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Well conversion is probably not the correct term. Specifically, I am asking for prayers that my wife open her heart to our Lord in the Byzantine Church. I have prayed and struggled for the last two years and I have reached the conclusion that I wish to officially become a member of the Byzantine Church. My desire to do so has nothing to do with wanting to get away from Rome, though admittedly it started out this way. My slow exposure to Eastern Christianity has given me a peace I have never encountered in the Roman Church, where I had always been too caught up in the divisive war being fought out over the liturgy and faith. It has had catastrophic effects on mine and my families souls, prayer life, spirituality, etc. I have found peace in the East and I wish to become Byzantine (even if it takes years to do so, I am in no rush, so long as I am moving in the right direction).

My wife, however, continues to hate her experience of Eastern Christianity. It is simply too different for her. Certainly it is a culture shock for myself as well and was more than a bit jarring at first. But I can see beyond this to the immeasurable riches in the Divine Liturgy and in Eastern Spirituality (not to say that Rome doesn't have it's own riches and beauty). I understand my wife need not switch Churches officially and that as Roman Catholics we can attend Liturgy and confession as needed at any Eastern Catholic Church freely. The issue is with our children. They are 2 and 3 years old. I want my children to grow up in the Ruthenian Byzantine Church we have a couple hours north of us. I want them to be Chrismated as soon as possible so they can being growing strong in the faith with regular reception of our Lord in Holy Communion. She wants the kids to remain Roman Catholic and their Sacraments would essentially be put on hold for many years. This is becoming a very divisive issue in our family and is negatively effecting our marriage. I love my wife dearly and want her to get on board with this, for the sake of our family as well as her own personal sanctification, but I can't "force" her. And no amount of exposure to the wonderful Liturgy and community at St. Anne's seems to convince her either. I pray for God to deliver us from this situation but am beginning to despair. Please pray for us.

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My wife, however, continues to hate her experience of Eastern Christianity. It is simply too different for her.


Christ is in our midst!!

Colin Sheehan:

Did you read your own post? "Hate" is a really strong emotion. If this is true, may I suggest that you slow way down before you do irreparable damage to your marriage. I suspect you both began your journey as Latin Catholics. And that is part of what she bought into as part of who you are and who she was marrying. Suddenly you want to make a major change in who she perceives you to be and how you want both of you to live your lives together. You mention children. How confusing will this be to them? Don't think they will not pick up on this dissonance between the two of you, even at their young age.

May I suggest that you take this VERY slowly and don't force the issue. If the "hate" is deep, force will only make it deeper and harder.

Bob


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Thank you for your reply Bob. Hate is indeed too strong of a word. Her dislike with the Liturgy was just the cultural divide. She is used to the Latin Church (to be fair, as am I). Latin terminology. There is certainly a lot to take in at the DL when one isn't used to it. And we've been to a number now and I've even gone so far as to take responsibility for the kids, playing with them outside for the majority of the DL, just so that she could try and experience it uninterrupted. She is comfortable with the community at the Byzantine Church, they welcomed us like family from Day 1. They are an amazing group of people and I love them dearly. I think part of it has to do with the Church being almost two hours away. I get the feeling that she feels it pointless to drive two hours North to attend a Liturgy she can't understand. On another thread I've asked the community here for good book recommendations as an intro to the Divine Liturgy, Eastern theology/spirituality, etc. to try and help my wife acclimate a bit to see if it changes her experience.

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attend a Liturgy she can't understand


Christ is in our midst!!

Is this because the language is not English? If so, that explains a lot.

A two-hour drive is a lot, especially for small children. That means you have taken up the better part of the day between getting there, Liturgy, and returning home to try to get something to eat. It is one thing to be there for Liturgy but a parish is a community that does things through the week. Have you thought about how you will work it out when it is time for children's catechesis?

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I haven't. This is what initially prompted my considering becoming Eastern Orthodox. There's an Antiochan Church half a block from our apartment and the local priest is a good man who has helped me with my inquiring. Ultimately I took a step back because I wanted to remain Catholic and was afraid of committing to the Orthodox in the case that everyone telling me I'd go apostate for doing so and condemn myself and quite possibly my family to hell. Moving likely isn't an option for us for the foreseeable future either and so I don't know what else we can do. Traditional Latin Mass communities that my wife likes are equally far away. All we have around us are the most banal and irreverent novus ordo parishes you can imagine (I'll leave it at that because I don't want to sound uncharitable to the Roman Church, but I simply can't trust them with my soul or the souls of my family). But if my wife going Byzantine Catholic was something like pulling teeth you can imagine her reaction when I said I was reading Orthodox material. *sigh*

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Also, the Liturgy is in English which is her primary language, so it's not a linguistic issue (although I suppose getting taught up on the terminology can throw her).

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everyone telling me I'd go apostate for doing so and condemn myself and quite possibly my family to hell


Christ is in our midst!!

First of all, no one becomes an "apostate" by moving from the Catholic Church to the Orthodox Church. I think "everyone" should read the documents of their own Church's recent Vatican Council 2. The Council states that the Orthodox Churches are true Churches with true sacraments--meaning they have the same things we do. The outward ceremonies may be different, but the result is the same. In fact, the Council stated that a Catholic Christian, separated from the sacraments for a valid reason (like a great distance; no priest easily available for a long period of time; or other serious reason) could approach an Orthodox priest and ask for the Mysteries of Confession and the Eucharist. And, while it did not come out and say this specifically in the documents, that means doing whatever is necessary to continue the health of one's soul. Now, I would be surprised if the Orthodox priest would do this absent a Profession of Faith. This means that the Catholic could (and should) become an Orthodox Christian if that meant it was the only way he could remain an active Christian. This is not my own opinion; I have specifically asked clergy who have taught in seminaries or had other advanced/higher up positions in the Catholic Church.

It was once stated in a retreat I attended that an isolated Christian is soon no Christian at all. In other words, we are not rugged individualists; we are saved individually but in community. We do not have the Sacraments/Mysteries personally so that we need no one but can do it all ourselves. Sacraments/Mysteries are acts of community--the Church is essentially a Divine Community--and only happen in community.

An individual must follow his conscience and discern where the Holy Spirit is leading. This is scary, troubling territory. People do move. I believe that the Lord has as his second trait, the trait we call mercy. He is not the Divine Accountant ready to pounce. As a passage attributed to St. Ephraim the Syrian reads (as if coming form Christ) "I have found you and I will not leave you, for I have redeemed you with My Very Own Blood." If the Lord wants you to move out in faith, remember Abraham who left it all because he was convinced in the depths of his being that that is what he was called to do.

When one moves from one's communion to another, it shakes up those left behind. That is on them. It's too easy to float along in one's pilgrimage without thinking, asking questions, or examining oneself. But,to quote Marcus Aurelius, "the examined life is not worth living." This is not as easy as changing an article of clothing; it's not meant to be.

Bob

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Christ is in our midst!!

The liturgical shape of all the Apostolic Churches is the same when one examines them--underneath all the ceremonies and actions tht are different. There is an introduction of some sort wherein we come before God to worship and leave behind our world for a time. There is a portion given to the study of the Word of God--portions of Scripture selected for teaching some important spiritual truth--important enough to make it come up regularly--year after year. This is a nourishing time when the Word is supposed to settle deeply into one's soul. The Word is actually the Divine Logos--Jesus--who wants to become a dweller deep in our hearts and He does it through the inspired Scripture that has been preserved and given to us. There is is the Eucharist wherein we are granted the deepest way possible way to advance and grow in Him. He absorbs Himself into every fiber of our being as food/nourishment that has no parallel. We are plunged into His time on earth--into His Last Supper, His Passion, His Tomb, His Resurrection so we can face the world and know that this poor place we walk as pilgrims is not all there is to human existence.

If you study the liturgies of the Apostolic Churches, you will find this same skeleton; this same outline.

Bob

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Bob I really appreciate all this insight and information you are giving me. Hearing that priests teaching at seminary say that there is no mortal sin to move from Catholic to Orthodox is a great relief to hear/read. The pastor at the Antiochan Church I was at mentioned that for me to become Orthodox would require a period of discernment (the catechumanate (if I spelled that correctly)), which makes sense. But he also mentioned that it would be up to the Bishop, whether or not I would be Chrismated and welcomed in, or if I would have to be baptized. I was baptized in a Roman Church and I have no reason to doubt the validity of the Sacrament. This was ultimately the sticking point that got me turned back toward Catholicism. I know the Orthodox profess one baptism in the creed, same as we Catholics. But in practice, it is not uncommon to find Catholic converts being repabtized in order to join the Orthodox (though the reverse is never true). Am I missing an aspect of the faith here or is this just individual Bishops who take a radical view of Rome (that Rome's gone apostate and hasn't had valid sacraments since *insert year of choosing*?

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Christ is in our midst!!

Colin,

There is much nuance here that you are missing. The case I cited is not universally the case. The bishops of the United States have stated that the situation envisioned by the Council does not exist in the United States since there are so many Catholic parishes available. The situation of a move not being sinful is something that is on a case by case basis.

OTOH, you must follow you conscience to see where the Holy Spirit is leading you. I would think long and hard; pray long and hard before making any moves. Just because one does not like liturgical practice does not, IMHO, for a basis for conversion. It seems to me that you must find yourself in a situation where you strongly believe that the Orthodox Church is where the fullness of the Faith lies and that you must be there. Not liking the current Latin Catholic liturgical practice is far from that.

Bob

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While I don't want this thread to turn into me ragging against Roman practice, I will sum it up to saying that attendance at the novus ordo has continuously negatively impacted my faith and driven me to the point of despair. This is what prompted my search in the first place. I think, in the end, the safest bet will be for my family to continue attending the Byzantine Catholic Church as often as we can until we can hopefully move closer in the future. I can't convince myself on all of Orthodoxy's positions/teachings (divorce/remarriage, artificial contraception, etc) so I wouldn't be able to join them in good faith (fully/obediently assenting to all of their teachings). I find that once I had a taste of the East, nothing in the West offers me that peace anymore. Thank you for all your help. God Bless you and grant you many years!

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Originally Posted by theophan

The situation of a move not being sinful is something that is on a case by case basis.


According to canon law, there's no situation that would permit a Catholic to become an Orthodox. Doing so is an act of schism.

Nor can you make a profession of faith to the Orthodox Church, without falling into schism.


Originally Posted by theophan

OTOH, you must follow you conscience to see where the Holy Spirit is leading you. I would think long and hard; pray long and hard before making any moves. Just because one does not like liturgical practice does not, IMHO, for a basis for conversion. It seems to me that you must find yourself in a situation where you strongly believe that the Orthodox Church is where the fullness of the Faith lies and that you must be there. Not liking the current Latin Catholic liturgical practice is far from that.


For mitigation of guilt, a person would need to be lacking in understanding of a teaching of the Catholic Church, not acting in opposition of it. To do so, would be acting with an improperly formed conscience, which offers no mitigation.

A properly formed conscience, means being formed according to the teachings of the Catholic Church. All moral decisions have to be done according to a properly formed conscience, otherwise they become evil acts leading to sin.

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Echoing theophan's comment, St. John Henry Newman spoke about the duty to follow your conscience, even a malformed conscience (I am not implying that your conscience is malformed, just making a point smile. But not liking the liturgical practice is probably not a good basis for joining Orthodoxy.

As for your family situation, that is tricky. You don't have a total say about how your kids will be raised. And your wife is very much against the Eastern Church. So any conflict that you have over religious issues could very well turn off your kids to Orthodoxy or Catholicism (in any form), which would be the worst case scenario. And you don't want to harm your marriage.

I would suggest either convert to Orthodoxy on your own or remain Catholic but integrate byzantine spirituality as much as you can. Perhaps you can attend Vespers at the Antiochian parish while attending Mass with your family. Say the Typika on your own when at home on Sundays? And make it out to the Byzantine Catholic parish whenever you can.

I would suggest continuing to raise your kids Roman Catholic until or if your wife ever becomes more receptive to the byzantine liturgy This may be a huge cross for you personally but a sacrifice that will be well pleasing to God. Expose them to as much Eastern Spirituality as you can without confusing them or causing more problems with your marriage. Trust in God to watch over them even without the Eucharist (for the time being). God has worked miracles through the desert fathers (and mothers) who would go without the Eucharist for considerable lengths of time. Never doubt the generosity and overabundance of God's compassion & mercy. Never doubt the efficacy of a parent's prayer for their children, take St. Monica as an example. If you continue to develop byzantine spirituality in your own life, your sanctification will spill over. Seeds can grow in unlikely places and bear fruit in unexpected ways.

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Thank you Devin for the encouragement and sound advice. I will put things on a hold for now and just focus on the home. I expressed my desire to continue going to the Byzantine Church to my wife last night and instead of refusing me outright, she is willing to go (at this point I think she's ready to go anywhere that isn't a novus ordo). Thank you again. God Bless!

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Christ is in our midst!!

Colin:

There are other considerations you may have missed. What does your extended family think about a move of this sort? What does your wife's family think? Sometimes a move of this nature can isolate a person from his family. Now, this should not be a primary consideration--think of Abraham--but it will color your future with these people.

Bob

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