I’ve never been—should I go?). We both had the choice to be with one another. Of course, he could have found a Traditional Catholic woman to be with, and I, of course, could have found another Jew to be with, but life did not work out that way.

He knows a lot about Judiasm, but I know very little of Catholicism. I’m finding that our relationship now is having a difficulty because I don’t know what is expected of a Catholic woman. I thought I knew what was expected of me from my past relationships, but this one is just so different. We are moving to a more serious and deeper level, and I’d like to meet him on some of his own ground as he has met me so many times on my own. I’d like to share with him the way I pray and the way I read the Tanakh (I am currently reading: I Samuel) and about mitzvot. However, right now, I feel I must learn something of where he’s coming from. I don’t understand.

I read a little on Communion today. I hope to read something every day to deepen my knowledge of Catholic beliefs because of my interest, because of my honest feelings about faith and inter-faith relationships, and because I love him.

We are both decently on in our years and have had previous relationships, so it is not like this is “puppy-love” or about to disappear. I love him. And he loves me. We spend so much time together and do not argue so I feel this relationship is special and wonderful.

He has helped me in many ways. Being with him has made me a stronger and more generous person, and I hope that I have helped him by listening to him and caring for him in a deep way as well as helping him to do the things he needs to do to get through the dailyness of life (like buying pants or eating properly).

I guess my question is: how can I sustain this relationship? Would learning more about Catholicism help me? Would my new knowledge help him?

Thank You

Dear Hannah -
Believe it or not - even couples who are Traditional / modern-practicing Catholics face similar issues. But what hit me was when I opened this thread - The description next to your name reads: “Religion: None” :confused: You didn’t indicate Jewish. Are you not a practicing Jew? Are you, perhaps, searching?

Any couple with Faith-based differences start on a rocky path, if they are true to their respective Faith’s beliefs. You sound as though you want to learn something of the Catholic religion for both your sakes but is that just to be “ecumenical” (for lack of a better word)? Do you want to give up your Jewish Faith / traditions and convert? Are you hoping you can have a marriage (if that’s where you’re heading) that will blend two religions?

Yes, in this world finding someone as we get older who we believe is “the right one” can be a joy. If your religions differ, it’s an obvious problem when children are hoped for. But you must decide if your Jewish Faith has been more of a joy to you before him. You both have to decide who will worship where. How will you marry - by a Priest or a Rabbi? How “traditional” is this man? If he is “Traditional” as opposed to modern - I’m wondering if your first hurdle will be the wedding. And then, how / where will you worship as a married couple? Temple/Synagogue or Church? How will your families deal with this union? And how long before one of you expects the other to convert? And will that conversion be for the right reasons?

There’s alot of soul-searching involved here. Probably all of us have seen Fiddler on the Roof - and we know what “tradition” means - no matter what our Credo. And we know how difficult the choices. Love can grow stronger - but it can change. Our Faith must be steadfast. It’s wonderful that you want to learn / show an interest in your friend’s Catholic Faith - but will that be just a novelty, a concession - or eventually, a choice made from the heart - for the RIGHT reasons. I wish you both happiness and God’s Choicest Blessings in your decision-making.

Welcome to the forums!

(I’ve never been—should I go?).

That will be up to you. I imagine your boyfriend would appreciate the gesture and it will give you a good look at what we call the “source and summit” of our faith. Just a warning though, while you are welcome to participate or not participate as you feel comfortable, you are not allowed to receive Communion. Among other things, it is a sign of our unity and since you are not in communion with us, we ask that you don’t receive. :smiley:

I guess my question is: how can I sustain this relationship? Would learning more about Catholicism help me? Would my new knowledge help him?

I can’t see how learning a bit about where he is coming from could hurt, so I say go for it. A good book would be Catholicism for Dummies. It is a good basic overview of both the beliefs and practices of the Church.

Also if you are really interested, there are classes at pretty much any parish called RCIA. They are generally for people who are interested in joining the church, but there isn’t any pressure, so you could go just for the information. They would also cover our basic beliefs and practices.


I put none as per my religion because I would prefer to tell people directly myself (on a Catholic Website) that I am Jewish, rather than have someone find me.

I am curious about Catholicism. I have had many friends of this faith growing up. Going to Mass would be for me, not for him. He has no requirements of me from his faith standpoint. He is Traditional, not Modern, I know that much.

From a personal point of view, my faith has always been questioned along the way. My father is a scientist of the strictest rule and is a confirmed atheist. My mother claims to be an agnostic (I don’t think she knows what it means). But being interested in another religion would possibly mean losing my family. My family was not anywhere near good, so I don’t want to go to the arms of another religion because I’m running away from my own.

I am finding, by reading posts, just how complicated Catholicism is. My boyfriend today said, You don’t need to worry about all of this, just do what your doing…

I feel faithless in his presence. Not because he speaks of Christ, but because he believes so strongly in his religion. If we were to part (we don’t intend on getting married and there will be no children between us—he already has many), I don’t know what I would do…

He’s not asking me for anything. I’m asking myself what is the right thing?

I will think about the meetings if there is no pressure. I’m not going anywhere quite yet, though.

Have you told him what you’ve told us? That might be a good place to start… he can help you to understand being a Catholic on his own level more than we can.

Or you can talk to a priest, in confidence, saying that you’re not here to become Catholic but to learn more about it because your boyfriend is a very devout one. (making an appointment ahead of time so he can be prepared.)

Hopefully talking to Catholics in person could help more than doing so online. And visiting a church etc… you’re right, it is very complex and experiencing it might be a better way than getting info at first.

God bless:D

Hoo, boy. Well, one thing that “traditional” Catholics have in common with Orthodox Jews is that there are more than a few opinions out there concerning what that means. Were I you, I’d count your friend as the authority on that, for the time being.

Likewise, all your questions are questions to ask him about.

If you are curious about the Mass, go ahead and ask him about whether he would mind if you attended Mass with him some time. It is totally allowed; all that is not allowed is for you to receive Holy Communion before joining the Church. For better or worse, I would be surprised if you got pressure to convert from anyone, although some might ask if you’re considering it. This is not because Catholics don’t think it matters, but why it is, I don’t know. It is not like Jews, who sometimes think that it is pointless for someone not bound by birth or family ties to the mitzvot to take them on by formally becoming Jewish. I guess Catholics think that if you’re showing up for Mass, the faith sells itself, and all they could possibly do is mess it up. Like I said, I don’t know. Besides, if you go to a Traditional Mass in Latin, it may very well be assumed that you are Catholic, but ignorant, just like if you showed up clueless at an Orthodox shul, it would probably be assumed that your background is Jewish but secular or non-observant. It is not as if either one is swamped with visitors from totally outside the faith. Most of the clueless people who wander in actually belong, on paper at least.

He may be in that camp that does not want to see you take on the Catholic faith for any reason that has to do with pursuing your relationship with him. He may actually want you to be Catholic, because only if you want to be Catholic for its own sake. I know a lot of guys who are very observant, but couldn’t explain the ritual of the Mass with a gun to their heads. Others know a lot and explain very well, but don’t like to be pushy about it. Others are just shy, or…well, you just have to ask him. There are lots of possibilities. As for what is expected of a Catholic woman…well, that depends on the Catholic, as much as what it means to be a Jewish woman depends on the Jewish person you talk to. Also, you have to ask him what he expects of you, not what he expects of Catholic women.

My husband was baptized as a child, but never had much in the way of formal religious training. His opinion is that the Catholic Church is very “user unfriendly”, and after hearing his complaints, I can’t disagree with him. I never thought so in the past, though, because I never noticed it as a problem when someone came to Mass and wasn’t sure what to do. That is a problem with having a rich tradition: there is a lot to know. If you do go, you may feel as if you have “outsider” tatooed on your forehead, but you won’t. You will want to insist that your friend walk you through what you should do and not do at his parish and at the Mass he goes to, and how to find your way around the Missal, so you can follow. But it will be for your own comfort. If you don’t know the responses, but do everything everyone else does and are a half-step behind everyone else, you’ll be OK with them, as long as you don’t go to Holy Communion. For your own sake, though, know what is going on beforehand, so you don’t take part in a ritual that you later understand and wish you had left alone.

As you know better than I do, a non-observant Jew usually doesn’t consider himself or herself less a Jew for that, and considers his or her children just as Jewish as if the family observed…until some other religion enters the picture. Good luck with your parents.

I must add this. Just as I put “none” for religion. Just as I said my parents were not religious. Doesn’t mean that my family or I am not.
Coming into a Traditional Catholic Forum as a Jew and asking questions that, to me, are deep and mysterious, puts me out where everyone can throw dirt clods at me if they so choose. I know what Catholics think of Jews, and coming here was hard.

The book mentioned above as well as going to Mass are good suggestions so far.
I’m hoping for more.

Out of curiosity, what exactly do you think that Catholics think of Jews?

to any Catholic that knows their faith they know that our salvation came from the Jews. we see it as an extension of Judaism. but it is kind of amazing that some Christians forget that Jesus and His apostles were all Jewish.

at any rate, i guess that didn’t help your situation, but i wanted to welcome you to the forum! :hug1:

and the catechism is a great start.


The Jews are the Chosen People…Nothing has changed that. God said His covenant with the Jews would never end. Catholics have their roots of worship and liturgy in Judaism. Jesus and Mary and the apostles were good Jews. Catholicism is an outgrowth of Judaism. Of course, we embrace Jesus as the Messiah, and implemented His teachings, but the whole Chosen people thing…still true.

I read the thread on encouraging Jews to keep the old Covenant. It’s not very, um, happy if I might put it that way. While we might be the Chosen People, we are also “faithless” because Jews have not accepted Jesus as their Messiah and Savior. It’s kind of a downer to think that you might be going to Hell. Jews don’t really believe in Hell as it’s espoused in common culture (which I believe comes from Christian beliefs—though not necessarily Catholic). Yes, there is punishment for wrongdoing, but it is a different kind of punishment. You have to live your sins, in a way.

I must add that his mother died recently and the both of us have been thrown through the roof. She was his best friend and it was his duty to care for her even before his children. Now he wants to go be with his children again.

I love understanding other peoples’ beliefs. I feel that I want to understand his sorrow and his drive because I love him. It’s like a bonus on top of another bonus. I don’t know much about Catholicism. I will look for the Catechisms (sp?) and read. So now I have three things to read. I’d love to look for more.

When I was in Italy, I saw the churches and Cathedrals in various cities and the Vatican City with St. Peter’s Basilica. It was truly awe-inspiring. A group of people wanted to pray in a building that reflected their faith. And those “buildings” were with wings.


I’m sorry. I had no intention of throwing dirt clods at you. The bit about “some other religion enters the picture” was based on the way some parents are going to react if their Jewish children darken the door of any Christian church, let alone go to Mass. I have friends who have gone through this.

What Catholics think of Jews is as all over the map as what Jews think of Catholics, and usually resides in an totally unexamined part of the brain, but I can appreciate that it was hard for you to come here. Again, suffice it to say that if you go to Mass, it will be up to you whether or not to disclose you are Jewish, or even if you want to disclose that you are not Catholic.

It is very possible that no one will notice. My husband’s cousin, a non-Catholic married to a Catholic, went to Mass faithfully and was active in the parish as his children were growing up. Apparently, it was not noticed that he never went to communion, so much so that he was asked to consider serving on the parish council! Since even Catholics may have legitimate reasons for refraining from receiving communion, some of which are legitimately very private, it is considered rude to ask someone why they don’t go. You’d be well within protocol, then, if someone were to ask, to reply with the same “I beg your pardon?” that they would deserve if they were to ask if you were pregnant! If it isn’t a busybody parish, you may stay all the way under the radar, if you so choose. As long as you don’t go to communion or confession or otherwise make the pretense that you are baptized, you’re OK.

I do know a book titled, “What Happens at Mass”, by Jeremy Discoll, OSB, that might suit your needs very well. It goes through the “motions” of the Ordinary Form Mass (that is the one promulgated after Vatican II that put the Mass into vernacular languages such as English), but quite a bit of it will also apply to the Extraordinary Form (that is, the version of the Mass as it existed before 1962 that is permitted for use today). The book is paperback, reasonably priced at, very accessible, and not door-stop-length. If you go into Mass knowing what’s in that book, you’ll be ahead of a lot of cradle Catholics. Your boyfriend might even like reading it. It would also give a jumping-off point for him to explain the differences between the OF (Ordinary Form) and the EF (Extraordinary Form), if he is a traditional Catholic with both the opportunity and the habit of attending the EF. I think a book like that would give you a good idea of what parts of the ritual do not fit your own religious integrity and sensibility, as well, because it gives the meaning of many of the main gestures. Again: if you are not Catholic, you are not expected to make the gestures. Non-Catholics are allowed to come and just observe, either sitting through the whole thing or standing when we stand and sitting when we sit or kneel. That is OK. If someone doesn’t like it, that is their problem. Only those with the gift of faith and the baptized are bound to reverence the Blessed Sacrament and the altar; others are only bound to be respectful and unobtrusive. It is like observing the mitzvot: there is no virtue in genuflecting when you don’t believe that the Blessed Sacrament constitutes the presence of God, par excellence, any more than keeping kosher is the same for Jews who do it as a witness of their belonging to God as it is for Gentiles who do it for health reasons. It would be like reciting the Creed when you don’t believe a word of it.

Another excellent place to learn more about the faith is to go to RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) classes between now and December. Typically, this is the “exploration” phase of the program, where people outside the Catholic faith can go to just ask questions and get an overview, without making any commitment or even having any intention of joining the Church. Try to get your boyfriend or someone he recommends to go with you, though, and choose a parish he counts as traditional, since you want to learn the faith as he sees it. (This need not be at his home parish. It might be far more comfortable for you both if it is not.) RCIA programs are usually staffed by volunteers from the parish, sometimes without the direct oversight of a priest. It is hardly unknown for these programs to teach or imply things that a traditional Catholic (not to mention the Pope or even the local bishop) would not count as being according to Hoyle! Just as in Judaism, and even though we theoretically have a Pope and heirarchy that define these things as clearly as it is in the Western mind to define them, there are a lot of opinions flying around about what it means to keep kosher. So take RCIA classes with that grain of salt.

This comment screams at me. So here are a few questions:
1.) Was he previously married (have you been)? Where did all the children come from?
2.) If he was divorced, does he have a decree of nullity stating that he is no longer married in the eyes of God? If he does not have this then he should not be dating anyone, he is considered to still be married.
3.) If you do not plan to get married ever, then what is the point of your relationship? If you do not marry then you must now and always remain chaste, as brother and sister.

These are not options for him. If he is Catholic he is bound by the Church on how he may marry and be intimate with someone.

The reason people are asking you about this is not to attack you, it is because we typically will look at what faith practice a person has so we can speak in context to that understanding. When you leave this blank we have to ask questions. There are other Jews on the site, you are not the only one here. :wink:

Can we please keep this on topic? :cool:


just so you know–he has always gone to the Latin Mass. He lived the Rule of Pius X (SSPX) for a long time before personal circumstances interrupted that.


You may find some interesting reading at the Assoc. of Hebrew Catholics web site :slight_smile:

Not to derail the thread, but I’ll say only that the Catechism says that the Jews do not go to Hell. Don’t worry about what people say amidst the anonymity of the internet. B’shalom!

Anyway, as a product of a Catholic / Jewish marriage, I can say that my parents were able to do it for 35 years; and as long as he’s not dragging you to Mass against your will, and you’re not forcing him to keep kosher, you should be fine. :wink:

In that case, you really want to ask *him *about where to learn about the faith he holds. It is very roughly analogous to befriending a strict Orthodox Jew. There are a lot of versions of the faith that are going to be beyond the boundaries of his conscience and thought on the matter. OTOH, since he has the positive experience of direct knowledge of you, and some of his fellow parishioners have no Jews at all in their actual acquaintance, he may well not share the incorrect views of Jews held by some that he worships with. This would be a prudent reason to spare you the experience of meeting them. You cannot expect him to try to teach a pig to sing.

Your points are well-taken, especially your explanation of the Church (and therefore his) understanding that if he is still married if he married previously, is not a widower, and yet has not obtained a decree of nullity. After all, most Jews allow divorce and many Catholics act as if the Church does, too. There are even some Traditional Catholics who are all for the Church’s views on marriage, until the views fall on the actual marriage they got. We’re all human.

Still, it is a little cheeky to ask what the point of a chaste relationship between a man and a woman might be. One obvious reason that a faithful Jewish woman might have in asking what is expected of a Catholic woman, after all, might very well be to make certain she is not acting in a way that he is going to interpret as immodest or in violation of the Catholic mores of chastity. How can she know, if she doesn’t ask? Besides, there are priests with close friends among the ranks of the widows, even though it admittedly would be rare for any of these to declare that they “love” each other, so we know that such relationships do happen.

I would caution you though, Hannah, that it is not unknown for a person, particularly a man, to live two separate lives, one in which he professes to hold to strict views on everything having to do with sexuality and one in which he does what he wants with regards to relationships with women. In fact, we all know that there are those in the ranks of “strict views” of every stripe who live a double life: Jerry Falwell *was not *an anomaly.

I don’t want to stray into cheekiness myself, though. It would be the height of rash judgement to conclude that your friend is in this group, simply because he doesn’t take you to Mass. I very much doubt that he is. If there are any other indications in your relationship with him that make you think that you may be on the other side of a “double life”, though, keep an eye out. That is the equivalent of treating the person who loves you the most as if she were an object, and an object of shame, at that. No one, but no one, deserves that, and it happens far too often in this world.

On top of this, the stricter the person, the more he may be tempted to feel a sense of shame, even misplaced shame for that which is not shameful. That is not a suitable state of affairs. If, for instance, he was in a marriage that he has objective reason to believe is invalid, but has not gotten around to obtaining a decree of nullity for some reason, he may feel ashamed about being your friend, because he is in love with you, too, and not just friends as he originally intended, and he knows he may not rightly even court a woman not his wife while he’s still married. So if he is married in the eyes of the Church, but only because he has not asked the Church to look into his invalid marriage, it might make him feel better to clear that up, even if you two have no intention of marriage or engaging in any of the intimacies that belong only to those friendships between men and women who are in fact free to marry.

In short: right now, if he is married in the eyes of the Church, he shouldn’t be doing anything with you that a priest would not be allowed to do with you. If he is Traditional, I would predict him to feel that the boundaries are that strict. Even if he is free to marry, the boundaries are not much farther out. It is not an arm of the Church with an “if-you-see-a-yellow-light-hit-the-gas” moral mentality, and it is the arm of the Church that he is immersed in.

What kind of double life are you saying Jerry Falwell had?

I owe Mr. Falwell an apology!!

I meant Jimmy Swaggart! He was the one who was caught with prostitutes on more than one occasion over the years. As far as I know, none of the allegations against Mr. Falwell have been found to have merit. We all know what an unproven allegation is worth.

Still, it is true that those who combine the faults that humans all have with very strict views, particularly who have sexual faults, are very tempted to overcompensate in their “cover-up.” If you have an inner belief that you have some perfection before God–and let’s face it, most of us have too little humility to not hide a bit of that foolish hope somewhere inside–it can be very difficult to put aside our shame and self-loathing in order to confront our guilt…or, in the case of the scrupulous, what we fear is our guilt. That is a danger one takes on in being very strict, just as laziness, irreverence, and laxity are dangers in those who are less strict.

I should not even be too hard on Mr. Swaggart. It is the lot of humanity to want to “cover up”, and it has been since Adam and Eve hid from God the first time. God has been asking us “Where are you?” ever since. It is very hard to admit to God or even ourselves what we are hiding, let alone admit it to those whom we admire, or who we fear might no longer accept us if they knew our true natures.

Thanks for clearing that up. (I was guessing you were thinking of Jim Bakker and the PTL Club.)

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