Questions about becoming Catholic


#1

For many reasons I would like leave the Episcopal Church and join the Catholic Church. My wife on the other hand is interested, but has many reservations. We have discussed, and have talked with priests and Catholic friends. At the moment one of the walls my wife is struggling with is with sterilization. We are having our third child. If my wife has to give birth by c-section she would like to have her tubes tied.

We do not believe in using birth control pills, but she has no problem with condoms, and sterilization. To her we cannot afford more then 3 children. I agree with her on this. A year ago she did some reading up on various Catholic family planning websites. In her mind there is no difference with condoms, sterilization, and family planning. She thinks each way you are making a conscious choice not to have children, and there is no difference.

My fear is she will get her tubes tied, and down the road at some point we will join the Catholic Church. I fear this will be a problem for her in the future. I do not agree with some of our friends who tell us it is all ok. That you really don’t have to live your life 100% by what the church teaches. That we should just fallow what we feel God is telling us and everything will be fine. I do not agree with this viewpoint.

So my question is how are women received into the Catholic Church who have made permanent decisions when it comes to reproduction? Will this be forever held against her? One friend told us she would never be able to take communion because of choices made before coming into the church. I just don’t know what to think.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.


#2

She would not have to have her tubes tied. You need to find a Natural Family Planning Doctor. I know a couple who cannot have any more children because the wife has a heart problem and having another child would probably kill her. The have been using NFP in their words “they have a great sex life”

In her mind there is no difference with condoms, sterilization, and family planning. She thinks each way you are making a conscious choice not to have children, and there is no difference.

There is a big difference. With condoms, sterilization and other forms of birth control, you are taking your fertility in YOUR hands. In NFP you are participating in what GOD has created. Sex is by nature both unitive and pro creative. We as humans do not have the authority to remove either of those things.

So my question is how are women received into the Catholic Church who have made permanent decisions when it comes to reproduction? Will this be forever held against her? One friend told us she would never be able to take communion because of choices made before coming into the church. I just don’t know what to think.

This would not be forever held against her, but she would confess this in confession. In order to be forgiven for your sins, you MUST me truly sorry. If you do something and say you will confess later and be forgiven, I would doubt you are truly forgiven because you cannot truly be sorry. Having her tubes tied is a sin. Using a condom is a sin.
You cannot receive communion in the state of mortal sin. Good thing we have confession huh?

My wife and I use NFP and love it. We use the Creighton Model of NFP.


#3

My best answer is to talk to any priest that maybe local to you regarding this issue, rather than to your catholic friends or people like us on the forums. I’m suggesting this because I want to be sure you are getting the best and most accurate information, and given your situation I think it should come from a priest rather than that layety (even though I’m sure there are those of us who might well know the right answer).

Now I do know that the norm is that steralization is a mortal sin, but what I don’t know is what the equivocations are specifically. I beleive there may be some with regard to there being some sort of medical benifit, or if the woman’s life may be in danger if there were to be another pregnancy.

So, I would go to a preist, explain the situation in detail and accuratly and see what they say. God bless, and I hope this helps.

Edit
By the way, NFP is another great option. But again if the risk of pregnacy is too great… Then I would talk to a Priest, and hash it out with them. Obviously I would do so with your wife present.


#4

This website has the text of a talk called Contraception Why Not by Janet Smith. It is really good. I met Janet Smith, this lady knows her stuff.

janetsmith.excerptsofinri.com/

If you prefer to listen to the talk you can request a free CD copy at the link below.

omsoul.com/catalog/1-free-copy-of-contraception-why-not-p531.html


#5

If your wife is to get her tubes tied, that in itself will not be an impediment to joining the Catholic Church in the future. The friend that told you that your wife will never be able to take communion is incorrect. However, you should do everything in your power to learn and understand the Church’s teaching on birth control and relay that to your wife. Please start with Humanae Vitae and go from there. (Also remember that Humanae Vitaewas written in 1968, many years before the widespread use of the Pill) There is so much more to it than she understands so far. Be gentle and patient with her (I’m sure you are). Also, please check out these wonderful CDs that explain NFP far better than I ever would be able to:

Free CD-
omsoul.com/catalog/1-free-copy-of-contraception-why-not-p531.html
Other -
catholiccompany.com/catholic-gifts/8001829/Why-NFP-CD/#

It sounds as if you have a pretty good grasp on the Church’s teaching on birth control already, and you are in a very delicate and sensitive situation because you can potentially save your wife from making this decision. I will pray for you both. Best of luck! :thumbsup:

God Bless,
Bella


#6

Just wanted to add a little word of advice - it would be a great idea to talk to a priest about this, but be aware that sometimes priests are not the best source of info regarding NFP. Of course that is not true of all priests, but I’ve met many who would refer you to someone else for advice and help. It would be great to talk to your local priest, but please don’t be put off if he can’t answer all of your questions. For some priests, this is just not their area of expertise. The diocese you live in probably has a Natural Family Planning contact person or persons, that would also be another great way to start. Good luck! :slight_smile:


#7

kbpipes, Welcome home! I hope you find your inquiry into the Catholic Church to be spiritually fruitful.

The Catholic Church, as you are probably aware, teaches that there is a big difference between contracepting (which includes tubal ligations) and using natural family planning. Although the intention in both cases may be the same (not getting pregnant), the means by which the goal or intention is achieved are very different. One of the analogies to this point that I find most helpful is that of a person who is witness to the suffering of an elderly grandmother. This person might have very good and loving reasons for wishing that their grandmother would pass on. But there is a huge difference between waiting for her natural death and taking a knife to her throat. One is the natural course of events, a part of life. The other is murder. Likewise, there may be very good and loving reasons for wanting to be infertile, at least temporarily. But there is a big difference between waiting for fertility to die naturally (as happens for several weeks every cycle and permanently once the woman hits menopause) and killing it yourself.

I would recommend that your wife read something by Janet Smith. I really liked Natural Law and Sexual Ethics, which can be found here: goodmorals.org/smith5.htm

Sterilization regret is a real possibility. Searching these forums will yield several posts by women and men who sterilized themselves and later came to regret their decision. To me, it seems like even more of a possibility in your wife’s case, as she is considering becoming Catholic. If one probes into the Church’s teaching on sex and marriage, one may come to realize how it really is a beautiful and compelling teaching that, unfortunately, does not garner enough respect in our secular culture.

To answer your specific question, the Church does not spurn sinners, even those whose sins have permanent consequences. Should your wife wish to become Catholic, she would simply need to go to confession before receiving communion and being welcomed into the Church. That said, it’s still a serious sin and to deliberatly do wrong knowing she can always confess later, constitutes an additional sin of presumption of forgiveness.

Since you realize this is wrong, I think your obliged to try to dissuade her from commiting self-mutiliation. I would also recommend reading up on the Catholic teaching on this matter and learning NFP. Catholic moral theology can be difficult to live, but living a life of consistency is priceless.

God bless.


#8

NFP when used correctly is much more effective than a condom. Below is a article from sciencedaily.com that says that it is more than 99% effective.

americanpregnancy.org/preventingpregnancy/malecondom.html

Also, here is the website for AmericanPregnancy.org, that states that condoms have a failure rate of 14-15%

americanpregnancy.org/preventingpregnancy/malecondom.html


#9

Hello- :slight_smile:
I am a “convert” - although I dont really consider myself a convert because I never truly belonged to another denomination before the Catholic Church so,anyways,guess Im a “joiner”…?

But as for converting to Catholicism- its the best thing I have ever done.
It is the greatest gift I have been given.
I dont really know what to say about the birth control/tube tying issues. Im sorry. I am 29 years old. I am single. Never had children. And I am not sure if I can have any children. Its just something I have to live with but as for my own personal feelings- I dont think tube tying is necessary. If we are not meant to have children - then it is God’s will. Thats just how I look at it. If I ever try to have children, it will be a high risk pregnancy. Lots of complications. Major ones possibly. But I have faced this. If God did not intend for me to have children then Im not messing with that.
Getting back to conversion…I have had a very hard life- all of my life- and the Catholic Church has made me see things more clearly. It is the most real experience. We are there. With Christ. At every Mass. There is no long, two hour sermon that makes no sense and puts children and older people to sleep. Our faith and practices are straight from God. Straight from Christ. I have found that I am LESS paranoid about the things that happen in life and the things that I do then I ever was as a …prodestant. I have direction now. I have a true place in life. It has taken a long time for me to see the things that God wants me to know and it is hard to keep these things in mind. It is not easy trying to live accordingly. Its not supposed to be easy. No one changes over night.
But it is real. Never let anyone tell you that what we do and practice is wrong or weird. I have heard some awful rumors about Catholicism. I try to defend my faith as much as I can but it is hard. Just know that converting does change things. Slowly of course. It is a wonderful feeling - the best feeling- to know that I can turn to God, Jesus, Our Blessed Mother or any of our Saints and Angels and I WILL be heard and aided. There is no question in my mind about the reality and the truth of the Catholic Church. It is the peace I needed for so many years after living thru hell.
God bless and I wish I could be more helpful.

by the way,there is a 6 month study and preparation period (RCIA) for those considering conversion but even after you have finished the study ‘classes’ you do not have to convert. It is VERY educational and so interesting.


#10

Thank you everyone for your comments.

I ordered the free CD on NFP. Basically it all comes down to how my wife views things. I pray that the Lord would change her heart, and her views. I actually think she is growing cold on the idea of permanent sterilization. Last night she told me she wasn’t sure. The idea of anything permanent scared her. So time will tell. I know her worry about NFP is that she has so much going on she will not keep track of everything. I think more education will help with that worrie.

To be honest I have other concerns, but I think I am at fault for many of them. She feels overwhelmed most of the time. Between church, homeschooling 2 children, and house work she doesn’t have time for a prayer life. I think this has caused spiritual dryness, and overall frustration in her life. I am not even sure if she knows what is wrong (or has not shared it)

My failure is recognizing problems, and not doing anything about it. I have been planning on making an effort to praying together before bed (compline). I think tonight will be the night we start. Things are not bad in our home. I just want deeper intimacy with my wife in our faith.

Thanks again for the great comments


#11

Hey kbpipes, your last post made me think of this. You say your wife feels overwhelmed and has so many responsiblities. Do you think your wife would be open to finding a spiritual director? I don’t know if you do this in the Episcopalian Church (many Catholics don’t do it either) - but I have found that having a spiritual director can help you in ways you’d never imagine. I don’t know just how open she is to the Catholic Church at this point, but if she were able to find a good, holy priest to be her spiritual director I think it could benefit her immensely. It would be time away from home and her responsibilities when she is talking to him, and she would have someone who was praying for her and focused on her and her needs. She would also form a relationship with someone who she could go to with questions and concerns, should you and she continue on your journey to the Catholic Church. Maybe a good suggestion is that you do a little research, find a priest you think might work, and the both of you go and meet with him first before she starts going alone. I know that because you aren’t Catholic yet, you may think this isn’t a good idea, but I really hope you will consider it.

Also remember, all of us go through that spiritual dryness from time to time. It’s part of the journey. As soon as you realize that it happens to everyone, and that it’s ‘normal’ - it’s almost like you come out of it faster once you realize it’s sort of a cycle. I found my spiritual director because I was experiencing that dryness and I thought something was wrong with me. Now I realize that this just happens - and now I don’t dwell on it or obsess over it or feel like a hypocrite if I ever feel that dryness. A priest recommended a book on Mother Teresa, Come Be My Light to me and it was a wonderful resource for me during that time. Another great one is The Discernment of Spirits which talks about spiritual consolation and spiritual desolation.

You and your wife will be in my prayers. You sound like a great guy and it sounds like she may be reconsidering her choice of sterilization. Hang in there and keep praying!! :slight_smile:


#12

Becoming more involved in the pro-life movement can open a person’s heart and mind to ALL of the life teachings.

If you are already a member of

anglicansforlife.org/

it will be a natural progression into

www.priestsforlife.org

They have a great book available about contraception.


#13

Thanks Bella,

I actually heard a teaching where they taught from The Discernment of Spirits. It was really good. I have recommended that book to so many people. I will talk to her about a spiritual director. I also have been trying to get her to go talk with our priest.

We have been in a transition. My wife was really hurt in a church we where members of for years. It some ways it has been a battle for her heart since. She is doing much better, but is very confused on her beliefs. The church we are attending is very different from what she is use to. Also the teachings are very different. I know things will be better, and I am trying to be as supportive as I can. Ultimately this is something she has to work out for herself. I can guide and in courage her. At the end of the day she has to make the decisions when it comes to faith.

After a year in our church we are starting membership classes (like RCIA). I hope they will help her with some of her struggles. I know she is looking forward to them. Our parish is simply amazing. The people are so warm and friendly. It is very close to our house, and we are starting to make some real friendships. There are not to many Catholic churches in our area. From what I know the closest one is not really that good of a church. They have had 3 priests in the past 4 years (I think). :confused:

Thanks again for the great information


#14

You are to be respected for searching out and wanting what you do. Pray for your wife, that she may be open. NFP is not all that involved after you learn it, and its really not a whole lot to learn. Occasionally you will meet with an NFP teacher to look at her chart and discuss. But you could get a baby sitter and make a date night out of it. Plus, this is not about HER fertility, you are married so it belongs to the two of you.

Are you involved in any home school co-op? Sometimes that is a great way to take some stress off of the stay at home parent and helps in the kids education. I know a little about this, I was home schooled all through high school.


#15

kbpipes, that’s awesome that you’ve read the book. I loved it myself!!! It sounds like you are doing all you can for your wife right now. I will pray for you and her and I ask everyone else to pray for them as well!! It’s funny that you come to the forums with this now, and that you think you and your wife may ultimately end up in the Catholic Church, as just this week the Church has made monumental steps for Anglicans wishing to become Catholic. A sign, perhaps? :wink: I’m sorry that you don’t have a great Catholic church in your area, but there is always hope! I live in a very non-Catholic area and we had a dry, inactive church for so many years (the entire time I was growing up) and now, because of prayer and an energetic new priest, we are flourishing and the 4th largest church in our diocese. Prayer works! I’ll continue to pray for both of you, and may God bless you!


#16

I won’t argue this, when it’s used properly. Unfortunetly there’s a lot of work on our part to get it there, and there is a lot of room for error. That’s the spirit in which my NFP comment is written. Again I would encourage the OP to seek preistly advice along with his wife.

It may be (and certainly may not be) clear medical reasoning for why a sterilization might be desirable. If that was the case, then it’s possible the procedure might not be a mortal sin.

For most that isn’t the case, and it is a clear mortal sin. In this case, I would recommend NFP with close attentiveness to tracking fertility cycles.


#17

Full knowledge, deliberate consent, and grave matter are the three things necessary to make something a mortal sin. Which would be missing from the op’s situation that make sterilization which is forbidden by the church not a mortal sin? :confused:


#18

There are exceptions for certain procedures (in the catechism) in the specific case of medical benifit. For instance an overary may be removed (thus possibly resulting in steralization) in the case of ovarian cancer. For this sterilization to be not mortal sin, per my understanding, it would have to be done in the spirit of “the mother will suffer grave injury or possible death should there ever be another pregancy”.

this is why I advise talking to a preist. I’m looking up the specific CCC reference now, but it’s harder to find on the usccb website as opposed to a hard copy.

Edit
Here is one such passage discussing this, there may be better:
usccb.org/catechism/text/pt3sect2chpt2art5.shtml

Kidnapping and hostage taking bring on a reign of terror; by means of threats they subject their victims to intolerable pressures. They are morally wrong. Terrorism threatens, wounds, and kills indiscriminately; it is gravely against justice and charity. Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity. Except when performed for strictly therapeutic medical reasons, directly intended amputations, mutilations, and sterilizations performed on innocent persons are against the moral law.91

So the question is, what is the reasoning behind his wife wanting to be steralized? Does she just not want babies any more and sees this as a quick and convinent fix? Then that’s mortal sin. Is it because there are certain, specific complications associated with having another child? One which would put her life at grave risk, or serious injury? That might not be mortal sin, I would talk to a preist.

If you know for a fact it’s the former, I just want perminent birth control… Then don’t bother talking to your preist, just look into NFP and we’ll help you find ways to explain it. Then pray, and hopefully your wife will come to understand the beauty of living a sacramental marriage.


#19

Peter

Actually we are joining a homeschool group. Our first get together with them will be on All Saints Day. My wife is very excited about it. The activities are all in a city about 30 to 40 mils away, but it is the only Catholic group that is active. There are no Anglican homeschool groups that I could find in the area. My wife is the one who is happy that the group is catholic.

We actually had to have a talk with our son who was confused about All Saints Day. He couldn’t understand why some of his homeschool friends familys are opposed to Halloween.
It caused confusion for him because we regard All Saints Day as such a crucial feast. It also opened up dialog on his confusion over friends not praying for loved ones who have died. So yes we finally found a group of like minded people who will affirm and support us instead of bringing confusion to our children.

Bella
There is a Anglican use parish about 30 mils from our house. My wife has shown some interest in visiting sometime. The parish became Catholic shortly after Pope John Paul the II made the way for Anglicans to come over.

To the others who had questions about the reasons behind permanent sterilization. Our last 2 pregnancies where difficult. Our first was in ICU the first few weeks of life. The second almost died and so did my wife. I was with her when the rushed her to the OR lifeless, and her hart was stopping. We finally decided to try again and are having our third baby. I pray we wont have any complications.

So medical reasons are a factor, but not completely. Financially we cannot in good judgment have more then 3 children. We have not used any form of birth control in over a year before we decided to try and have our third. I really think with some education and prayer my wife will turn around to the idea of NFP.


#20

How to become Catholic: catholic.com/library/How_to_Become_a_Catholic.asp


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