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Anthony R. wrote:

Dear Mike,

I hope you are well.

I have had somewhat of a hiatus with a busy year, but I am thoroughly going through the Catechism, and have also being devouring some other Catholic literature that I have. I have to say honestly, that I am very interested in joining the Catholic Church, for several reasons, which I will discuss in a moment. As I may have mentioned previously, I have a Pentecostal upbringing, although I have been of Anglican affiliation more recently.

I have grown dissatisfied with the Anglican Church, although it has many good people within it, because I do not think it entirely knows what it is.

First, I dislike that the church itself arose out of political circumstances, rather than religious ones (and I believe that the Church should have allegiance to God and not to a monarch).

Second, there is a tendency for Christianity itself to become almost formal, or a vehicle of social acceptance drifting into doubt and relativism, rather than a deep inner life in relation to Christ in the Church.

On the other hand, the Catholic Church has a very strong sense of identity.
I was drawn to the Anglo-Catholic side of Anglicanism, hence my initial interest in Catholicism, but it is somewhat a question of why accept an imitation when the real thing is available.

The Pentecostal church itself was somewhat more vague than the Anglican Church in issues of Faith, and although I am all for personal interpretations within the bounds of the Creeds, nevertheless there was not much Tradition within that church, and very little depth.

As for my increasing interest with Catholicism:

  1. It is the first Church, and of course the carrier of the Tradition and the preserver of the Bible Including the Deuterocanonical works, which I personally accept as canonical.

  2. I am drawn to the sacramental and liturgical side, and in Transubstantiation rather than
    a symbolic presence of Christ in Communion.

  3. The clear sanctity of many Catholics throughout history such as:

    • St. Francis
    • St. John of the Cross, and
    • St. Thomas A' Kempis.

    I can only feel that this is through their grounding within the Catholic Church.

  4. An increased suspicion that the true doctrines of Christianity are within the Catholic Church.

No doubt there are more reasons as well. I plan to finish reading the Catechism first and then do some deep thinking because if I do take this leap, I wish for it to be for life — as a serious commitment. I am only too aware of my history of having been in different sects of Christianity and wish to settle down once and for all. I have several questions.

First, I am married and have children, however, my wife is not a Christian. I am fully aware of Paul's provision for those married to those who don't believe, and If I did become Catholic I would be more than happy to baptize my children. As it stands though, I do not wish to make them Catholics but would like them to decide on their own, with their own free will and choice, when they are old enough. I am more than willing to teach, instruct, etc., but always with a view of allowing them to decide the best faith for them.

  • Would this put me in ill standing with the Church?

I have had negative experiences of indoctrination in Pentecostal Christianity and am not willing to subject my children to this. This is a very important issue for me as I do not want to be a fake Catholic. I wish to be genuine in my relation towards God and the Church but the raising of my children is a deep, important matter of conscience for me.

Second, I am somewhat confused by the changeover of the Mass from the Tridentine Mass to the Vatican II type Mass. The Tridentine Mass, from what I have seen and read in an old Missal, was beautiful and full of significance. I appreciate the use of vernacular but it seems that the message has somewhat changed as well.

  • What are your thoughts on this?

My third question has to do with the sacrament of Penance. Having been a Protestant all my life, I am extremely unfamiliar with the idea of a priest being a mediator between myself and God. Such information is intensely personal.

  • No doubt this would be a transitional thing and I would be willing to do it but am interested in hearing your thoughts on this issue as well.

Sincerely,

Anthony R.

  { Would the Church mind if, in raising my children, I let them to decide which faith to believe? }

Mike replied:

Hi Anthony,

It's great to hear from you.

You said:
First, I am married and have children, however, my wife is not a Christian. I am fully aware of Paul's provision for those married to those who don't believe, and If I did become Catholic I would be more than happy to baptize my children. As it stands though, I do not wish to make them Catholics but would like them to decide on their own, with their own free will and choice, when they are old enough. I am more than willing to teach, instruct, etc., but always with a view of allowing them to decide the best faith for them.

  • Would this put me in ill standing with the Church?

I have had negative experiences of indoctrination in Pentecostal Christianity and am not willing to subject my children to this. This is a very important issue for me as I do not want to be a fake Catholic. I wish to be genuine in my relation towards God and the Church but the raising of my children is a deep, important matter of conscience for me.

It would probably help us if you could clear up one statement.

You said:
If I did become Catholic I would be more than happy to baptize my children. As it stands though, I do not wish to make them Catholics, but for them to decide of their own free will and choice when they are old enough.

  • How old are your children?

Whether you were able to use the Pauline Privilege or not is irrelevant to whether your children could be baptized. The Church has to have a good hope that the Catholic party to the marriage will raise their children in the Catholic faith to the best they can. The non-Christian party makes no promises but is a witness to the Catholic party.

You said:
Second, I am somewhat confused by the changeover of the Mass from the Tridentine Mass to the Vatican II type Mass. The Tridentine Mass, from what I have seen and read in an old Missal, was beautiful and full of significance. I appreciate the use of vernacular but it seems that the message has somewhat changed as well.

  • What are your thoughts on this?

If you read my Mass and Adoration page off the home page, I think you'll get a good history.
There are three subsections under the Holy Mass category. To this date and my surprise,
I have received no complaint e-mails from it:

These set of postings will give you an idea of my thoughts on this issue:

You said:
My third question has to do with the sacrament of Penance. Having been a Protestant all my life, I am extremely unfamiliar with the idea of a priest being a mediator between myself and God. Such information is intensely personal.

  • No doubt this would be a transitional thing and I would be willing to do it but am interested in hearing your thoughts on this issue as well.

This is a common question; it's even in our searchable knowledge base:

http://www.AskACatholic.com/SiteSearch

There are a lot of quick answers there, so give it a try.

I searched the knowledge base for you and found these web postings that should help:

If these questions and answers don't answer your question, just return to the site and ask us some more questions at the Ask us today! link.

I highly recommend it.

Take care,

Mike

Eric replied:

Hi Anthony,

You said:
The clear sanctity of many Catholics throughout history such as:

  • St. Francis
  • St. John of the Cross, and
  • St. Thomas A' Kempis.

I can only feel that this is through their grounding within the Catholic Church.

Actually, Thomas A' Kempis is not a saint for technical reasons (he was inadvertently buried alive, and they thought it unwise to canonize someone when they didn't know the circumstances of his death), though he was very holy.

You said:
First, I am married and have children, however, my wife is not a Christian. I am fully aware of Paul's provision for those married to those who don't believe, and If I did become Catholic I would be more than happy to baptize my children. As it stands though, I do not wish to make them Catholics but would like them to decide on their own, with their own free will and choice, when they are old enough. I am more than willing to teach, instruct, etc., but always with a view of allowing them to decide the best faith for them.

  • Would this put me in ill standing with the Church?

I have had negative experiences of indoctrination in Pentecostal Christianity and am not willing to subject my children to this. This is a very important issue for me as I do not want to be a fake Catholic. I wish to be genuine in my relation towards God and the Church but the raising of my children is a deep, important matter of conscience for me.

If you're asking whether a priest will bar your admission to the Church on this point, almost certainly not. Your proposal certainly goes against the practice of the Church, depending on the ages of your children. The Church has always urged early baptism of children to ensure their salvation. Baptism is necessary for salvation in the normative case (John 3:5) but given your circumstances I don't think anyone would call you on it, especially if your wife had objections.

You said:
My third question has to do with the sacrament of Penance. Having been a Protestant all my life, I am extremely unfamiliar with the idea of a priest being a mediator between myself and God. Such information is intensely personal.

  • No doubt this would be a transitional thing and I would be willing to do it but am interested in hearing your thoughts on this issue as well.

Sin is an offense, not merely against God, but against the community. In Scripture, we see in
the Old Testament the whole of Israel being punished for the sins of one person. So, too, in the New Testament there is a communion such that if one suffers, all suffer, and if one part is honored, all rejoice. (1 Corinthians 12:26) This goes for sin as well. Because sin is always communal in addition to being personal, especially when it is grave, reconciliation must also be communal. At the same time, it is important to ensure the penitent is appropriately humble and isn't rationalizing their sin. It is also important that they are assured of God's forgiveness.

Just keep in mind, that James 5 instructs us to confess our sins to one another. The sacrament of penance is just a specific case of this.

Also, if it makes a difference, Confession is only mandatory when we are conscious of mortal sin. Not every sin needs to be confessed.

Hope this helps!

Eric Ewanco

Anthony replied:

Hi Mike,

My children are all under the age of four. My wife, whilst respecting my Christianity, is agnostic.

My personal feelings on faith is that it is stronger if it is a full decision made by a person, with all of the facts present, and from my own experience being raised a Christian can actually hinder the process. I would enjoy taking them to Church as well, but I would respect their wishes in deciding which faith is best for them.

I will read your articles on the Mass and Penance shortly and discuss them with you afterwards.

On the Church Fathers, I have read:

  • some of Origen
  • some of St. Clement of Alexandria
  • the Confessions of St. Augustine, and
  • the works of Dionysius the Areopagite

but to date I have not explored their thought, or the rest of the Fathers as much as I would like.

Sincerely,

Anthony

Mike replied:

Hi Anthony,

When I first read your e-mail to me, these two statements stood out in my mind:

I have had negative experiences of indoctrination in Pentecostal Christianity and am not willing to subject my children to this. This is a very important issue for me as I do not want to be a fake Catholic. I wish to be genuine in my relation towards God and the Church but the raising of my children is a deep, important matter of conscience for me.

As it stands though, I do not wish to make them Catholics but would like them to decide on their own, with their own free will and choice, when they are old enough. I am more than willing to teach, instruct, etc., but always with a view of allowing them to decide the best faith for them.

I don't want any Church indoctrinating your children in something you don't believe in either!

If you evaluate our Church and don't truly believe in it, I wouldn't want you to join.

In my mind, when I hear the word, indoctrinate I think of someone telling another person something, they don't want to willfully believe. That is not what the Holy Father or the Church would wish. He and the Church cherish each person's free will to discern and decide for themselves.

The nature of any father, or mother, is to want what's best for their children.

If parent's truly believe in their faith, they will want to pass that faith on to their children for their physical and spiritual well-being. Your children are at the age where they are depending on the Christian reasoning and intellect of you and your wife; something they currently don't have.

I have a similar situation in my family. I am single, but my brother has four children — ages 5-16.

Mark and Pam have a set of beliefs they both believe in. One spouse may be stronger in the faith then the other, but there are still mutual beliefs they agree on. If a parent wants what is good for their children, they will form them in values you and your wife believe in, not because the two of you are indoctrinators, but because you both want what is best for them.

This is not indoctrination because their Christian reasoning and intellect have yet to be formed. As my brother Mark states,

"If you are under my roof, you follow my rules ... including when we go to Church and when we say the family prayers."

Now to your point: At some point in the future they will be of age where they can:

  • drive a car
  • keep a job
  • make some money

and be independent on their own. At that point, you are correct, the decision is theirs.

Then, unlike now, they hopefully will have a formed Christian conscience, know right from wrong, believe in the Risen Lord Jesus Christ, and have a good knowledge of the history of the Catholic Church.

  • Could they decide to go some place else?

Sure, but you and your wife can rest easily knowing that you are both giving your children, what you believe is best for their spiritual welling.

  • Can they throw it away? <Yes.>
  • Is that your problem?

    Not if you have brought them up to believe what you, as a father, believe is best for their eternal good.

  • Make sense?

Of all things that would be spiritually good for them, like Eric implied, Number One would be:

  1. Baptism by a Catholic priest!
    Our Lord Himself stresses its need for salvation in the Scriptures in John 3:5.

Just sharing some thoughts. Try some prayer and quiet time to think things over.

Take care and if I or the group can be of any help, just come back!

Mike

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