Some questions

(21 Posts)
Stargazing25 Thu 04-Feb-16 09:25:49

I have recently started working in a catholic school. I must admit that I feel something stirring in me and a need to start embracing a faith. It's a lovely feeling that I can't really describe.

I was baptised in a Congregational church and over the years have dipped in and out of Christianity, not really finding the right church for me.

I had my children dedicated in what I thought was a nice Baptist church. The minister turned out to be a paedophile and was quite publicly jailed in the states having committed crimes over there. shock This put me off for a while.

Anyway, I don't really have any experience of Catholicism but I am intrigued. I'm wondering whether to try out Catholic Churches. Would I even be accepted into the congregation as a non Catholic?

There is also quite a nice C of E church nearby that I have been to.

I would also like my children to go to church. However, my husband is an atheist and would probably not support this. My children also have commitments on a Sunday.

I think I would like my children to be baptised 'properly'. Is a dedication valid or would they have to be baptised in another church?

Could I attend church on other days rather than Sundays? I know the Catholic Church has a mass on Saturday evenings. Would this be suitable for children?

Sorry, a bit rambling. Feeling a bit confused at the moment.
Thanks for any answers.

niminypiminy Thu 04-Feb-16 10:18:49

That's lovely to hear that you are feeling the stirrings of faith, stargazing.

Anyone can go to a Catholic church - you won't be able to take communion unless you've been received into the church, but you are welcome to attend services. Most Catholic churches will have a special children's church, and children are often involved in the services as servers. I don't know whether this would happen at Saturday masses (I'm not a Catholic myself). Go along and see! Talk to people in the pews and ask them about it, or ask the priest. They are normally delighted to welcome new people!

If your children have been dedicated they have not yet been baptised at all, and they could be baptised in a Catholic church (or CofE, or Methodist, or any other church that will do baptisms of children - some baptist and independent churches only have adult baptisms). All baptisms are valid in all churches - so wherever they are baptised any other church should recognise this.

The best advice I can give you is to try going to church, and see how it goes - whether that be a Catholic church, or a Church of England church or whatever. I hope that you will find something that speaks to you and helps you to feel God's presence, and that you (and your children) will be warmly welcomed.

Stargazing25 Thu 04-Feb-16 11:36:53

Thank you so much for your lovely response niminy. You've been really helpful flowers

FrancisdeSales Thu 04-Feb-16 11:56:40

Stargazing I am Catholic and the Saturday evening Mass is considered the vigil of Sunday so therefore is the first of the Sunday masses (so a Catholic can fulfil their Sunday obligation by attending on a Saturday evening). Catholic parishes vary in size and congregation. For example parishes in London can be very big and diverse with a very international congregation, and a number of masses on Sunday while a small rural town may have a small locally born congregation.

The liturgy and the scripture readings will be the same in all Catholic churches. Most Catholic parishes will have mass every day and many devout Catholics who are able attend church daily.

If you have questions about what Catholics believe, as well as asking a priest or parishioner you can borrow a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church from a Catholic Parish or your local library.

If you are Catholic you can enter any Catholic Church around the world and receive communion. Catholics have a strong emphasis on free will and freedom in your relationship with God (the Holy Trinity) and a universal unity of the visible body of Christ throughout the world.There is a rich and deep tradition of prayer available to all people.

Stargazing25 Thu 04-Feb-16 12:11:25

Thanks Francis. Useful information. Yes, we live in South West London/Surrey.

I might start by asking the person in charge of spirituality at my school or even try to catch the affiliated priest.

I can't see too much difference between c of e and Catholicism other than transubstantiation. I'm not sure I can get my head round this. I wonder if it's something all Catholics believe in? I haven't asked any of the other staff this for fear of it being an awkward question!

Fink Thu 04-Feb-16 12:23:18

If there are priests available, Catholic churches often have weekday Masses too. These are shorter and with less outward ceremony (music, incense etc.). As previous posters have said, Saturday evening Masses count liturgically as Sunday Masses. In terms of whether they'd be suitable for your children, children should be welcome at any service (although if you read any of the Catholic blogs you'll soon come to see that there's no guarantee you won't meet a grumpy curmudgeonly parishioner who growls at any hint of noise ... it's not normal and most people would be very welcoming) but some Masses will be more specifically tailored to them - since you work in a Catholic school, you've probably seen school Masses like this. Within an area, churches generally coordinate so that at least one parish will offer a Sunday evening Mass, one a Saturday evening, and a range of times across Sunday morning.

If you wanted to find out more about what the Catholic Church teaches, we run a course for adults called RCIA. In most parishes, this starts roughly in line with the school year in about September, although you'd have to check locally to find out. People are welcome to come without any commitment, whatever level of faith/questions/queries they have. There's generally quite a mixed bag of people who attend, from some who have definitely decided they want to convert to people who are just vaguely curious. In my parish we generally have a couple of people every year who are married to Catholics and don't want to convert at all but just want to know what their spouse believes.

You could also chat to Catholic staff in the school that you get on with and see if any of them have feelings about the local parishes, although it would be the same as taking other people's opinions on anything else - although the Church teaches the same thing across the world, there are differences in style of music, preaching and so on which (as far as a 'beginner' is concerned) are as much a matter of personal taste as anything.

Good luck with your faith journey. It's an exciting adventure!

niminypiminy Thu 04-Feb-16 12:27:55

Lots of people in the CofE (including, probably, me) believe in transubstantiation. In truth there's more in common than there are differences- though some of those differences are important. It's important to me that women can be priests (particularly as I'm training to be one smile). But that's off topic!

I think for most people (definitely including me) what happens during communion, and precisely how we encounter God in Christ through the bread and wine is something we'll never fully understand. And maybe understanding isn't the important point - it's that we meet with God, and through his grace we are helped to follow him and -slowly- become more Christ-like.

And the more important thing, for you, is to explore what's happening, and to go at your own pace. Faith is like a flower - it takes time, its own time, to bloom.

Anyway, I think talking to your school chaplain or the associated priest is an excellent idea.

Stargazing25 Thu 04-Feb-16 12:44:37

Once again, thank you all for your kind advice and explanations! Much appreciated!

singlemumbelfast Thu 04-Feb-16 13:20:07

As a child of a mixed religion family I had to reply to this! The Catholic Church is very very strict

My dad who has passed, was Catholic. When he died the priest would not allow him to buy a family plot in the graveyard

as he was dying from cancer he found his faith again and having a catholic burial was important to him

I was raised CoE and both are very similar but you can't get divorced as a catholic or get remarried and they won't let you receive communion

My dad is now buried on his own in a catholic graveyard. The CoE doesn't have as many silly restrictions

Fink Thu 04-Feb-16 13:23:41

All Catholics are required to believe in transubstantion (but you will often find some who are not very well educated and don't understand the teaching and either don't believe it or aren't sure), many Anglicans also do.

You won't see many differences between Anglicans and Catholics just from going to services (particularly in Anglo-Catholic churches) as the worship is very similar. There are far more similarities in what we believe and practise than differences - not only are we both Christians (so there are some things that all Christians believe) but we're also quite closely related in our histories.

One of the most obvious differences in belief is over authority. Anglicans have a broad Church with a lot of (legitimate) diversity in belief and practice. I'll leave actual Anglicans to correct/go into more detail on that ... as Catholics, we have a highly centralised system. Most visibly, we have the pope (although I won't go into it here, it's quite important to realise the very strict limits of papal infallibility), but also we have a very definite set of dogmas and doctrines that all Catholics should believe, as well as being quite clear on what things are matters for personal opinion. So when a Catholic says they don't believe in transubstantiation, for example, they are going against Church teaching; when an Anglican says they don't believe in transubstantiation, they are part of the Anglican Church tradition alongside people who do.

As niminy said, transubstantiation is a mystery and you're not expected to 'understand' it completely right at the start. In faith, you come to a partial understanding, and it's always fine to ask questions and study more, but the nature of God is such that we can never 'grasp' or fully comprehend.

I don't think the other staff would mind talking to you about it (although I can't guarantee that every single Catholic is a lovely welcoming indivudual who always wants to talk about deep theological issues at 8am!), but if you got the chance to meet the priest or school chaplain, they would be ideal.

Stargazing25 Thu 04-Feb-16 13:41:22

Thanks Fink!

Sorry to hear about your Dad Singlemum. X

Lovelydiscusfish Sat 06-Feb-16 19:12:08

Hi Stargazing, it all sounds very exciting!

Just to pick up on what you say about your children, if you do decide to introduce them to church, and they are keen, it might be worth seeing if any churches in your area have activities/services specifically for children. Messy Church is a good example - lots of churches of various denominations have this type of service, often monthly. It is very much aimed at children, and includes food, games, craft - except for a small section, not much like a real service at all! But it can be a good way in, especially for children and young people who aren't so used to the ritual of more "traditional" church. It's also often not on a Sunday! And there are lots of similar types of things with different names and formats. Many churches (as I'm sure you know) have websites of Facebook pages with this info.

I know you mentioned that this is something you'll need to discuss with your husband, who may have some issues with you taking them. Would he be happy with the idea of just giving them the option, no expectation, but just the choice of whether or not they'd like to try it out? This has always been my approach anyway - as it happens dd loves church at the moment (well, Messy Church, anyway).

Stargazing25 Sat 06-Feb-16 20:24:53

Hello Lovely,

Wow! I had no idea churches ran a messy church service! I know that the C of E near to us does a children's service once a month though. I will start investigating this.

My husband doesn't really mind what I do or take the kids to. He just wouldn't really want to go. He has even been along to services with me but has no religious belief so would rather not.

Thanks for the info!

birchygoo Mon 28-Mar-16 21:05:56

Stargazing I just had to comment on singlemumbelfast point. My grandmother was CoE and from England. Married my grandfather catholic from northern ireland. My grandmother never converted but had a blessing funeral and is buried in the catholic graveyard by our home which is a small rural village in northern Ireland. This was in 1990 and the catholic church has become more inclusive in my opinion. My grandfather was then buried beside her when he passed.
I enjoy my faith. I am not always the best practising but I find I'm always welcomed back. I don't agree with all of its teachings but there is no religion were I believe all teachings. I hope you have seeked out the questions you have had

GinandJag Tue 29-Mar-16 10:12:02

There are some brilliant CofE churches in Surrey/SW London.

Stargazing25 Tue 29-Mar-16 17:22:16

Ah! Thanks birchy. It's good to know the Catholic Church is becoming more tolerant (if that's the right word!)

I'm not that much further on really. I've been to a few Catholic churches and found them to be nice enough but services are very short in comparison with c of e.

I'm prepared to go through the RCIA but I'm a bit nervous about approaching a Priest. I don't really know why though. Our local priest doesn't seem very approachable.

Thanks again!

birchygoo Wed 30-Mar-16 03:02:18

Oh really that's a shame. It may be that he is really busy, shortage of priests does mean more and more workloads. It is definitely not like it was when I was a kid when the parish priest had time to visit everyone in the parish every other week.
Saying services are short did make me chuckle.... I doubt you would hear any catholic in Ireland saying that. They are more likely to say remember when mass was 30 min not an hr or I like fr such and such he says avquick mass grin
Does your chruch have a deacon? Seems to be common in church's here in England. Maybe theybare more approachable. Or is there a local webpage for the church, you could maybe email to initiate contact if you are hesitant to approach them. I've also noticed churches in England tend to have a particular service which after people will gather for tea.maybe that would also be a good time to get chatting to people.
I'm afraid I don't know much about CoE services so I can't help with them questions. Please do feel free to PM if there is anything I can help with.

Stargazing25 Wed 30-Mar-16 10:57:41

That's very sweet of you birchy! Thank you.

I think I will email the local Catholic priest. I feel more and more drawn to Catholicism, possibly because I'm in that environment at work.

Haha! Wow! Half an hour!! Yes, the cofe local church service is often over an hour and a half. I do like to hear a bit of a service which we you don't seem to get in the Catholic Churches round here.

GinandJag Wed 30-Mar-16 13:29:05

Working in a Catholic school would have seriously put me off the Christian Faith. Fortunately I was already strong in my faith as an evangelical Anglican. I used to get quite angry at school masses where they did not portray how exciting the Christian Faith is, and did not reach out to those children with little no/faith of their own.

Stargazing25 Wed 30-Mar-16 17:13:11

That's a shame Gin. I love my Catholic school. It's the best place I have ever worked!

GinandJag Thu 31-Mar-16 08:42:16

I loved teaching there but they didn't do faith very well at all.

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