You said your mother was Catholic and your father was Methodist. And that worked out well? I'm only afraid to get married because I don't know what to do about our children. I know Catholics have to promise to raise them Catholic. But is it so wrong if I prefer to raise them in both and let them decide for themselves later on? I don't see how it would be allowed though, since they cannot be baptized or confirmed in both churches. I've heard before, and you mentioned it too, that Protestants are not to do anything that would interfere with a Catholic's (of children of a Catholic's) faith. Why is that? Going to other churches isn't detrimental to my faith. If anything, it strengthens it. Maybe I'm wrong about this, but it seems like the Catholic church is afraid that if its member are exposed to something else, they will leave the church. Almost as if the best way to keep people in the church is to keep them ignorant (ignorant isn't really the best word, but I think you get my idea). After all, life is full of tests of faith, isn't it? Doesn't God Himself test us? Isn't that what strengthens us?

You had said "Protestant worship tends to appeal more to the emotions, while Catholic worship tends to appeal more to the intellect." It has been the opposite, at least for me. My parents are both Lutheran, but my mother's family is mostly Catholic. I would go to church with them sometimes and I thought it was so beautiful and intricate and emotional and meditative. That's what turned me onto it the first time. But then I realized I wasn't really learning anything. I was ten years younger then, though. I belong to the Missouris Synod, which is very traditional. Recently, more Lutheran churches have started offering "contemporary" or "praise" services, but I'm not really a fan. Especially not with my boyfriend, since he's very much used to the traditional syle of Mass. Those contemporary services do appeal much more to the emotion, I would say.

You said attending Protestant services "has also given me insight into the Protestant Faith that many Catholics lack." I really admire that of you. Many Catholics like to lump all Protestants together and say they ALL deny infant baptism, the True Presense, etc., and therefore they are OBVIOUSLY dumb.

The idea of intercession to me is just...odd. I understand that the Bible says to pray for each other and lessen each others burdens. But God is our Father. If I wanted to talk to my earthly father, the only reason I would have someone else talk to him for me was if I was afraid. But we shouldn't be afraid of God, should we? And how do we know those in Heaven can hear us? How could Heaven possibly be a paradise if the ones there are constantly bombarded with what goes on here on earth?

I understand what you said about the mediator thing. But not really. I mean, I've heard it before. But it just seems that if you're going to say that Mary is so important because Jesus came through her, then wouldn't Mary's mother Anna, and her mother and her mother, deserve the same recognition? How do you draw a line? You said, "These doctrines have never given me trouble.  To be truthful even before I studied theology I accepted them because they seemed so common sense to me." If you read the Bible on your own, would you have come to the same conclusions? I know I would not. But I suppose you might say "that is merely your interpretation." And I couldn't fault you if that's what you truly believe.

I don't understant the virginity thing. Why do Catholics say it is more "pure" to remain virgin? God obviously designed humans for sex. And it's part of the sacrament of marriage, so how can it be "impure"? Or is it part of that redemptive suffering thing?

Sorry to be a bother with so many questions. If you're busy, you don't have to answer.


ANSWER: First: when a Catholic marries a non-Catholic, the obligation to raise the children Catholic falls on the Catholic party.  The non-Catholic party makes no promises and has no obligation except that the non-Catholic party must allow the children to be raised in the Catholic Faith and not be a hindrance to it. The obligation to raise the children in the Catholic Faith falls to the Catholic party.  The Catholic must ensure they are taking the children to Mass, etc.  

I was always raised Catholic.  I was baptized Catholic, and I was a Catholic who attended a Methodist Church with my Father, not a Methodist who attended a Catholic Church with my mother. My parents ALWAYS ensured that I went to Mass, even if I was still going to Methodist Church on Sunday. Mass was never an option, but attending the Methodist Church was optional.  If my Father worked on a Sunday for example, and I wanted to go to the Methodist Church my mother would take me, but she would then pick me up and take me to Mass after the service.  I think when I was an adult had I chosen not to be Catholic but a Methodist my parents would have respected that---but they were going to make sure I was raised Catholic and practiced the Catholic Faith until I was an adult. (18)

Here is my point: Your spouse MUST ensure that he is taking your children to Mass.  If you all wish to attend a Lutheran Church together that is fine---but Mass cannot be optional.  If at some point your children decide they want to be Lutheran, that is their choice, however your spouse has the obligation to ensure that they are raised in the practice of the Catholic Faith.  Again, Mass CAN NEVER be "optional" for your children.

In my case, what began to happen in the Methodist Church was that I began to notice differences between Catholics and Methodists.  For example the Methodist Church allowed me to receive Communion, but the Catholic Church did not #because I was not old enough.#  I remember running around in the Methodist Church telling everyone I received my First Holy Communion, because I took communion at the service, and no one knowing or understanding what I was talking about.  I liked the Methodist Church because they let me receive communion while the Catholic Church did not.  I started to dislike the Catholic Church even more so because of it.

As we continued in the Methodist Church I started asking questions as I began to notice more and more differences.  As a result my Father left the Church and stopped taking me to the Methodist Church and we all went as a family each week to the Catholic Church.  Though we joined a different Catholic Church and I liked that one a lot better than the other Catholic Church we had been going to.  

In your case as long as your children are getting to Mass #even if they don't like it--I didn't like it either.  I hated my parents for making me be Catholic when I was a child--I used to fight with my poor mother over going to Mass, and I would purposely misbehave because I hated being there--and now look where I am!  God works in mysterious ways does He not?# that is what is important.  They can go to the Lutheran Church, they can be involved in the Lutheran Church. #I was involved in a lot of Protestant churches as a child because of the rest of my extended family like my grandmothers.  #Both are actually Lutheran.# Your children MUST go to Mass.  If you can agree to that, and ensure that your children receive their Catholic formation #CCD, Sacraments, etc.# you should be fine.  

You are correct however: your children could not be baptized and confirmed in both Churches.  I was never baptized by a Methodist, nor confirmed in the Methodist Church.  Again, I was always a Catholic who went to Protestant Churches, not the other way around.  Obviously this is something you and your spouse will have to talk about.  The reality is this: If your spouse loves Catholicism as much as you love Lutheranism, it should not be surprising why he would want to raise the children in the Catholic Faith.

Notice what my Father did when I started asking questions.  He eventually left the Methodist Church.  Why? Because the practice of the Methodist Faith was starting to become detrimental to my Catholic Faith. I was getting confused. He promised not to do anything that would be detrimental to my Catholic Faith and he kept that promise. Had he not done so, I might never have been ordained a Catholic priest and studied Theology as I have.  

The Catholic Church is analogous to a spiritual mother.  Just as a mother has the duty to protect her child from danger real or perceived, so too does the Church have the duty to protect her spiritual children from danger real or perceived.  This is why the Church is concerned with Catholics who marry non-catholics and attend their Church, and wants to ensure that attendance at a non-Catholic Church, or marrying a non-Catholic will not harm the Catholic Faith of the Catholic party.  Just as a mother wants to pass on life to children, so too does the Church want to pass on the Spiritual life of the Catholic Faith to her spiritual children.

This is why offspring of a mixed marriage must be raised Catholic #or at least the Catholic party must promise to do all they can to ensure the children are raised Catholic.#  If someone really and truly believes that the Catholic Faith is the True Faith, and it is good to be Catholic, why would that person NOT want #in fact INSIST# that their children be raised Catholic?  We are called to put our Faith above all else, for our Faith is in God.  God comes before all else.  I consider Protestants fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and therefore Christian.  I consider them well intentioned people who are God fearing and love Jesus.  At the same time I cannot deny despite the common beliefs we do hold, that I believe them to be mistaken on certain doctrinal points which are not unimportant. Probably most Protestants would take the same view of the Catholic Church---at least if they are reasonable.  

Thus, it is not that the Catholic Church is trying to control her members, or prevent them from having different experiences of worship.  The Catholic Church is a mother trying to protect her spiritual children from spiritual danger real or perceived.

I am not saying one cannot have an emotional experience of worship in the Catholic Church, I am simply saying that the worship is not designed towards producing an emotional effect, it is designed to appeal to the intellect.  That is why if Catholic worship is actually done according to what Vatican II really called for, there will be lots of smells, bells, and Chant.  Your average run of the mill parish #including my own# does not actually celebrate the Mass according to the intentions of Vatican II. To be sure they celebrate the Mass with permissible options, but not ideal options.  

I do not think Protestants are stupid at all.  In fact I have read many works that present a formidable argument for things like Scriptura Sola, Fide Sola, etc.  I have also read some good critiques of the teaching of the Church on Papal Infallibility. While the works are well written and well researched, nevertheless I find Protestants fail to grasp subtle nuances in Church teaching, and that they read all of our doctrines in isolation from everything else which is why they cannot grasp them and find them so difficult to believe.

The doctrines which define Protestantism also come out of the Nominalism prevalent at the time of the Reformation.  The Catholic church presupposes moderate philosophical realism, or full blown realism in her theology, while Protestantism presupposes a Nominalist philosophy in their theology. This in part is why our theologies are not compatible.  This is why for example that Protestants fail to grasp that the Sacrifice of Christ was accomplished once for all, yet mystically made present in the celebration of the Mass.  This is also a text book example of why you find it so difficult to grasp the idea that the saints and Mary can intercede for us in light of the fact that the intercession of Christ is present in them.  

We do not ask the saints to intercede for us because we are "afraid" of God, but because they are another avenue through which the Father recognizes and receives the intercession of Christ. Being saved, the merits of Christ, and the life of Christ are present in the saints.  They are thus an extension #so to speak# of the intercession of Christ.  

If I read the Bible on my own would I have come to these conclusions?  OF COURSE NOT!  Being able to come to these conclusions presupposes years of theological and philosophical study.  However---honestly ask yourself: would you come to the conclusion that God is three, yet one, a unity in nature, threefold in personhood, persons which are co-equally God?  I think not.  Neither would I.  Thus, the idea that a reading of the Bible would not lead me to my theological conclusions isn't saying much.  

The Bible was not written as a handbook of theology, but as a testament to the deeds, works, and words of God in the history of salvation.  It is not necessary to profess a perfect theological doctrine in order to be saved, it is necessary to know Christ. That being said, it is certainty desirable to know as much as possible about our Faith so we can professes it and live it proudly. However, this is also why Catholics implicitly trust that what the Church teaches will lead them to Christ.  Not everyone CAN understand the mysteries of Faith on the same level, but everyone can follow and recognize the authority of the Church.

Mary's Perpetual Virginity is twofold:

1)  Jesus is the Only Son of the Father in his Divine Nature, and in his Humanity Jesus is the only son of Mary.  In other words the doctrine protects the uniqueness of Jesus as Only Son.

2)  The doctrine stands as a witness to the life of heaven where we are like the angels who are neither married nor given in marriage. Marriage and human sexuality belong to this world only.  They do not have a place in the eternal life of heaven because they are no longer necessary.  I am sure you can agree in our sex saturated world why holding up Mary as a Perpetual Virgin to tell us about our eternal destiny would be desirable.

You have to remember that Catholic teaching is that Mary in her human life experienced in their fullness the promises of redemption.  Mary lived the life of heaven here on Earth which is why she was virginal.  Sex and human sexuality are not a part of the everlasting life of heaven. Mary is unique in the order of redemption because she and she alone was the God Bearer in the biological sense.  We are the God Bearer #as the Baptized# only in the spiritual sense.  Mary therefore was specially privileged.   

This does not require her parents, or grandparents, etc, because the singular grace belonged only to Mary.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi there!

You had said, "If your spouse loves Catholicism as much as you love Lutheranism, it should not be surprising why he would want to raise the children in the Catholic Faith." You're right, I would not be surprised if that were the case. But what makes his wishes more important than mine? However, he does NOT love Catholicism as much as I love Lutheranism. He thinks he loves it. But he doesn't believe in all of its key components. He doesn't believe in Transubstantiation, adoration of the Host, or Papal Infallibility. He doesn't believe in Apostolic succession, or more minor things like the Assumption of Mary, her perpetual virginity, or that she is the co-redemptrix (I'm not even sure if that one is an official teaching, but I know it's widely believed among Catholics). That is what is sometimes frustrating to me. If he knew all (or at least most, since there are so many) teachings of the Catholic church and fully believed in them, I would at least value his devotion to them. And I would easily agree to disagree. People can't always help what they believe to be true. But it isn't like that. The way I see it, Papal Infallibility and Apostolic succession (even if the Eastern Orthodox also claims it), and partly Transubstantiation (although I think a few other denominations also might believe in it) are what sets Catholicism apart from all other Christian denominations. If he doesn't believe in the authority of the church, he is essentially a Protestant at heart. Is that correct?

About this promise to raise the children Catholic. My mother was Catholic, my father Lutheran. They were married in my mother's church, so of course she had to promise to raise her children Catholic. But she left the church not long after and became Lutheran. Years before I was born. Obviously, I was raised Lutheran. Did my mother do a terrible thing, in the eyes of the church?

I wouldn't have a problem taking my kids to Mass. But, as I'm sure you understand, I would like them to be baptized and confirmed in my church. I would be going against my conscience if I did otherwise. But it's my understanding that my husband would be punished by his church if he allowed that? It seems unfair to guilt me into something, as clearly I wouldn't want him punished on my behalf.

I asked if reading the Bible on your own would lead you to those conclusions, only because you said they were common sense. Not because I think "Bible-only" is the best way to go.

I wasn't asking specifically about Mary's virginity. I was more asking why the Catholic church believes virginity is more "pure" in general. On the subject of Mary, though, she was not an angel, and she was married, so I don't see how her living the life of Heaven here on earth can be true. And she obviously suffered greatly here on earth, watching her Son be murdered. I think Heaven would be too happy of a place for that.

God bless,

ANSWER: In this case---it isn't the wishes of your future spouse that are in question, but the requirements of your future spouse's religion that are in question.  

If you and your spouse seek the Sacrament of Marriage in the Catholic Church, there are certain requirements and obligations that go along with that.  That is the way it is. Your future spouse must promise to do all in his power to raise any offspring Catholic.  If he cannot make this promise that is respectable, but I would suggest your future spouse do some hard thinking about his own values and beliefs and what it means for him to claim to be Catholic.    

Catholicism is not something a person claims, and then defines for themselves what that means. I am not judging your spouse.  I am not saying questions are not allowed to be asked.  What I am saying is this: I respectfully ask your spouse if he rejects certain teachings of the Church, and if he cannot make the promise to raise the offspring Catholic, what is it that makes him remain Catholic?  If his beliefs are more in line with Lutheran teaching, why not simply join the Lutheran Church with you and raise the offspring Lutheran?  Why be a Catholic?  What is the point?  I am not raising these questions to be judgmental, I am raising them as reflection questions that you might want to discuss with each other.  If Catholicism is not that important to your spouse, why is he Catholic?  You are right: he THINKS he loves it.  What exactly DOES he love about Catholicism?  From what you said it does not sound like much.  That is fine--but why does he remain Catholic, and why it is important for him to have a Catholic wedding?

With regard to the religion your children will be brought up in, you cannot have it both ways.  Either your children will be Lutherans who attend a Catholic Church from time to time, or they will be Catholics who attend the Lutheran Church from time to time, but they cannot be both.  With regard to a Catholic wedding, if you and your spouse expect to receive the Sacrament of Marriage, your spouse has to feel comfortable making the promise to raise the children Catholic, and keeping that promise as my father did.  If he cannot, fine.  But you would have to face the consequences of that choice, namely, that you could not get married in the Catholic Church---at least if the priest is like me and holds people accountable to the obligations of their Catholic Faith.  

I respect Protestants very much, but Catholicism means something to me.  I am Catholic for a reason.  It is not for convenience sake, it is not because I was raised that way, or my parents think it is a good idea.  I am Catholic because I BELIEVE IT, and ONLY for that reason.  If for one minute I thought the Catholic Church had it wrong I would leave: Priesthood and ministry be damned! I would give up my very ministry in the Priesthood if I thought the Church had it wrong, for if the Church had it wrong, what does the Priesthood mean?

For my parents the situation worked because raising me Catholic was not an issue for my father.  He was content to have me be a Catholic who attends a Methodist Church.  Apparently this IS an issue for you.  This will be something you and your spouse are going to have to work out together.  Your spouse sounds more Lutheran to me than Catholic, so maybe he needs to consider becoming Lutheran. If he does not want to, why not?  What does Catholicism mean.  Again, it is TRUE to say that the doctrines about Mary, or the saints, etc are not central, but on the periphery.  At the same time it does not follow that they are irrelevant.  I dare say people if given the choice would prefer to have the use of their full eyesight rather than just being able to see what is directly in front of them!

The "Co-Redemptrix" belief is a belief not officially defined by the Church, but it is not officially condemned either.  That places the belief in the category of "Heterodox" belief.  Catholics are free to defend the teaching, or free to reject it as they see fit. The "doctrine" of "Limbo" falls into this category. Usually teachings in this category eventually become officially taught by the Church or officially condemned.  What causes this is usually some controversy that effects the whole Church regarding the teaching, and therefore forces the Church to take up the question and pronounce a judgement.   

However consider: the doctrine of "Co-Redemptrix" does NOT place Mary on a par with Christ.  All it says is that Mary #and by extension# the Church cooperates with God and has a role in the redemption of the human race.  The Catholic Church ALWAYS has taught that Christ's mediation is primary, that of Mary and the Church SECONDARY.  Mary and the Church in fact have no intercessory power or redemptive power apart from that of Christ.

Think of it this way: Just as the sin of the first Eve paved the way for the Sin of Adam and therefore the fall of the human race, so too the "Yes" of Mary #The Second Eve# paves the way for the "Yes" of the Second Adam.  Just as the Fall of the human race happened with man and women working in consort, so too the redemption of the human race takes place in the same manner.  

The Church as the Bride of Christ #Revelation 12# the type and model of which is found in Mary is the Second Eve.  The "Yes" of the Church continues to pave the way for the "Yes" of the Second Adam, for the Church is the "Mercy Seat" the means by which God continues to bestow his saving graces upon the world.  If the Church is the new Ark of the Covenant, then it is the Church through which Christ mediates his Graces to the world. Therefore the Church that is "Co-redemptrix" for the Church mediates the merits of redemption to the world, the merits that Christ has won and placed within the Church.  #The Church is an extension of the intercession and mediation of Christ for Christ is in the Church, which is his Body.  This makes the Church/Mary "Co-Redemptrix."#

Seems pretty open and shut to me.  I predict eventually the Church will define Mary as "Co-redemptrix"  When and how?  Who knows, but I do believe we will see an eventual definition.  

You are absolutely correct when you suggest that your spouse is a Protestant at heart.  That is why I suggested that you and he have a talk about your Faith, and whether it might be better for him to give up the name "Catholic" and just embrace Protestantism.  You are absolutely correct: what makes the Catholic Church Catholic is Apostolic Succession, Holy Orders, Transubstantiation, and Mary.  As I said these doctrines have more or less importance in reference to central things like the Trinity, Jesus saves, etc, but that does not make them irrelevant.

As far as your mother, I cannot judge her.  The choices she made with regard to her religion are between her and God and no one else.  It is not for me to say your mother is terrible, but at the same time it is not for me to say your mother did a great thing.  Your mother's choices are your mother's business, not mine and not anyone else's.  Those choices are between her and God.  Your mother is however to be commended for passing on her Christian Faith to you.  She may not have passed on the Catholic Faith, but she did pass on the Christian Faith along with her love of Jesus Christ. In the end that is what really matters I think, and perhaps that is what really matters to God.  I cannot speak for God, but perhaps that is what he will judge your mother on.  Your mother gave him another child of the Father by introducing you to his Son Jesus.

The Church does not "punish" your spouse for not agreeing to raise the children in the Catholic Faith.  The Church holds him accountable for the obligations of his Faith, and takes his choices seriously.  We respect your right and his right to raise your children in another Christian denomination.  However the right you have to raise your children according to the dictates of your Conscience does not imply an obligation on our part to endorse that choice through the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. You have your rights, but we also retain our rights.  You have the right to exercise your rights, but so do we. I do not see this as punishment but mutual respect and accountability for choices.  

IF you don't think "Bible Only" is the best way to go, what makes you Lutheran?  You do realize that is one of the twin pillars upon which the Lutheran #and subsequent Protestant churches# are founded upon? I had a friend of mine who is a Lutheran pastor ask me once "Why should I become Catholic....and don't tell me 100 reasons why Scriptura Sola is unbliblical...why should I become Catholic?"  I regret that I never said to him "But your whole denomination is FOUNDED upon that!  It SHOULD matter to you if it is Biblical or not!" Whatever I said it I know I didn't say anything meaningful!  

The Catholic Church to my knowledge does NOT teach that Virginity or Perpetual Virginity is more pure.  The Church teaches that the call to Virginity is a higher calling than marriage PRECISELY because marriage is good.  Those called to virginity sacrifice fulfilling their natural human desires for the sake of God and His Kingdom just as Jesus did.  In other words Virginity is a more perfect way of following Christ, for Christ did not have a wife or family.  How can one go wrong by conforming their lives even more closely to that of our savior?

Applied to Mary, Mary was so much filled with the life of God that her life from the first moment of her conception #thorough a singular privilege and Grace of God# was in total and complete conformity to that of Jesus her son.  Christ is a Virgin, Mary is a Virgin.  It has nothing to do with being an angel, but with how closely one's life models Christ's life.  

When I say Mary lived the life of heaven here on Earth what I mean is that she lived the LIFE OF CHRIST.  Part of that life involves DEATH, and SUFFERING for the sake of the ones you love so that THEY may have life.  Jesus tells us that we must "Take up our crosses and follow after him, lest we cannot be his disciples." The cross is REVELATION of what it MEANS to be God, specifically a revelation of how we are to LOVE God, and what that love entails.  

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------


I must thank you for your patience with me. You are so kind.

If him and I were to get married, it would not be in the Catholic church, for the simple fact that both our families are very traditional and prefer to marry in the bride's church. He is fine with that.

However, it is my understanding that in order for the Catholic church to recognize him as a married man, he would need the proper dispensation beforehand. Of course, I do not wish for him to be looked down upon by his church, so I would like comply with their rules, as long as I don't have to sacrifice my own faith. One of the requirements for dispensation, though, is his promise to raise the kids Catholic. He also is demanding that they be Catholic, aside from the church's requirement. Therein lies the stumbling block. Like I said before, if he were truly a devout Catholic, I could tolerate our kids being raised in the church. But he isn't. I don't mean to undermine his faith in God, because he is very faithful. He goes to church every weekend, and I know God is important in his life. But as far as actually being a Catholic I think he falls short. I don't think that's necessarily bad, but why should we send our kids to classes to learn things that neither one of us believes?

You asked me why he is Catholic. He is Catholic because he was raised Catholic, his family is Catholic, and he'd never been to any other kind of service until he went with me. But even before that, he had his beliefs. I don't think any of them have changed because of me. I think he stays Catholic because it's what he's always done and it's comfortable for him. I get the sense that he didn't have a great education in the Catholic faith growing up, and the finer points are not always addressed at Mass.

You asked why he doesn't want to become Lutheran. For one, I think he fears judgement from his family. Also, it would mean him taking classes in order to be a Communicate member. He doesn't like in-depth Bible study. He thinks it's very overwhelming and that just loving God should be enough. Although I'm happy that he recognizes God as most important, I think that learning more about SOMETHING, either Lutheran or Catholic or both, would do him much good.

Last time we were together, he did not go to Mass. Like always, I would have gone with him if he wanted to. But he said he didn't feel the need to, since we went to Lutheran service on a Saturday night and he said it was still keeping holy the Sabbath. I didn't press the issue. He also asked me later how the Bible was compiled, and I told him the New Testament was compiled by the Catholic church. He said "how do we know they didn't keep some books, or throw out others as part of a political agenda?" Such a Protestant thing to say!

Although I have no opinion either way on the "Co-redemptirx", I thank you for your explanation. I do wonder though, why does the Catholic church place so much importance on parallels between the Old and New Testament? The Old Eve, the New Eve, the Ark of the Covanent and the Ark of the New Covanent. It just seems a bit...presumptious, maybe. As if God must conform to the Bible, instead of carrying out His own will.

I think you misunderstood what I said about Bible-only. I believe it is perfectly fine to use only the Bible as a basis of all teachings. I didn't mean that it is best for everyone to read the Bible on their own and NOT discuss it with others. Although I think it can work, and the Bible alone (with the Holy Spirit, of course) can lead a person to faith, I think it is better to be in Communion with other believers.

About virginity, I still don't see how Mary lived the life of Christ if she was married. But also, Adam and Eve were made in God's image, so they lived like Jesus up until the fall. But they were sexual beings even before their sin, right? God created their bodies for reproduction from the very beginning, didn't He?

Also...DID Mary die? I haven't been able to find any clear Catholic teaching on that one. How could she die if she didn't sin? Was she assumed after death, or taken up to Heaven alive, like Elijah?

God bless,

I get what you are saying about your spouse, and I did not get the point before.  I understand your point and it is a very good point. It is one I think you and he need to have a serious talk about: Why does he demand that your children be raised Catholic when he himself does not believe many of the doctrines which are distinctly Catholic?  Why is a Catholic wedding important to him? I agree with you. Why should you send your children to CCD class to learn things neither of you believe?  Why indeed?  That is a conversation you should have with him.  Your point is well taken. Again, it seems given his beliefs that the Lutheran Church is a better fit for him given the person he is marrying.  

He can get married in the Lutheran Church as far as I know with a dispensation.  But you are right, there is still the issue of the promise. First of all, I don't know why you would think your spouse would be "looked down upon" by the Catholic Church if he marries outside the Church.  It isn't an issue of "looking down upon" someone.  It is as I said: your spouse has the right to run his life as he sees fit, he has the right to believe as he sees fit.  He has the right to make choices he feels best for himself and his family.  At the same time the Church also has the right not to impart her blessing upon choices that she feels are unwise for her spiritual son.  This is just like parents must always support and love their children without having to impart their blessing or formal support for the choices their children make which they feel are not good choices.  I continue to try to get you to understand that Catholics see the role of the Church in the lives of her children very differently than Lutherans.  For Catholics the Church is a Spiritual Mother.  Perhaps Lutherans do not see the Church in this manner. In any case it is not a question of looking down upon, it is a question of giving our blessing on something we do not agree with.  We cannot in good conscience do that.

It is very possible your spouse did not get a great Catholic education when he was growing up.  Many Catholics today are very poorly educated in the Faith.  There are many reasons for this, but it is something the younger generation of priests recognize and are trying to remedy.  I would suggest that while it is acceptable to be Catholic because one was raised that way, it is better to be Catholic because one believes it to be True.

How do we know the Church did not keep some books of the Bible or throw out others as part of a political agenda?  Well, how do we know the authors of the Bible didn't suppress the fact that Jesus really was married to Mary Magdeline?  How do we know the authors of the Bible didn't invent the story of the resurrection? Did Jesus walk on water, or did he just know where the stones were? Something Protestants have never grasped is that an attack on the Church leads to an attack on the Bible, and visa-versa.  You cannot have one without the other.  They are intertwined.  

Thus, if your spouse feels the Church purposely disregarded books of the Bible as part of a political agenda, it won't be long before he starts asking questions about whether the Bible itself is a credible and authentic witness to the deeds of God in the history of humanity.  And actually what your spouse said is not a Protestant thing to say at all. It is exactly the charge that folks like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens make against Christianity.  It the stuff of the Davinci Code, the stuff of Conspiracy theory.  Look at the first 300 years of Christianity.  The Church was under persecution.  Do you really think these people are going to die for a mere political agenda? If one believes in God, and one believes that God is Jesus, and one believes that the Church is his Body, it is not a logical leap to believe that he guided the Church as she set the Canon.

This is another fundamental difference between Protestants and Catholics: Catholics implicitly trust the Church, Catholics do not sit in judgement of the Church, Protestants interpret the Church with a hermeneutic of suspicion and do not implicitly trust the Church.

Why does the Catholic Church place so much emphasis on Old Testament vs. New Testament parallels?  Because the Old Testament and New Testament are the Word of God.  They are that which is Theopneustos. #God Breathed.#  The Old Testament is not irrelavent.  The Old Testament was a preparation for what was to come in the New Testament. The imagery and types in the Old Testament are very important for understanding what is going on in the New Testament.

As for Mary, true she was married. One can be married and not engage in sexual relations.  It is for a normal couple unusual, but I am sure you can agree that Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were not you average family. Adam and Eve were created for reproduction and indeed they reproduced.  Jesus body had the capacity for reproduction but he did not reproduce, the same with Mary.  Our sexuality is NOT our identity, it is only a SMALL PART of who we are.  This is the mistake modern society makes by making human sexuality the end all and be all of everything including marriage.  If anything Jesus and Mary reveal that our human sexuality does NOT define us as human beings but is only a small part of being human. Mary is not a Virgin because sex is bad.  Mary is a Virgin because sex is good, her calling was to a higher state. Jospeh was the protector of the Holy Family, foster father to Jesus, and Mary's earthly husband.  Mary however was the spouse of the Holy Spirit.  She belonged totally to God, and therefore Joseph did not know her in a sexual way. Though Mary was the husband of Joseph, Mary did not belong to Joseph in that way.

There is no official teaching on whether Mary died.  The doctrine of the Assumption of Mary simply teaches that Mary was assumed into heaven body and soul.  It does not answer the question as to whether Mary tasted death.  Catholics are free to form their own beliefs regarding that. Though given that Jesus died and he was sinless, it seems fitting that Mary should not be exempt from death, even if she was assumed into heaven.


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Father Dave Bechtel


I am a Catholic priest in good standing and in active ministry in the Diocese of Scranton PA. I can answer most any question about the Catholic Faith, however my area of specialization is Systematic Theology. Systematic Theology is a branch of theology that focuses on the fundamental tenants of the Faith and the Dogmas of the Faith. I have specialization on the Reformation and Catholic vs. Protestant theology/issues and answering Protestant challenges to the Faith.


I was ordained in June of 2008. Since that time the thrust of my ministry has been specialized. In my first assignment I was an assistant pastor. A year later I was sent to work in education. I spent six (6) years in education and have now assumed my first pastorate. While education was the thrust of my ministry, nevertheless I continued to have a hand in parish ministry, hospital chaplaincy and prison chaplaincy. Now that I am out of education I will obviously be focusing more on parish work than specialized ministry. I have two years of formal Clinical Pastoral Education and prior to ordination I successfully pursued Board Certification for health care ministry through the NACC. My certification needs to be renewed and I plan to seek dual certification in health care ministry (NACC and APC) when I renew my certification. I have a breadth of experience working with Protestant ministers and collaborating with them to achieve the goals of hospital pastoral care and chaplaincy. These ministers run the spectrum from the liberal to the conservative.

Bachelors of Science-- University of Scranton PA Masters of Arts Theology--- Saint Mary's Seminary and University Baltimore MD Masters of Divinity--- Saint Charles Borremeo Seminary Philadelphia PA Board Certified Chaplain (up for renewal)

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