Where should I start? ... as I write my Catholic stances down to my Non-Denominational Girl Friend?


#1

After 15 months of an enjoyable relationship (two 25 year olds), one that we imagined the likelihood of marriage, kids, etc…the last 5 months have not been fun but instead distant. Thanks to groups like Catholic Answers, you’ve been able to help me explain certain stances the Catholic Church has on the Bible and Christianity. The two of us have exchanged discomfort in each other’s Sunday services, acknowledged differences in our opinions of faith.

5 months of a rough relationship, I’m sure any of you can understand that it’s hard to enjoy one another when you’re having a subtle argument, an undertone of disagreement.

She is a passionate woman regarding her faith, she loves her Bible, her personal relationship with Christ, her family who also believes as she does… We met when my faith was weak. True, the last 4-5 years my personal faith and church going had dropped off. She inspired me to get back into more prayer, I thank her for that. But a rush of energy for Catholicism has filled me - as I believe being Catholic is the fullest version of the religious truth Christians search for – and as she helped me back to becoming more spiritual, we began to have differences.

These differences led to my research, using forums like this, buying books, CDs for the car, listening to Apologetics like Tim Staples, EWTN, Relevant Radio, and I’ve taken up a lot of the suggestions many in this forum have given me. I love my faith, I love learning more and it is time to communicate this with my girlfriend, a girl who I nearly engaged until the religious differences made me hesitant.

Months ago, we bought two blank note books, wrote down similarities, differences, and questions for each other. It was while researching this, that I began becomming more passionate about other issues as well, and I feel I’ve got a college Thesis of information that needs to escape my mind through my fingers and write them into a long heartfilled letter to her–

My Question is…
Where do I start?
Is there any recommendation on how I should explain, argue… I know I’m asking a general question to people who hardly know my personal situation, but you’ve all be great help in the past…

God Bless!


#2

The letter does not need to be long. It just needs to be sincere.
Thank her for fueling the embers of your faith. For being open to God’s call for her to become a part of your life for this time. Her ‘yes’ brought you and her closer to God at a time when you each felt the desire to make that connection. Lament that it appears that was the purpose of this relationship, as much as you would have liked to have made it last a lifetime, you love her enough to not force her into any faith decisions, understanding that she will come to them in her own way, in her own time, with, or without you. That you will keep her in your prayers. That she will always hold a special place in your heart. You are forever grateful fo having spent these months with her and hope that you can remain friends for many years to come since you only want the best for her.

Check out this blog. It pretty much sets the stage for what you need to do:

People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. When you figure out which one it is, you will know what to do for each person.

When someone is in your life for a REASON…It is usually to meet a need you have expressed. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally, or spiritually. They may seem like a Godsend and they are! They are there for the reason you need them to be.

more

I know there’s a tendency to lament the loss of a possible future, when you look at this crossroads as an end (failure), but when you look at it as part of the longer journey, you can approach this crossroads as travelling companions whose paths crossed 15 months ago, you continued walking together all this time, passing up prior intersections to continue on that same path for a while longer, but have finally come to the crossroad where it is time for her to continue her journey and you yours. Knowing that it is quite possible the paths will cross again in the future, and that should they do so you’d be happy to take a rest at that point to catch up with her before continuing on, should help you approach the letter in a more uplifting light.


#3

Wow – sooo true, people come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Sad to know that two of those for me means “break-up” but good to know that one of those means “stay together”


#4

You sound like a great guy. Very brave.

I wish you lived near my older daughter!


#5

Yes. Continue to pray together, and in the meantime, shift your focus about why you are together at this point in your lives. Instead of looking at it as a possibility for marriage, which is a future event, look at it as a journey that you are walking together for now. It may lift the pressure you both are feeling so that you’ll drop the defensive position about your faiths. There will no longer be the drive to convert each other.

The reason that pressure is there is because one of you would need to convert in order for marriage to be a possibility. Take marriage off the table and that changes the perspective. You can enjoy the walk together for whatever the discussions produce.


#6

-YinYangMom – Thank you for your comments - I truly wish I could quit training so hard - I truly feel I’ve been on speed 8 on the treadmill when truly, I walk at 3.0 and only occasionally run at 6.5. What’s hard for us, is that she probably is able to do what you suggested easier than I. As much as I attempt or would like to focus on us now, and our path together… having such differences reminds me of having a fight with a loved one…and that it’s hard to enjoy time with that loved one until your fight is solved. Right now, when we don’t speak about religion we have a good time-- movie, dinner etc… but its incredible how easily the topic of Religion is brought up by those around us…and I feel if I don’t address it, its like pushing it under the rug.

The worst part is, is that I don’t feel I’m dating someone, instead I feel like I was giving a study partner by a teacher to which I am trying to analyze which opinion we will present to the class - i miss having a relationship to which we can just be us… be people…be Catholic if we wish to be (on Sunday or just though thought) … my friends and family see the exhausted side of me and say that I’ve lost my energetic self…maybe its a mini depression just from a relationship issue - one like any couple can go through, where until solved, you feel the weight of the burden.

It’s also hard to choose to recognize potential signs, or ignore potential signs— like below
Here is an interesting thing that happened to me one morning - (quick background…my family and I became Catholic when I was in 6th grade…entire family conversion-- from being Lutheran-- we all say it felt right, complete, and the best decision) . While frustrated one morning as I woke up to work on some Catholic research, a random song I remember from RCIA came into my head, a song I haven’t heard in a looooonnnggg time…and I nearly remembered every lyric.

Another family I was working with through work, I was sitting at their kitchen table going over my financial sugestions vs the unknown competition I knew I had…the husband and wife looked at me and asked “Are you Catholic?” … and I replied with a smile “Yes I am” …they next said “We will go with you, the other man wasn’t Catholic” … stunned that a work experience brought in a faith idea.


#7

Cat-
Thanks for the nice comment - The amount of time I’m spending on trying to make this relationship work… I can’t even fathom another person/daughter/girl etc. If this doesn’t work out… I’ll let you know :slight_smile: haha.


#8

Hi there J. As I read your post I found your situation strikingly similar to my own. My wife and I are in out twenties. I am a cradle Catholic and my wife was baptized in the Lutheran church and grew up in a non-denom evangelical church. Whe met through a mutual friend on a tennis date and eventually she invited me to her church service. It was there in seeing my comfort in singing songs of praise to the Lord that she began to think our relationship had more than platonic potential. Shortly thereafter I got the dreaded, “So when you were saved?” question :slight_smile: I basically couldn’t answer that question due largely in part, like you were, to the fact that I wasn’t as grounded in my Catholic faith as I should be. Needless to say my theological know-how ramped up pretty quick! My library was taken over by Patrick Madrid, Scott Hahn et al and I was soon defending our faith like a champ. Unfortunately this had somewhat of an inverse relationship with my girlfriend. I had some intense “conversations” hashing out my faith with her, her parents and her sister. There were moments that seemed our relationship was doomed. But, I can only attribute it to the Grace of God, we started to focus less on our differences and more on our similarities…namely Christ. Not to devalue either of our faiths, but when she was able to understand that my “personal relationship” with Christ was strong and that my love for the Church is simply an extension of my love for Christ, she was able to start to dispell the misinformation she (like so many) have been fed about the Church. And the truths that she still has problems with the Church we’re still working out. But what has really helped has been praying together daily (a lot!), going to an engaged encounter weekend together (I highly reccomend this even if marriage isn’t on the table), and reading Scripture together. We ultimately entered into the Sacrament of Marriage in the Catholic Church and we had a beautiful ceremony. We met regularly with our pastor who was very sensitive to our situation and spoke tremendously of Christ in marriage during his homily. Some of her evangelical guests said it was one of the most sincere weddings they’d ever been to. We still have our disagreements but I’m not pushing her to join the Church. I do see that she’s taking interests in learning more which is a great difference from how she viewed the Church pre-marriage. I also attend a local non-denom church with her whenever she wants to go. Probably the hardest part of our different church affiliations is not being able to partake in the Eucharist together. Communion often ends in quiet tears between the two of us, as we continue to pray to God for guidance and wisdom. But at the end of the day we have both grown closer to Christ because of each other and I can’t help but think that the Lord is happy with that. I hope any of that helps! We’ll be praying for the both of you!


#9

John_17_11 -
What a story - an on going story of your life that I can relate to. Knowing that your girl began to except, understand, and even try to learn are 3 things that I hope happen. It’s incredibly nice of you to attend her non-denom services when she wants to go to them.

I laugh at the similarity in accumulation I think you and I both have - I have a private stash - of apologetics, CDs, books… and it’s growing. I’ve blown my monthly budget the last 3 months just through inspiring sumaries of material that I insist that “need this right now” and so I buy it. Tim Staples, Scott Haun… other names… I’m catching some interesting raised eyebrows from other Catholics who get in my car and just look at me “You’re kidding right?.. you’re listening to this?” and all I can do is smile.

My girlfriend once asked me a few months ago “If you and I parted different ways, would you still be searching for the truth?” and I clarified with "Actually no, I wouldn’t be searching, I’d just continue compiling evidence that helps me feel that I have already found the truth - and yes, I would continue listening until I feel I’ve learned enough to catch me up to Par (par in my mind, the ability to defend my faith with anyone and have far fewer questions than I do have right now).

I’m very happy for the two of you John_17_11 - happy that it’s working. I’m sad that there is still any gap - but I imagine that it sounds like the gap is shrinking for you. Continued luck to the both of you & God Bless!

I will admit when I was asked the “are you saved” question - she was in tears when that came up, as she told me she was afraid FOR ME that I wasn’t… and her genuine wanting to help me impressed me, even though that question itself reminded me of a time I walked out of a college interview when the first question was 1) Name
2) are you saved? (followed by some bashing of the drinking that goes on at Catholic universities) … I walked away from that school.

Anyways- I appreciate your shared story - we truly share some similarities even though we’re on a different pace. Take care


#10

I’m going to add a book to your already growing list. It is not Catholic, but Christian:
When God Writes Your Love Story by Eric Ludy.
My daughter said it lifted a lot of anxiety from her shoulders with regard to dating. We both admit it could have been even more impressive had it been Catholic because the sacraments could have added a deeper level, but as it is it was already a powerful message. It will be an easy read for you. See if you can get one used off Amazon.

There are two forces pulling at you, and right now it appears they might be opposite, but if you can step back enough you may find they are not. You have been infused with a zeal for the faith because you are excited about this deep relationship with Jesus you are developing. Early in your relationship with this girl you shared the zeal about each other. As things have shifted you miss that relationship with the girl, understandably.

The thing is, you can just take this walk with her. Meaning, it is not only possible, but desireable to do so right now. I don’t believe this really is a matter of God or the girl. You both would benefit from reading the book since it is Christian. Maybe it will help you both release the pressure to convince each other who’s right and who’s not-so-right. You both love the Lord deeply. Trust in Him completely - to write your love story - and you will be at peace.


#11

jmoburg,

I echo the comments of the previous posters and congratulate you on your journey, patience and your discovery of the truth. Although at a different place in my life (after 15 years of marriage) my wife left the Catholic church for eventually a non-dom church and because I was weak in my faith I could not communicate the truth that I knew in my heart. So I begin a similiar search as you. One other site that I came across recently is www.staycatholic.com which I found very interesting. But what I wanted to pass on is that you should rejoice in the fact that you came to this intersection BEFORE you were married and to recommend that you do not get married unless you can come to a very good agreement (that she accepts that you will always be Catholic, that your children will be raised Catholic, etc…) because things will not get easier after you are married.

May God continue to bless you…


#12

Your situation sounds very similar to that of a close friend of mine, several years ago. He dated a very nice Evangelical girl, and they liked each other very much. And her zeal for her faith helped to bring him to something of a spiritual re-awakening. But like you, he started reading books by authors like Scott Hahn, Karl Keating, etc., and he realized how important it was for him to stay Catholic. Meanwhile, the girl he was dating wanted nothing to do with the Catholic Church, but she still remained very attracted to my friend, perhaps because she saw in him the same love for Christ that she had, but that wasn’t quite as strong in some of the Evangelical guys she had dated.

They had many conversations, perhaps sometimes arguments, over religious issues over a period of several months, but in the end, I think they both realized that the differences in their faiths would present a very large stumbling block to a happy and healthy marriage. So they sadly parted ways, and my friend is now happily married to a woman whom he met a couple of years later, and who shares his love not only for Jesus, but also for what we Catholics believe is Jesus’s church.

I don’t know what will or should happen with your relationship, but I will just give a few points of advice based on what happened with my friend’s similar relationship:

  1. When you present apologetics arguments to your girlfriend, remember the phrase “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” Also, remember that none of us can convert anyone; only God can do that. In other words, make sure that any Catholic apologetics that you share with your girlfriend is shared in love, and also make sure that you realize that what she does with that information is completely in God’s hands, not in yours. In other words, you can’t make her see the truth of Catholic arguments simply because you want her to. (I am sure that you know this intellectually, but it’s probably a good idea to constantly remind yourself, because there will probably be times when you will get frustrated that she doesn’t see things the way that you do.)

  2. If you are considering marriage, and if it seems clear that your girlfriend is not exactly anxious to enter RCIA any time soon, then make sure that the two of you can first come to an understanding about how you will deal with your religious differences within your marriage – especially how you will deal with raising children and with their faith formation. Also, make sure to talk with some devout Catholics who are married to non-Catholics, and listen to their experiences – both good and bad. If you do go through with marriage, and if your girlfriend does not become Catholic, chances are that the two of you will have a hard road ahead of you. That’s not to say that you can’t make it work – in fact some Catholics and non-Catholics have wonderful marriages – but only to say that it may not be easy.

  3. As hard as this may be to hear, you may be better off ending the relationship and looking elsewhere. Obviously I can’t say for sure that this is best for you, and perhaps I’m completely off-base in this suggestion. But I do know that it was the right choice for my friend, and I also know that there are some good, devout, single Catholic women out there. That’s not to say that you’ll find the right woman overnight, or even that you’ll find her at all, but just remember that this is all in God’s hands. Also, remember that there are at least one or two good Catholic online dating services that you can try (you may initially dismiss this idea, but a dating service is how my friend found his wife), and you may also meet someone by getting involved in pro-life or evangelistic activities, or perhaps you may even meet someone here on this forum. :slight_smile:

  4. Finally, when you talk with your girlfriend about religious issues, make sure to spend at least as much time on points where you DO agree (e.g., praying together) as on points where you disagree.

That’s all the advice that I can think of. I will pray for your situation.

Paul


#13

It might be good if you talk to people who have converted to the Catholic Church and find out what made them convert. Perhaps repost your thread seeking convert stories. I thought there was one already on these forums but I ran a quick search and didn’t see it. Also, read some of the classic convert stories–Rome Sweet Rome (Scott Hahn), Crossing the Tiber (Stephen Ray), Suprised by the Truth (Patrick Madrid), etc. Pick one or two topics that makes people really want to convert—then study, study, study about those topics. Then, talk to your girlfriend.

Here is a website that is helpful in its outreach to evangelicals. You might get some good ideas. There are two points you touched on that might be good starting points. One is the Bible, how much does she really know about its history, does she know she is missing out on 7 inspired books? Or, how about the “personal relationship” with Christ? It doesn’t get more personal than the Eucharist. Much of the Old Testament (and New) is a means of preparing God’s people for the Eucharist (if you haven’t read the Lamb’s Supper, it is a must).

Finally, as a previous poster said, “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink”. It is so true. There are marriages that work between Catholics and Non-Catholics. However, it is not encouraged by the Church and I think that you know there would be great difficulties because you did not go through with getting engaged. If there are children, one of you will have to compromise. Will they be raised Catholic? From what you have said, I’m not so sure she would agree to this and I think that may be a condition for a dispensation to get married. But beyond the dispensation, if you want children, could you really live with them not being Catholic, knowing what you know about the Church?

FYI, I became a serious, practicing Catholic after I was married. My husband, who is Catholic, is not spiritual at all and feels a lot of contempt for the Church (he is very independent and refuses to accept any authority over him). Anyway, my marriage is VERY difficult. I literally have to hide my faith from my husband; it is a confrontation if ever I want to do something besides Mass (like Reconciliation or even a Bible Study).

In addition to studying up to approach your girlfriend, I recommend you pray. Pray for your discernment in this matter and pray for her conversion. Even if you eventually break up, continue to pray for her.


#14

Start by being the best Catholic boyfriend you can be! Seriously. I know your newfound love and excitement for your faith is, at times, overwhelming, but she has to love you before she can even consider loving your Church. The unspoken tensions are difficult and the discussions are so hard, too. My prayers are with you. . .Don’t forget to pray with your girlfriend! Only Christ can heal what is broken and only He can soften hearts. Keep up your study. Continue to be loving–you are her boyfriend, not her professor, confessor or director. Depend on Him.

I understand your need to list your Catholic stances and document your differences. BUT, let her ask questions, don’t give her answers to questions she hasn’t even thought of or asked yet. In the meantime, focus your writings on personal growth and challenge yourself to be lovable!


#15

I think I know how you feel. :slight_smile: My boyfriend is evangelical Protestant, so we have spent soooo much time hashing out the differences. On the plus side, like you, I had to learn my faith better to be able to defend it. Like you, I also fell in love with my faith again. (I forget who’s signature it is that says ‘Dang, it feels good to be Catholic’ but I’ve always loved it.)

Anyway, over the past few months, as we’ve moved away from full-scale debates to trying to do devotionals and pray together, as I’ve tried to just be the best Catholic I can and pray the rosary for him and not push, I have seen HUGE changes in him. Out of the blue one day, he said he believed that the Catholic Church truly has the Real Presence in the Eucharist. Another time, similarly unexpected, he said he couldn’t see any reason why God couldn’t work through an infant baptism as well as an adult’s.

And about a week ago, he shocked me by saying he’s running out of objections to the Catholic Church and might become Catholic someday.

I urge you to start a novena (maybe to St. Monica) or pray a daily rosary for your girlfriend. In your book, write not as an apologist, but as a man in love with his faith, his Church and his God. Your witness will be more powerful than any tract. :thumbsup:

May God Bless You. :slight_smile:


#16

Personally, I think you should do an outline, collect cue cards and talk more, rather than write because the letter can be viewed as final closing of your relationship. So, if you do write, start and end it with, “I love you, and I am looking forward to our talking in person again.” Also, emphasize, that we are doing this ongoing discussion to be truth seekers.

For your outline, I would go with the five solas as defined by Luther with your responses.


#17

I had to hash all of this out with my last boyfriend. He was raised non-denominational Protestant (“But I’m not protesting anything!”) and only had some subtle anti-Catholic ideas/misunderstandings (at least he thought they were subtle). Thanks to being at the Naval Academy, summers were spent mostly roaming the country to do training on ships, with the Marines, etc. So we wrote letters… a lot.

I can’t say that there was anywhere specific that we started. I think you have to start with whatever is most important/wonderful about the Church to you or is her greatest misunderstanding about the Church. Or maybe to explain why converting to one of the 30,000+ denominations of Protestantism just isn’t even on the table for you.

Personally, we did not back off from the idea of marriage: THAT was the whole problem. If we weren’t getting married, then who cared what our theological positions were? But, since we were headed very definitely in a “marriage” direction (as it sounds like the original poster is), we finally realized that we had to come to some conclusion NOW about our faith(s). It was not easy. It would’ve been a lot more fun to just drop the whole thing and keep going out as if the conversation had never come up and we were just dating for fun. Unfortunately, I think too many people choose the easy way and assume they can reach a good agreement after the wedding, as several posters in this thread have testified to.

So, in the end, I told him the Church was the one True Church, and it was more important than him, and, if he didn’t like it, we had no future together. I figured that was going to be the end of that… and of “us.” As I said in a different thread, it didn’t feel brave… it felt stupid and hard and miserable… but right (more or less). To get any more emotionally involved would’ve been pointless and cruel to each other.

He came into the Church at Easter Vigil 1995, we were married at the Academy Chapel the day after our graduation in May 1996, my in-laws (and my parents, for that matter) are still a little confused, our oldest daughter (she’s five) insists she wants to be a nun, and he always gets first dibs on “This Rock” and “First Things” when they arrive in the mail! :rolleyes:

I will pray for you and your girlfriend.


#18

Dear Sir,

As an evangelical married to a Roman Catholic woman, I would strongly recommend that you consider marrying someone from your own religion. The differences between the Evangelical Christian and the Roman Catholic religions are substantial. You will be constantly challenged and cannot be “equally yoked” with an Evangelical believer. If you value Scripture, you must at least take this into consideration, which I am sure you are doing and hence your email.

Marriage involves many sacrifices. You must learn to get along with someone from another sex, family, customs, perhaps economic background, personality, educational background and other differences. If you add the differences of religion–and between Evangelical and Roman Catholic, these differences are really quite severe–you are asking for a lifetime of difficulties. I know from experience. My wife and I are very happy, although we would both rather be with people of our own religions.

However, if you find someone who is extremely compatible in all areas except religion, perhaps with much prayer and support from others, you can have a go.

Grace to you,

Jesus for Madrid


#19

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