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I will only add on a personal note that after following my own spiritual program for a while on my own and then with a spiritual father (who was a Greek-Catholic priest), it became abundantly clear over time that I wanted to follow Christ as a Greek-Catholic. I do not in any way regret either that decision or my period of discernment.

God bless,

Fr. Deacon Daniel

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Although I appreciate your advice, I just want to change my religion, not become a monk. I have real issues with some of the beleifs and practices of Roman Catholicsm, including the view on marriage and sex as solely for procreation. The beleif in Purgatory, debt owed for sins already forgiven, and the merits of the saints. The DL really makes a big spiritual impression on me and gives me peace.

I really have no connection to any priest but still go to the NO mass every Sunday. I'm sure if they talked to me they would try to get me to stay RC (I understand that this is their job so I don't fault them for trying). My real problems with RC started when a priest told me what the Church required for someone to be made a saint. I was shocked and had a lot of psychological troubles after that. A lot of the things he listed such as

1. Did you eat and drink only what is necessary to sustain yourself
2. Was your bed too comfortable and did you only sleep as much as was necessary to sustain yourself.
3. Did you mortify your flesh

When I realized that I was no where near doing stuff liek this and had no real interest in doing them then I started to have problems. I thought that God would hate and punish me for not wanting to be live a dour, ascetic, lifestyle. The whole thing messed me up so bad. All I want is to try and be a good person (which I daily struggle to do). This priest hurt me big time. He also said that it was an occasion of sin to date a girl or even be alone with an unmarried women. I kept feeling that God was trying to command me to go back to this priest and that he would visit all kinds of punishments on me for not doing so.

The Orthodox have priest like this too but they are, on a whole, much nicer and they don't scream and threaten punishemnt like traditional RC's do.

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Robert,

For the sake of clarification, the Catholic Church does not say that marriage and sex is ONLY for procreation. A cursory reading of the major magisterial documents and pastoral letters would reveal this. Sex is sacramental and has two primary meanings in marriage: generative (life giving) and unitive (love giving).

Secondly, a belief in "purgatory" (the mystery of our purification at/after death) need not be reduced to what you present here.

Thirdly, I'm not sure of the source this priest was using for "becoming a saint." Certainly not all priests (in any jurisdiction) are perfect or offer the best advice in these matters. I do not fault you at all for asking it or for the priest's inadequate response. But one has to be discerning with where one goes for such advice. And in certain traditional circles, there is still some residual (and at times blatantly heretical) Jansenism, which poisons so much of the spirit. Proper Christian asceticism is not the same as puritanism/jansenism. christian asceticism affirms the goodness of created being (the body, sexuality, food, etc) whereas puritanism/Jansenism deny the goodness of created being and wrongfully identify the Pauline understanding of the "flesh" with the body.

Coupled with all this Jansenism often follows an obsessive scrupulosity, which paralyzes the heart and mind, fixating on avoiding vice and not on growth in virtue and holiness. Eventually one sees sins where no sins exist.

Such rigorism also exists in the East, but in different forms and in various groups.

I'm glad the DL makes an impression on you and gives you peace. It does the same for me as well!

What is clear, though, is that you have not been given an authentic experience of the spiritual richness of the Latin Catholic West, which is not uncommon and which is also most unfortunate.

I pray that God gives you the wisdom and guidance you need to make the right decision.

God bless!

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Originally Posted by Robert K.
I have real issues with some of the beleifs and practices of Roman Catholicsm, including the view on marriage and sex as solely for procreation.
That is not what the RCC teaches--it teaches that "unitive" end of sexual union cannot be properly fulfilled if the procreative end is deliberately blocked.


Originally Posted by Robert K.
The beleif in Purgatory, debt owed for sins already forgiven, and the merits of the saints.
Most of us ECs have some problem with these doctrines--as they are typically presented--as well. The Union of Brest allowed us "not to discuss" such matters, which can be taken to imply that other Catholics might do the same.


Originally Posted by Robert K.
My real problems with RC started when a priest told me what the Church required for someone to be made a saint. I was shocked and had a lot of psychological troubles after that. A lot of the things he listed such as

1. Did you eat and drink only what is necessary to sustain yourself
2. Was your bed too comfortable and did you only sleep as much as was necessary to sustain yourself.
3. Did you mortify your flesh
All I can say here is that this priest certainly isn't typical of RC priests--even "traditional" ones. If someone is at the point in his or her spiritual life where it is good to begin practicing the degree of mortification this priest is describing, this needs to be discerned together with an experienced priest or spiritual advisor. The Holy Spirit may be calling a soul to do all these things--or none of them. To say that this is what the Church "requires" for someone to become a saint is irresponsible and a sign of ignorance.


Originally Posted by Robert K.
... He also said that it was an occasion of sin to date a girl or even be alone with an unmarried women.
Well, dating certainly can be an occasion of sin, but that is not the same as saying it is an occasion of sin. As for being "alone" with a person of the opposite sex, there are so many different possible circumstances that can fit this category as to render it practically meaningless. The key is to understand chasitiy as something that flows naturally from charity, not as a series of prescriptions and prohibitions.


Peace,
Deacon Richard

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Deacon Richard:

From what Robert describes and that you have responded to, I'd have to ask if he was involved with some fringe group and not the Church. I've been around for a long time and NEVER heard such advice from any of my spiritual fathers or confessors. I have heard of some groups in the Church that border on cults, but that's a whole different story, too.

In Christ,

BOB

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Originally Posted by theophan
From what Robert describes and that you have responded to, I'd have to ask if he was involved with some fringe group and not the Church. I've been around for a long time and NEVER heard such advice from any of my spiritual fathers or confessors...
BOB

Ditto. It sounds like a Saturday Night Live caricature. We only have Robert's side of the story but it's certainly very bizarre to say the least.

Were I aware of a priest who put himself out as a spiritual director/catechist and was talking like this I would be contacting the episcopal vicar for priests of the diocese. There are certainly parish priests out there who have zero pastoral skills, sadly, but nobody should be getting spiritual direction, or any other counseling from them. Having no pastoral skills and putting out wild "teachings" are two different things, however.

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Robert-

Originally Posted by Robert K.
I really have no connection to any priest but still go to the NO mass every Sunday. I'm sure if they talked to me they would try to get me to stay RC (I understand that this is their job so I don't fault them for trying).

The Orthodox have priest like this too but they are, on a whole, much nicer and they don't scream and threaten punishemnt like traditional RC's do.

I'm so glad to hear that you are getting to Mass weekly to give glory to God and to receive God's mercy in communion with His people. It has sounded like you were not going to Mass or Divine Liturgy anywhere.

I cannot picture any of the RC priests I've had as pastors (and one recent year when we were without a parish priest and we had more than a dozen priests taking turns celebrating Mass with us and hearing our confessions during those many months) seeing it as their role to talk someone into remaining a Roman Rite Catholic. You don't bully people into a deeper communion with our Lord. There's a difference between being held accountable in spiritual direction and being bullied. I can imagine a good spiritual director giving the kind of advice folks have given here. (You do clearly have seriously distorted ideas about the teachings of the RC/Latin Church, as several folks here have indicated.)

Given the issues you have had with both Catholic and Orthodox priests perhaps you'd do better with a female spiritual director. There are excellent women both in Catholic and Orthodox communities very capable as spiritual directors.

John mentioned that good monasteries are spiritual hospitals. Indeed! They're a good place to contact about a local spiritual director. A qualified spiritual director will also recognize when there are mental health issues that need the added care from someone with those skills. Given the various ways you have felt deeply harmed by clergy you may need that kind of help also. A qualified spiritual director could help you clarify that.

Under His mercy- Mary Louise

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Quote
threaten punishemnt (sic) like traditional RC's do


Robert:

Christ is in our midst!!

You seem to be scrambling traditionalist priests with the ones formed since Vatican II. I have had contact with dozesns of clergy in dioceses all over my own state and have never run into a "fire and brimstone" man in over 40 years. Most are really laid back and have been trained to allow people to talk, to struggle, and to make mistakes. The whole attitude is one of welcoming and reconciliation. If you've been involved with the sects that seeme to be Catholic you might find this because many of their members are filled with a lot of anger over the direction the Holy Spriit has lead the Church in the last two generations. I fear you've been mislead by some of these fringe characters and they have done spiritual damage to you.

In Christ,

BOB

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Again, Robert needs to find and meet with a good spiritual father (or mother). His issues are not in deciding between Catholicism & Orthodoxy (quality of the Liturgy, questions on marriage, purgatory, other specific issues, etc.) but are quite different. His discussion of those issues here keep him (maybe purposefully) from addressing the real issues with his spiritual father. The answers given here will not matter, as he will find reason to reject everything. We should all advise him to meet with his spiritual father and leave it at that, otherwise we help lead him astray.

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This priest was with the FSSP and stationed in the Kansas City area. I left his community after his last sermon but, to my knowledge, he is still the pastor there. He was affiliated with the RCC archdiocese and his masses were licit. The local clergy seem content to let him be so that he can act a s a sort of "dust bin" to collect up all the laity they see as troublesome (I'm guessing). I have talked to numerous priest since my attendance there and they were all in complete agreement that he was off the wall in his teachings.

It was a real shock for me to encounter him as well. For years I had wanted to go to a TLM but, when I finally did, it shocked me to hear what was going on. When I tried to just passivly bring my complants up to some of his flock, they acted as if I was the one with problems. I was really afraid that I was involved with some type of cult by the way the priest and his people were acting. The nightmare of what I experienced is still with me unofrtunatly and it really, really messed my mind up.

It really shocks me that the local RC archdiocese would allow this FSSP cult to exist in their midst and not even care about what was going on. They know, believe me, they know about this.

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I too had problems with some of the things you mentioned- Purgatory especially. After speaking with an Eastern Catholic priest on this I felt much more comftrable. I would suggest speaking with an Eastern Catholic Priest.

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I don't think the FSSP are a "cult". In San Diego we have a parish served by their clergy and I have a friend who is the organ player there. I have read an article written by a FSSP priest speaking on the liturgical importance of traditional forms of worshi[ and he speaksof the Eastern Liturgies in a positive light. I don't think we can judge a priestly society on one bad apple. I pray for God to grant you peace and enlightenment.

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Thanks. Please pray for my peace of my mind.

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