Advice: Family Doesn't Like My Conversion


#1

Hello everyone,

I am new to this forum, so I hope I am posting this thread in the right place.

Before I ask my question, I will provide a little background:
My wife and I will, Lord willing, be joining the Catholic Church this coming Easter. This decision is the culmination of a long intellectual and spiritual journey. I grew up in a protestant home, and though my parents never identified with one specific denomination, they did skew more reformed/Calvinist–think John MacArthur.

My family was never virulently anti-Catholic, though they always made it clear they thought Catholics were superstitious and gravely wrong on many important issues. My parents always spoke of Catholics respectfully, however, and more recently, they have even sent my brother to a conservative Catholic high school. The same brother is even taking organ lessons from a nun.

Now for my question:

Since I have decided to become a Catholic, my parents have ratcheted up their anti-Catholicism tenfold. In addition to enduring regular mocking, anti-Catholic comments, I am being told to keep my Catholicism to myself (very hard for a convert to do), even though I have mentioned it very seldom out of a desire to avoid conflict. Now, I am being told not to talk to my little brother any longer, as my parents are worried that I might “seduce” him into Catholicism.

I knew my family wouldn’t be happy with my decision, but because I have always had a good and very strong relationship with them, I never thought it would come to this. Nothing has ever come between us before.

How do I respond to this in a Christ-like way? I have tried very hard to be loving and to not respond in kind to the attacks I have experienced so far. I truly want to honor my father and mother. But it is very hard to hide (and never defend) what I now believe and never express it publicly. It is even harder to be cut off from my little brother.

I want to do what’s right, and I certainly do not want to harm my relationship with my family. How do I handle this? I’m sure I’m not the first to experience such things. Thank you for your counsel.


#2

Christ said the He did not come to bring peace but the sword and at times He would bring divisions even among families. See the end of Matthew Chapter 10. If you are an adult Honor Thy Mother does not mean obedience - it means respect. And that respect is a mutual respect that goes both ways. I hope that this helps.


#3

You are being attacked by Satan. He obviously doesn’t want anyone to enter the Catholic Church. So count this as a mark that God loves you since He is sharing His Cross with you. It’s a privlege! Pray for the grace to carry this cross. Also you might start a 30 Day Rosary Novena (say the Rosary every day for 30 days) for the intention that you will be strong in your faith; that your family will accept your decision to enter the Catholic Church; that your family will also convert. Might as well “go for the gold”! God bless you.


#4

I apologize for what you are having to endure. :frowning: I just recently endured an “attack” from one of my older sisters, even though I think her anger had more to do with personal issues than with me.

I converted two years ago and I am still learning how to be a humble Catholic amongst a non-religious family. But wow, I can guarantee you that prayer makes a world of difference because my mom of all people has been gradually becoming very respectful of my faith although she is the most anti-religious family member I’ve got.

The best advice I can offer you is to pray and to respect your parent’s wishes as long as they don’t require you to do anything that goes against your faith. They have just as much as an obligation to respect you as you have an obligation to respect them.


#5

[quote="ChestertonFan, post:1, topic:250199"]
Hello everyone,

I am new to this forum, so I hope I am posting this thread in the right place.

Before I ask my question, I will provide a little background:
My wife and I will, Lord willing, be joining the Catholic Church this coming Easter. This decision is the culmination of a long intellectual and spiritual journey. I grew up in a protestant home, and though my parents never identified with one specific denomination, they did skew more reformed/Calvinist--think John MacArthur.

My family was never virulently anti-Catholic, though they always made it clear they thought Catholics were superstitious and gravely wrong on many important issues. My parents always spoke of Catholics respectfully, however, and more recently, they have even sent my brother to a conservative Catholic high school. The same brother is even taking organ lessons from a nun.

Now for my question:

Since I have decided to become a Catholic, my parents have ratcheted up their anti-Catholicism tenfold. In addition to enduring regular mocking, anti-Catholic comments, I am being told to keep my Catholicism to myself (very hard for a convert to do), even though I have mentioned it very seldom out of a desire to avoid conflict. Now, I am being told not to talk to my little brother any longer, as my parents are worried that I might "seduce" him into Catholicism.

I knew my family wouldn't be happy with my decision, but because I have always had a good and very strong relationship with them, I never thought it would come to this. Nothing has ever come between us before.

How do I respond to this in a Christ-like way? I have tried very hard to be loving and to not respond in kind to the attacks I have experienced so far. I truly want to honor my father and mother. But it is very hard to hide (and never defend) what I now believe and never express it publicly. It is even harder to be cut off from my little brother.

I want to do what's right, and I certainly do not want to harm my relationship with my family. How do I handle this? I'm sure I'm not the first to experience such things. Thank you for your counsel.

[/quote]

See this as a great opportunity to convert them! I suggest listening to Scott Hahn's audio tapes as a great way to learn about how biblical many of those "superstitions" are haha. Once you can explain our view of Mary from scripture you have a home run on your hands ;) I suggest you look at these websites and the audio that is there:

salvationhistory.com/library/category/audio_resources

and all of these audio files

catholicaudio.blogspot.com/2007/08/scott-hahn-lambs-supper-ewtn.html

The second website has a lot of insights into the book of revelation and explains the many many connections between the Mass and this book of the bible and is a powerful tool in helping people see how much the Catholic Church loves the Bible.


#6

[quote="ChestertonFan, post:1, topic:250199"]

It is even harder to be cut off from my little brother.

[/quote]

ChestertonFan, do your parents expect that you don't talk to your little brother at all, or only that you avoid religious topics when talking to him?

Regarding other issues, I think it's unfair that your parents bring up Catholicism in order to attack and mock it, while expecting you to stay silent and not to defend your decision. I think you should ask your parents to stop mocking your decision in the first place, and other than that, that they should be prepared that you will answer their criticisms, obviously in a respectful manner, should they initiate religious discussions. Respecting your parents does not mean that you have to stay mum while they bring up and criticize Catholicism. You can insist that your parents respect your decision, and either be prepared to be engaged in a mutual discussion, a civilized, mutually respectful conversation on religious matters, or else just avoid the topic altogether. But for them to bring up the subject, to criticize your decision and then expect you not to address their criticisms and not to reply at all, that expectation goes too far.


#7

My prayers are with you, and I hope someday that your family will accept your decision, and do not feel afraid to stand up for your choice in a respectful way.


#8

You have gotten some wonderful advice. I have none to offer but I will pray for you. :signofcross:


#9

I would suggest two approaches:

First - if both families believe in GOD and that belief includes HIS teaching on Loving and Forgiving, then there should be no arguements - especially within the same family, but rather only loving and forgiving.

Second - if they want to evangelize you, then likewise, invite an open discussion and bring CD's of many converted believers i.e. Scott Hahn, Steve Ray, etc

As hard as it may become, your example of christian endurance is the best example of loving and forgiving


#10

Thank you everyone for your thoughtful advice. I greatly appreciate it.

I am very happy to report that a small miracle has taken place. I have been praying very hard for a change of heart in my family this week. Yesterday, literally over night, I saw that change take place. One day, we were in the midst of conflict, and the next the hostility had evaporated. My parents have agreed to pray for me, but to leave it at that. We are on good terms again. God is good.


#11

Thanks be to God! I am very happy to hear that things have improved and are moving in the right direction.:thumbsup:


#12

I made my conversion this past Easter Vigil and I too endure alitle of what you are saying. Alot of people did not agree with me, but I certainly wasn't banned from the family. Do as you said, honor your father and mother. And if that are their wishes at this time then honor them. In the meantime do not forget your brother by anymeans. Send him cards for birthdays and holidays and just to let him and your parents know you are thinking about them. Anytime someone converts to something other people are not there are always going to be people with opinions, some louder than others. But just put your trust in the Lord that you and your wife are doing the right thing. Pray for their understanding. God never gives us more than we can handle. They will come around eventually. My thoughts and prayers are with your during this difficult time. But please make the most out of your RCIA journey, it goes quickly and it is amazing...it truly changed me forever! God bless you and your family.


#13

:thumbsup:

I would speak to your brother and let him know what’s going on, that your parents are the ones who are discouraging you spending time with him. He may be wondering if you are avoiding him. Hopefully if you have done things together in the past, that that will continue again shortly.

There are many who have happily joined the church to discover that their families are not at all pleased. May you continue to grow in love and grace!


#14

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.