Thinking of converting to RCC or EO and on the fence.....potpourri of questions

For over a year now, I’ve been studying the history of the church and I am now at the crossroads of where to go from here and have some questions that still linger.

At this point, DH is quite content staying in Protestantism, even though he recognizes that the whole Reformation may have begun under less than licit circumstances. IF he were ever to leave Protestantism, I believe Orthodoxy would be where he would turn since one of his good friends has given us compelling “food for thought”. Further, he states that since the RCC even claims in Vatican II that Protestants can receive salvation, he has no real motive to cross that river yet :rolleyes:

His main objections to RCC are the papacy (which gets alleviated by Orthodoxy) and confession. Specifically, he feels repelled by the whole “Pope mobile” and extravagance that he sees portrayed on TV.

I am the one who is standing at a crossroads feeling a HUGE burden and I have no idea which way to turn. If I had to rate my stance right now, I’m probably at a 50% RCC/40% EO/10% Protestant position.

Some of my lingering questions are:

a) Confession and mortal sins - According to some so-called “lists” of mortal sins floating around on the web, I’ve possibly been guilty of some in my past. I’ve always asked for forgiveness (directly to God, of course, through Jesus). Is the RCC position that I’m still guilty/unforgiven of those sins since I haven’t confessed them to a priest?

b) On that note, can a Protestant (especially once in a place of indecision/uncertainty) go to confession? (Trying to cover my bases here!)

c) Further, on that note, I’ve read a book by Bruce Sullivan, a former Protestant minister who converted to RCC several years ago and the impression I got from him regarding confession (and what I’ve read concerning the whole past perfect participle in Greek of “binding and loosing in heaven” in that it means that “it has already occurred”) is that the priest is making a declaration of what God/Jesus has ALREADY done (i.e., forgiven our sins). I’m not sure if that is exactly what he meant nor am I sure what the RCC specifically teaches regarding this.

d) I definitely feel that family unity is very vital in the spiritual upbringing of children and supposing that my husband never reaches a point of conversion, would it be better that we attend church together with our children as Protestants vs. one parent heading to Mass and the other to church service? I do feel that I should honor my husband’s spiritual headship in our family and therefore, my children would likely attend with him if we were to go separately.

e) If my husband would agree to convert to Orthodoxy, in the eyes of the RCC, is that a better alternative than remaining Protestant?

f) In regards to purgatory, Scott Hahn seems to describe it as a process vs. a place. In his description, he says that the consuming fire of God will burn away the chaff (i.e., our impurities) as He draws us closer to Himself (and obviously, the more chaff you have the longer that process may be). However, on this forum, it seems that others see purgatory as more of a “place”, which I’m having a hard time digesting. Which description would you endorse more?

Thank you so much! Please forgive, in advance, for any “ignorance” I still possess!

B) Protestants can indeed go to Confession, although for them is would not be a sacrament.

F). Purgatory is more of a process than a place. It also does not have time, although as timebound beings, we think of it as having such.

ICXC NIKA

Well… the fact that a Protestant *can *be saved (*despite *his Protestantism, not because of), doesn’t mean he *will *be saved. What would it take for a Protestant to be saved? To be in a state of grace–no mortal sin on his soul, even proclaiming heresy.

His main objections to RCC are the papacy (which gets alleviated by Orthodoxy) and confession. Specifically, he feels repelled by the whole “Pope mobile” and extravagance that he sees portrayed on TV.

Since someone tried to assasinate the Pope, more care has been taken, hence the Popemobile, but being able to go out and see the people is a great thing.

A book I recommmend wrt the Papacy is Jesus, Peter, and the Keys, which has Scriptural, Orthodox, and Protestant references as well as Early Church Fathers and of course Catholic.

I am the one who is standing at a crossroads feeling a HUGE burden and I have no idea which way to turn. If I had to rate my stance right now, I’m probably at a 50% RCC/40% EO/10% Protestant position.

Some of my lingering questions are:

a) Confession and mortal sins - According to some so-called “lists” of mortal sins floating around on the web, I’ve possibly been guilty of some in my past. I’ve always asked for forgiveness (directly to God, of course, through Jesus). Is the RCC position that I’m still guilty/unforgiven of those sins since I haven’t confessed them to a priest?

The Catholic position is that it cannot be known if you have been forgiven or not without sacramental absolution. Since we do believe a *perfect *act of contrition can remit sin, it may be that God has forgiven you, but the only way you or anyone else can know for sure is through a good Confession.

b) On that note, can a Protestant (especially once in a place of indecision/uncertainty) go to confession? (Trying to cover my bases here!)

Not until one is about to be received intk the Catholic Church.

c) Further, on that note, I’ve read a book by Bruce Sullivan, a former Protestant minister who converted to RCC several years ago and the impression I got frokm him regarding confession (and what I’ve read concerning the whole past perfect participle in Greek of “binding and loosing in heaven” in that it means that “it has already occurred”) is that the priest is making a declaration of what God/Jesus has ALREADY done (i.e., forgiven our sins). I’m not sure if that is exactly what he meant nor am I sure what the RCC specifically teaches regarding this.

Ummmm, I have heard something similar but slightly different. This may be too complicated to go into here. Overall, the main point of Catholic teaching is that we here on Earth cannot know until the sins have been absolved in Confession.

d) I definitely feel that family unity is very vital in the spiritual upbringing of children and supposing that my husband never reaches a point of conversion, would it be better that we attend church together with our children as Protestants vs. one parent heading to Mass and the other to church service? I do feel that I should honor my husband’s spiritual headship in our family and therefore, my children would likely attend with him if we were to go separately.

Consider if the wife of a secular or atheist family were to ask that question about joining your current church–what would you say?

Your husband does not have authority to keep you from becoming Catholic, because God is the authority there, and that is His will. Yes, it would be better if all the family converted, and it might be that problems would ensue, so it is best to discuss this sort of thing with a good priest who can better understand the particulars of your situation.

e) If my husband would agree to convert to Orthodoxy, in the eyes of the RCC, is that a better alternative than remaining Protestant?

Someone else might know better, but afaik, the Chrch does not have a position on this. There are pros and cons to either course.

f) In regards to purgatory, Scott Hahn seems to describe it as a process vs. a place. In his description, he says that the consuming fire of God will burn away the chaff (i.e., our impurities) as He draws us closer to Himself (and obviously, the more chaff you have the longer that process may be). However, on this forum, it seems that others see purgatory as more of a “place”, which I’m having a hard time digesting. Which description would you endorse more?

We don’t really know, since it is something that occurs after this life, in a different realm. Either as a state or a place, however we refer to it is more of an analogy than a definite description. We use one when that works, and the other when that works.

Thank you so much! Please forgive, in advance, for any “ignorance” I still possess!

How could a place named Catholic *Answers *Forum need to forgive someone for supplying questions? :lol:

Welcome to CAF!!! I hope one day soon we’ll be welcoming you and your family to the Catholic Church!

If a protestant goes to Confession, they must tell the priest they are not Catholic and the priest can advise them of Catholic teaching on the matter but the priest cannot give them absolution. You have to be Catholic to receive the Sacrament. God Bless, Memaw

Please talk to a priest about all your concerns. He would be better able to advise you on how to work this out. With God’s Grace, there is a way. God Bless, Memaw

We go to confession to receive absolution for our sins, something only a priest can give us. You may have committed mortal sin acts in your life, but there are three conditions you must fulfil at the time for them to be actual sin. (Grave matter, know it is wrong at the time you do it, and do it anyway). You may go to confession but you cannot get absolution if you are not Catholic. You can also call your parish and make an appointment anytime to speak with a priest for guidance or advice; he will be happy to chat with you, no confession involved! Are you speaking of children you already have or children you plan to have in the future? (or both?) In the beginning it would probably be best for you to start going, on your own, to the Catholic church and hope that hubby and children will join you soon. The Catholic Church is the one, true Church started by Jesus himself, in the eyes of the Church it is best for everyone to be Catholic. Purgatory is a real place where the process of purification of the soul takes place, before it enters into heaven. These are great questions! You might find reading, “The Official Catechism of the Catholic Church” or “Catholicism for Dummies” helpful in breaking down some of more complicated issues of the Church. I think Bruce Sullivan was on the Journey Home program on EWTN a while back; if I remember correctly, the picture on the front cover of his book was taken at the host, Marcus Grodi’s, back yard. I dig on subtle metaphors!

Welcome aboard :tiphat:

That recognition by your hubby is huge

The Orthodox came about as a result of leaving the chair of Peter beginning in the 2nd millennium. 500 years later, the Protestants left the chair of Peter as well. That’s serious Food for thought.

here’s what Vat II says
refer to paragraph 14
vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19641121_lumen-gentium_en.html

catholic.com/tracts/salvation-outside-the-church
“So for those who knowingly and deliberately (that is, not out of innocent ignorance) commit the sins of heresy (rejecting divinely revealed doctrine) or schism (separating from the Catholic Church and/or joining a schismatic church), no salvation would be possible until they repented and returned to live in Catholic unity.”

There is no expiration date to Peter’s office until Jesus calls an end to it. The popemobile came about because JPII was almost assassinated because he didn’t have protection around him.

catholic.com/blog/tim-staples/is-confession-in-scripture-0

No catholic.com/quickquestions/as-a-protestant-who-wishes-to-stay-focused-on-the-lord-may-i-confess-my-sins-to-a-pri

John20:23 , Jesus gives the apostles, ergo those they ordain as well the authority to forgive or retain sins.

Jesus prays for perfect unity in His Church, from the hierarchy to the rank and file. Scripture condemns division from the Church. John 17:20-23[FONT=Arial] , [/FONT][FONT=Arial]Galatians 5:19-21 , [/FONT]Division διχοστασίας dichostasia dissension / sedition in Gal 5:19 shows the consequence to the soul who dies in that sin

Since the HS teaches what he receives from Jesus, John 16:12-15 , we know the HS doesn’t teach division.

moving from division to division, isn’t a good choice.

Convert to the Catholic Church rather than the Eastern Orthodox Church because Jesus built his Church on Peter not Andrew (Matthew 16:18) and he was given the keys of the kingdom (Matthew 16:19) which are symbolised on the Vatican flag

Honestly, my husband would be likely be fine with me attending Mass and has made comments here and there that let me know that he realizes some hypocrisy and contradiction within the whole “Protestant” branch. However, I think he believes that God truly knows what is in a person’s heart and that that is all that matters. I think he views Catholicism as a “check the box” approach to Christianity and quite honestly, I’m still skeptical on some things along those lines as well. It seems quite complicated, honestly.

I guess my biggest hindrance is that, from the outside looking in, Catholicism seems to “put God in a box”, so to speak, in many areas like with the whole confession thing. Yes, I see the tremendous benefits of confession. However, my view that God is SO big, SO loving, SO merciful, etc., that if I approach Him with deep remorse and pain over the sins I’ve committed, even as a Protestant, how can I not trust Him to forgive me? The whole “you can only be sure if you’re a Catholic” is pretty outrageous to me, at the moment. (Please know that I’m not trying to start a war of words here; I’m simply trying to reconcile what I believe to be true about God and Jesus with what I already know and what I’m continuing to learn so PLEASE don’t turn this thread into a long litany of verbiage regarding that statement.)

I sat in church a few Sundays ago with our pastor talking about how God can redeem such bad circumstances for His own glory and the thought struck me that, even as horrible as the Reformation was, God can still redeem it and souls can still be saved.

Again, I don’t know if I’m anywhere near crossing the Tiber; some of my deep concerns about Catholicism seem to be solved with the Orthodox church’s stance and the things that keep drawing me outside of Protestantism (the Eucharist being a huge one) also seem to be found there as well. I would gladly run to Rome if there wasn’t the “You must believe with all certainly in every teaching and dogma of the RCC” because I’m not there yet and not sure I’ll ever be. It saddens me to know that I could never receive the Eucharist in a Catholic Church because I wasn’t convinced with all certainty about a couple of things. I was recently told by a Catholic convert that basically, it’s a serious (possibly mortal sin) to enter the church and receive communion with any doubts whatsoever. So, I guess I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t :crying: (Please correct me if I’m wrong about this!)

Thanks so much for everyone’s responses so far.

I’m not trying to be snarky because, again, I’m on a journey (to where I don’t know), but the fact that keys to the kingdom are displayed on the Vatican flag doesn’t really mean anything or grant any authority unless the authority is legitimately there to begin with.

And, I am quite aware of the RCC claims vs. the EO claims. They are both quite compelling. However, my understanding is that the EO church is seen by the RCC as being in communion (not sure the EO feels that way). So, back to my question, if the EO is in communion with Rome and IF my husband will only go as far as EO, is this a more acceptable alternative than staying in my pew at the local non-denominational community church on the corner only overseen by a Board of Elders?

Dogma and doctrine do not control our lives, they inform them. We are imperfect creatures, and God, in His infinite loving mercy, knowing how He made us inquisitive, rational, and truth-loving, has given us a way to learn about Him.

This way is through the leadership of the Church, which has endured for 2,000 years and is far superior to our own limited perspectives. Bearing this in mind, please don’t think of dogma and doctrines as things “you must believe” or as “checking the list.” Indeed you must adhere to them, but just as Christ’s yoke is light, so too is the Truth which liberates us.

There have been times I read up on what the Church teaches, and actually became mad. I even cursed! But we must not try “to understand that we may believe” so much as “believe so that we may understand.” Please accept the wisdom first and then find out its roots-- it is hidden there, somewhere! Otherwise, we would not proclaim it.

The Eastern Orthodox Church is not in Communion with Rome. The Eastern Catholic Church is but that’s different.

Beg my pardon, I now see that I misunderstood the RCC position. In followup researching, it appears that the RCC says that EO sacraments are valid, though, so I guess my question still stands. If the choice is converting to EO, where sacraments are valid versus staying put, I would then assume that RCC would rather someone convert to EO. :shrug:

Thank you for your kind reply. It seems very ironic and actually comforting getting this message from you, Memaw.

You see, I grew up with my parents not taking me to church at all. My grandmother, a Protestant, would take me to church when I was young but she passed away when I was 9. I called her “Memaw”. I know that I would not be a Christian at all today if it had not been for her. Oh how I wish almost daily that I could call her advice and wisdom! I truly believe she is in heaven and has been interceding on my behalf all these years!

Well anyone “can” theoretically receive salvation, and tbh there are probably plenty of non-Catholics who have made it to heaven–although now of course they are members of the one Church.

The Church does not say this is easy nor that it is a non-issue to not be Christian or Catholic more specifically. It is a zillion times more preferable and better and probably easier to reach salvation when you have access to the Sacraments–all of them–and communion with the Church instituted by Jesus Christ. Otherwise what would be the point, eh?

The Catholic Church’s statement about non-Catholics being able to go to Heaven is not about the Church saying that the Church is unnecessary for salvation–even though one may not formally be a member of the Church, if you go to Heaven, it is through the grace of God as channeled through the Church, read the whole thing–rather, it is about being ignorant of the Truth but nevertheless obeying your authentic conscience as best as you know. And furthermore, that doesn’t mean that “yeehaw we can just obey our consciences the Church doesn’t matter yippee!!” it means that people who are not formed in the faith or are formed in the faith less perfectly are, in some proportional way, less culpable for their transgressions than people who are catechized and initiated into the faith. You really can’t be culpable for genuine ignorance at all. But everyone knows, or should know, that going around slitting people’s throats is evil and should not be done. Unless you’re a psychopath or something, and I don’t really know how to do an armchair assessment of that case…


Plus, as far as extravagance, I guess I can tackle that in two ways. Popemobile specifically: the popemobile is used for protection, and the current pope doesn’t seem to care about using it anyway, and also for transportation. I think it would be mighty hard for the Pope, an old man, to walk the length of a road to see pilgrims. Plus, it elevates him so as to be seen by people. Plus those people WANT to see him, it’s not like he’s showing off because it’s fun. I would probably grow weary of that, wouldn’t you?

As far as other extravagance in the Catholic Church… I will address liturgy. Liturgy is in a truly sorry state today in many, many parts of the Western Catholic Church (ie excluding Eastern Catholics about whom I will not speak). If it isn’t hair-pull-outing-ly embarrassing or corny, it’s more often bland, banal and insipid. There are quite a few jewels of liturgy in the Catholic Church, and we have a ridiculously gigantic liturgical tradition, including Papal liturgies, but I assure you, probably 80-90% of the time Orthodox liturgies are vastly more extravagant/solemn/“fancy” than Catholic liturgies today. Now, I do not say this to drive you from the Church. My whole point is that, most of the time, extravagance/“extravagance” is either practical or serves some purpose in worship. And there is nothing wrong with that at all.

a) Yes, I am pretty sure

b) No

c) No idea

d) No, it is always better for your spiritual life to go to Mass, not to mention there is an obligation. As to whether you can attend both, well, that’s a prudential decision, I guess.

e) Yes, I suppose it is, given that they do have all sacraments, especially Eucharist, and a valid hierarchy and are real Churches, instead of “ecclesial communities” like Protestant communities. What makes a Church is validly ordained bishops with whom the people are in union, and the Orthodox have bishops.

f) Others will better address this

There are several aspects of your situation which would need to be discussed with a really knowledgeable person (like a good priest) in person. However, from the Catholic perspective, someone who believed God was calling her to the Catholic Church bit who went to the Orthodox Church because of her husband would be putting her husband’s comfort *over God. *

If someone were to say, I really need some money; should I hold up the 7-11 because they have more money and insurance, or the corner grocery store which is closer to my house, then you can see clearly that that is a false dichotomy–neither is a good solution to the problem. So it os for the person who feels truly called to the Catholic Church.

I see that you are not trying to argue about Confession,. but I just want to clarify that because someone has not been to Confession doesn’t mean that God hasn’t forgiven them. I have known Protestants who expressed doubts about whether God had forgiven them, so the certitude of the Catholic position is to me a good thing that way. But overall, there is some theology behind this teaching, so it would be hard for you to grasp this at this point.

Now, as to accepting all the Church teachings–that is a tricky issue. A Catholic should not *reject *a teaching of the Church, but there are so many teachings that one could be unaware of one and so not positively accept it–this doesn’t mean that one is doing the wrong thing.

The attitude that a Catholic ought to have is that the Church has the authority to teach, given by Christ to the Apostles before His ascension into Heaven; and the protection of the Holy Spirit against teaching error, and that therefore everything the Church as a whole teaches is true. This is a humble submission to God’s teachings, and is different from what Protestants seem to do, which is find a church with which they agree or else start to disagree … I once lived in a small town with 4 Baptist churches… and they were building a new one because of a disagreement some of the Baptists had with the minister so they were splitting off.

You might try reading the book *Home Sweet Rome *by Scott and Kimberley Hahn. It does a good job of explaining a lot of Catholic teaching from an Presyterian (?) point of view–as well as describing the difficulties they faced during the time that they were not united on their views of the Catholic Church.

You should be able to get both this book and the other (Jesus, Peter, and the keys of the Kingdom) from the public library or through interlibrary loan, and the Hahns’ book is a vert easy read despite the amount if theology in it :slight_smile:

Yes, we recognise they have valid sacraments. But going their would not fulfil your Sunday obligation because they do not have canonical status. You could go to that Mass aswell AND go to Catholic Mass I suppose.

This is explained here:

catholic.com/quickquestions/are-eastern-masses-valid-should-catholics-receive-communion-at-them

Also, there no “rather” about it, the Church will never condone the idea of leaving the Church.

The Second Vatican Council teaches that:

846 “they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.”

vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p123a9p3.htm

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