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Spammer

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Folks. I'm sorry for my occasional rants. I'm just tired. That's all. I can be confrontational, only because I'm stuck in this horrible limbo of needing God, doubting that he exists, needing to be Mormon for my family, but incapable of believing that Joseph Smith was a prophet. It's like a trap and I've been in it for over a decade now. There doesn't seem to be any resolution apart from just quitting all religion permanently, but then my wife asks me to pray with the family. My need for God is reawakened with every request, but then I realize once more that I'm trapped. Despair sets in. My family needs me to be Mormon for them, to ordain my sons, to lay my hands and bless my wife. I can't do that unless I believe and I don't. So other men perform the ordinances and blessings, with me standing there awkwardly, outwardly smiling but inwardly depressed. LDS church meetings don't bring me any joy or comfort. Sometimes I go to mass looking for peace, but I have to sneak around to do it. God forbid my wife and sons find out. Catholics find great comfort and joy in going to mass, but I end up depressed since my family isn't there and I have to pretend that I didn't go. It would help if I felt God's presence there, but same as in the wardhouse for my entire life, I just don't. Sometimes I joke with my wife that if there was some kind of brain surgery that would make me believe in Joseph Smith and believe that I actually felt the spirit I would get it. Part of me isn't joking. Isn't that pathetic? What kind of life is that to sometimes wish to have your brain altered for the sake of family unity? My Catholicism and my wife's Mormonism seem to be incompatible. In my home it has to be one or the other, and my wife insists that anything Catholic stay hidden away. She gets to live her faith openly, I have to sneak around and pretend. I'm resentful. I try not to be, but it's hard not to be. Does she even care that I'm suffering? I know it's only because she's filled with fear, but is she really that frightened of my coming out of the closet as a Catholic? Where does that kind of fear come from? Was she socialized by her parents and church friends to fear what might happen to our kids if they find out daddy is a Catholic? Is her fear tied to being surrounded by a culture defined by the First Vision, abominable creeds, and Apostasy? Maybe I should just go back to atheism. It was easier back then to pretend to be something I'm not. I was really good at pretending to be a good Mormon, even teaching Sunday School classes and putting on a show, when in reality the night before I was out at the pub eating wings and knocking back pints with friends. I could do that when it was just me and my wife. She knew what I thought but still wanted me to go and pretend for her, knowing full well I was not a believer. You know, she doesn't want to be the one sticking out with the non-believing husband who isn't there on Sundays. "Poor Sister Spammer". You know how people gossip (my wife's words). But it's killing me to lie to my sons. They don't even know the mind of their own father. So they go to church, I keep my mouth shut, and then we load up in the car, mom asks what the lesson was, and my older son starts talking about how his Sunday School teacher talked about Catholics and how they pray wrong and think silly things about God, "like God's some kind of gaseous substance. Everyone in class laughed." Yea. Haha. That's why I haven't attended any church classes for 8 years. I just sit in the foyer. I don't trust myself. If I was in a class and heard that kind of crap I'd uncharitably let the teacher have it with both barrels. So, on the way home from church, when my boys talk like that, I just grip the steering wheel tighter and floor it. I'm lucky. I currently live in a part of the world where there is no speed limit on the freeway.

I came to this board to vent, I suppose. I'm sorry if I stepped on any toes.

Edited by Spammer
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Part of me isn't joking. Isn't that pathetic? What kind of life is that to sometimes wish to have your brain altered for the sake of family unity?
My sleep/movement disorder is a neurological one....all in my head so to speak. I'd have surgery in a second if I thought it could heal me for the sake of my family....and I don't have an enjoyable time after surgery. It isn't pathetic. It is a natural desire to want to be the best we can be for our families. I think few things hurt more than knowing we can't be but not really knowing why.
my older son starts talking about how his Sunday School teacher talked about Catholics and how they pray wrong and think silly things about God, "like God's some kind of gaseous substance.
This is so wrong. It saddens me when I hear of this happening. I would not hesitate to talk to the bishop about it if it was happening in my ward. I have been lucky so far that I have been in more tolerant wards...though perhaps I have just not been in the wrong place at the wrong time to hear something so wrong. Edited by calmoriah
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Spam, you are in a difficult place, but not a unique one. People of faith or those would wanted faith have been there since, I suspect, Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden and humanity could not longer see and walk with God. Wanting faith is such a valuable place to be; it is the beginning of surrendering ourselves and our will to God and taking his will for us as our own.

It is interesting that you are drawn to Catholicism when you don't feel the Spirit there. I have a deep, abiding respect for so much of what the Early Church Fathers wrote, the lives they lead as well as the writings of so many of the saints. Pope John Paul II was one of the greatest men I have ever studied. Truth is truth regardless of where it is found; that is an LDS teachings that is not commonly practiced or discussed in other Christian religions. Truth often becomes a possession that becomes owned by a church rather than something that is valued and belongs to God.

Communication, communication, communication is the only counsel I can give. If you are choosing to be Catholic, then explain it to your wife. If you are seeking the Spirit, then seek the Spirit wherever you find yourself. You have to arrive at a place in your relationship where you are honest with her and she respects your feelings and frustrations. As a husband that chooses to pursue another expression of faith, you necessarily choose to exclude yourself from all of the religious events that LDS people practice. If you are following Christ, all will be well. If not, your sacrifice will result in a great deal of pain indeed.

Consider your reasons for your pursuit of truth and your expression of faith in God. Study out of the best books, avail yourself of quiet contemplation, listen to uplifting music with your wife and family, study the lives of people of faith, and live a life today that is a reflection or emulation of the way of Jesus Christ. There is so much more to living one's faith or finding faith than just study and prayer. The scriptures don't always talk about God revealing himself when a prophet or individual was in prayer; they were on the road to Emmaus, on a mountain, in a cave, talking to church leaders, etc. You may not feel God in your prayers, but be assured that God hears your prayers.

I know you don't feel like it, but you are in a good place to begin a life of faith. Take one more step and only focus on the next step and you will find God and rejoice.

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My comment is not intended to belittle or shame you. Having been there, I wonder if

you have ever considered diagnosis and treatment for depression? If you are knocking

back pints, do you think there may be a substance abuse problem?

Bernard

Edited by Bernard Gui
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Hello Spammer...

I can't imagine having to live as you are... First, I think you need to sit down with your wife and have a really SERIOUS discussion about your feelings. Does she even understand how deeply this is affecting you? Why all the pressure on you to believe? You know, because of this pressure you can't even take the good from the meetings and enjoy the message... we have wonderful messages that can be, and are, an inspiration to anyone... wonderful principles to live by... why can't your wife leave it at that? Why can't you just let go of the feeling that you need to be a good Mormon, and just be a good Christian and relax and find some joy in living, including taking the positive and good things from the meetings. No wonder you are resentful. Are you actually a baptized member of the Church?

Second, I think you should schedule a meeting with the bishop and bring up your concerns about the way that teacher is talking about the Catholics... there's no need to denigrate another religion in that way, and he shouldn't be teaching the children to do so. He's no better than those of other faiths that mock our church and teach their children to hate or ridicule Mormons. We don't like it when they do it, and we shouldn't be doing it... speak up! That's how bigotry is taught...

It's 2:45 a.m. here and I was just coming in here on my way to bed to turn off the computer when I saw your post, and it nearly breaks my heart. My prayers will include you tonight... with the hope that you will be able to have an honest talk with your wife... this is making you ill emotionally and will take its toll physically. You can't have these feelings churning inside of you and be healthy. Do you fear bringing this up to your wife and her reaction? If so, she needs to counsel with the bishop about not fostering contention. I'm afraid I haven't said anything that is really helpful to you. I want so for you to be able to find the joy you seek...

Goodnight all... GG

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It is actually not a bad question, I was wondering about it as well. Due to a misdiagnosis of my neurological disorder, I was labeled a depressive and loaded up with anti-depressants (I went in there talking about my great fatigue, how I was sleeping 16 hours a day, but felt quite happy outside of the frustration of having live life that way. Anyway, I did eventually get depressed....from the drugs the doctors gave me to cure my alleged depression. Turns out it was the perfect medicine for aggravating my disorder which is why I have it so severely today....but I am getting off track of my purpose. One particular drug, Prozac, created a sense of black oppression in my head. I felt as if I was standing in the core of a mountain that towered above me and I could feel all that weight pressing down on me and all that stone isolating me from the world. I shortly noticed that I had lost the sense of the Spirit in my life completely. It was as if a thread that came out of the back of my head that tied me to God had been snipped (my mind works very visually). Thread gone, the words I was saying in my prayers were meaningless. And pretty much everything else seem to acquire that same meaningless even though I had the two most wonderful children ever born to delight me and a husband who was willing to sacrifice everything for our happiness but didnt have a clue how. I figure out pretty quickly that if I didn't find a way to open up communication with the Spirit my life was going to go into the tubes way too fast. So I figured since I couldn't find the Spirit inside, I needed to teach myself how to find the Spirit to lead me where I needed to be going because I had never felt so lost and alone....well, maybe during those horrendous teenage years. Somehow I manage to keep sight of the Spirit just enough, usually in an opportunity that present itself, friends that would make comments, most often listening to what my family said was like listening to the voices of angels if I put aside my preoccupation with what MUST be done and exchanged it with what should be done. I found little notes the Spirit had left me in books, his footprints were allover, I just had to use my eyes, ears and nose and some carefully considered question. By the end of the three years when I decided the risk of not being able to care for my children was finally less off the drug than on, so I stopped taking it and the sun rose again and the mountain of stone was blown away in the joy of actually feeling a cool breeze along the skin. That drug must have dialed down my body functions by at least a third, but I had survived because I found a new way of finding direction and it was in much more concrete and logic on the one side and much more spontaneous on the other if I felt the spirit was pointing me toward something that I had no clue about. I wish I had been a lot braver during that time of my life, but I was still convinced that my natural shyness meant the same as lack of confidence and fear and there were many times I should have taken a leap of faith and couldn't without actually being able to feel faith on which to place my feet to stand. I was introduce in greater depth to RRC about that time and fell in love with its expression. For those who live a visual life, who need concrete, solid forms around us to feel power and depth, it seems to all be there for us in the Catholic faith. If there has been a nearby church I could get to without driving, I think I might have started attending just to be among all those symbols of faith that seemed to me to be able to uplift me in ways that others could not. There is symbol in the LDS faith but it is subtle and quiet and it draws you inward to speak with the Spirit, not outward and that was a language that wasn't working for me at the time. The Catholics were just so much better at visually creating a spiritual environment. LDS speak of doing so though our actions and have the scriptures present and talking about spiritual matters, but when what was wanted was spiritual refuge to be alone in...one needs the temple for that and to get there I would have to drive with my husband (my drugs made so I could drive) and then sense of being there, alone and free to just experience was always replaced by a sense of duty. I've stolen this part of their mother away from them, I had to give them my full attention so that they wouldn't suffer unnecessarily.

I shouldn't have started this after I took my nighttime dose, I am having trouble keeping my train of thought and hitting the right keys.

All this wandering is to point out if you are lacking in one form of spiritual language you need to find the dialect that speaks to you whether it is just the stones of the building filling you with the stories of the lives that lived there before, lives like your own, the cathedrals where you step into them and are drawn up toward heaven just by breathing, It sounds like this might be a great need for you, take the time to consider your surroundings when you are at peace and then think how can I create this in my home. Create a little shrine with a meaningful picture on a table with a tray and candles, maybe incense and tell your wife you are meditating...I can find the lds.org article that encourages meditation, you can just find things to create a nonCatholic Catholic corner of your home, find objects that you view as interpretations of Cathoilc objects so your wife doesn't feel so threatened.

BTW, your wife may be afraid of losing you because the Catholic faith may provide you with something she can't with her lack of understanding of it. It is too bad she doesn't have a good Catholic friend that can show her so much that not only with respect we can share, but that we can encourage the other to grow in their faith because it is a value in both faiths at once. As you studying Catholicism and its symbolism, I think you may be able to find many ways to bring it into your life without disturbing your family, though personal fast days, by study daily litany in private and then perhaps prepare a prayer to share with the family based on the ideas taught that day. If you wish to wear a cross or a rosary, look around for something that can substitute that would be normal more or less in your home.

And if you can, try counseling so the two of you can learn the fine art of negeotiating without fear that if you give a bit you are somehow losing instead of creating together something that can work. You might want to find a support group that could give you a place to open up and be yourself and give yourself a good breath of fresh air. Blueadept has a Catholic/Mormon family, his wife encourage him to become more spiritual....likely with the belief this meant he would convert to LDS, but he surprised himself and became a devout Catholic. And now his wife who does see divorce as an option has left him and remarried someone in the LDS temple while he has committed himself to be her husband til death or beyond as marriage is as strong of a sacrament for Catholics as LDS, perhaps even moreso. He might be a very good resource if this is the walk in faith you need to take at this time.

For a year I took the Catechism to bed for nighttime reading, so impressed, so wish LDS has something really comparable, that is one of my holy envys. You can read it online even so if you don't want to upset your wife by having the book sit around. I wonder if your wife would consider reading it with you and discuss it to see if you could find commonalities as my friend who lent it to me did as well as some internet friends....got to stop the words are all blurry and I will probably just delete them in the morning as incoherent.

Bottom line, it seems to me if you could get a little creativity in your life you might be able to come up with some workable solutions that may not solve anything but might just put you into a position where you could try to solve something.Perhaps an exercise routine that finishes up by a Church where you can set aside some time to contemplate or have the mass. I am not saying deceive your wife, but if you structure so as to not interfere with her time with you, that she doesn't see anything she is loosing by you taking a few minutes out of the day to devote yourself to God, maybe she will open up to the idea.

God bless, the Spirit hears you even if you don't hear him, of that I know to the fiber of my being because nothing else could explain what happened to me so I choose to use not only the simplest explanation, but the only sensible one, :P

Edited by calmoriah
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I was born and raised a Catholic. If one of my LDS children came home with a "God is a gas" story I would be right on the line to the SS Pres, or the Bishop. That is NOT what I was taught as a little girl . Sunday School should not be serving baloney no matter how finely sliced. The Catholic church is not the worst place to worship. The faith I have now is deeply rooted in what I learned then, for faith is faith. Today I am a Latter -day Saint. Temple ready. I feel that it was a wise and enlightened decision to become a member. If I knew then what I know now I might not have gotten married to a confirmed atheist. You bet I know all about unequally yoked. I gave little thought to children because I was no longer young. Suddenly we had two! Himself and I had to iron out quite a few spiritual wrinkles. It takes time, tears, and toughness to hammer out a two way agreement that gives your children a whole view of their parents' differing spiritual views. Yes, I have ribbed Himself about believing that humans are some sort of fancy monkey, on the other hand he has gently reminded me of attributes of a Believer when I need it. Because Himself is a far better human being than I ever will be and because he respects my agency, we have made it work for 20 years. I cry alone in the temple. I cried when our son decided that he would follow Papa into unbelief. I will cry when our daughter is sealed without her devoted parent there. I can understand you wife's feelings, but I understand you too. I ask you to please stop tearing yourself in two. Be honest, be forthright. I hope your partner leads with her heart and not her worries. The institution/infrastructure of the LDS Church has not been good to me. It has been a struggle to overcome my total aversion to my ward and continue attending. But I do. Because I cannot deny what I know and can testify. Joseph was a prophet, the ordinances and covenants are real and necessary, the Priesthood is real. It is up to me and me alone to connect my family with eternity. It is my spiritual purpose. I hope you someday can find your spiritual purpose soon.

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Sometimes I go to mass looking for peace, but I have to sneak around to do it. God forbid my wife and sons find out. Catholics find great comfort and joy in going to mass, but I end up depressed since my family isn't there and I have to pretend that I didn't go. . . . In my home it has to be one or the other, and my wife insists that anything Catholic stay hidden away. She gets to live her faith openly, I have to sneak around and pretend. I'm resentful. I try not to be, but it's hard not to be. . . .You know, she doesn't want to be the one sticking out with the non-believing husband who isn't there on Sundays. "Poor Sister Spammer". You know how people gossip (my wife's words). But it's killing me to lie to my sons. They don't even know the mind of their own father.

It shouldn’t really be like that. Your wife should be willing to accept you for what you are, and you accept her in the same way. You shouldn’t have to live your faith in secret.

Does she even care that I'm suffering? I know it's only because she's filled with fear, but is she really that frightened of my coming out of the closet as a Catholic? Where does that kind of fear come from? Was she socialized by her parents and church friends to fear what might happen to our kids if they find out daddy is a Catholic? Is her fear tied to being surrounded by a culture defined by the First Vision, abominable creeds, and Apostasy?

There may be an element of that responsible for her attitude. There used to be in the LDS Church a culture of mistrust of Catholicism, which thankfully has since been largely dissipated; but traces of it may still remain in the culture and upbringing of some Mormons, and your wife may have been influenced by that. The solution to that is to first try to have a frank conversation with her about it, and explain your predicament, and that you don’t feel it should be like that. More importantly, it is not necessary from the LDS Church’s point of view that it should be like that. She is not following any Church policy, or even unwritten social norm to act in that way. She has just been ill-informed.

If talking to her doesn't solve the problem, then suggest to her that the two of you should go and talk to her bishop about this, and explain to him your situation, and ask his advice; or if the bishop does not seem very helpful, to talk to the stake president about your problem. I can assure you that it is not an LDS Church policy or norm that your wife should act towards your religious belief in that way, and you will find the bishop and/or stake president sympathetic to your predicament and helpful. If your wife refuses to agree to this suggestion, then you should tell her that if she is not willing to accompany you to seen the bishop or stake president about this, that you will go and talk to them about it yourself—whether she likes it or not. You need to put your foot down, and insist. Talking to your local Church leaders about resolving such personal problems is a perfectly acceptable practice in Mormonism, and there is no reason why your wife should refuse to agree to that suggestion. And I think you will find them sympathetic to your situation and helpful.

Edited by zerinus
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This is a very tough problem, but there is a way out - my experience is that it is not the way you have been doing it which is incredibly painful. I am glad you have been able to talk to your wife and she is aware.

Where do you want to be and what are the conflicts you feel in duty? What are your fears? What do you feel guilty about?

What specifically is your wife afraid of?

What kind of community do you live in?

You can be a Catholic and not drink (or an atheist too) out of respect for your wife and your mutual decision to raise your children as LDS. Do you still agree with that decision?

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I am not as keen on talking to the bishop as others. It depends on if the bishop is really trained or skilled in handling these types of relationship issues. I am not saying inspiration does not exist, but rather that this is a relationship issues, not a spiritual issue. If you guys know a good marriage counselor that could assist you both discuss your issues. A few opportunities to listen to a third party provide some improved listening skills and good/proper couple negotiating skills would be helpful.

Of course, nothing beats having two people that can talk things out calmly and intelligently; however, emtions skews so many discussions and relgious affiliation carries a lot of social baggage. Feel good about asking for help when you know you need help.

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I agree with many of the things that have been said already, so I won't repeat.

But if you feel any dishonesty in the way you are living your life, this is a chain and, as you are experiencing, has consequences. Tell the truth, and live the truth, that you know. That is the only place any of us can start from. Then if part of the truth is that we "don't know", well Joseph Smith didn't know either. His "not knowing", him being honest with himself about that, is exactly the place that his journey started from, that has resulted in the restoration.

Have you told your wife everything you are telling us?

By the way, own your decision to agree (thus far) on the way your wife "needs" you to live. Another person cannot make us do things unless we agree to them. Be kind to yourself for the decision you have made in the past, and own it. because you value you family harmony, YOU have chose to act in a certain way. By now maybe you are seeing that, even though your intentions were good, maybe it's not the best decision to make or path to take. Time to re-evaluate and do something do be able to live with yourself, your wife and children, and to seek God (as you wish).

The way you have described your wife, it's hard to understand or respect where she is coming from. However, I suggest you view her compassionately, as she is just a human, too, trying to make her way in this world. As you make changes, try not to view this as a confrontation to your wife, but as an opportunity to simultaneously come to understand and support her even more, and to be a spiritual leader in your home and for your children. Perhaps don't consider your participation or support for the LDS church in their life as a dishonesty, but a caring for their welfare. I talk to a lot of people around the world and when we talk about spiritual and religious matters, I talk to them in "their" language and encourage them to be the best THEY can be, whether they are Muslim, Hindu, Catholic etc. I don't need to contend with them and discuss the LDS viewpoint unless they specifically ask me. So being a father to your children MAY involve teaching them Catholicism, and I certainly understand the desire to do that, and you should be free to do that. But it could ALSO mean supporting them completely in being LDS, and ask them what they learned in church, and help them pass off their Duty to God award (etc). Not because you agree conceptually, but because you support them in THEIR path of growth. (However, I don't suggest taking on the priesthood unless you truly believe in that, that is too serious.)

By the way, there isn't just one way to be "Mormon", whether culturally or even fully committed. There are some basics, yes, but we all have our struggles and our moments of grace.

Good luck and God bless.

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Folks - thanks all for the thoughtful replies and encouragement. Lots of good advice....

Rather than respond point by point (I just don't have the time right now), let me just reply to thing you've said as they come to mind while I write. First, in response to a couple of questions, I was born into the church and baptized at 8 years old. I served a mission and married my wife in the SLC temple. Now I'm a Catholic.

I have laid out all of my concerns to my wife. She knows exactly how I feel and why I feel that way. I should clarify that my wife is awesome, but she's deathly afraid for our kids. That's what's motivating her. She's a fantastic mom, always laughing and hanging out with them. I'm the grumpy, resentful one. That's rooted in the fact that I have to live my faith secretly - combined with my ongoing doubts about whether it's even worth it. Maybe God doesn't exist at all anyway and I'm knocking myself out for no good reason. But my wife is great. I don't know how many wives would stand by their husbands when they 'go off the deep end' spiritually, but mine did. We were married in the temple, but she was right there to watch in support when the priesthood holder in her home stood there while a Catholic priest poured the holy water over his head and he became a Catholic. I know it killed her, but she was there for me. She knows what I'm going through. It saddens her, but she gets it. The kids weren't there at her request. They were with her mom, spending the night. Ironically, the next day my nephew baptized my son into the LDS church. I was there for that. The bishop even let me speak. I talked about Jesus's baptism and how Jesus was baptized by his cousin and how my son was just baptized by his cousin. People seemed to like that. Kudos to the bishop for letting me stand in front of my son as his father, even though I had just left the church the night before. Crazy, huh?

Also to my wife's credit, whenever the kids come home with some anti-Catholic thing they picked up at church, she supports me when I correct them. But only so far - anything I say is fine, so long as I don't conclude with "Kids, next time someone says something like that, tell them your dad is a Catholic." I sure would love to tell them that. I fully acknowledge that the church culture has changed since I was young. The people saying the anti-Catholic things are in the minority. The remnants of the old guard. I know. But it does upset me when I hear my kids parroting anti-Catholic rhetoric that some otherwise well-meaning church member issues, but I haven't mentioned any of those instances to the bishop. So far, I've just tried to correct my sons by saying something along the lines of "people believe lots of things about different churches. They don't mean any harm, they just don't know all of the facts." Then I offer the Catholic view. For now, that works out ok. My mom-in-law is a former Catholic herself and convert to Mormonism. She definitely has an anti-Catholic streak, not a surprise, I suppose, given that she is from Mexico and sees Mexican folk catholicism (Catholicism+Aztec syncretism) in a negative light. She equates it with Catholicism generally, not surprising since that's what she knows and she left the church when she was 10. Sometimes she'll say things about Catholicism around my boys, like the day my older boy asked me if the pope is a bad man. "Where'd you hear that?" "From grandma." That irked me, too. I told him the truth - there have been a handful of really bad popes, but the current pope is a good guy. I talked to grandma about it and she said she never said that. Who knows? I know kids can misinterpret things. It's still hard when I hear my own kids talk like that.

About why I'm a Catholic even though I don't feel the spirit there, I'm drawn there because I find the liturgy beautiful and I love the rich symbolism and exclusive focus on Christ at the mass. Like Calmoriah said, the visual aspects of Catholic faith are a big draw. Aquinas was the foundation, but the visuals and liturgy keep me interested. For a Catholic, I'm lucky to live where I live. Even though Europeans are becoming more secular, there are cathedrals and spectacular religious art everywhere. I live 20 minutes from Speyer, where a romanesque cathedral is; 45 minutes from Worms and its gothic cathedral; and 2 hours from Cologne and it's mind-bogglingly wonderful gothic cathedral. We've been to Chartres to see the quintessential gothic building and to Rome. Everytime I walk in one of those buildings I'm reminded all over again why I became Catholic. They're just so stunningly beautiful and really do seem like I've left the world and entered an unearthly domain. That's the point. To draw the mind heavenward. For me, those buildings have that effect in spades. The only problem is I always drag my kids with me when I can go (only when we're traveling) and they're tired of cathedrals. I know...it's just kids being kids. Boring, dad! I just want to sit there for hours but can't. Anytime I'm more than a few hours away from my family my wife gets upset, especially on Sundays. So I have to content myself with a quick 20 minute stroll through the corridors with their vaulted ceilings and flying buttresses, rose windows, stained glass, statues, altars, crypts, and smell of incense. One day I want to attend mass in an ancient cathedral, but have to do so secretly. That makes me sad thinking about it.

I tried creating a shrine at home to pray near, a spiritual space somewhere in the house, but it really weirded my wife out. Too Catholic. No cross ("evil implement of torture") and no statue of Mary, Mother of God. A painting is ok, though. Two-dimensional depictions are ok; three dimensions are pagan! Go figure. Talk about cultural baggage. I took the whole thing down. Maybe I can find some icons instead. She might be ok with that.

When I became Catholic, some ward members found out and made some comments like "doesn't your husband love you anymore? Doesn't he want to married to you eternally? Is he going to leave you now?" Yes, that kind of freaked her out. Sigh. Thanks, ward members. That's just great. I told her that no one takes marriage as seriously as the Catholics and that I would never be permitted to take communion ever again for the rest of my life if I decided to leave her, or even if she decided to dump me and I divorced her. If she divorces me against my will, that's a different story. Divorce is absolutely forbidden in Catholicism (which is not to say that an annulment isn't possible, but that's only a legal decision by committee possible only in situations where the initial vows are deemed invalid after the fact). I told her "if I was planning on leaving you, going Catholic is the worst possible thing I could have done." I guess that reassured her that i wasn't going anywhere. Then I asked her "do you think after we die if I'm a good dad and husband that God is going to take me from you?" That made her stop and think. She said no. Firmly. So at least she doesn't agree with all the implications of the doctrine of exaltation. If she did, I might be in a lot of trouble. That's a blessing, for sure.

I have Catholic books lying around everywhere. Reading them has never been a problem. Just so long as I don't come out of the closet and announce my conversion to the kids. The first time my older son saw a Catholic book he said, "but dad, we're mormons." He even got a little teary. Boy, that was a stab in the heart. I told him what he needed to hear to reassure him, even though it was mostly a lie. He still doesn't know, though I think he suspects. We were recently in Rome and we went to the Vatican. Standing right there next to the medieval city wall he asked me "dad, are you a Catholic?" His mom and ex-catholic grandma were standing right there. I internally hung my head and all I said was "no. I'm nothing. The important thing is to just be a good person." Lame response, I know. I don't know if he was able to read behind the lines and interpret the 'nothing' to signify 'not even a Mormon'. I don't know.

Sorry for the long post. One more thing in reponse to things some of you said. We have spoken to the bishop about these issues. It did not go well, only because my wife left the meeting mad at the bishop. He told her point blank that she needs to accept the situation, that I'm not coming back and let me practice my faith openly. I told him with her right next to me that she wants me to pretend to be an active Mormon. My wife nodded and said "Yes, that's what I want." The bishop kind of got on her. Now she's mad at the bishop. Like I said, she's afraid for the kids wellbeing. Kids first, in all things. So I'm kind of stuck. Not even the bishop can tone down my wife's fear.

About the pints knocked back, I love German beer! I know the charitable thing is to just stop. But dang it, that's like asking me to give up chocolate and steak because it upsets my wife. It's a funny thing, but although it bothers my wife somewhat that I love a stein filled with lager, she doesn't freak out at that 'appearance of evil' when the kids are around. She does freak at the appearance of me acting or talking like a Catholic. Beer yes, Catholic, no. She'd rather my kids saw me drinking than see me practicing my Christian faith. How's that for LDS cultural baggage? Or is it something else?

Long post. Sorry again. Thanks, folks for listening/reading. I really appreciate it. It's helpful to get a LDS point of view on all of this.

Edited by Spammer
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LDS are individuals and I would not put it at the feet of Mormon cultural baggage so much as we are individuals and so is your wife. It is like going to the the Catholic Forum website and listening to how they talk about the LDS Church; does that represent the Catholic Church or Catholic culture? No, it does not; it represents some very unchristian individuals that used to be LDS that are so full of BS, lies, bitterness, and without any influence of the Spirit (in just a minute I will tell you how I really feel about them; I need to warm up first).

Try not to paint everything as churches, LDS or Catholic, and understand that adherents are trying to apply teachings of their churches. They are not perfect and are not the Church.

I worry when I hear that there is a desire or preference to be dishonest first. The day the truth is known often is the day that children will learn that their parents lied to them. These types of situations don't end well. If your son has already asked, it is because he already knows. Children, even young children, are not stupid. I suspect they all know what the gig is and know just want both of you to live honestly.

You are a Catholic convert who struggles with faith. Your wife is a LDS who struggles to live a life in accordance with the life of Christ. Help one another to be Christ-like in all that you do. There is a way to meld the two approaches - the first thing is to plan on going to midnight mass this Christmas (I really like going). Learning how to do this will give your children a wonderful understanding of how committed their parents are to Jesus Christ.

You have path in front of you that will bring many blessings to you and your wife, but it will demand taking the first steps honestly as husband and wife and as parents. God bless you.

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LDS are individuals and I would not put it at the feet of Mormon cultural baggage so much as we are individuals and so is your wife. It is like going to the the Catholic Forum website and listening to how they talk about the LDS Church; does that represent the Catholic Church or Catholic culture? No, it does not; it represents some very unchristian individuals that used to be LDS that are so full of BS, lies, bitterness, and without any influence of the Spirit (in just a minute I will tell you how I really feel about them; I need to warm up first).

Try not to paint everything as churches, LDS or Catholic, and understand that adherents are trying to apply teachings of their churches. They are not perfect and are not the Church.

I worry when I hear that there is a desire or preference to be dishonest first. The day the truth is known often is the day that children will learn that their parents lied to them. These types of situations don't end well. If your son has already asked, it is because he already knows. Children, even young children, are not stupid. I suspect they all know what the gig is and know just want both of you to live honestly.

You are a Catholic convert who struggles with faith. Your wife is a LDS who struggles to live a life in accordance with the life of Christ. Help one another to be Christ-like in all that you do. There is a way to meld the two approaches - the first thing is to plan on going to midnight mass this Christmas (I really like going). Learning how to do this will give your children a wonderful understanding of how committed their parents are to Jesus Christ.

You have path in front of you that will bring many blessings to you and your wife, but it will demand taking the first steps honestly as husband and wife and as parents. God bless you.

I want to treat lightly here. I hear you, I really do, but I'm a believer that cultural values are real and influence individual thought processes. You're right too - we are all just individuals trying to make do with our limited understanding. Mormon, Catholic, or Atheist. I need to choose my words more carefully and not use as broad a brush stroke. Good reminder.

I know my son already knows. I don't know what keeps me back. Maybe I fear rejection from him, too. Probably. I just don't want him to get upset and disrespect his father and tell me I'm an apostate. You're right though, in the long run he'll be even more upset when he concludes that he's been lied to for years. It's not healthy. I wish I could get my wife to see this. She just gets so upset when I broach the subject. Do I just do what needs to be done despite her wishes? I don't know.

Thanks a lot for the response. I have thought about going to midnight mass with the family. But if we do go, I really want to participate! Cross myself, dip my fingers in the holy water, take communion, right there in front of all of them. My wife will be really upset if I do! So i hold myself back.

Edited by Spammer
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Thanks a lot for the response. I have thought about going to midnight mass with the family. But if we do go, I really want to participate! Cross myself, dip my fingers in the holy water, take communion, right there in front of all of them. My wife will be really upset if I do! So i hold myself back.

Your wife may be unreasonable but she has some justification: You married her under a set of promises that you have abandoned. She would actually have some pretty good reasons to feel betrayed.

You are thus in a difficult situation. To be "true" to your current self, you must betray both your wife and your former self along with the promises made.

Which is not quite a situation I have experienced in my life the way you have, but I think I understand it.

God bless you that you may find some way through this that can maximize harmony.

I confess, although I have always said that if I were not a Mormon, I would be a Catholic, I do not at all understand your need (it seems like a visceral addiction) to the pomp and ceremony and idolatry of Catholicism. It becomes even more strange to me that you love all of that even while you wonder if there is even a God.

Board rules would seemingly prevent me from saying more....

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Hello Spammer...

Well, I feel somewhat better about your situation... I think...

When I read how you went to the bishop and it did not go well, I thought the bishop had not been understanding of your situation... I was relieved that he wisely did try to counsel your wife on allowing you to openly participate in your Catholic faith.

You still have a situation that needs to be resolved as it cannot continue as is... I was glad to see how you feel about your wife... but she needs to take the lead here with the children... she can set the tone for how your children react. I can understand how she must feel... she married you with the expectation that you would be her eternal companion, and an eternal family. You've shattered that for her even though you may think she doesn't think about exaltation... or else she wouldn't be so afraid, particularly for the children, or having you openly practice your faith. I was married to a wonderful non-LDS man when I was inactive. When I reactivated it turned our lives upside down in many ways. Still, he stood beside me and was very supportive, but nevertheless it did change our lives considerably. It was easier on him because he was not a member of a particular faith.

When was the last time you two sat down together and discussed this... perhaps it's time to do so again, because you can't continue this way. Good luck Spammer... As for God.... He is there, and He is mindful of your struggle.

GG

Edited by Garden Girl
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I live in Europe as well. I totally understand your remarks about the buildings. I also love the architecture of the Catholic church /cathedral holy spaces and how it lifts my spirits. However, do not be fooled by that feeling. Just because a space made by man to overwhelm the senses and impress the sox off him does its job, it does not mean the spirit of God only resides there. My recent trip to Jerusalem cured me of the last vestiges of reminiscent yearnings for the accouterments of Catholic worship. It is a relief to go to the LDS temple in its elegant simplicity . I now understand that the magnificent feeling of closeness to God comes not from being inside the edifice, but that the edifice provides me a particular space to fully engage that magnificent closeness to God. We do not need the incense, vestments, stained glass and all. We only need the changed heart.

Children are very accommodating. Mine have turned out to be fine citizens even if Mama is a believer and Papa in not. Children need to see their parents as a united front, even if that front is part of a truce.

oh and I personally think your Bishop is one fine wise man...your poor spouse has to get over her "my way and nothing else" feelings....it just is not good for family harmony. It isn't like suddenly you've taken up witchcraft or human sacrifice...

and another thing, your wife might feel like its all over and the eternal family is now shattered, but you aren't dead yet, the millennium isn't over and a whole lot of things can change between now and then...I really feel badly for your wife because when one of the kids decides to go off book, I think it will lay her out flat.

agency...agency...agency.

Edited by jana at jade house
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Thank you spammer for the additional info. I understand situation a bit better now. I think that your wife's greatest fear is losing you and the kids. She feels that that is all she has got. It is her only world, and she does not want to lose it. It is a kind of extreme defence mechanism, like clutching at straws. She does not realise that that it is making matters worse by making you live your religion a lie in front of the kids. There is probably a range of complex psychological protective behaviours at play here. She needs somehow be reassured that her best interests are not served that way. Have you tried fasting and praying together for divine guidance and support? As a Catholic, you and your wife should have at least one thing in common: you should both believe in God, faith, fasting, praying, miracles, and divine help when needed. Can you both put aside your differences enough to unitedly agree to apply that principle in your lives, to sincerely seek divine help with your problems? If you both act sincerely, I think that that help will be given.

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"I now understand that the magnificent feeling of closeness to God comes not from being inside the edifice, but that the edifice provides me a particular space to fully engage that magnificent closeness to God."

Yes, this. I was thinking of how to respond to what CAsteinman wrote and this does the job nicely. As I've said, I'm only attracted to Catholicism since it afforded me some reasons to suspect that God might be there after all. The fact that I find Catholic churches beautiful doesn't drive my faith, weak that it is. It's only that in those spaces it's easier for me to hope that one day within such a sacred space, filled as they are with symbolic reminders of the other world, I really will have an encounter with the spirit of God. Catholic and Orthodox churches 'feel' holy to me in a way the ward house and the temple never did. I can't explain it; that's just the way it is. In fact, most Protestant churches and the ward house feel exactly like a country club to me. I don't 'feel' like holiness happens there at all. Just social gatherings.

Also, my wife doesn't feel our eternal family is shattered. She has told me that she doesn't really think that God will split us up in the next world, no matter what the church might teach on the matter. So long as I'm a good person, we'll still be married and a family.

Edited by Spammer
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Thank you spammer for the additional info. I understand situation a bit better now. I think that your wife's greatest fear is losing you and the kids. She feels that that is all she has got. It is her only world, and she does not want to lose it. It is a kind of extreme defence mechanism, like clutching at straws. She does not realise that that it is making matters worse by making you live your religion a lie in front of the kids. There is probably a range of complex psychological protective behaviours at play here. She needs somehow be reassured that her best interests are not served that way. Have you tried fasting and praying together for divine guidance and support? As a Catholic, you and your wife should have at least one thing in common: you should both believe in God, faith, fasting, praying, miracles, and divine help when needed. Can you both put aside your differences enough to unitedly agree to apply that principle in your lives, to sincerely seek divine help with your problems? If you both act sincerely, I think that that help will be given.

Zerinus,

This is a very helpful response. The internet leaves much to be desire, doesn't it? This, in particular, is great: "As a Catholic, you and your wife should have at least one thing in common: you should both believe in God, faith, fasting, praying, miracles, and divine help when needed." The problem for me is that I want to pray like a Catholic. She finds that kind of prayer strange. I find it hard to utter the words "Dear Heavenly Father". Yes, I know, that's strange. But it is what it is. I prayed that way for many years with no recognizable effect. Anytime I utter the standard LDS opening, I instantly feel like I'm praying to Zeus. I know in principle that God doesn't care how I address him, but that doesn't change the fact that praying like a Mormon feels exactly like I'm praying to some mythological being.

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I was really confrontational yesterday. You didn't need that.

I'm sorry.

I need to learn patience and understand sometimes the pointed statements are coming from hurt not a desire to belittle.

Thanks.

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Your wife may be unreasonable but she has some justification: You married her under a set of promises that you have abandoned. She would actually have some pretty good reasons to feel betrayed.

You are thus in a difficult situation. To be "true" to your current self, you must betray both your wife and your former self along with the promises made.

Which is not quite a situation I have experienced in my life the way you have, but I think I understand it.

God bless you that you may find some way through this that can maximize harmony.

I confess, although I have always said that if I were not a Mormon, I would be a Catholic, I do not at all understand your need (it seems like a visceral addiction) to the pomp and ceremony and idolatry of Catholicism. It becomes even more strange to me that you love all of that even while you wonder if there is even a God.

Board rules would seemingly prevent me from saying more....

CAsteinman,

Naturally, since I no longer believe in Joseph Smith's revelations, I no longer believe that I made any promises to God. Promises to my wife are a different matter. But I think the same applies. Think of a Catholic man who marries his Catholic wife and promies her and God at home after the wedding that he will always be faithful to her and to the Church. Then one day the missionaries knock on his door and he decides to be baptized into the LDS church. Did he betray his wife? Did he betray God? Both? Maybe he betrayed her, but not God, not if the LDS church is true. I view it exactly the same way, but in reverse.

I hope I explained in my previous post why I like the bells and whistles of Catholicism. What you call pomp and ceremony, I call a beautiful liturgy - directly descended from the liturgy of the ancient Jewish temple, with Jesus as the Great High Priest officiating at the altar behind the veil in the holy of holies. The liturgy is believed to be the earthly copy of the heavenly liturgy; on earth as it is in heaven. What you call idolatry, I call the communion of saints. Just like you can ask Thomas S. Monson to say a prayer for you if you ever meet him, in the communion of saints you can do the same even if he's dead. There is no seperation of worlds in Catholicism. It's all one Christian family. On earth as it is in heaven. Just because a saint has died doesn't mean I can't ask him or her to pray for me. That's what the statues and teachings about the communion of saints are all about. I hope that makes sense as an explanation of what I find appealing, not that I think you'll agree much of it is doctrinally valid.

Edited by Spammer
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I was really confrontational yesterday. You didn't need that.

I'm sorry.

I need to learn patience and understand sometimes the pointed statements are coming from hurt not a desire to belittle.

Thanks.

THANK YOU. I need to apologize to you. That's why I started this apology thread, to say sorry to everyone for letting my bitterness and frustration get the better of me. It's so easy for me to lash out, when I just want answers and a solution to my family's crisis - THAT I AM THE CAUSE OF. Here's the ironic and beautiful thing. I've had the same discussion with Catholics and they give me the exact same kind of advice. In fact, the priests I've discussed this with (three so far) have all told me to just be a Christ in the home. Be a source of love and go to church with my wife. Go to mass, too, of course. My weakness is that I freeze up on doing the latter for fear of upsetting my wife and kids. All my wife needs to do is give me that look that I'm hurting her and I collapse. Then I start whipping myself later for being so weak-willed.

All's well, Kevin. I really appreciate your post. Thanks so much.

Edited by Spammer
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Thanks - I must take responsibility too. I love to spar and tease and I let myself go too far.

Keep asking questions and keeping us honest. That is a good reason to engage on this board.

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The problem for me is that I want to pray like a Catholic. She finds that kind of prayer strange. I find it hard to utter the words "Dear Heavenly Father". Yes, I know, that's strange. But it is what it is. I prayed that way for many years with no recognizable effect. Anytime I utter the standard LDS opening, I instantly feel like I'm praying to Zeus. I know in principle that God doesn't care how I address him, but that doesn't change the fact that praying like a Mormon feels exactly like I'm praying to some mythological being.

I didn't know there was a "standard mormon prayer". How about praying as the Bible says, "Our father which art in heaven . . ."? Do I detect excuses in here somewhere?

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