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 Post subject: A family 'conversion' question
PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2005 11:34 am 
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I've lurked for a while and been able to nip at the edges of my questions, but I thought I'd get it all out here. I'd appreacite any input anyone has.

I'm 35. I was raised Catholic only till I was about eight. I had my first communion, but was never confirmed. My folks just stopped going to church, and haven't returned to this day.

When I was 17 I made the effort to go back to the church on my own, but it didn't last long.

11 years ago I married my wife, a Lutheran, in a Lutheran church. She had a dauther from a previous marriage, who's now my stepdaughter. We had two kids of our own. They're 13, 10 and six. All were baptised in the Lutheran church where we got married.

I have never been comfortable at Lutheran church. Before my wife, I dated two other girls (that's what they were, at our age) who were churchgoing Lutherans, and I tried going with them, too. No real objection to Lutheran liturgy, just I've always had the sinking feeling that just because I wasn't strong enough to stay with the Catholic church didn't mean it was ok to give something else a try. It's not all about me.

We've tried to "split the difference" (Episcopalians think that's really funny) by trying Episcopal church. My wife doesn't like Episcopal services at all, because they seem to her too ornate and solemn. (So you can imagine how she'd feel about a Catholic mass.)

I've been considering trying to return to the Catholic church again, if it'll have me. Which brings me to my dilemmas, which may be obvious.

I'm married to a divorced Lutheran. There's a chance I may be able to talk her into going through RCIA and joining the church with me, but I doubt it. We haven't discussed this yet. Would the church accept me, if there's no realistic possibility my wife would convert, and we could sanctify our marriage in the Catholic church?

Even if the church would accept just me, and possibly a kid or two, is that even desirable -- one person in a marriage converting (or in my case, rejoining) and not the other?

(I am by no means reluctant to discuss this with my wife, just that I was doing some research on these issues first so I could answer her obvious questions, and be satisfied myself that I know what obstacles there are.)

A related question: If by some chance we both were willing to join the church, what would have to be done about her previous marriage (to another Lutheran in the same church where we two were married)?

And how, if at all, would my rejoining the church affect the status of my kids? Is there anything preventing them from becoming Catholic if their parents are Catholic and Lutheran, say?

I probably have eight other questions, but will follow the advice of asking a couple first and seeing where the exchange goes. Thanks for any help you all can provide.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2005 12:10 pm 
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You would not be alone on this forum if you revert and your spouse remains where she is. It is a difficult row to hoe as they say, but I would put the state of your immortal soul above the difficulties that may lay ahead on this earth, personally. The challenge, of course, is your marriage. Your marriage, as a Catholic, is not valid. To validate it, you would first have to seek an annulment, if at all possible, of her first marriage, and have the marriage convalidated in a small ceremony in a Catholic Church. A priest would be able to give you more precise details than I can, here. But, just because your marriage is not valid does not prevent you from reversion. You may have to make some difficult choices however. One option is that you will not be permitted to partake of the Eucharist while you remain in an invalid marriage. Another option is that you and your wife agree to live as "brother and sister", which will aid you in remaining in a state of grace and able to receive Eucharist. Again, I will encourage you to discuss these issues with your priest.

As far as your children go, they oldest two are over the age of reason, and the youngest is pretty close. That means that if they choose to be Catholics, they will be received as adults. I assume that as your wife is Lutheran, they have been baptized. They would probably have to attend some sort of catechesis, and then be received into the Church, and receive the Sacraments of Reconciliation, First Eucharist, and Confirmation. There should be no impediments to their reception into the Church if they desire it.

And again, your best bet is to discuss these issues with a priest. :wink:


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2005 12:10 pm 
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Oh, and welcome to the board. :)


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2005 12:23 pm 
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Citizen
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I went ahead and did RCIA after waiting 12 years for my husband to do it with me. I'm just sorry I waited so long. It does cause major tension, but at least he is agreeing that our daughter be raised Catholic.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2005 12:38 pm 
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A general word of advice: On a message board, we can't give you very focused or precise advice about how your marriage state would affect your potential conversion. It's a intricate matter, and a lot hinges on details that don't belong in public.

The good side is that most people in charge of working with potential converts know how to handle confused marriage cases and can tell you quickly precisely where you stand and what (if anything) you need to do.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2005 1:01 pm 
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Thanks for the replies so far.

Obi-Wan (may I call you Ben?), what you say makes perfect sense. I'm not after the kind of focused or precise advice that would require intimate detail, and I don't doubt that a priest is the best source for definitive answers. Consider this some "asking around" to get a sense of the lay of the land before I take any affirmative steps. When you haven't been to a Catholic church for other than one wedding and one funeral in 18 years, it's a lot easier to ask your first questions on a message board than of a priest. :)

Before I started seriously thinking through all this and consulting my catechism and Googling and such, I honestly thought my kids were "illegitimate" in the eyes of the Church because of my non-Catholic marriage. I was glad to find out that's not the case. That's the kind of basic stuff that's probably second nature to a lot of people, but which I'd like to find out about before I do anything more. Intimate, precise details can wait, I just want to talk it through a little with people who know more than I do.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2005 3:18 pm 
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Handmaids of the Lord
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m4tt,
You might want to read Home Sweet Rome by Scott and Kimberly Hahn--it covers a lot of theology but more importantly discusses the difficulties in one partner's converting while the other does not. It is also not difficult to read :) nice breezy (but serious) style.

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O God, our refuge and our strength, look down in mercy on Thy people who cry out to Thee, and through the intercession of Mary, the virgin Mother of God; Saint Joseph, her most chaste spouse; Thy holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and of all Thy Saints, hear our prayer for the conversion of sinners, and for the liberation and exaltation of our holy Mother the Church. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2005 6:58 pm 
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I pray for your journey. I am 35 myself. I recently reconciled to the Church a few years back.

I think it is best to contact a priest. Go discuss all this.

God Bless.

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"Yet, both worship and obedience are less than Christian if they do not spring from the one root- the love of God."

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