My Little Boy Wants to Convert, but


#1

Please help!

This is SUCH a long story, but I’ll try to get to the bottom line:

Both my little boys (one is 4 1/2, the other will turn 6 years old on Dec. 19), were baptized, chrismated (our “Confirmation”) and received the Holy Mysteries (our “Holy Eucharist,” under both species) in the Antiochian Orthodox Church. I am Roman Catholic, my husband is technically Orthodox (on paper only) but attends an evangelical non-denominational church.

The boys and I attend Daily Mass, I attend the Sat. night Vigil Mass by myself, and the boys go with Daddy to his church Sunday morning (I have to go, too, sometimes; and my Priest knows about this.)

The soon-to-be-six-year-old recently asked about becoming Catholic (he loved being able to receive the Eucharist in the Orthodox Church), but our Priest said he would have to attend the church classes in the Fall. I asked Father, “Couldn’t I just catechize him myself, at home, as I’ve been doing, but more intentionally and with the appropriate books/materials?” Father repeated, “Sure-- but he’ll have to come to the church class in the Fall.”

Here’s the thing: we live in a rural area, and this is a rather nominal “mission” church. Our nearest orthodox (small “o” orthodox!) and what I’d consider “enthusiastic” Roman Catholic church is a 55 min. drive, one way. :frowning:

My currently Protestant husband would NEVER allow our boys to be catechized in this local Church-- but I’ll tell ya, I don’t even think I’M comfortable with it myself! There’s a gal there who believes in reincarnation, etc.-- you get the idea. I don’t trust these folks with my children’s religious education-- but I trust myself! :thumbsup:

I can’t seem to get any solid information from my Priest on this. Not only that, but the catechism seems to say parents have “the right” to catechize our children at home, AND we have “the right” to catechize them through the local church…???

Could somebody please shed some light on this? Do my boys HAVE to go through the CCD at Church in order to receive the Sacraments??? Can’t I do the job myself? What exactly must he do to convert???

Any help/advice is GREATLY appreciated!

Blessings to you!

–Donna


#2

Would your priest allow you to use the internet and resources such as the aproved list of religion textbooks found on the USCCB web site? It would be kind of a correspondence course.
Just a thought. At least you could monitor what their getting.


#3

Parents have the primary duty to catechize their children.

You still need the Church for the sacraments.

Your best hope is to find a priest who is willing to meet your needs ad hoc. You can arrange appointments over time at more convenient times and locations, where he can ascertain the child’s progress from your teaching. The final reception is done at the church.

I pray things work out for you.

hurst


#4

Hi!

The situation that you’re in is very similar to one I was in. Your kids are in a very good position to convert though. They do not have to be catechized at all actually and can come into the Church at any time with only a profession of faith. They don’t need to go through RCIA. I converted last year and it was completely painless. Please PM me if you have any more questions.


#5

I think it’s the community aspect of preparing for the sacraments that makes preparing alone at home a problem. I’ll bet something could be worked out if the priest fully understood your position?


#6

Wow. Just, wow. I’m running off my little knowledge of Church procedure here, but there are a few things I do know. First off, if your kids are Baptised Antiochian Orthodox then they really already have one foot in the door of the Catholic Church. In fact, so far as I know all that is required is for them to say “I’m Catholic”, and they are. Technically speaking, they’re Melkite Catholics, which is the Catholic “equivalent” of Antiochian Orthodox, and that also means that your four year old can receive the Eucharist since the practice of the Melkite Catholics is to Commune infants at Baptism.

As for your older son, I would ask the priest if he would be comfortable just talking with your son and finding out his view of the Sacraments. If your six-year-old is as aware of the Sacraments as he seems to be, it should be enough that he demonstrates that understanding to the priest. As I said, your children can’t really be considered as “non-Catholics coming into the faith”, but as Antiochian Orthodox should be considered as “Catholics who want to finally participate fully in the Catholic Church”. As such, it’s my lay opinion that they should be accorded full recognition as Melkite Catholics. I stress that this is my lay understanding, however.

Another thing to consider is looking into a local Melkite Catholic parish, and seeing what they have to say. We have a few Melkite Catholic posters here, including the Moderator of the Eastern Christianity Forum, Joe Monahan. They might be able to steer you in the right direction. Your difficulty is not unfamiliar to Eastern Catholics, and if anyone has in-depth knowledge of the subject it would be them.

Peace and God bless!


#7

[quote=Jennifer J]I think it’s the community aspect of preparing for the sacraments that makes preparing alone at home a problem. I’ll bet something could be worked out if the priest fully understood your position?
[/quote]

The issue is that both children already received the Sacraments; they don’t need to be “prepared” for it. Many Eastern Catholic Churches, including the Melkite Catholic Church which her children would technically belong to if they became Catholic, Commune infants.

It’s really more a matter of the normal practice being interupted due to the practices of the father, rather than a new introduction to the Sacraments.

Peace and God bless!


#8

[quote=Photini]Please help!

This is SUCH a long story, but I’ll try to get to the bottom line:

Both my little boys (one is 4 1/2, the other will turn 6 years old on Dec. 19), were baptized, chrismated (our “Confirmation”) and received the Holy Mysteries (our “Holy Eucharist,” under both species) in the Antiochian Orthodox Church. I am Roman Catholic, my husband is technically Orthodox (on paper only) but attends an evangelical non-denominational church.

The boys and I attend Daily Mass, I attend the Sat. night Vigil Mass by myself, and the boys go with Daddy to his church Sunday morning (I have to go, too, sometimes; and my Priest knows about this.)

The soon-to-be-six-year-old recently asked about becoming Catholic (he loved being able to receive the Eucharist in the Orthodox Church), but our Priest said he would have to attend the church classes in the Fall. I asked Father, “Couldn’t I just catechize him myself, at home, as I’ve been doing, but more intentionally and with the appropriate books/materials?” Father repeated, “Sure-- but he’ll have to come to the church class in the Fall.”

Here’s the thing: we live in a rural area, and this is a rather nominal “mission” church. Our nearest orthodox (small “o” orthodox!) and what I’d consider “enthusiastic” Roman Catholic church is a 55 min. drive, one way. :frowning:

My currently Protestant husband would NEVER allow our boys to be catechized in this local Church-- but I’ll tell ya, I don’t even think I’M comfortable with it myself! There’s a gal there who believes in reincarnation, etc.-- you get the idea. I don’t trust these folks with my children’s religious education-- but I trust myself! :thumbsup:

I can’t seem to get any solid information from my Priest on this. Not only that, but the catechism seems to say parents have “the right” to catechize our children at home, AND we have “the right” to catechize them through the local church…???

Could somebody please shed some light on this? Do my boys HAVE to go through the CCD at Church in order to receive the Sacraments??? Can’t I do the job myself? What exactly must he do to convert???

Any help/advice is GREATLY appreciated!

Blessings to you!

–Donna
[/quote]

I may be wrong on this because I’m speaking without looking up anything tonight.

My understanding is that ANY Eastern Catholic or Eastern Orthodox can receive the Sacraments in the Latin Church when they cannot attend their own Eastern Catholic or Orthodox Church. It would seem that nothing would be required for your son to receive the Sacraments in the local Roman Catholic parish, without needing to convert. Until he is of age to consider this himself.

Additionally yes the Church does teach that parents are the primary catechists of their children. I would suggest that you contact the Roman Catholic diocese you are living in and ask them on both points.


#9

Photini,

Your children already are catholic, but schismatic (not of their own will). So, the only procedure for them to become Catholic (Roman or Melkite) is to say they are in union with the Pope. RCIA doesn’t seem right for them, but you should probably contact your local Latin diocese and a close Melkite eparchy (their equivilent of a diocese) to ask them the procedure for conversion. Additionally, you can check melkite.org/ for phone numbers and information. Your priest should not be refusing communion to your children when they become Catholic because in their rite they receive as infants.

God bless,


#10

Semper Fi: I’m pretty sure that if they want to be members of the Latin Catholic Church’s jurisdiction they might have more of a process, being Baptized Antiochian. It’s my understanding that as Antiochians they’d be considered de facto Melkites

Just to put any of the mother’s fears to rest, in case she’s not familiar with the different sui juris Churches within the Catholic Church, Melkite Catholics are 110% Catholic, and not some kind of “pseudo-Catholic” group. They are simply the Catholics who follow the same practices of the Antiochian Orthodox, being the Antiochian Orthodox who acknowledge the Pope and the Catholic Communion. They’d still be perfectly welcome to receive Communion in a Latin church, just as the mother can receive in a Melkite Catholic church, and the fact that they’re younger than most Latins would be when allowed to receive Communion means nothing.

In the case of the four-year old, I’m not even certain that he’d have to make a proclaimation of unity with the Papacy, as the mother’s desire might be enough to cover it. That might even be the case with your six-year old, though he sounds like he’s well able to understand the Sacraments and Communion.

Now might be a good time to start studying the Melkite/Antiochian traditions and helping your sons to learn about them as they grow. They come from a long line of very devout and heroic Apostalic Christians!

Peace and God bless!


#11

[quote=Ghosty]Semper Fi: I’m pretty sure that if they want to be members of the Latin Catholic Church’s jurisdiction they might have more of a process, being Baptized Antiochian. It’s my understanding that as Antiochians they’d be considered de facto Melkites
[/quote]

I’m sure they would have to switch rites, but they can still come into the Catholic faith thru a western priest if there is no Melkite priest around (and if they came to the Faith thru a western priest they would still be Melkites because changing rites needs the consent of the Melkite bishop and the Latin bishop, and I would suggest against switching rites). There isn’t even a Melkite parish in my state, and finding another Eastern Catholic parish may be difficult too.


#12

[quote=Semper Fi]I’m sure they would have to switch rites, but they can still come into the Catholic faith thru a western priest if there is no Melkite priest around… There isn’t even a Melkite parish in my state, and finding another Eastern Catholic parish may be difficult too.
[/quote]

Semper Fi, we live around 70 miles from the nearest Eastern Catholic Church! The closest Catholic Church to us is Roman, and it’s only about a 25 min. drive one way. That’s where I attend.

The Priest here, bless is heart, is very old and very “old-skool” Western Rite (Roman). He didn’t seem to understand when I explained that my boys have both already received the Sacraments. (The older boy even went to Reconciliation-- when he was 4! He totally understood what it was about and begged us to let him go!)

He said, “They are too young to understand.”

Hmmm… I just turned 38 and I don’t know if I totally understand the beautiful and awesome mystery of Christ making Himself fully present: body, blood, soul and divinity, in the Holy Eucharist!

If I can manage to contact a Melkite Catholic Priest, what do I even ask him? Do I ask him to phone my local Roman Catholic Priest, and try to explain all of this??? I don’t know what to say.

Thank you to everyone who responded-- I look forward to learning more! (Help!!!)

By the way, even my husband loves the beautiful Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom-- who couldn’t?!? :thumbsup:


#13

[quote=Photini]Semper Fi, we live around 70 miles from the nearest Eastern Catholic Church! The closest Catholic Church to us is Roman, and it’s only about a 25 min. drive one way. That’s where I attend.

The Priest here, bless is heart, is very old and very “old-skool” Western Rite (Roman). He didn’t seem to understand when I explained that my boys have both already received the Sacraments. (The older boy even went to Reconciliation-- when he was 4! He totally understood what it was about and begged us to let him go!)

He said, “They are too young to understand.”

Hmmm… I just turned 38 and I don’t know if I totally understand the beautiful and awesome mystery of Christ making Himself fully present: body, blood, soul and divinity, in the Holy Eucharist!

If I can manage to contact a Melkite Catholic Priest, what do I even ask him? Do I ask him to phone my local Roman Catholic Priest, and try to explain all of this??? I don’t know what to say.

Thank you to everyone who responded-- I look forward to learning more! (Help!!!)

By the way, even my husband loves the beautiful Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom-- who couldn’t?!? :thumbsup:
[/quote]

Photini,

At this point probably contacting your diocese/archdiocese or a Melkite Bishop would probably be your best bet. I’m not entirely sure on the procedure, but I’ll PM you the name of someone on this board who might be able to give you more info.

God bless,


#14

Photini: It may be enough to simply view the website Semper Fi posted, www.melkite.org, and show the pertainant information from that site to the priest. It’s quite likely that he’s simply never been exposed to this particular situation. If that doesn’t work, just send an e-mail to the regional Melkite Eparchy and ask them if they’d be willing to notify the local parish priest about your unique circumstances.

Sadly this is a circumstance that many Eastern Catholics in this country run into, as the only “Catholic” is often Roman/Latin Catholic in the minds of people here, even the clergy. Hopefully it will only take a little gentle nudging for the Holy Spirit to take over and make things right. Your children would seem to definately fall under the heading of Eastern Catholic, and should be treated as such, and matters resolved for the good and education of all involved :slight_smile:

Of particular interest would be this portion of the website. It details resolving the complications that can arise in an “East meets West” circumstance such as yours.

Peace and God bless!


#15

[quote=Photini]Semper Fi, we live around 70 miles from the nearest Eastern Catholic Church! The closest Catholic Church to us is Roman, and it’s only about a 25 min. drive one way. That’s where I attend.

The Priest here, bless is heart, is very old and very “old-skool” Western Rite (Roman). He didn’t seem to understand when I explained that my boys have both already received the Sacraments. (The older boy even went to Reconciliation-- when he was 4! He totally understood what it was about and begged us to let him go!)

He said, “They are too young to understand.”

Hmmm… I just turned 38 and I don’t know if I totally understand the beautiful and awesome mystery of Christ making Himself fully present: body, blood, soul and divinity, in the Holy Eucharist!

If I can manage to contact a Melkite Catholic Priest, what do I even ask him? Do I ask him to phone my local Roman Catholic Priest, and try to explain all of this??? I don’t know what to say.

Thank you to everyone who responded-- I look forward to learning more! (Help!!!)

By the way, even my husband loves the beautiful Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom-- who couldn’t?!? :thumbsup:
[/quote]

Many parish Latin Rite priests do not understand the issues of Eastern Catholics or Orthodox in the US.

I would suggest that you write the nearest Melkite parish and ask how your children who are now Eastern Orthodox, can become Melkite Catholics. (explain all the details)

Then write your Bishop and explain that your pastor refuses the Sacraments to your Eastern Orthodox children. (explaining all the details)

I’m almost certain that your Bishop will write or call your pastor explaining that your children have a right to receive the Sacraments in his parish.

It may be necessary for him to explain to the parish why your children are receiving Holy Communion. Because many see this as really strange because most Latin Catholics do not have any understanding of Eastern Catholics or Orthodox.

Even though you are Roman your children are Eastern. I would seriously consider having your Orthodox children become Melkite Catholic. But would discourage you from having them change from Eastern to Latin Catholic. They are Eastern and should remain Eastern unless there are real serious reasons to change. They can always attend Mass with you and you can sometimes drive over and attend at the Melkite parish now and then. You actually have a very unique situation that both you as well as your children can learn a lot from.


#16

**Semper Fi, Ghosty, and Bro. Rich-- thank you very, very much for all the sound advice and encouragement! God bless you. ** :slight_smile:


#17

Donna,

Ghosty pm’ed me to ask that I look at this thread and offer you some advice on how best to proceed. After reading it, I pm’ed a friend who posts here as Irish Melkite. This kind of situation is really his area of expertise and, although I could offer some thoughts, Neil is the resident expert. I just spoke with him a few minutes ago only to find that someone had brought the thread to his attention also and he was already in the process of writing a reply to it.

If I can be of any assistance, please ask.

Joe Monahan


#18

[quote=Photini]Please help!

This is SUCH a long story, but I’ll try to get to the bottom line:

Both my little boys (one is 4 1/2, the other will turn 6 years old on Dec. 19), were baptized, chrismated (our “Confirmation”) and received the Holy Mysteries (our “Holy Eucharist,” under both species) in the Antiochian Orthodox Church. I\

Could somebody please shed some light on this? Do my boys HAVE to go through the CCD at Church in order to receive the Sacraments??? Can’t I do the job myself? What exactly must he do to convert???

[/quote]

I was instructed in my training that the Catholic Church recognizes the sacraments of the Orthodox Churches which retain apostolic succession, and that such a child is to be treated for the purposes of CCD the same as a child who entered the Church through RCIA, and hence was confirmed at a younger age than is the norm here.

In other words, such a child is fully initiated, and may need catechesis in doctrine and practice that is specifically Catholic, how to assist at Mass, the prayers etc., but is not to be kept from the sacraments including communion. There also needs to be a public profession of faith and a sponsor, and the fact of membership noted in the parish records.

RCIA is not appropriate for such a person, although some instruction would certainly be required. He also should be prepared for first penance once he reaches the age of reason. He should also receive religious instruction throughout his school years, just as is done in most Eastern churches. That can be done at home, but bearing in mind the situation of the parents in the case cited, they may need some help in doing this so joining a parish program would be of great benefit.

I never heard of the Antiochan Orthodox Church, but if you came to me I would first refer you to my pastor, who would ascertain from the Bishop if the children have been initiated with valid sacraments.

As I believe the practice in that church is for the parents to bring the young child to communion and communicate him, there would need to be some instruction in how to receive, i.e. parents may not communicate the child, most Catholic churches do not practice intinction etc. What would also be needed is some general catechesis for the congregation from the pulpit on the situation of these children, the reasons they have already been admitted to communion, and of course a welcome. The bishop is within his rights, however, to discourage the children from receiving communion again until they reach the age of reason and have received some instruction.

Please ask for another interview with your priest. who may have valid concerns that the children will be properly catechised and raised Catholic, given your family situation. and ask for a referral to the bishop, and a conference with the priest of the diocese who is in charge of RCIA.


#19

Donna,

You have certainly managed to catch the attention of the EC Forum crowd; I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen this many of them outside our hallowed walls at one time :smiley: . Semper Fi pm’ed me to bring this thread and your predicament to my attention and then our esteemed Moderator caught my attention for the same purpose. I’ll do my best to live up to Joe’s expectations :o .

A few well-intentioned but erroneous comments have been made with which I take issue but, rather than address them directly, I’m going to focus on your specific concerns and touch on the other factors as they come into play in answering you. (Having said that, I find myself needing to touch on a few of them right off the mark.)

Your children are presently Eastern, but they are not Catholic (in the sense that Catholics would apply the term), they are not schismatic, and they are not Melkites, de facto or otherwise. They are Antiochian Orthodox by virtue of having been baptized, chrismated, and communed in the Sister Church of my own (Melkite Catholic) Church. My Orthodox brethren would be, rightfully, rather askance and offended by application of those terms to an Orthodox Christian.

Because of the particular and unique spiritual relationship that the Church considers to exist between Orthodoxy and Catholicism, the process by which an Orthodox Christian “becomes” a Catholic is more properly spoken of as being “received into the Catholic Church” (Canon 897 of the Eastern Code) or “entering into communion with the Catholic Church”, rather than “converting”.

An adult, entering into communion from an Orthodox Church, would ordinarily (but not necessarily) be received into the particular Catholic Church that reflects his religious heritage. In the instance of an Antiochian Orthodox, that would be the Melkite Catholic Church. A child, entering into communion from an Orthodox Church, would ordinarily (but, again, not necessarily) be received into the particular Catholic Church that reflects the religious heritage of his father in the instance where both parents were Orthodox, but of different Churches.

Your situation is different in that you are a Catholic and your husband is not. The Canons specifically address this situation in the case of an as yet unbaptized infant, but don’t speak to it directly as regards a baptized child under age 14.

However, the provisions of Canons 111 of the Latin Code and Canon 29 of the Eastern Code, both of which are directed at the specific instance of an unbaptized infant, have been interpreted to be similarly applicable to the situation of a already baptized child being received into communion. These Canons provide that a child whose sole Catholic parent is the mother should ordinarily be received into her Church, in this case, the Latin Church.

(Here, I want to interject that, if it is your desire to raise them in the Byzantine tradition, an argument can be made for having them received into the Melkite Catholic Church on the basis of their father’s religious heritage and that argument should and likely will prevail. While I would certainly encourage that, being a bit biased :wink: , I’ll hold off on addressing it further unless/until you indicate that it’s an avenue which you want to explore. If that is the route that you choose to pursue, I would encourage you to consider whether you yourself might, at some future point, want to consider canonically transferring from the Latin to Melkite Church.)

In view of their ages and that you are Catholic, for your children to be received into communion, no profession of faith is required of either of them, as neither is of an age to which it would be meaningful for them to make such a profession. All that is required is that both parents consent to the children being received into communion and that the priest be reasonably convinced that they will be raised in the Catholic faith. The latter is something that should not be an issue, given your regular attendance with them at Mass.

(continued)


#20

Now, let’s discuss the issue of the boys receiving Sacraments in this Latin parish that you attend. As Orthodox who have been admitted to the Mystery of the Eucharist, it is the position of the Catholic Church that the boys are entitled to be communed in a Catholic Church. (Although the Church asks that Orthodox seeking such follow the dictates of their own hierarchs in doing so - which, in most instances, would be opposed, it will not refuse requests for the Sacraments from them.) There is absolutely no requirement that they be catechized prior to reception of the Sacraments.

Canon 844 of the Latin Code provides that:

]§3 Catholic ministers may lawfully administer the Sacraments of Penance, the Eucharist, and Anointing of the Sick to members of the Eastern Churches not in full communion with the Catholic Church, if they spontaneously ask for them and are properly disposed.

The fact that they are not of the “age of reason” (a purely Latin concept, unknown to the Eastern Churches, Catholic or Orthodox) is of no consequence. (The situation is no different than it would be if an Eastern Catholic family were worshipping in your Latin parish due to lack of a parish of their own in the area. Your pastor would be obligated to afford the Mystery of the Eucharist to that family’s members consistent with the ritual tradition and laws of their own Church, including administering the Eucharist to the family’s infant children who had been communed at Baptism.)

If you want to pursue having the boys admitted to the Eucharist at present, before their entry into communion, I advise discussing the matter with the priest and, if that is unsuccessful (which is my anticipation, given your description of his thinking), taking it up further with the local Latin diocese. I doubt that a call to your pastor from a Melkite priest will have the desired effect; he probably will need to hear it from a Latin chancery official to be convinced.

Now, the tricky part - what happens after they are received into communion as regards continued reception of the Eucharist? Technically, at that point in time, as Latin Catholics, they become subject to the provisions of Canon 913, which says:

§1 For Holy Communion to be administered to children, it is required that they have sufficient knowledge and be accurately prepared, so that according to their capacity they understand what the mystery of Christ means, and are able to receive the Body of the Lord with faith and devotion.

I have a strong suspicion that your pastor would use this provision to arguably refuse to again commune them until they complete classes or other catechesis, since there are no written guidelines for how children formerly of an Eastern Church are to be dealt with in these circumstances. It is difficult (and painful) for me to perceive that a priest would do this, but ignorance of Eastern praxis is rampant and understanding of it is more so. While things are significantly better than they were 40 years ago, when I canonically transferred from the Latin to Melkite Church, there continue to be stumbling blocks at regular intervals.

Should you want to discuss the possibility of having your boys received into communion as Melkite Catholics, please give me an idea of your location (post or PM) and I’ll give you the name and contact information for the nearest of our priests to you.

Many years,

Neil


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