My Boyfriend is Catholic, but I am not...


#1

Firstly, as a new member, let me just say that I hope I'm posting this in the correct area!

Okay, so as the title of this thread states, my (serious) boyfriend is a devout Catholic. I was raised Anabaptist and I still hold a lot of those beliefs, but I currently attend a non-denominational Bible Church.
We both have a great level of compromise. I don't mind attending Mass with him and watching him play in his parish's worship band, and he doesn't have a problem attending my church which is much different than his.
We both obviously believe in the same things and we're both Christian, however I have a few concerns for things in the future that perhaps some knowledgeable people in the same situation (or beyond it) could answer.
As far as he is concerned, he already knows he can cross himself in my church and nobody would mind at all. He can take Communion with us, pray with us and attend any and all classes and activities with us. We are totally accepting of anyone wishing to worship God and hear his Word.
For me, it's a little different. I cannot participate in certain activities within his parish and I have only a very basic understanding of Catholic sacraments, the importance and relevance of most rituals, Confession, the religious importance of Saints etc (because those things hold no religious importance or merit in my denomination). I was raised to believe that you have to speak to no one but God himself to ask forgiveness of your sins and deliverance from evil. There is no Earthly link from us to God, and we do not pray to anyone but God himself - doing so would be worshiping a false idol. (We do not recognize Saints, so praying to one for us would be the equivalent of praying to George Washington, or any other historical figure - no religious or spiritual merit, per se).
It bothers me that I am a baptized Christian and I cannot take Communion in his parish. I also do not cross myself which sets me apart a bit. He has no problem with this because I'm Christian and I have great faith, but is aware that I'm mildly put-off by the Communion thing. I understand that Catholics believe they are members of the one true church, and the only one that 'matters' so to speak. It seems to me that Catholics are a relatively closed-off community of believers (not to say they are not willing to share and teach their beliefs), whereas my church welcomes people from all walks of life and religion to learn about and grow in God's Word and worship Him in faith and fellowship, hopefully accepting Him into their hearts and lives, if they have not done so already.
Since we are now exploring marriage and our future together, I should mention that he's not worried about any of it and knows that everything will be fine when that time comes. I do have a few things of importance to me that I am unwilling to budge on. Those being that I will not be married by a Catholic priest, I do not want to be married inside a Catholic church or in a Catholic ceremony, I will not be converting (though I wouldn't have any problems with taking RCIA classes to learn more about what he believes in an objective manner, so I can broaden my understanding and respect for his faith). We also have talked about the possibility of children. I would not have them raised solely Catholic, but out of respect for both our denominations, we would have no problems doing an every-other-week kind of thing, so they would be raised with the knowledge of both churches. I struggle with the idea of having a child baptized as an infant... I believe a person needs to make a conscious decision to accept God into their life for Baptism to occur. I would be willing to do so as I'm sure it would mean a lot to my boyfriend, so long as they would learn about Believer's Baptism in my church as well.

I don't think "happy medium" churches are in the cards - Lutheran / Methodist. We are both happy in our respective churches, and happy with each other's walk with God.

Has anyone been through the same thing, or are currently going through it? How is it working for you? Advice? Clarity? Do you have children?
We are all about compromise and respect, and of course a deep and abiding love for each other. This is a relatively new topic for us, though as you can see, we have discussed it a bit. Any input would be appreciated, but no bashing please!
-Have a blessed day!!


#2

[quote="NoodleMutt, post:1, topic:300571"]
Firstly, as a new member, let me just say that I hope I'm posting this in the correct area!

Okay, so as the title of this thread states, my (serious) boyfriend is a devout Catholic. I was raised Anabaptist and I still hold a lot of those beliefs, but I currently attend a non-denominational Bible Church.

Welcome to CAF...and whew...you have a lot of questions. My suggestion is to break this up into their own threads...it could get overwhelming for you. I will try to answer some...but do think of the most important questions you have..and start separate threads.

As far as he is concerned, he already knows he can cross himself in my church and nobody would mind at all.

fisheaters.com/sign.html

The Catholic Sign of the Cross is absolutely ancient, rooted not only in the Old Testament but the New (Apocalypse speaks of those who have the sign of God in their foreheads -- and those who have the sign of the Beast in their foreheads). When Catholics undergo the Sacrament of Confirmation, the Bishop (sometimes a priest) seals the sign on our foreheads with holy chrism. St. John of Damascus wrote

Crossing one's self recalls this seal, and the invocation that is said while making this holy sign calls on our God -- the Father, His Son, and the Holy Ghost -- and is a sign of our of belief; it is both a "mini-creed" that asserts our belief in the Triune God, and a prayer that invokes Him. The use of holy water when making this sign, such as we do when we enter a church, also recalls our Baptism and should bring to mind that we are born again of water and Spirit, thanks be to God.

He can take Communion with us,

This is a no no...he cannot take communion with you in your church and you cannot partake in the Catholic church.

For me, it's a little different. I cannot participate in certain activities within his parish and I have only a very basic understanding of Catholic sacraments,

The Sacramments.....explained in detail.....
calledtocommunion.com/2012/09/lawrence-feingold-why-do-we-need-sacraments/

zuserver2.star.ucl.ac.uk/~vgg/rc/aplgtc/hahn/m5/lmbsp.html

the importance and relevance of most rituals,

The rituals are for the glory and worhsip of God.

Confession,

One of the sacraments....fisheaters.com/penance.html

catholic.com/tracts/confession

the religious importance of Saints etc (because those things hold no religious importance or merit in my denomination).

scripturecatholic.com/saints.html

It bothers me that I am a baptized Christian and I cannot take Communion in his parish. I also do not cross myself which sets me apart a bit. He has no problem with this because I'm Christian and I have great faith, but is aware that I'm mildly put-off by the Communion thing.

Hopefully..this would explain closed communion....catholicbasictraining.com/apologetics/coursetexts/2c.htm

[/quote]


#3

Hi and welcome to the Catholic forum!

It’s great hear you and your boyfriend are able to harmonize the differences in your religious beliefs. When I was at college most of my friends I hung around with were Muslims. Occasionally we would discuss our religious differences, I would watch my friend perform his cleansing ritual and prayer but he would not read the bible or attend church. I know what it feels like to be close to someone with different beliefs!

The Catholic Church welcomes anyone and everyone. The sacraments are sacred, they are physical signs of grace thus a person must have the right disposition before receiving them. Because of this the Church has the duty to safeguard the sacraments. A person for example who does not believe in the Eucharist but receives the Eucharist would be profaning the sacrament.

Do you and your boyfriend read the bible together? I think that would be a great way of building a closer relationship with Jesus and each other at the same time on the condition you both listen to each other without judging.

God bless,


#4

Hi and welcome!

Lots in your post!!

I will address two things that stand out to me. First is the saint issue. Catholicism is very old. There have been language shifts that are not reflected in the catholic church. At one time, it would be common for a person to "pray" to or beseech another person. I pray thee husband consider....

Today, in the Protestant world pray has come to mean so
Something one only does with God. It would be more accurate to say that Catholics ASK the saints to pray for them with your definition of pray. We can do this because through Christ we are one and they are not dead but alive in Christ. There is scripture on this also.

Just as you can ask a friend to pray for you, we ask our brothers and sisters in the church triumphant to pray for us.

The second one is baptism. Again scripture on it, however, you need to understand that we do not believe baptism is just a symbol. It is an outward sign of the grace that God gives to us, nothing we earn and something that we should "keep not the little children" from. We don't need to intellectually understand anything. In scripture John the baptist leapt in his mothers womb because he recognized His Lord as a baby still in the womb!

Anyway. I go a bit more than I expected. But those two points I felt led to speak on.


#5

Thank you so much to everyone so far who’s posting welcomes and informative answers & links! I’m learning a lot already. Also, I know I posted a lot of questions… thank you for trying to tackle them! :thumbsup:

For the person who asked if we read the Bible together, we do. :slight_smile: Though I have dated others in the past, I must say that he’s the only one I’ve ever felt comfortable sharing things like prayer and devotions with. We connect very deeply this way. He’s also VERY knowledgeable in the Scripture and the history surrounding it as well, so I find that I’m actually learning a lot of background information from him that I didn’t know before, which is quite engaging! He is very knowledgeable in the history of the Catholic church, so he’s helping me appreciate more as well.

A lot of my family’s traditions and culture are wrapped up in our faith (as for Anabaptists - think Brethren, Mennonite & Amish. I am two generations removed from horse & buggy Plain), so it was a bit intimidating to him at first too… although I can’t help but think that Catholicism is a bit more difficult to understand, if you’ve never been exposed to it in your youth!


#6

I will tell you one thing that helped me was sitting down with a catechism of the catholic church and my bible. When I had/have questions about a particular subject I look it up in the catechism then look at the scripture it refers to. I ignored the other references at the time because the only thing I knew was that the Bible is His word.

Now I will look at other references but it is very eye opening to see the catholic beliefs and the references in the bible. You may not come to agree with the catholic church but you will find that it really is a difference in the interpretation of scripture rather than not being in scripture at all.


#7

You will have an obligation to be married according to the laws of the Catholic Church. This will mean that he needs permission to marry a non-Catholic and permission to celebrate the wedding in a non-Catholic ceremony. These are things which come rather easily these days. I do not foresee a problem obtaining them. You will also need to undergo Catholic “pre-Cana” wedding preparation courses. This will be a period of six to nine months, depending on your diocese. If you are serious and committed to each other, then you still have nothing to worry about.

Your husband will have an obligation to raise your children Catholic. This is something which you must acknowledge for the wedding, and it is a very serious matter. You will need to speak frankly with him during the engagement if you are unable and unwilling to live up to this expectation. It means very much to him and his family, so you should consider his wishes in your response. I will pray for you as you go forward. God bless you.


#8

If your boyfriend does not get married in a Catholic Church the marriage will be invalid. Furthermore, if you do budge on this issue and have a Catholic marriage, it will be required that you promise to raise the children as Catholics.


#9

Noodlemutt -

Welcome. You have come to a wonderful website to get a lot of questions answered that I am sure that you have. Couple of recommendations:

  • Many good books available that explain and answer questions on the Catholic faith. This one is part of the “Dummies” series it is written by two Catholic priests. It’s an easy read, answers a LOT of questions and I know several people who have read it and enjoyed it being new to Catholicism.

shop.catholic.com/books-1/faith-fundamentals/catholicism-for-dummies-2nd-edition.html

  • Other good books but complimentary to the book above is “Answer Me This” and “Where is That in the Bible” by Patrick Madrid.

  • On the catholic.com landing page, one of the links on the top of the page is “Read”. Take a look through here and pick a subject that is on your mind. Take a look at the “Tracts” area or “Search” for a subject that is of particular interest. And, post any questions that you might have in the forum.

  • It would be great for you to join in on the Catholic church’s RCIA program. Rite for Christian Initiation for Adults. Classes have recently started so joining would not be a problem and they’d catch you up on what you have missed. RCIA is for adults wanting to join the church at Easter but also for adults of other faiths who want to learn more about the church. You would have to go through RCIA to join the Catholic Church. This is process of learning about the church teachings and discerning if you would want to join. Either way this would help you in your relationship with your boyfriend…IMHO. My wife went through RCIA 2x over a period of four years …and happily joined the church.

I pray for you and yours.


#10

[quote="pablope, post:2, topic:300571"]

Welcome to CAF...and whew...you have a lot of questions. My suggestion is to break this up into their own threads...it could get overwhelming for you. I will try to answer some...but do think of the most important questions you have..and start separate threads.

fisheaters.com/sign.html

The Catholic Sign of the Cross is absolutely ancient, rooted not only in the Old Testament but the New (Apocalypse speaks of those who have the sign of God in their foreheads -- and those who have the sign of the Beast in their foreheads). When Catholics undergo the Sacrament of Confirmation, the Bishop (sometimes a priest) seals the sign on our foreheads with holy chrism. St. John of Damascus wrote

Crossing one's self recalls this seal, and the invocation that is said while making this holy sign calls on our God -- the Father, His Son, and the Holy Ghost -- and is a sign of our of belief; it is both a "mini-creed" that asserts our belief in the Triune God, and a prayer that invokes Him. The use of holy water when making this sign, such as we do when we enter a church, also recalls our Baptism and should bring to mind that we are born again of water and Spirit, thanks be to God.

This is a no no...he cannot take communion with you in your church and you cannot partake in the Catholic church.

The Sacramments.....explained in detail.....
calledtocommunion.com/2012/09/lawrence-feingold-why-do-we-need-sacraments/

zuserver2.star.ucl.ac.uk/~vgg/rc/aplgtc/hahn/m5/lmbsp.html

The rituals are for the glory and worhsip of God.

One of the sacraments....fisheaters.com/penance.html

catholic.com/tracts/confession

scripturecatholic.com/saints.html

Hopefully..this would explain closed communion....catholicbasictraining.com/apologetics/coursetexts/2c.htm

What a thoughtful response, you gave me some sites to look at:thumbsup:

[/quote]


#11

As someone who studied Catholicism for six years prior to becoming Catholic (through RCIA), I can tell you at first some of the things were quite difficult for me to wrap my head around because I didn't understand enough of the history to really "get it". Communion was one of those things. I attended Mass for two years and it was hard for me to see everyone else going up for Communion and I couldn't (even though I fully believed in everything about the Catholic Church). Once I took RCIA and learned about how important Communion was (that it really IS the Body and Blood of Christ, not just something symbolic), I realized why I was unable to receive it without being a member of the Catholic Church. It wasn't because the Catholics were some sort of elitist club (LOL) but because I needed to fully understand exactly what Communion was and how very sacred it is. This is also something I had to explain to my Protestant family members because they couldn't see why everyone was not allowed to take Communion if they showed up at Mass. However, I don't know if you knew this or not, you CAN go up with your boyfriend when he takes Communion, cross your arms over your chest and the priest will be very happy to give you a blessing instead of Communion.

As for the marriage and children -- as someone else said, your boyfriend is obligated to be married in the Catholic Church and for your children to be raised as Catholic. If he does otherwise, your marriage could be considered invalid in the eyes of the Church. :( This is definitely something that you and he need to speak with his priest about so that you BOTH fully understand the reasons behind it. Best of luck to you! :)


#12

Choose one religion or the other, much easier for kids and the marriage.


#13

[quote="Marocchino, post:8, topic:300571"]
If your boyfriend does not get married in a Catholic Church the marriage will be invalid. Furthermore, if you do budge on this issue and have a Catholic marriage, it will be required that you promise to raise the children as Catholics.

[/quote]

You may want to check the standard. I do believe the Catholic's Bishop can give permission otherwise. Also I believ the standard is the nonCatholic must be informed of the Catholic's obligation to do his best to see that his children are baptized and raised Catholic.


#14

[quote="Marocchino, post:8, topic:300571"]
If your boyfriend does not get married in a Catholic Church the marriage will be invalid. QUOTE]

No, you can get married in another church with dispensation from the Bishop. As was I....

[/quote]


#15

I married a Catholic when I was a Baptist. I guess before we married we did not fully discuss the potential problems that might come up. The largest problem came when we were expecting our first child. I was totally against infant Baptism, I spoke with a Catholic priest about my objections and I never really received what I thought was a good answer. This child died at birth and was not baptized. We never had another natural child, but five years later we adopted and we did not baptize our son, but in his second year I began to discuss the Catholic faith with a friend who could answer every concern I had about the Catholic Church. His knowledge was so great that I now say he was able to give me an understanding of the Church in "full living color". The NBC logo comes to mind.
Within about six month I became Catholic. We Baptized our son, had our marriage validated, I received confirmation all on the same day. Wow, what a glorious day.

However, as much as you think you have covered all your bases in discussing the Catholic Church and your Anabaptist belief system, there will be times that are difficult because of a difference in your upbringing. These are unavoidable and someone will feel hurt by the outcome. Think about this deeply because if you both are truly following your faith they are not always reconcilable. and disagreements inevitably will arise.

This is about your, your prospective husband and your future children's eternity. Make sure you know this relationship is worth the extra pain. I pray that our Lord will bless you as you discen these important points.

In Christ,

Stan


#16

Technically he shouldn’t be receiving communion in your church if he’s Catholic, even if he’s welcome to do so. But that’s entirely up to him, I suppose.

I can understand you not wanting to be married by a Catholic priest, but you should understand how that will effect his religious beliefs. If he doesn’t have a sacramental wedding in the Catholic Church, then he will no longer be able to receive Communion – which is an important Sacrament for salvation according to Catholic beliefs. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” (John 6:53-56)

My grandparents weren’t married in the Church because my grandfather was Protestant. My grandmother wasn’t able to receive Communion for about 50 years, until my grandfather finally agreed to have their marriage blessed shortly before Grandma died. It really had an impact on her spiritually, and she essentially felt cut off from her church for most of her life.

If you did decide your children could be baptised in the Catholic church, I don’t think that would be allowed if you two weren’t married by a priest… I do think it would be great to educate your children on both of your religions! But it’s also important to remember that if your boyfriend is Catholic, he has an obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days. Going every other week wouldn’t really be an option for him, unless he’s not all that serious about his religion. These are just some things to consider.


#17

[quote="gnosisofthomas, post:16, topic:300571"]
I can understand you not wanting to be married by a Catholic priest, but you should understand how that will effect his religious beliefs. If he doesn't have a sacramental wedding in the Catholic Church, then he will no longer be able to receive Communion -- which is an important Sacrament for salvation according to Catholic beliefs. "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him." (John 6:53-56)

My grandparents weren't married in the Church because my grandfather was Protestant. My grandmother wasn't able to receive Communion for about 50 years, until my grandfather finally agreed to have their marriage blessed shortly before Grandma died. It really had an impact on her spiritually, and she essentially felt cut off from her church for most of her life.

If you did decide your children could be baptised in the Catholic church, I don't think that would be allowed if you two weren't married by a priest... I do think it would be great to educate your children on both of your religions! But it's also important to remember that if your boyfriend is Catholic, he has an obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days. Going every other week wouldn't really be an option for him, unless he's not all that serious about his religion. These are just some things to consider.

[/quote]

This is the wrong advice. It is certainly possible to have a valid, sacramental marriage without a Catholic ceremony. It is a simple matter of obtaining the correct permissions or dispensations to marry outside of the "Catholic form" normally required. If you do not obtain these permissions beforehand, you will marry invalidly and your husband will indeed be unable to participate in the sacraments including the Eucharist. You need to avoid this situation at all costs.


#18

[quote="Delaine75, post:11, topic:300571"]
However, I don't know if you knew this or not, you CAN go up with your boyfriend when he takes Communion, cross your arms over your chest and the priest will be very happy to give you a blessing instead of Communion.

[/quote]

This practice may be common, but it is illicit. A non-Catholic should stay in the pew and pray a spiritual communion. The priest gives a general blessing at the end of Mass. Having a Eucharistic minister administer a blessing is totally useless since they cannot truly bless. The individual blessings in lieu of communion were started with good intentions but it is time to put that practice aside now.


#19

Just to let you know, the Catholics usually win. I was in my Protestant phase when I met and married my wife who stayed true. Years later, without pressure or even any effort from her I came back to the church after attending a non-denominational Christmas eve service in a movie theater.

So much better now that we share the same faith. Pick one or the other for the kids otherwise they have a greater chance of being confused and will just end up atheist.


#20

Welcome. I'm a Catholic married to a Presbyterian, I'll try to take your questions one at a time.

[quote="NoodleMutt, post:1, topic:300571"]
I don't mind attending Mass with him and watching him play in his parish's worship band, and he doesn't have a problem attending my church which is much different than his.

[/quote]

Just a note here, your boyfriend is required to attend Mass on Sunday (or the Saturday vigil). I know for my wife, it was hard to hear that I'd be happy to go to her service but I'd have to go to Mass too. It's nothing personal. I think that my wife's Presbyterian church has a wonderful prayer service, but they don't have the sacrifice of the Mass which I'm required to participate in as a Catholic.

[quote="NoodleMutt, post:1, topic:300571"]
We both obviously believe in the same things and we're both Christian...

[/quote]

I hate to cut in here, but the truth is you don't believe the same things. You may believe 95 percent the same things, but that 5 percent is big. My wife and I agree on just about everything but religion, but our differences in faith have been very difficult on our marriage.

[quote="NoodleMutt, post:1, topic:300571"]
He can take Communion with us, pray with us and attend any and all classes and activities with us. We are totally accepting of anyone wishing to worship God and hear his Word.

[/quote]

It's great that your community is so inviting. While you guys allows your boyfriend to receive communion at your church, he is not allowed to do so by the Catholic Church. The reason is that we take communion literally and he is not in 100% union with your church. Once again, don't take it personally if he doesn't receive communion in your church. He actually does it out of respect for you - he doesn't want to give the impression that he is in full communion with you when he is not. P.S. The Catholic church also invites anyone of any faith to participate at Mass or other church activities, but only Catholics in a state of grace can receive communion - which is a point we'll get to below.

[quote="NoodleMutt, post:1, topic:300571"]
I was raised to believe that you have to speak to no one but God himself to ask forgiveness of your sins and deliverance from evil.

[/quote]

Catholics believe that through a perfect act of contrition (contrition out of perfect love of God) a person can obtain forgiveness of their sins directly from God. Catholics also believe in Scripture where the glorified Jesus gave the apostles the authority to forgive sins (John 20:21-23) "Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." We are frail and flawed beings. Christ gave us a great gift in confession in that as long as we truly repent for our sins we can be forgiven even if we do so without a perfect love of God (for example if we repent merely because of the fear of hell). It is always God who ultimately forgives sin in confession and not the priest.

[quote="NoodleMutt, post:1, topic:300571"]
There is no Earthly link from us to God, and we do not pray to anyone but God himself - doing so would be worshiping a false idol. (We do not recognize Saints, so praying to one for us would be the equivalent of praying to George Washington, or any other historical figure - no religious or spiritual merit, per se).

[/quote]

I would say that you certainly do pray to other people besides God. I'm sure that you ask others for help (say your parents, for example) and compliment or praise others (once again your parents would make a good example here). You do make a very good point that you worship is for God alone. Catholics worship no one but God. I think the main difference here is that in your Christian community you don't have a sacrifice like Catholics do with the Mass and therefore you associate prayer with being the highest form of worship reserved only for God. The Catholic position would be that sacrifice is the highest form of worship directed only towards God. Prayer then does not necessarily mean worship. Prayer of worship is given only to God, but prayer honoring saints or asking for their prayers is not worship. After all God honored the saints by raising them up into heaven, why shouldn't we give them the same honor that he bestowed upon them? Catholics believe strongly in St. Paul's doctrine of the Body of Christ. We belong to the same Body as the saints who have gone before us - we are just as connected to the saints as we are to our friends and family on this earth. Therefore just as it is right and good for us to ask our friends and family for help, it is right and good to ask the saints. There is absolutely no element of worship here.

[quote="NoodleMutt, post:1, topic:300571"]
It bothers me that I am a baptized Christian and I cannot take Communion in his parish.

[/quote]

Take a step back and look at this from our perspective. We do not do this to exclude you. We do this to protect you. First, as I said before we take communion literally. To go up and receive communion means you are saying that you believe everything that the Catholic Church teaches - that you are in perfect union with the Church. We do not want to make a liar out of you. Second, and most importantly we believe that Eucharist truly is Jesus. If you do not believe this you would be making an idolater of yourself by going up and receiving what we claim is God.


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