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  #1  
Old Jan 23, '07, 4:34 am
roblrich roblrich is offline
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Default Is Catholicism a private, scripted club?

Is Catholicism a private, scripted club? It's how I feel at the moment.

I was born into a Southern Baptist home, my father being a Southern Baptist minister. I always felt something was lacking, and during a Vacation Bible School one summer offered by our baptist church, they took us older kids to a different denominational church each day to learn a little about them. I was very impressed by the Catholic Church during our brief session, and even learned then that the things I had been told about Catholics was false.

In 1978 I enlisted in the army, got married and had three children. I was searching and seeking a church to raise my family in, and I was ripe for the picking. In the early 80's I was stationed in Italy and thought this would be a great opportunity to explore the Catholic faith. But before I got a chance, Mormon missionaries knocked on our door, and soon my family were members of the Mormon Church. You have to hand it to the Mormons! These guys are faithful, make great witnesses, and know their scriptures. But after a few years, I got skeptical about the Joseph Smith revelations and skeptical about God giving up on his own Church only after a couple of hundred years or so and not doing anything about it for 1500-1600 years.

So I have now been investigating the Catholic faith for some time. I have tried to contact the Church several times over the years, but never had any luck in my rural Kentucky location. I would get a recorded message, and by the time someone got around to calling me back, I must not have been at home to take the call. No one did a follow up, made the effort to visit me or even bother to phone that I know of.

Usually when a person contacts a church of any other denomination, they would rush right over. Try contacting a Mormon, Jehovia Witness or even a Baptist or evangelist organization and leave your address or phone number. Before you can barely hang up the phone, someone is knocking at your door. They will make you feel like their church has been waiting for you and that you are the most special person they will speak with for some time. The Church of Latter Day Saints are particulary good at this, so no wonder the Mormons have the fastest growing church in the world.

After listening to Ava Maria Radio online for quite sometime, after reading my Catholic Bibles, after reading my Catechism in detail, after listening to every archived show of Catholic Answers dating back to 1999, and after watching almost every movie that Netflix has on the Saints, I decided that yes the Catholic Church is the true Church and the Church for me. I was determined to speak with someone at my local Catholic parish. To no surprise, I got a recorded message, but this time it wasn't going to deter me. I phoned and phoned til I finally got through (guess I should have tried during banking hours before). And to my astonishment, even in my rural area our local priest couldn't possibly see me for at least a week. I shook my head and made the appointment.

After waiting the longest week of my life, I went to the appointment and told the priest my story. I liked this young priest although he didn't seem to be impressed by me. I think he had his mind on a ski trip he was getting ready to leave for that he had told me about (how can priests afford ski trips?). He basically told me that early January is quite late to start RCIA classes (even though I consider myself catechized and I am baptized from S. Baptists) that they hold once a week, and it's probably too late for me to join the Church this Easter. He pretty much told me that I needed the Church much more than they needed me, and they did not want any "marginal" Catholics, so they make it demanding to join.

Since, I pray the Rosary daily, I have been to Mass faithfully the last two weeks, and in my rural area that has only been four Masses. Even in our rural setting, there was approx 200 people at Sunday's Mass. I have also been to two RCIA classes. No one really has taken an interest in me at all. In four Masses, a total of three people have even bothered to say hi. Two of those three have bothered to speak to me at RCIA.

This last RCIA class, they handed out flyers pretaining to 'The Rite of Election and The Calling to Continuing Conversion" ceremony that will be held 90 minutes away in Louisville on Feb 24. When the flyer was handed to me, I was told this didn't apply to me but I could have one "to look at".

Hopefully the local priest will be back from Washington DC today, back in a routine, and I'll be able to speak with him.

But excuse me if the Church seems to be a private, scripted club which you can only join by invitation only. I am getting very discouraged...

Last edited by roblrich; Jan 23, '07 at 4:50 am.
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  #2  
Old Jan 23, '07, 5:08 am
reneeville reneeville is offline
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Default Re: Is Catholicism a private, scripted club?

Dear brother,
There is rhyme and reason for going through the perfunctory RCIA classes. When the "light" went on for me, my visit to the local parish priest was in May (after Easter)... so my wait would be until November '05. My protestant life was already over 5 decades...another few months could only strengthen my resolve and that time allowed me the opportunity to review the book our parish uses. It was worth the wait.
Do NOT despair... God's timing, not yours--you will come into the fullness of Faith.
God bless you as your heart is prepared for that day!
In Christ~
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  #3  
Old Jan 23, '07, 5:46 am
Contarini Contarini is offline
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Default Re: Is Catholicism a private, scripted club?

roblrich,

I understand how you feel. (I am an RCIA dropout, BTW, in case you wonder why an Episcopalian is chiming in here.) In the first place, Catholic parishes are not supposed to apply the rigid RCIA system to baptized and catechized Christians seeking full communion with the Catholic Church. They are supposed to modify the system to suit the level of preparation of the candidate.

On the other hand, personally I admire the fact that Catholic priests (devout laypeople are sometimes a different story) aren't "hasting over land and sea to make one proselyte." The evangelical understanding of evangelization has come to be just another set of marketing techniques. The priest is right--they need to be sure that you really mean it. The lengthy, rigid process of RCIA helped weed me out--I would probably be Catholic today if the local parish priest had just said "Great, we'll admit you a week from Sunday." And whether or not I did the right thing to drop out, the Catholic Church (in its local expression) did the right thing in putting me through a series of tests that resulted in my dropping out. (In all fairness to myself, had the local parish been more dynamically orthodox--I include the adverb because I've since encountered more orthodox parishes that didn't particularly attract me either--it would have been easier to stick with the program.)

Final note--there's a peculiar (at least peculiar from an evangelical point of view) attitude toward converts common among Catholic priests of a certain fairly common type: they are suspicious of would-be converts because they (the priests) are not conservative enough to think that we should all be Catholic for the sake of our souls, but they are conservative enough to be defensive of a particular Catholic identity and suspicious of a "come one, come all" inclusivism. I don't know if that's where this priest is--if he is young and from the South then this probably doesn't apply to him, but if he grew up in the heavily Catholic Northeast then it very likely does (the attitude I'm describing is primarily a Northeastern one in my experience).

Final note--if the Catholic Church is the One True Church, then obviously you need it more than it needs you. Why does it rankle to be reminded of this?

In Christ,

Edwin
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  #4  
Old Jan 23, '07, 5:47 am
roblrich roblrich is offline
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Default Re: Is Catholicism a private, scripted club?

So the church being cold and indifferent is part of the initiation to prospective new members? Parishes use a book in RCIA? I haven't seen anything.

This last time in RCIA, I was told I would need a sponsor. Not knowing anyone in the Church, I said this to the guy hoping he would volunteer or suggest someone. He simply replied, "you will need a sponsor".

I don't want to be anywhere I'm not welcome and as I understand it, my baptism is fine. So if I make regular confessions, my soul shouldn't be in danger. So I may simply drive to Louisville once a week (1.5 hours away) to confess and attend Mass (I won't say I haven't been confirmed or they will probably refuse me confession). I won't be able to take part in the Communion, but...
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  #5  
Old Jan 23, '07, 5:52 am
roblrich roblrich is offline
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Default Re: Is Catholicism a private, scripted club?

Edwin, I don't know where the priest is from, but he did say to me he was a Methodist convert to Catholicism.

He hasn't been the issue really, as he hasn't been around. The last two weeks, he has been gone skiing and gone to Wash DC. He hasn't been to RCIA.

Again as I said in my original post, I like the priest from the little time I have spoke with him. It's only been two weeks or so, maybe I've been impatient. I'll speak with him again if he can fit me in.
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  #6  
Old Jan 23, '07, 5:57 am
Marilena Marilena is offline
 
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Default Re: Is Catholicism a private, scripted club?

[quote=roblrich;1843983]Is QUOTE]

you can also start studying the catechism of the catholic church right away by mail, or online free of charge until you can get into an RCIA. check out this link, and it is completely free. http://www.amm.org/chss.htm don't worry, your turn for RCIA will come up. if your inclined to travel, then go the nearest city and attend RCIA there if they have it available.

don't get discouraged friend, it will work out. keep praying your rosary, and keep attending Mass
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  #7  
Old Jan 23, '07, 6:05 am
roblrich roblrich is offline
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Default Re: Is Catholicism a private, scripted club?

Thanks Marilena.

I own a Catechism and also the Compendium to the Catechism. The priest gave me the latter.

Maybe I'm just being silly. I bet I feel the way I do because the priest has been away and I have had no one to turn to. The priest has missed no Masses, but he's been rushing to places between, as in the Wash DC trip for the pro-life march.

I'll get off the PC and be persistent that I need to see him. Thanks for the replies.
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  #8  
Old Jan 23, '07, 6:06 am
levi86 levi86 is offline
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Default Re: Is Catholicism a private, scripted club?

Quote:
Originally Posted by roblrich View Post
So the church being cold and indifferent is part of the initiation to prospective new members? Parishes use a book in RCIA? I haven't seen anything.

This last time in RCIA, I was told I would need a sponsor. Not knowing anyone in the Church, I said this to the guy hoping he would volunteer or suggest someone. He simply replied, "you will need a sponsor".

I don't want to be anywhere I'm not welcome and as I understand it, my baptism is fine. So if I make regular confessions, my soul shouldn't be in danger. So I may simply drive to Louisville once a week (1.5 hours away) to confess and attend Mass (I won't say I haven't been confirmed or they will probably refuse me confession). I won't be able to take part in the Communion, but...
I had a VERY similar experience during my RCIA process. I found the whole process generally unsatisfying, inadequate and inhospitable. Regardless of the apathy that many members in my Parish felt towards converts I persevered. Despite having a sponsor I mostly felt I was travelling the path on my own.

Yet when it came to my baptism/confirmation I was so overcome with emotion that I wept uncontrollably throughout the entire Mass. Believe me, as a member of the Royal Australian Army I am certainly not accustomed to crying. The acceptance I felt from Jesus superseded any antagonism I may have experienced during the RCIA process.

PLEASE, do not let the behaviour of other “Catholics” influence you’re coming into the Church.
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  #9  
Old Jan 23, '07, 6:07 am
Randy Carson's Avatar
Randy Carson Randy Carson is offline
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Default Re: Is Catholicism a private, scripted club?

Quote:
Originally Posted by roblrich View Post
Is Catholicism a private, scripted club? It's how I feel at the moment...I have now been investigating the Catholic faith for some time. I have tried to contact the Church several times over the years, but never had any luck in my rural Kentucky location
I think this latter point is the key to the problem you are having.

Rural parishes are extremely short on staff and budget. My in-laws, for example, live in rural Virginia. They have only one mass each week, and they share their priest with another parish in a town about 30 miles away. Needless to say, RCIA classes would be rare. Conversely, if you lived in a major city, there would be lots of parishes, priests, classes, etc.

I'm impressed by everything you've done and are doing. You're on the right track, and God knows you by name. He will work it out.
__________________
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I'm a Catholic. You have questions. Let's get started.

Now reading:
The Fulfillment of All Desire by Ralph Martin (this is a must-read book)
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  #10  
Old Jan 23, '07, 6:12 am
Contarini Contarini is offline
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Default Re: Is Catholicism a private, scripted club?

Quote:
Originally Posted by roblrich View Post
Edwin, I don't know where the priest is from, but he did say to me he was a Methodist convert to Catholicism.
Then forget what I said (about the attitude of some priests--it wouldn't apply to a convert).

Methodist convert? He didn't have anything to do with Asbury Theological Seminary by any chance, did he? (That's where my wife went--a bunch of ex-Asbury folks became Orthodox, and I presume some have become Catholics as well.)

I really do empathize with what you are going through, but whether or not it's a good system (there are plenty of valid objections to how RCIA is normally run in the U.S.), it's a good test of whether you really believe Catholicism is true. If it is, then jumping through any number of silly hoops is worth it. I got to the point (after two months of going without the sacraments and getting practically no spiritual food except sermons about social justice--which I believe in but which I am too evangelical to find satisfying all on its own!) where I wasn't sure I believed any of it and simply didn't have the stamina to keep going.

In Christ,

Edwin
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  #11  
Old Jan 23, '07, 6:17 am
thistle thistle is offline
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Default Re: Is Catholicism a private, scripted club?

Roblrich.

It is worth the wait. I was a born and brought up Methodist and found (with the help of my Catholic wife praying for me for 10 years) the grace to know the Catholic Church was the true Church even though I did not understand many of the teachings at that time. I was 44 when I converted.
I went through a one year RCIA program and it was really rewarding. I learned a lot about the Faith and at Easter when I was accepted into the Catholic Church (I was already baptised and it is recognised by the Church) it was an emotional experience because it was like I had been wandering for 44 years and finally found my way home.
I am now almost 59 and have never regretted becoming a Catholic.
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  #12  
Old Jan 23, '07, 6:19 am
Dr Paul Dr Paul is offline
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Default Re: Is Catholicism a private, scripted club?

roblrich,

Thank you for your posts. It is very helpful for me, a cradle Catholic, to learn about the journey of others into the Church. Most of the stories that I have heard are not "Someone knocked on my door, a light bulb went on, and I ran down the street to be baptized on the spot". The burning desire that you seem to have to enter the Church is wonderful. The wait will only strengthen you. I can only relate to the waiting period after I met my wife and realized that she was the one I was destined to marry. The waiting period was excruciatingly painful, but wonderfully helpful. I thought at the time that I knew my future wife completely and that we knew exactly what we were signing up for. Looking back now, I see how foolish I was. The Catholic church wants you to know, understand, and believe what the Church IS and what it teaches before your official entry.

The Church is much bigger and better than any one priest, parish or parishoner. You will find much diversity. Many Catholics that you have met or will meet may seem to be preoccupied with themselves or not interested in your journey. Yet there are also many more who truly share your joy and want more than ever to help you on this path. Since I don't live in Kentucky, I will have to be content in joining you spiritually, through my prayers. Peace be with you.
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  #13  
Old Jan 23, '07, 6:32 am
roblrich roblrich is offline
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Default Re: Is Catholicism a private, scripted club?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Contarini View Post
In the first place, Catholic parishes are not supposed to apply the rigid RCIA system to baptized and catechized Christians seeking full communion with the Catholic Church.
Edwin
Exactly Edwin. Why would it take any longer than 3 months to get a baptized and self catechized Christain ready for the Church? I am willing to do anything, even put up with the coldness and indifference of the local members for 3 months. But if they want to drag this out for months and months or even a year, this parish isn't for me. That would make this parish a private club, not a church.
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  #14  
Old Jan 23, '07, 6:37 am
djrakowski djrakowski is offline
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Default Re: Is Catholicism a private, scripted club?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Contarini View Post
On the other hand, personally I admire the fact that Catholic priests (devout laypeople are sometimes a different story) aren't "hasting over land and sea to make one proselyte."
Oh my goodness, really? Evangelization is the one area in which I've been quite disappointed by the Catholic Church since my conversion.

I admire the zeal of my former evangelical churchmates who would do just about everything to share their faith with others and help them to the point of conversion, and absolutely despise the attitude that there ought to be some series of tests a candidate must undergo to prove his seriousness. I don't mind a period of formal instruction such as RCIA, but it ought to take into account the spiritual formation the person has already received in their previous faith tradition, and then be tailored accordingly. If the program suits the needs of the candidate, and is orthodox in its presentation of the faith, then the candidate will have ample opportunity to decide if he believes and desires to convert.
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  #15  
Old Jan 23, '07, 6:45 am
calchiquita calchiquita is offline
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Default Re: Is Catholicism a private, scripted club?

I was surprised too when the Holy Spirit made it clear to me that the Catholic Church was where I was supposed to be, that even in late October/early November it was too late to start RCIA for the next Easter Vigil. I did have to wait quite a while to go to my first confession also. I took solace in the fact that I had made an act of perfect contrition and that I was not required to go to confession before the Church would allow me.
It definitely is worth the wait to come into full Communion.
I found that Mass is not the place to meet people, really. Going to a Knights of Columbus breakfast was really where I met the most people.
I did not know anyone to be my sponsor, the RCIA director found one for me.
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