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wavering C of E - tending towards RC - any advice/thoughts?

(18 Posts)
HouseOfHorrorMum Wed 28-Oct-09 22:08:17

OK so this may be a rambling post. I have attended church off and on throughout my life. I lived in an area where there was a lovely C of E church, quite "old-fashioned" in a good way - formal sung Eucharists but still (mostly) welcoming of families/younger people. Moved to an area with relatively new churches nearby - they are lovely people, and I could get along with them all in a social club kind of way but it doesn't feel like "church". Daft things like when exchanging the peace - in old church you turned to the people either side, possibly in front or behind. Here it's a 5 minute free-for-all of wandering around and hand shaking, bit of a chat as well. Ruins the idea of preparation for communion to me. Also, there has been a bit of flag-waving which is all getting a bit happy-clappy for my liking.

Anyway, I have friends and relatives who are RC, and when I have been to their services, it has all seemed a lot more meaningful.
Can someone please tell me the main differences in Catholicism? And what would be involved for me & the kids if I converted?

Also, I am in my second marriage - my husband and I were both married previously. Does that mean that in the eyes of the RC church I am in mortal sin as a second marriage is not valid? Or the fact that neither was a Catholic wedding mean that it is possible to start with a "clean slate" - would I be likely to be always judges? (DH and I have been married 8 years, I have DD1 from previous marriage)

I also have this nagging feeling that people would assume if I did convert it would be for the secondary school - the best school is the RC one, although we are in catchment for the one that is close behind, and DD1 had places offered at both schools but we took the non-denominational one as it was where she felt happiest.

(Can I also confess that the first time I went to an RC service and they rang the bells I wanted to giggle - the phrase "bells and smells" went through my mind - is that another fast-track ticket to hell for me?)

I have a few issues with some Catholic teaching as well - I do not agree exactly with abortion but can see there are (very few) circumstances where it may be understandable even though I could never do it. Contraception is a big one - I do feel angry that in countries where people are struggling to feed their families, people feel that they cannot use contraception.

Any thoughts and promptings would be much appreciated as I keep coming back to this question.

HouseOfHorrorMum Wed 28-Oct-09 22:12:55

Oops, that was a VERY long post - sorry and hope someone reads it!

biffandchip Wed 28-Oct-09 23:15:40

As a RC who sporadically attends church I would probably suggest you have a chat with the parish priest who would be able to discuss any of your concerns or perhaps link you up with a parishioner who assists on the 'conversion courses' that they no doubt run. I don't know anyone who has converted so not sure what the process is. hth

AMumInScotland Thu 29-Oct-09 10:45:27

I think there are a number of issues there, and you'll maybe need to separate them out any weigh them up before you can decide.

Which is more important to you - theology or how the services are carried out? You are obviously not comfortable with the way in which your current local CofE churches do their services, and like the RC ones better. If it's about how the service "feels", then switching denominations to find one which you like better is certainly an option.

But, and sorry if this sounds horribly critical, I don't think the essence of a religion or denomination ought to be the outward parts, but the core of what you/they believe.

There is a lot of common ground between CofE beliefs and RC ones, but there are also quite a few differences - abortion and contraception are the very public ones, but there are also things like transubstantiation, and where the soul comes from. If you haven't looked very much into the details of the CofE theology on these things, then you may not be aware of the differences - or bothered about them - but the two sets of beliefs have enough differences that it's not just a question of whether you like "bells & smells" or overhead projectors and arm-waving.

I'm not sure if there are any books or online resources which detail the differences - I'm aware of enough of them to know I'm not going to switch away from being an Anglican, but not much more than that!

I believe that if you have been confirmed in the CofE, then you would go through some classes and then a service to mark your conversion to RC. If your DC are baptised but not confirmed yet, they wouldn't need to do anything specific, though they might be an age where they'd be expected to do preparation for communion, or confirmation classes.

I think you'll see as wide a spread of opinion about divorce and remarriage as you would in any church - some might argue that your non-RC-church first marriages didn't count anyway, others that they did and you were in the wrong for remarrying, others still that some marriages end for various reasons and the important thing is to confess your faults in the matter and move on.

Schools - well some people might think that, but if you keep going to church long after the application is done and dusted, you'll prove them wrong, won't you?

MaryBS Thu 29-Oct-09 19:35:43

As AMIS said. There is RCIA - rite of christian initiation for adults, which you can explore the RC faith, and then at the end you can decide whether to become a RC, if you are serious about switching.

tvaerialmagpiebin Thu 29-Oct-09 19:42:36

I think you just need to find a different Anglican church.

Priest friends describe the Anglican church as being like a candle, the higher up the candle, the more "Catholic" the style of worship and theology become. At the bottom of the candle you have the evangelical-style churches where there is a lot of emphasis on the Word and perhaps few communion services, you would typically have more extempore prayer and fewer services with a fixed liturgy.

Worship is a matter of personal taste, yes, but it also provides a window on to how you iew what goes on behind the hymns.

ZZZenAgain Thu 29-Oct-09 19:44:33

I think the C of E is a good church and that there is no need for anyone to run from it. However you write, "I keep coming back to this question" and for that reason, I would consider making an appointment with the parish priest of the RC church near you and talking to him in order to investigate whether this is a prompting you should indeed follow up - or not.

If you were to convert, you would first go through a lot of talks, in the course of which he would want you to bring up your doubts/issues that trouble you. Only after a certain period of time and regular church attendance and probing of yourself would it ever be an issue whether you should actually convert or not.

babyicebean Thu 29-Oct-09 20:11:49

Big difference is transubstantiation - which is when the host and wind actually become the body and blood.Catholics beleive that is does become the Body and Blood whereas C of E (I think) beleive it is a representation of.

Also Cathoics beleive that the Pope has direct authority from Christ.

Best thing is to go talk to your Parish priest as he will be able to talk through options with you.

woowa Thu 29-Oct-09 20:34:56

The biggest difference between them is what they teach on how to be saved (aka have a relationship with God/be sure of going to heaven) The RCs have, over time, added to the Bible's teaching, whereas official CofE doctrine has stuck to the bible (and it was mainly on this point that the CofE was started in the first place, so it IS a big difference)

CofE: To be saved you put your faith in Jesus Christ and his death on the cross for the forgiveness of your sins. You can't make up for your sins yourself, and however hard you try you will fail. When you believe in Jesus and his death you are forgiven, forever for past and future sin (=rebellion). God loves you unconditionally as his child forvere. Jesus' death is sufficient for your salvation. This is the fee gift of God to his children = grace.

RC: You put your faith in Jesus' death, but the sins that you commit in the future still count against you. To get rid of them you have to go to confession/take eucharist/do penance/say a certain number of prayers (as far as i understand). The emphasis is on what YOU do to make things up to GOd, rather than on what Jesus did on the cross. IMO this makes Jesus' death less valuable, and takes away from His glory. It also goes against the Bible's teaching, which attributes our salvation entirely to Jesus' work and not ours. This is why RC is often seen as guilt inducing - the emphasis is always on what we have done wrong and the need to make it right.

I hope that made sense - please ask questions if not.

So, should you change churches? My advice, and i mean this humbly though i know it won't look it in writing, is to please not join the RC church if you want you and your family to understand the wonder of what Jesus has done for you. Go on an alpha course, or a christianity explored course at a church near you (both have websites telling you where you can find a course) which will explain the true meaning of christianity, hopefully without wrapping it up in empty religion. I hope you find a church, whether CofE, or free church, or baptist church, or whatever, which points you to Jesus.


morningpaper Thu 29-Oct-09 20:47:53

I very much disagree with woowa's take on things and there is no salvation-by-works in catholicism

It is a shame that there are so few churches around where you are. It sounds as though you could do with a high-anglican (or anglo-catholic) church which has catholic worship but is within the anglican church. Ask around and see if there is one nearby. Some anglican churches don't even DO the sign of peace because they think it detracts from the eucharistic prayer.

Yes your previous marriages will be a large problem. You aren't allowed to take communion until your previous marriages have been dissolved. While an individual priest can ignore this, I've personally always felt that it's a bit mean to make him do so. That will mean going through the annulment process for both of you to try and persuade the church courts to invalidate your first marriage, and then having the second marriage sacramentalised (repeat your vows in front of a priest). The annulment process is not guaranteed - you will need to have sound reasons why your previous marriage was not valid. And during this period you are not supposed to have sex. <wags finger>

SO if you think you can cope with that, then that takes you onto the catholic issues themselves. Yes there is the contraception thing but most catholics feel rather ambivalent about that. The more important thing is whether you want your children growing up in a church that takes a VERY hard line on gay people and women in the priesthood. That would be the crux of the matter for me. Benedict is going to be in charge for a considerable period and will do a lot of damage on these issues. While cradle-catholics gnaw their arms off and hang in there, this might be harder for you.

I think those are essentially the issues but I think you are right that the litergy itself resonating with you is very important. If that is something that you feel you need, then the above issues may be able to be overcome.

HouseOfHorrorMum Thu 29-Oct-09 21:23:03

Hmm, I think I need to do a bit of searching around to see if I can find high-church Anglican, to see if it is more to do with the outside "trimmings" ie the service style.

MP - sounds like a great excuse not to have sex - how long can I keep that one going for...? I could maybe try to persuade someone that my first marriage could be annulled as he strayed first (and I suppose I wouldn't have looked elsewhere if he hadn't) but DP would have no excuse blush

Transubstantiation - again not sure, I was brought up to believe that the bread and wine became His body & blood, but they were just words (we had monthly communion at my middle school, so the words of the service were imprinted in my brain). How far do I believe they become that? I don't know, but to me it is more than just a symbolic passing-round of a cup (except not even that with swine flu! What does your local church do? - in ours the vicar takes the wine on our behalf).

How acceptable is it in general to just go along to an RC service (obviously not taking communion) - I'd hate to feel like I was "not from round these parts". (I know every church could be different depending on the people, I've felt like an outsider at CofE before, but just in general)

morningpaper Thu 29-Oct-09 21:30:34

It's absolutely fine to go to an RC service - just take a book up with you and hold it in front of you at communion time and they will give you a blessing instead - it's very common. When I say book I mean the missal or something obviously, not Are You There God? It's Me Margaret or anything...

HouseOfHorrorMum Thu 29-Oct-09 21:50:54

So not "The God Delusion" or "The Da Vinci Code" then?

Actually, thanks for saying that as in CofE you don't take anything with you, you put your hands behind your back, but am I right in thinking that some/all RC churches would put the wafer in your mouth if you did that?

morningpaper Thu 29-Oct-09 21:52:12

Yes you are right on all counts!

TheFallenMadonna Thu 29-Oct-09 21:56:47

Fold your arms in front of you and bow your head for a blessing.

I am wavering in the opposite direction, being a life-long RC who has had enough of gnawing off her arm...

morningpaper Thu 29-Oct-09 21:58:11

<evil voice>
come on over to the light side

TheFallenMadonna Thu 29-Oct-09 22:02:06


It makes so much sense, it does. I should be an anglican, I know. But I think there will always be the potential for the twitch upon the thread...

MaryBS Fri 30-Oct-09 08:19:34

As many of you know, I became an Anglican just over 3 years ago, having been born and bred RC. Personally I think there is something to be said for salvation by good works AND by grace alone, you can justify both in the bible. The way I reconciled it is that I don't do good works to be saved, I do them because I love God and because of my relationship with Him. As James says, I think faith without works is dead.

But I can confirm there ARE Anglicans who believe in transubstantiation, my own vicar is one. Part of the reason it was so easy for me to "swim the Thames" (as its called, Anglican to RC is called swimming the Tiber), was because his beliefs were so Catholic (RC or AC take your pick).

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