How My Wife’s Catholicism Has Changed Me For The Better: A Birthday Reflection

For you people that don’t know this story, I’ve pulled almost everything off the site that refers to it, so I’m sorry about that.

I got some nice things for my 52nd birthday. A new iPod. (Blue, 4th generation Nano. Be envious.) A book of Benedictine Daily Prayer. (I’m figuring it out.) Birthday cake (Oatmeal. Mmmm) with my wife, daughter and son-in-law. (Their rendition of Happy Birthday somehow made me feel I was boarding a train for Siberia.) A lot of Facebook greetings. Two cards. Many birthday wishes from my students. And right after I’d preached, a large lipsticky kiss on my cheek from a long-time co-worker. (It’s a tradition where I work. My wife approves.)

I missed getting a birthday card from my mom. Twenty-five dollars, as regular as clockwork. I miss hearing her voice on the phone telling me she was in labor for two days and it almost killed her.

I would have liked to go to church on my birthday, but instead I preached for our students. I Corinthians 3:5-9. “On Christians and Those Who Grow Them.” I enjoyed that opportunity.

The greatest gift I have on this 52nd birthday is my wife and our marriage. Particularly this year, as I look back and see how my wife’s conversion to Catholicism has changed me for the better.

When I told my friend Mark what was going on at our house, he said immediately that this was “necessary love.” I’m not entirely sure what he meant by that, but I’ve come to understand it as the love we must have and give in order to survive. It is as necessary as any of the other basic components of life.

We go through processes in life where the immediate and required response seems to be anger, bitterness or rage. I know all about this, because my wife’s conversion initially made me very angry. God’s refusal to play by my rules and the little contract I wrote and carried around made me angry. The “compassionate response” of other Christians left me feeling rejected and blamed. I was hurt and defensive; full of despair and bitterness. At times I was overwhelmed as much as if someone in my family was dying.

You can’t live like that. It will destroy you. It will eat up every kind of happiness, flood your marriage with the sewage of bitterness and poison your thoughts, work, emotions and worship. It will bring you to the middle of life hating the fact that you’re alive and empty of the presence and joy of the God who’s been your foundation for the entire journey.

It feels like you can’t resist it, but with God’s help, there has to be another way. Instead of the bitterness and the anger, I had to find necessary love. Very necessary. Necessary for my faith, my marriage, my sanity, my soul, my survival and my continued ministry.

I’ve discovered at least a hundred ways to question and protest what’s happened in our home, but I’ve also discovered that God’s love is more than adequate for the task of giving me hope, peace and forgiving grace. I won’t list all the questions and protests. There’s no point. Love is necessary and love is present in every place, for every disappointment. God’s not on trial. I’m on the way to Christlikeness. This is necessary love 101.

I’ve made enormous progress in the necessary love journey this year, and Denise has demonstrated most of it toward me. I certainly didn’t deserve the kindness and forgiveness she’s shown me. I think we’ve both learned a lot more than we ever knew about how God can give the gifts of marriage to those who simply present themselves as needy and undeserving candidates.

I’ve learned to actually encourage Denise’s journey into Catholicism. In some ways, I’ll probably always understand more than she does about the “outside” of Catholicism, and I have my share of questions about how she’s navigating some of what she must one day affirm, but I have decided to not only respect her journey, but to encourage and affirm it. (I still don’t like the 80 mile round trip to RCIA. Can we please get that over before winter? C’mon Catholics, pray with me on that one, will ya?)

She’s inside the experience of conversion to Catholicism, and I’m not. God is real for her. He may be confusing to me, but he’s real for her every step of the way in this journey. Arguing against God’s reality or pouting about her ability to discern him are both juvenile reactions.

As a Baptist, I deeply believe in what we call “soul competency.” In matters of religion, nothing violates my wife’s competency to determine her own beliefs about God. Not even marriage or my ministry. It’s my opportunity to learn to love and accept her as someone who belongs to Jesus, but who travels a different road than I do.

I’ve had to lay aside a lot of things that are very, very important to me, and to admit they aren’t as important to God as I thought they were. Things like communing and worshiping together as a family are very important to me, but sometimes being a follower of Jesus in a marriage means Jesus has to be followed- not some ideal about marriage or family.

I wasn’t capable of that kind of thinking a little more than a year ago. I am now, more so every day.

I’ve learned that Catholicism can’t be force-fit into the box called evangelicalism, and evangelicalism can’t be force-fit into the Catholic experience. The terms “catholic evangelical” and “evangelical catholic” still make some sense to me, but my catholic friends have helped me to see that their faith encompasses a whole that is much larger than the typical evangelical assessment (or caricature.)

I’m attracted to Catholicism, but not to the choices that make it possible for my Catholic friends to take in the whole of Catholic belief and experience. I’m still attracted to reformational Protestantism and vital, missional evangelicalism, and I do not believe, as Louis Bouyer wants me to, that Protestants and evangelicals can find everything they are looking for and valuing within the Roman Catholic church.

No, I’ve learned to be a happy enough Protestant.™ I’m happy enough with the Vatican II view of who I am in relation to Catholicism, and I’m happy enough with the essential basics of Protestant evangelicalism to stay with The Solas as long as they are on tour.

But most of all, I’ve become a person who can believe all of this without insisting that others see it the same way that I do. I’ve even learned to love, appreciate and gently laugh at the (now) 138 Roman Catholics who have spent an email (and in some cases, good money on books) trying to convert me to the RCC. (Just this week someone mailed me their phone number if I have any questions. Please don’t send me anything from Steve Ray. Please.)

God has shown his mercy to us in some unusual ways. He’s shown me the unfortunate side of how Christians respond to a cry of lament that they don’t understand. He’s convinced me that among those of us who look at one another as brothers and sisters across the reformation divide and long to love one another as best we can there is far more of Jesus-shaped Christianity than there is among those whose intention it is to argue the other person into the dust and treat the other side as the enemy.

I’ve found a lot of happiness in what we’ve experienced, and I don’t believe the adventure is over. While God isn’t doing it my way, he is leading me to know him better his way. His path, as Merton said, may appear identical to wanderings in the wilderness. But it all his chosen way to bring us closer to himself, to a greater appreciation of the Gospel and to a passion for conformity to Jesus Christ himself.

57 thoughts on “How My Wife’s Catholicism Has Changed Me For The Better: A Birthday Reflection

  1. iMonk,

    I just discovered this blog today, and have spent the last 4+ hours reading past posts. I’m a convert to the RCC from my Methodist upbringing, having been confirmed Catholic at Easter Vigil 2007. At the time I was enrolled in a Methodist seminary in Kentucky, and my family (particularly my mother) took my decision rather hard.

    There emerged a gulf between my mother and I that had never existed before – namely the sad fact that she could not receive communion at my church, and I could not receive at hers. I was saddened by this, she was offended. It seemed to her that I was rejecting my upbringing and, worse, my family’s Christianity. This of course is not true. However, repair needed to be made in our relationship. I decided to leave the seminary in Kentucky and move to Florida in order to live near my family, that my life might serve as a witness. My goal was not to convert my family – rather, it was to show them that they need not fear. Their son still loved them. I was not rejecting them.

    I spent a year in Florida, growing in my faith while simultaneously trying to bridge the (real or imagined) divides in my family. With God’s help, I saw improvement.

    My story relates to yours very little, if at all. In the end, I just want to thank you for this post, as it communicates in a much more beautiful way than I can hope to achieve the mixture of pain and joy that is the inevitable fruit of this type of experience.

    Thank you, and God bless.

    Kyle

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  2. I’m a convert to Catholicism myself (long story) by way of many interesting byways. My best friends are evangelicals and Quakers 😉 who both (I think) have more in common doctrinally with Catholics than they may realize. (Church structure and governance are another story entirely….) And I too was very well educated growing up Protestant, having always been interested in religion and church history, so I did sit through a lot of reeeeallllyyy boring stuff in RCIA. I brought my knitting to class. 😉

    I am not an uncritical Catholic (I’m incapable of being an uncritical *anything*) and I have been particularly sad to see how poorly educated the majority of Catholics are about even their own faith. Religious education, especially before Vatican II, focused so completely on specifically Catholic things (the rosary, angels, saints, sacraments etc.) that the core teachings of Jesus came in a very poor second in the curriculum. And many of those who taught were themselves very poorly educated, perpetuating a lot of bad theology and bad practice.

    The education of teachers has changed, but not necessarily improved, and the Catholic retreat industry seems now to have discovered and subscribed to the Tacky Theme Generating Service that I regret seeing in Protestant churches (recipe: take a dozen words like seeking, sharing, journey, spiritual, love, light, etc., shake them up in a paper bag, and draw out any two: presto! your theme!).

    As I’ve frequently said and will say many times more, one of the great strengths I see in my evangelical friends is that in their church *everyone* goes to Sunday School — adults as well as children — *every* Sunday. And they study Real Stuff: Jesus and the Biblical accounts. A few Catholics have discovered these riches, but pitifully few. Would that more would do so.

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  3. Dear Giovanni: I am quite familiar with RC doctrine having grown up in Bavaria and attending Catholic Grammar School for 6 years, learning my Latin for years… (a good experience overall.)

    Also, we have had neighbors who were one lapsed, divorced Catholic and one lapsed Anglican who completed the RCIA to be married in the Catholic church and to attend services,– due to our influence (there was no way they could have been Lutheran, as it was too German and too “heretical” for them–though lapsed, he was staunchly English Catholic. We did go to each others churches occasionally out of friendship. We had lovely times together.) (Their marriage still did not work out, sadly).

    So I am not sure you and I could have a fruitful dialogue, especially since you refer to my “intentions” and to my “opinions”. This has my back up. Nothing I posted here is about me, nor are they merely my opinions.

    If you would still like to talk with me, you may comment on any of my posts whether it relates to the post or not. Sincerely, Brigitte.

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  4. Hi Michael. I guess it’s a little late to say Happy Birthday, but ‘happy day’ anyway.
    Thank you for such an open and real post. I grew up in all kinds of protestant denominations and have ended up attending Calvary Chapels. Thanks to my parents, however, I have always had a respect for the Catholic church. One can’t really argue with the way they’ve stood against social evils like abortion and homosexual marriage, etc., when the protestant denominations have waffled and waned continually. After reading your post I have a healthy respect for the challenges that face multi-denominational families (is that even a word?). I don’t think I ever really considered how difficult it could be for a Protestant to have a Catholic spouse, or vice versa. I respect the choices that you and your wife have made and rejoice that we have a God who can work through and above our differences. May we all grow in that “necessary love” you wrote about.
    May God bless your family,
    Caila

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  5. With respect to rules of the moderator of this Blog and his wishes I will not continue to discuss the principles of the faith.

    However Brigitte your personal opinion on the matter is fully noted. If you would like to discuss this further please let me know and I will be more than happy to participate in your blog or respond to the issue at hand through E-mail.

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  6. A respectful discussion is always welcome, but we won’t be re-debating the reformation. Everyone has probably heard how all that turned out. 🙂

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  7. Dear Giovanni: We also believe there is only one true church, and it is the universal, the catholic church, of which the head is Jesus Christ.

    To this church belong all believers of all times and all places, all who believe and confess Christ, this might be a Roman Catholic or a Baptist, also.

    But we believe this faith is most properly explained and confessed in our Lutheran confessions based on the Bible, not on the hierarchy.

    Luther was declared a heretic because he would rather make his ground on the scriptures than councils, which he believed could err, and most of us believe have erred, as there is much mandated that is not of biblical origin.

    So where does this universal church stand and who is its head?

    (Sorry, I don’t think Michael wanted to go there with his blog.)

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  8. Brigitte, though I know your intentions are good. For a Catholic that truely believes that the Catholic Church is the Church Christ founded, it would be impossible to join any other church no matter how similar or close to our individual way of thinking it may be.

    In other words there is not cherry picking when it comes to God’s garden.

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  9. Because….

    1) I don’t believe the Lutheran view of the sacraments.

    2) My wife believes all the RC stuff.

    3) We are employed at a Baptist school where I am the campus minister.

    4) There isn’t a Lutheran church within 90 miles.

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  10. Happy Birthday! It’s everybody’s birthday at our house, too.

    You may not allow this post, but why don’t you two just become traditional liturgical Lutherans, the original “evangelical catholics”, where “solas” and sacramental worship intersect and Christ is the focus.

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  11. Dear Mike,
    Happy birthday. It is a surprise–and no surprise at all–that I would discover your blog at this time in my walk with God. Is there any chance you would consider resurrecting (there’s a pun there, as a fundamentalist pk I can smell it) the story of your wife’s decision? I made an appointment this week to speak with a priest about what seems to be, for the first time in my christian walk, a calling right up from the bottom of my toes, the call to begin the Catholic walk.

    I have been attending and participating in evening prayer for a couple of weeks at our University’s Catholic Newman Center. I’ve also been torturing a very patient Catholic friend with what I lovingly term “my catholic questions” . The frightening thing I’ve discovered is that my internal response to my own questions (and, again, as a pk, I can come up with some doctrine-probing doozies), in the quiet of my room is that my questions don’t matter. I am experiencing a call to move on faith toward the Catholic Church. When I leave evening prayer, I leave full of peace and at the same time fully aware of one question filling the air around me–why aren’t you pursuing this more fully?

    This is not the first time this question has arisen, but this is by far the clearest and most pressing call I’ve ever experienced to act on the urging. I would appreciate knowing about another woman’s call to convert.

    Thank You.

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  12. Michael, thanks so much for talking about this. It made me feel a bit less lonely in my own situation.

    I hope you’ll keep telling us how things are working out with Denise’s conversion, if you can.

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  13. My dear sister Martha those sore calf muscles are but a gift from God, letting us know just how much we have exercised those spiritual muscles.

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  14. Dear Headless, you know yourself: “We need an urgent decision on this matter!” “So… sometime within the next century, huh?” 😉

    As for “Genuflect, genuflect, genuflect” – ah, boy, got me thinking of my Easter Duty and the Stations of the Cross. You wouldn’t think genuflecting fourteen times in a row was all that bad, but the next day, your calf muscles certainly tell you all about it 🙂

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  15. Truthfully, I’m just happy to hear (erm… read) a 52 year old man say that his wife and marriage is his greatest birthday present is wonderful. At my job I deal daily with men and women who have never had that appreciation for their spouses.

    It’s refreshing.

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  16. glad to hear things are beginning to smooth over with your wife’s conversion to the RCC.

    this isn’t so much a comment or question, but just me talking out loud. your situation has given me a lot to chew on and wonder as 20-something year old guy trying to prepare himself individually for marriage one day, whenever the Lord brings me to that place. in the PCA, there’s endless discussion about male-headship and leadership roles. i know the SBC is rough (i grew up in it) but the situation you and your wife are in would be absolutely unfathomable in the PCA.

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  17. The subject of families worshipping together has become all to real to me recently. I am from a reformed background, although I graduated from Moody Bible Institute in 1983. I married someone from Moody who later graduated from Trinity Seminary. We divorced over 8 years ago and I have since remarried. He lives in Georgia and I live in Florida. We have four kids, 18, 16, 13 and 11, all of whom live with me. When I moved here over 8 years ago, I went to an Episcopal church that was reformed in its teaching and thoroughly enjoyed it. I was remarried while attending that church and my husband was from a Nazarene background and Southern Baptist church. He did not mind going to the Episcopal church with me. We went to another Episcopal church/Anglican because of some problems with the pastor/priest at the 1st Episc. church. He was running people off left and right and we were disappointed with his leadership. It was very sad to see his compromises and all that was happening there. This is kind of an over simplified version but it was the right time for us to go. The 2nd Episc. church later had some issues with the senior priest who was asked to leave due to immorality issues and I had issues with the children’s director who was into the holy laughter stuff.

    My husband asked me to “look around” at churches and I was trying to find one that would “fit” all of our needs. My main goals were to find one that was biblically sound, had a good youth program and had a good music/worship program for my husband (he plays the trumpet). I did not concern myself too much for my own spiritual needs since I felt it was more important for my kids to get hooked into a good program. At the time we visited this one church, my older kids were really not that spiritually inclined – but I was impressed with the mentoring mode that the youth group seemed to promote. But to be honest with you, I was not as discerning as I should have been and now I feel horrible that I “led” my family there. My husband, as you can probably tell, is not the spiritual leader I would hope he would be…He has not taken the initiative in any of these areas, and since the children are my children from my first marriage, I feel some kind of concern and burden for what’s going on now with the current church they are attending.

    This church is a Southern Baptist Church, but it’s more of a new “missional” (whatever that means to them; I cannot tell), more interested in entertaining and making newcomers feel comfortable. They do not water down the gospel but they certainly do not encourage discipleship or good bible teaching. I was feeling uncomfortable a few months ago with all the fun BlueFish videos they showed on Sunday mornings, skits like the Family Feud game show – in preparation for the sermon, and Rob Bell’s NOOMA video series. I had begun to read more about the emergent church and realized that this church was gradually and slowing going in that direction and I read the book “Why We’re Not Emergent (but we should be)” (don’t have the authors right now but it’s a Moody Press book) and I began to listen to Mark Driscoll at Mars Hill Church in Seattle and I became convicted that this was not the way church should be conducted and that I did not and could not continue to remain a part of it. Also during this time, my young 13 old son made a profession f faith – with me in my bedroom – one evening and I was thrilled! I asked the youth pastor if someone could help me disciple him for a few weeks in some follow up studies; I told him I could do this myself and was willing to, but the guy did not seem comfortable with it and recommended that my son go to the newcomers class (with other adults not teens his age). Also during this time, I asked the youth pastor if it would okay if I taught a bible study with the youth on a book of the bible (not a topical) because even my older three kids were getting frustrated with the shallow pablum that was being taught at the youth group each week, topical studies that had little depth. He did not want me to do it (I should have done the “it’s better to ask forgiveness than to ask permission” thing.

    It was at that time, about 2 months ago, that I left this church. It was so difficult, because my husband plays in the praise band when he is not working. My oldest child is 18 and is a senior and is on the youth board and did not want to leave. The other three saw the problems I pointed out but they did not want to leave either, although my 13 year old son was willing to vist a Sovereign Grace ministries church (organized by C.J. Mahaney in Maryland). There is a church here locally that I’ve been visiting and I have enjoyed it as it has ministered to my soul and my heart resonates with the teaching. I am not a charismatic person, but I am reformed and this church teaches good solid bible content.

    My husband has visited once and was pretty ambivalent about it. My 16 year old daughter came once and thought it was boring (compared to the fun entertaining sermonettes she gets each week – which she has complained about too). Only my 13 year old has come off and on and he has been indecisive.

    SO my dilemma is – I cannot go back to this other church. I have had to work through some of my frustration and anger and even some bitterness towards the youth guy and even with the pastor. I was involved in a ladies’ community group and I have conveyed my situation to my leader; she has told me that I am still welcome to come to the group and I will do so for now…

    I like the other church, but since my husband is not taking any spiritual lead (other than to tell me that it was okay that I leave and visit other churches); I don’t know what to do. He’s also in transition from one job to another and is spiritually, emotionally and physically exhausted.

    The only other kinds of churches in the area are: conventional SBC churches, seeker friendly churches, charismatic churches, one or two stuff presbyterian churches, and a couple of reformed typed baptist churches filled with homeschooled families who are kind of separatists. I did notice that this current church I’ve been visiting has a lot of hs’ing families and I asked some of the ladies I’ve met – if I would be welcome since I do not homeschool and I work out of the home full time and they have assured me that I would be welcome and not criticized.

    This is a hard place to be..and when I’ve read some of Michael’s comments about his wife going to the RCC…I have related to each of them with their situation. I admire how he has handled it, even though he has admittedly not handled it well at times….He has grown children; I have younger children whom I am responsible for spiritually. Incidentally, my two older girls have grown tremendously this past year due to the influence of their Christian friends from school (not as much from the youth group or church). My oldest daughter is applying to go to Moody Bible Institute this next year as she is interested in the ministry, specifically with children. So God is working in my kids…He’s working with me…I hope He is working with my husband; but I cannot tell right now…I just am very confused right now during this hard time….I am sorry for the long post, but I guess I needed to “vent” and I need some prayers from some of you all! Thanks for reading – if you have read along so far…

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  18. Michael– Happy Birthday!! Blessings, grace and peace to you & Denise. Give me a call next time you’re in Lexington and I’ll buy your lunch!

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  19. If your wife’s RCIA experience is anything like my husband’s was, I can fully understand your frustration!

    Beautiful post, as always. Thank you for sharing some of what you are going through. It is more inspirational than you know!

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  20. Happy belated birthday!

    I know it’s a sore subject, but I think the drive and the expense are more opportunities for love. As we Catholics say, “Offer it up.” There are Christians in places like Iraq, Lebanon India, etc. who travel long distances and risk their lives to go to church. (- not meant as a scold. I’ve missed Mass for reasons far below an 80 mile drive and a tank of gas, I’m ashamed to admit. And I know it’s not Mass but RCIA you’re talking about.)

    Maybe your wife isn’t getting a lot out of it, but rather she’s giving a lot to the priest or other catecheumens, and your participation is also furthering the Kingdom. Faith is so far more complex than a set of rules or facts, and I know from experience both as a student and a teacher that you can get a greater understanding or different perspective on something you “know” by talking with people about it.

    As a fellow Chrisitan and a RC, thanks for this and your ministry.

    Kevin

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  21. Happy birthday, iMonk, and I join the others in rejoicing for the way the Lord has led you to contentment in and with this situation.

    You are a blessing to me and to others with whom I have been sharing some of your writing.

    Wolf

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  22. iMonk,
    Just had to wish you a happy birthday. I always knew that September was a good month to be born (my b-day is this Saturday), now I have one more reason for it. Thanks for the great post and the many insights you give just by being honest about your walk with Jesus. God has used your writing many times to speak to me.

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  23. Michael, thanks for a very open reflection on your journey. One comment really struck me: “Things like communing and worshiping together as a family are very important to me, but sometimes being a follower of Jesus in a marriage means Jesus has to be followed- not some ideal about marriage or family.”

    I am a Bible college prof. and one of the things many of us do is filling pulpits. Right now I’m on my second interim ministry at a small church a couple of hours’ drive away. My wife and son attend our “regular” church near our home. I have struggled greatly with this issue of our family not worshiping together, and whether it’s even all that important. For instance, when I’m at “home” at our regular church and play guitar on the worship team for all three morning services, I don’t see my wife until after the last service. So for all intents and purposes, we weren’t worshiping together anyway. That was a struggle as well in many ways.

    I’m curious to hear others’ reflections on the importance of a family worshiping together in church. I know this isn’t the focus of your essay, but it’s a side issue I’m curious about.

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  24. PS – About RCIA – my wife and I were taught the Faith by two holy Franciscan friars, years ago, but went through the RCIA program as a formality… and my friends and I decided that RCIA actually stood for ‘Removing Catholic Inclinations Altogether”. And as has been said, pastoral discretion is indeed permitted. So we shall offer our own prayers for a speedier success in this case. God bless.

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  25. Happy Birthday and may God bless you and yours, with every grace and blessing!
    PS – I hope that the lipstick-bearer from your workplace is a female. – Life is confusing enough as it is.

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  26. Happy birthday from my husband and myself! We are delighted by all the good news, and good sense, in this post.
    It’s great to hear you sounding content…not that you have to post a “smiley” picture or anything…

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  27. I agree with what everybody has been saying about the RCIA classes. It seems extreme to me that a person who is well instructed in the faith should not go through such a painful route.

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  28. Michael, I haven’t posted in a month or more, so happy birthday. I am happy for you, and thank God for answering our prayers for you and Denise. I’ll keep praying about the RCIA issue. I agree with you that a shorter preparation is certainly possible and preferable in cases like this.

    Just wanted to let you know that I am still praying for you.

    God Bless

    Paul in the GNW

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  29. I agree with iMonk about RCIA. I’m fine with requiring some period of study and discernment, but forcing everybody into a one-size-fits-all lengthy process is madness.

    Theoretically, the pastor is allowed to accept non-catholic Christians into full communion without RCIA, if he is satisfied they have received adequate instruction. Your wife sounds like a good candidate for that route. If he says no, ask at another parish. I know you’re in a remote area but once she is received someplace, your nearby parish will have to accept her, too.

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  30. Michael:

    Lovely piece. Thanks for it.

    As I think I’ve mentioned before, your wife shouldn’t have to go through RCIA. Yeah, if the pastoral ministry people have their head there, there’s really not much you can do about it, but (as I’m sure you know), RCIA really is, strictly speaking, for the unbaptized. The well-catechized Christian seeking to become Catholic should be given the option of that individual catechesis and then confirmation at an appropriate time.

    Burns me when people aren’t flexible.

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  31. Not to be snarky, but I feel that the cost of the 80 mile round trip, and the risk in the winter, are both ethical issues that can’t be sustained as “worth it.”

    Not a good subject for me.

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  32. I sympathize, as I’m starting RCIA myself after a year of contemplation, the system is far from perfect as it is. The Catholic Church is not overly concerned with being seeker-friendly or church-growth oriented. It’s worked out pretty well at growing so far, however.

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  33. Seriously Catholics, my wife needs about 5-10 hours with a good teacher to cover what she doesn’t know but has to know and she’s ready. The woman catechized our kids in the WSC and has taught the faith for 30 years. She’s been reading the RC catechism for more than a year. She’s on the second go through. And she has to drive 80 miles round trip with $4 gas to go back over stuff that’s mostly jr high level.

    Not to make a suggestion, but a mid-level RCIA option that didn’t treat all converts as pagans with no knowledge of the faith would be a good idea. Evangelism that requires this sort of commitment from a couple of years is not going to grow a church. (We do live in a rural area, but so do most people.)

    When it’s winter with icy roads, etc., we’re going to have some attitude problems on my part.

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  34. HUG:

    I used to only see pressure from evangelicals- mostly fundamentalists and Truly Reformed. Now the Catholic Answers/EWTN side has their own bulldog pound.

    I used to only know RCs who accepted me as a Christian. Now, I meet dozens and dozens who see converting me- a fellow Christian- as a priority. At least the evangelical doesn’t believe the Catholic is a Christian.

    Bob:

    I’ve been doing liturgical prayer for about 25 years. My wife learned all things catholic from me.

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  35. “I still don’t like the 80 mile round trip to RCIA. Can we please get that over before winter? C’mon Catholics, pray with me on that one, will ya?”

    Sorry, Michael, you’re on Vatican time now 😉

    Many happy returns! So, your birthday is on the feastday of St. Robert Bellarmine, Jesuit, Cardinal, and Doctor of the Church? Patron of cathechists? Not sayin’ nuthin’… 🙂

    You seem to be very gracious in accepting your wife’s conversion, despite the very real pain her decision has caused you. Thank you for this, and no, I won’t try converting you.

    That’s her job 😉

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  36. As for the Catholics trying to convert you, yes, I believe it. Many Catholics, especially converts, have a hard time comprehending that anyone can defend the Reformation solas in light of the “obvious” proof-texts in scripture and the early fathers. — Kevin

    Ah, yes, the Order of St Borg. (“Resistance is Futile! Prepare to be Assimilated! Resistance is Futile!”) The most extreme Borgian I knew WAS a convert from the Episcopalians; I think she scared away more potential Papists than she “caught”.

    Just a quick question. Should it surprise you that Catholics are trying to convert you? This is what evangelicals try to do to them. — Scott

    This isn’t just “sheep rustling”, this is Sheep Rustling, Tex Avery Toontown style. (Cue the falling anvils…)

    Though in my experience, I’ve seen a lot more high-pressure and nastiness coming from the Evangelical side. Though you find stupid people tricks everywhere, Catholics seem a lot less prone to neurotic “Wretched Urgency”.

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  37. When I say *He raised me in the faith*…it sounds kinda “catholic” to say “the faith”. I mean he raised me Christian, evangelical protestant to be specific.

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  38. iMonk,

    I may have told you this before, but reading your reactions to this has really helped me understand my dad’s reaction to my becoming Catholic. He raised me in the faith and I heard his preaching every week, if not more often. Since he is someone who has given his entire life to Christian ministry and preaching and studying the Bible, how could my becoming Catholic not be to him but a slap in the face, a firm “No Thank You” to everything he tried to instill in me?

    I doubt he’s come to the place you have, but I have no idea since we haven’t broached the subject in 2 years (early on in my “journey”).

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  39. Mike L:

    Thanks. I’m aware that conversion in and out of every communion is a reality. Plenty of former RCCs are now Pentecostal/Charismatic in America. The Protestant converts to Rome that are generally cited are people who have anxieties that I simply don’t have.

    Everyone:

    I will keep a tight lid on any outbreak of RC/Protestant debates. And while I will keep a sense of humor toward convert chatter, it is the policy here at IM that we don’t attempt to convert other Christians.

    Realize, folks, that we accomplish far more with conversation than by debate.

    peace,

    MS

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  40. Benedictine Daily Prayer…I got one of dem.

    My favorite part is the fact that Christmas Day is just the first day of an 8 day celebration of the Incarnation. And that Easter is the first day of a 50 day celebration of the Resurrection (can you say “Alleluia”?) capped off as only such a celebration could be with the Ascension and outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. (But the Vigils that precede these high points are maybe even better.)

    “Low church”, on the other hand, gets a Christmas Eve candle light vigil and gussied up extra special before the Easter Egg hunt.

    Hopefully the beauty of the Liturgical Calendar is another thing that will “rub off” on you from your wife. The BDP should help.

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  41. Well Kevin I would say that nonsense began 500 years ago with a certain Martin Luther, but again I dont think thats an argument for this topic.

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  42. Happy Birthday, Michael. And as a former RCIA director, I extend my special thanks to Denise, even though she doesn’t know me from Adam.

    I’m not going to try to convert you to Catholicism. In my experience, such attempts are usually counterproductive, unless the person who is their object has already been zinged by the Holy Spirit in a way that cannot be orchestrated and takes time to work its way through. But I’m sure you’re aware that there are plenty of prominent evangelicals who have converted to Catholicism without feeling that they’ve sacrificed what was good in their evangelical background. This isn’t primarily a matter of logic, but of where one finds oneself in the inner journey of the heart.

    I love what I see of your journey and thank God for it.

    Best,
    Mike

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  43. Hmmm…a Spirit-driven denominational move that forced you to love (or love better). Baptist on one side, RC on the other, God in the middle, impelling a greater quantum of love…hmmm.

    OK, all you eccumenical theorists…get to work.

    Beautiful thoughts, brother.

    Grace and Peace,
    Raffi

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  44. As somebody who is married to a Southern Baptist, who is not only in the choir of her church but is in the “praise team” no less I can identify with the difficulty.

    I recall, prior to us getting married she asked me if I wanted her to convert to the Catholic faith, I hesitated (I believe I may have sinned at that moment) but in the end I gave what I knew was the right response. I said to her that she did not have to convert, that true conversion comes only through God, he alone can change the hearts of men. I told her that our lives together should bear the witness of my faith.

    One must always remember and understand that in the end it is God’s will that will be done and that we as human beings, think as human beings think, not as God thinks.

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  45. Nice piece, Michael. It’s amazing the things God uses in our lives to shape our spirituality around Jesus.

    Just a quick question. Should it surprise you that Catholics are trying to convert you? This is what evangelicals try to do to them. And if they consider what they believe to be the truth, then wouldn’t this make sense? Wouldn’t it actually be the loving thing to do?

    Now I agree with you. It is too bad the communion table/altar has a fence around it. But in some ways this makes sense, doesn’t it?

    Just a thought.

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  46. I appreciate your openness and love in responding to your wife’s conversion process. I know a young woman who was basically disowned by her father when she converted to the Catholic Church. If only we had more who would follow your example.

    As for the Catholics trying to convert you, yes, I believe it. Many Catholics, especially converts, have a hard time comprehending that anyone can defend the Reformation solas in light of the “obvious” proof-texts in scripture and the early fathers. This is the mess (and nonsense) that the Catholic apologetics movement has wrought.

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