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Moving Forward on a Catholic

Posted By: LectioDivina

Moving Forward on a Catholic - 09/03/14 12:46 PM

Hello. I am hoping to get some perspectives on a mixed relationship. I am a devout Roman Catholic and I have been dating a Russian Orthodox man for about 7 months now. We have a lot of fun together and he is very smart, handsome and funny.

We've started talking about marriage, but neither one of us is willing to convert. He talks about how he wouldn't pressure me to convert, but that would be ideal, and I quickly responded that it would be ideal for me if he were to convert, as well.

I took a comparative religion class in college and I have been very fortunate to be very well-versed in my Catholic faith. I know the differences between the two faiths and remain steadfast in my devotion to the Catholicism. He is not as educated in Orthodoxy as I am in Catholicism, and he doesn't know as much about Catholicism as I do about Orthodoxy, as just a shred of background information.

I'm primarily concerned about what happens when you bring kids into the picture (although knowing that we would have to get married in an Orthodox Church and forgo a Catholic Mass is already enough to break my heart). We would both take a vow to raise children as our respected religions. Not "I vow to raise children kind of ____." And that's the issue I have.

We both practice what we believe to be the truth. The thing about the truth is that it's uncompromising. That's what makes it truth. But it seems that no matter what, there is compromise to be made...

He says we wouldn't be the first to do this and promises that we will make it work. But I don't want my marriage and children's faith lives to be "something that works" I want these things to flourish and be sources of joy. I want to stay home and raise my kids and take them to daily Mass with me and celebrate Easter and teach them about saints that have influenced my life. How could I not?

He said that we could both find good people of our own religions to be with, but he would like us to be together. But I don't see how. He has talked about going to each other's services on Sunday, but I don't see the use. Neither of us has expressed any interest or openness to conversion. And I can't imagine how hard it would be on kids to watch their parents practice separate religions. That seems like it adds a ton of difficulty on the faith formation process.

I am planning on taking your insights seriously and passing them along to him, too. I don't have a strict request for your responses. Just anything that you would like to share or weigh in on with either/both of us would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.
Posted By: Anna

Re: Moving Forward on a Catholic - 09/03/14 04:20 PM

I have known couples in the same situation (one Catholic/one Orthodox) who have found a home in the Eastern Catholic Church. This allows the Latin Catholic to remain in communion with Rome and the Orthodox the opportunity to practice (in this case) the Byzantine faith.
Posted By: Orthodox Catholic

Re: Moving Forward on a Catholic - 09/03/14 04:22 PM

Well, I've had several Catholic-Orthodox marriages in my family history - and none of them worked.

The only thing that saved them was when one side, usually the side that wasn't as pious in their faith as they other - did convert.

I know a Russian Orthodox fellow who is very open-minded and well-educated. He is also well-versed in a lot of western Catholic spiritual texts. The idea of becoming an EC etc. he would consider tantamount to treason etc. And the Russian Orthodox don't have a history of Eastern Catholicism like, say, the Ukrainians do.

In the movie, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" (which was filmed, BTW, in my parish Church of St Nicholas) depicts a fellow who does become Greek Orthodox. But he only does that since he didn't have a well-defined religion/culture of his own.

And ultimately, even if one sees Orthodoxy, as I do, as the same as Catholicism, minus the Pope, the fact remains that the two are out of communion with each other. For me, religion and culture is one. If I met a Ukrainian Orthodox woman who was very dedicated to her faith and HAD to marry her, would I become Orthodox? Yes, I would. I wouldn't become Greek Orthodox, or Georgian Orthoox - but Ukrainian Orthodox, yes.

I know he won't convert (the very name conjures up nasty history for the Orthodox).

Personally, I would recommend you go back to the dating scene, but with Catholics as committed as yourself.

That will save you a good deal of grief later on, even though you may experience such grief now for a time.

Alex
Posted By: Peter J

Re: Moving Forward on a Catholic - 09/03/14 08:57 PM

Alright, but I think the pertinent question here is: what if the Catholic party wants to stay Catholic and the Orthodox party wants to stay Orthodox?

My answer to that, personally, is that they should not have to be both-Catholic or both-Orthodox in order to be married.
Posted By: Orthodox Catholic

Re: Moving Forward on a Catholic - 09/03/14 09:16 PM

Originally Posted by Peter J
Alright, but I think the pertinent question here is: what if the Catholic party wants to stay Catholic and the Orthodox party wants to stay Orthodox?

My answer to that, personally, is that they should not have to be both-Catholic or both-Orthodox in order to be married.


Yes they should. Do you have any personal experience/friends who live in such a married relationship (with children)?

I think not.

Alex
Posted By: Lester S

Re: Moving Forward on a Catholic - 09/04/14 01:33 AM

I don't know about both being the same as an absolute necessity. What is necessary is a meeting of the minds. I know Abbot Nicholas had chimed in about his parents: Father was Eastern Orthodox, mother being Roman Catholic.

There was also this talk about such an arrangement, at one of the older OL conferences Jack Figel has been putting together. There has to be a communion of commitment of the kids coming first. Even when parents are of the same faith, their individual backgrounds and upbringings will invite some issues, either way.
Posted By: Orthodox Catholic

Re: Moving Forward on a Catholic - 09/04/14 09:44 AM

But at least the entire family may attend the Sacraments as one family, rather than have some attend in one parish and others attend elsewhere.

If the Churches allowed for inter-communion, there would be no real problem.

The family that goes to Communion together, keeps their hearts in union together . . .

Alex
Posted By: theophan

Re: Moving Forward on a Catholic - 09/04/14 10:45 AM

Christ is in our midst!!

I have no experience of Catholic/Orthodox intermarriage, but am the product of a Catholic/Protestant family. I have to agree with Alex from my own experience--which I do not hold out to be universal.

Our outward expression was in the Catholic Church, but our home was absolutely devoid of any expression of faith so as not to rock the boat. We did not have our rosary or missal until fifteen minutes before departing for church and they were immediately taken from us when we arrived home after Mass. Any extra reading or inquiry was challenged--again so as not to become too Catholic. We went to Mass on Sunday and confession irregularly; no extra services or public devotions. My siblings and I were not welcome to stay in our grandparents' home, unlike our cousins, because we were Catholic. Just a thumbnail glimpse, but things were not conducive to growing in the Faith.

Bob
Posted By: Peter J

Re: Moving Forward on a Catholic - 09/04/14 07:28 PM

Originally Posted by Orthodox Catholic
Originally Posted by Peter J
Alright, but I think the pertinent question here is: what if the Catholic party wants to stay Catholic and the Orthodox party wants to stay Orthodox?

My answer to that, personally, is that they should not have to be both-Catholic or both-Orthodox in order to be married.


Yes they should.

Before responding I have to ask: when you say "they should", you're saying that they should have to be both-Catholic or both-Orthodox in order to be married, right?
Posted By: theophan

Re: Moving Forward on a Catholic - 09/04/14 08:21 PM

Originally Posted by Peter J
Originally Posted by Orthodox Catholic
Originally Posted by Peter J
Alright, but I think the pertinent question here is: what if the Catholic party wants to stay Catholic and the Orthodox party wants to stay Orthodox?

My answer to that, personally, is that they should not have to be both-Catholic or both-Orthodox in order to be married.


Yes they should.

Before responding I have to ask: when you say "they should", you're saying that they should have to be both-Catholic or both-Orthodox in order to be married, right?


No, they can be married in the Orthodox Church, according to ecumenical agreements already in place. That's so that the Orthodox party may remain in communion with his/her Church. The Catholic party obtains permission from his/her bishop and it's become rather standard practice to give it. What he's saying is that the "pull" that appears in this situation can make things very difficult, especially since both parties must sign commitments in their own Church to raise the children in their respective faith tradition. Makes for a difficult situation at the get-go as Alex has pointed out from his own family experience.

Bob
Posted By: Peter J

Re: Moving Forward on a Catholic - 09/04/14 10:08 PM

Previously on TBF (okay, I admit that was cheesy blush grin):
Me: they should not have to be both-Catholic or both-Orthodox in order to be married.
Alex: Yes they should.

I don't see how to read that other than as saying that they should have to be both-Catholic or both-Orthodox in order to be married.
Posted By: Orthodox Catholic

Re: Moving Forward on a Catholic - 09/05/14 03:26 PM

Originally Posted by Peter J
Previously on TBF (okay, I admit that was cheesy blush grin):
Me: they should not have to be both-Catholic or both-Orthodox in order to be married.
Alex: Yes they should.

I don't see how to read that other than as saying that they should have to be both-Catholic or both-Orthodox in order to be married.


Dear Peter,

Yes, as Bob said, no one is saying that it CAN'T be done, only that it will cause problems.

Two of my friends, one Catholic and the other Orthodox, the former not very practicing, the latter VERY devout, fell in love but didn't know what to do. The Orthodox woman wanted to not only be married in her Orthodox Church but to raise her children there too. She was constantly in tears.

Their priests were of no real help to them, sad to say.

So they asked ME to be the arbiter! (Can you imagine?).

After they caught me as I was trying to run away from them, they sat me down and asked what they should do.

Seeing that she was very devout and he wasn't, I suggested to him that he consider joining her Church.

He didn't care, so he became Orthodox by going to the priest in confession, saying the Nicene Creed without the Filioque and then promising to be faithful to the Orthodox Church.

They got married, have children and she always thanks me for my advice.

Again, he doesn't care . . .

I didn't force him to become Orthodox, I only suggested it since, as noted, he didn't care.

Otherwise, I would have told her that there were other fish in the Orthodox sea etc.

Alex
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