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Larisa wrote:

Hi, guys —

I am a Protestant who is considering marrying a Catholic. Everything between us is wonderful except our faiths.

We have had serious discussions about our faiths and their differences. I have no intention of trying to convert him away from Catholicism. Rather:

  • I am concerned that I will not be able to be happy with or supportive of raising children Catholic.
  • I am also concerned that, while it doesn't bother me now, I will eventually become unhappy with the fact that we do not share the same faith.

I guess I am just looking for advice on what to do. I want to stay with him and know that my only two options are:

  1. Converting myself, or
  2. Being OK with being Protestant in a family of Catholics.

I've tried to read writings about conversions but a lot of it is very dismissive and condescending to Protestantism and I find this attitude upsetting. Even if I converted, I would never consider:

  • Protestants to be less Christian than Catholics, or
  • not able to be able to obtain salvation.

I think remaining a Protestant would only lead to heartache and frustration in the marriage.

I'm at a loss.

  • Do you have any recommendations for me?

Thank you for reading my e-mail and, if possible, answering my question.

Larisa

  { What do you recommend, if I want to marry him but not his faith and the burdens that go with it? }

Bob replied:

Larisa,

I'm very sorry that your experience of some conversation stories has been condescending.

While there may be some like that, I assure you most are not. Try reading Rome Sweet Home by the Hahns, or any of Scott Hahn's books on issues that are difficult from a Protestant perspective. He is a convert and is certainly not looking down at our Separated Brethren.

Ironically, ex-Catholics are often the worst critics of Catholicism and ex-Protestants are the best proponents of it, without being bitter of their former home. That is because they were always following the Lord in both places, where Catholics don't follow as much.

I wouldn't give up on exploring the Catholic faith. Your marriage would be a lot better for it, as you intuit.

  • Pray that the Lord leads you to the fullness of truth
  • Keep an open mind
  • Ask lots of questions, and
  • Go to authentic sources like this one to find answers.

God bless you,

Bob Kirby

Larisa replied:

Thank you for your response Bob!

I very much appreciate it! I tracked down a copy of Rome Sweet Home and look forward to using it as a starting point in my explorations. It's very nice to talk to talk to someone who — while disagreeing strongly — doesn't devalue Protestant denominations.

Thank you again.

Best,

Larisa

Bob replied:

Larisa,

Scott Hahn is a gift to all Christians and it was his Protestant formation that gave him such an incredible love of the Scriptures.

Reading his books will really elevate you; he has so enhanced the lives of countless Catholics around the world.

Enjoy,

Bob Kirby

Larisa replied:

Hi Bob,

I just finished the book by Scott Hahn and it was very helpful. I might actually ask my Catholic boyfriend to look at parts of it because Hahn does a lovely job of explaining fundamental Protestant beliefs and I want my boyfriend to understand where I'm coming from. I'm not trying to convert him; I just want him to understand why some Catholic dogma is difficult for me.

I really liked how Hahn discussed the Scriptures behind Catholic practices and I was blown away by his Scripture-supported! assertion that Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide are not supported by the Bible in the ways I have grown up believing them to be supported.

This book gave me a great starting point for my research into Catholicism and I've decided that my next step is to really investigate those two assertions, both of which I never have really critically examined.

Thank you for encouraging me in my exploration!

Larisa

Bob replied:

Larisa,

Those two issues are addressed in a fairly lengthy manner in two books by Robert Sungenis:

They are thorough and written in a way Protestants would relate to.

God bless,

Bob

Larisa followed-up:

Hi guys,

Since the last question your answered I've visited my boyfriend's family and went to Mass with them (first time I've ever gone to Mass). I've continued to read and study and I have more questions!

I don't understand praying to saints and Mary.

  • How is praying to a saint or to Mary and asking them to intercede on your behalf not giving them power outside of what is proscribed in the Bible?

My understanding was always that Jesus (and Jesus alone) was our intercessor and mediator and I don't understand how having the saints and Mary intercede and mediate isn't wrong. My boyfriend has described it as asking the saints and Mary to pray for you like you would ask friends and family to pray for you on earth.

  • That seems to make sense to me but how is it OK to pray to those who are dead?

I feel like there are gaps in my knowledge.

I am also confused about Mary. I just can't seem to grasp why she is held in such awe and given so much power in the Catholic Church. I've read about her and I understand honoring her and learning from her example.

I have trouble though with the reverence and the language used about her. She seems to be described and discussed as having an importance approaching that of God or Jesus. I feel frustrated because I don't understand the feeling of love/adoration people have for her and where that feeling comes from as I see it in my boyfriend and I read about it in Thomas Merton's Seven Storey Mountain — I am part way through. His description is what triggered my frustration regarding my inability to understand the way Catholics feel about Mary.

  • Where does Purgatory come from?
  • How does it work?
  • Whose idea was it?

I like the idea of having it — instead of either directly to Heaven or Hell at the end of life but it seems really not Biblical so I'm super uncomfortable with it.

That's where I'm at for the moment. I really do appreciate your taking the time to read and respond to my inquiries.

After meeting my boyfriend's family I feel even better about our relationship — they're wonderful people — and I am very happy with things between us so I'm motivated further to understand (and consider conversion).

Larisa

Mike replied:

Dear Larisa,

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

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 may help:

Or find other postings here.

You said:

  • Where does Purgatory come from?
  • How does it work?
  • Whose idea was it?

This posting should clear up any issues on Purgatory. If not, just reply.

Purgatory is a reality because God created us with free will. Purgatory has nothing to do with ones justification or salvation. Those being purified in Purgatory have been saved by the Blood of the Lamb Himself, Jesus. Purgatory has to do with our own personal holiness. Think of Purgatory as the holy hospital of Heaven.

This posting should give you a better understanding of Purgatory.

I hope this helps,

Mike

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