Lapsed Catholics

I attend my wifes Protestant church after Mass out of love for my wife, and I know there are some members of that church who at one time were professed Catholics, but they have left the Church and joined this Protestant church. They willing partake of Communion, and I am wondering if I should say anything to them, being they once believed in the Real Presence and now they willingly partake of an invalid Communion.

As one who was one of those “lapsed Catholics” I would like to answer this from my perspective.

Although I was raised Catholic, I can honestly say that my lack of understanding of the “Real Presence” was what caused me to stray from the Church in the first place.

In my head I knew the “party line” (Eucharist=BBSD of Jesus Christ), but I also thought that Eucharist was more “symbolic” than anything, and should be shared by anyone that professed a belief in Jesus, regardless of denomination. Much of this misunderstanding came from very poor catechesis in the 70’s & 80’s and because half of my family was Episcopalian. It was very difficult, as a young person, to understand the differences, when from my perspective there really were not any.

About 6 years ago, I returned to my Catholic roots. I was what most on this board would consider to be very progressive and part of the problem in the church today. In the past few years, after much study, prayer and instruction from very competent spiritual directors, I have come to understand my faith more than I ever have. Had I had this understanding, especially of the “Real Presence”, I never would have left in the first place.

I would guess that anyone who does leave the Catholic church for a Protestant denomination, probably does not have a correct understanding either.

I cannot imagine how anyone who really knows their Catholic faith would ever leave for a Protestant church. The problem, I think, is that the majority of Catholics have been woefully under catechized. It’s not because they’re not intelligent. Many have bachelor, master, and doctor degrees in different areas, but a first or second grade education in their Catholic faith.

When Fr. John Corapi was finishing up his fourth degree, his doctoral thesis, his advisor told him that he now had every degree the Church offered, and asked him at what level he planned to teach. He was thinking perhaps at the university level, or in seminary, etc. Fr. Corapi answered, “Kindergarten.” He said the vast majority of Catholics in this country do NOT know their Catholic faith. That’s why 75% of them no longer attend Mass on Sunday or Holy Days on a regular basis. That’s why 75% of them think that there’s nothing wrong with artificial birth control. And on and on. They haven’t learned or been taught the faith. Many priests have been so concerned about “not upsetting” anyone that they’ve watered down their homilies, etc., to the point where they say nothing useful.

You did not mention which church your wife attends. It could be that those attending fully believe there is a real presence.

I’d suggest just being their friends and if the conversation ever comes up, let them know that you attend their services for your wife but that you are Catholic.

They’ll start the conversation, if interested. Be prepared to hear some very negative comments about the Catholic Church.

My liberal Democrat sister recently left the Church for a Protestant denomination with more “spirit”. She told me that Reconciliation was “stupid” - 55 year old woman - “confessing the same sins all the time for what”… :doh2:

Her state and parish were heavily hit with the child sexual abuse scandals yet now she’s pro gay marriage (because a couple of her female friends are noncelibate homosexuals and her daughter is a flight attendant with various male gay coworkers).

The Church needs more adult “kindergarten” classes. Particularly for those of us who grew up in the '60-'80s.

Does your Lutheran Church teach and confess the Real Presence?

My wifes church is a Wesleyan church, very close doctrinally to United Methodist, and I am a convert and at one time I was Wesleyan, so I know they dont believe in the Real Presence. they believe in an “open table” , meaning any Christian can partake in communion.

I, too have attended a Protestant church w/ my husband AFTER I attend Mass. I don’t understand it either. Only if it came up, would I say something.

A "fallen-away" Catholic (as my sainted Irish Mother used to call them that) can really turn it around on you.

I’ve decided to just pray for peace & happiness in their spiritual journey for them.

Hi, Just on the side, a nice thing to do would be to invite your wife to attend your church with you and explain to her about the real presence in communion of our dear Lord. St. John’s Gospel has several wonderful passages of the words of our Saviour about His Precious Body and his great desire to be with us in this way.

Unsure what is meant by “leave” since I’m sure you know one becomes a member of the Catholic Church by Baptism, implanting an indelible, permanent character upon one’s soul which can not be lost by any act of defection. But perhaps you meant anyone who leaves a fuller practice of the faith or something. In any case I wouldn’t guess that anyone who begins worship in a Protestant denomination does not understand. Perhaps they understand but simply have another belief with regard to the Real Presence.

Do they believe His Spirit is really present? Or where 2 or 3 are gathered in His name, there He is in their midst?

Jn 6:37 “Everyone whom my Father gives me will come to me. I will never turn away anyone who comes to me” (GNT, an approved version by USCCB)

:thumbsup: That’s probabIy a good idea for any of us. Pray for one another the Apostle James told us. I often close my posts with God bless you on your faith journey and peace.

Oh yes. with most, if not all, Protestant denominations, they believe the Holy Spirit is there during the worship service. Unfortunately the pastor of that church in typical Protestant fashion, teaches the bread and wine are nothing but symbols.

Thanks. I know I’ve had a Disciples of Christ pastor tell me before that even though he doesn’t believe in a literal transformation of the elements, he does believe at the Lord’s Supper served each wk in his church that Jesus is truly present in a special mystical way and that what takes place is more than just symbolic. God bless both you and your wife on your faith journeys with Him. Peace.

Maybe they never believed in or understood the Real Presence. I know I didn’t (even though I was raised Catholic) and I left for many years before I realized what it was and what I was missing in the Protestant church. If they did know, it’s hard to believe they would leave. IMHO, it wouldn’t do any good to say anything.

Knowledge does not mean faith. One can know without believing and one can understand and believe at one point and then stop believing though still understanding the teachings.

A few points

** 1. One of the basic principles of mainline Protestantism is freedom of interpretation of scripture.** This can mean that in one and the same church different people may view the Eucharist differently. I know Protestants who put a great deal of emphasis on communion and believe that Christ will draw closer to them through communion, that we can feel his presence more decisively through the sacrament… Then there are Protestants who may deliberately miss communion Sundays (often the first Sunday of the month) because they think that communion is too pagan, more pagan than Christian. There is really no established, required view of the Eucharist in many Protestant congregations. As in other areas of doctrine, they decide for themselves, and they often dialogue amiably with one another about their various views in Bible study groups and elsewhere. “What does communion mean to me?” rather than “How does the church interpret communion.” As with much of Protestantism, individualism is emphasized.
**
2. It appears that Protestant churches (at least here in this part of the eastern US) are filled with former Catholics**. Those of a more progressive mindset bend toward mainline churches - Methodist, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, UCC, etc. They are often influenced by their own liberal views on theology, but also by certain difficult social issues as homosexuality or such questions as the marriage of priests and the ordination of women. Many have left Catholicism over the question of birth control. Those of a more conservative mindset are more likely to end up in evangelical churches, which are much more aggressive when it comes ti evangelism. Like traditional Catholicism, they’re inclined to embrace a specific set of doctrines, usually the ones advocated by that church or pastor. They also are likely to agree with Catholicism on such issues as homosexuality, ordination of women, and abortion.

3. As much as mainline denominations do not agree with Catholicism on a variety of doctrinal, liturgical, social and other issues, mainline Protestants are apt to be very ecumenical. They seem to embrace the old adage: "Think and let think!" They have no problem working together with Catholics on such projects as soup kitchens and homeless shelters or joining with them in the January "Week of Prayer for Christian Unity",  Evangelical Protestants are less likely to have this ecumenical emphasis, sometimes even non-cooperative with mainline Protestant churches.

** 4. One interesting point. Catholicism and certain forms of Protestantism, especially Pentecostalism, emphasize supernatural acts - that is, miracles in today’s world. **Catholicism, of course, has its Marian apparitions, canonization of saints through whom miracles are said to have been performed, etc. Mainline Protestants are more skeptical of such miracles. Many of them sre not ‘Bible-believers’ in that they would consider many stories, especially in the Old Testament, as false. Would a loving and just God actually drown all those people in the days of Noah, including innocent children? Would God actually order Joshua to murder all of the inhabitants of Jericho or command Saul to slay every remaining Amalekite? What about scriptural passages like Ex. 21:17? Or, Ex. 22, verses 18 or 20? Etc.

** 5. I really don’t think most Catholics who become Protestant do so because they do not understand their Catholic faith**. I think they decide that they disagree with Catholicism too much to remain in the Church. Many Protestants understand Catholicism quite well, better than many Catholics, and still remain Protestant. Different strokes for different strokes. I myself am conflicted on a variety of issues. If one thinks these days, it is difficult to be as dogmatic as the Church asks us to be. I am in favor of a ‘big tent’ church in which greater latitude in doctrine is permitted without being made to feel that we somehow are betraying the Church. Millions of Catholics hold on to their affiliation because of historic, family and cultural ties rather than because of 100% acceptance of the church’s basic teachings. I read in the US Catholic awhile ago that something like 53%of Catholics don’t believe in transubstantiation, a central dogma of the church. That should tell us something.

 Happy New Year!

Some interesting points in there Roy. A Blessed and Happy New Year to you as well and to all!

It is almost impossible to classify all Protestants in groups like you just put them. There are quite a few common points on the most basic beliefs, but when it comes to doctrine there might be differences. I don’t believe however that having different views on communion, liberalism and how the Bible is to be interpreted is going to send either to hell. We tend to differ but in the end we are brothers and sisters in Christ.

I know that in the church I attend the meaning of communion is once again explained before the congregation partakes. The view may be different from other denominations but within our congregation it is all alike and to understand this is a prerequisite to partaking.

I know that in the church where I attend there are several former Catholics including me. That however does not make this church more mainline or liberal. We do have a very clear view on abortion, homosexuality and ordination of women that does not differ much from the view of the Catholic Church.

Not every Protestant denomination is ecumenical. Baptists for instance are anything but ecumenical and tend to keep to themselves rather than watering down doctrine in an effort to grow closer to others.

Well I do believe that Jesus walked on water, just to mention one. Not all Protestant denominations dismiss this as literary freedom and emphasis on the person of Jesus Christ. Same goes for the difficult passages in the Old Testament.

Understanding the Catholic faith does not mean one remains within the Catholic Church. I do understand the Catholic faith and I used to be a very strong believer, but I have not retained that faith.

Thank you. I wish you a very happy and blessed new year.

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.