How many of you converts converted to the Catholic Church or swim the Tiber because of Pope John Paul II?
Nor me, but once I decided to come into full-communion, I truly started to understand how truly a great and wise man he was, in fact I wanted to use his name as my confirmation name , but was told I couldn’t, so I picked St. Joseph.
By the way, you need to quit using the word convert, if you are really talking about non-Catholic Chrstians coming home to Rome. For before we swam the river, for we were already Christians.
As Catholics we need not to convert non-Catholic Chirstians, but gently bring them home to Rome, :shrug: just a suggestion.
Love you Bro…
He wasn’t the only reason–just one of many. However, long before I converted, I remember how “aware” I was of the Roman Pontiff–I remember when he was elected in 1978. It was my sister’s 18th birthday (Oct. 16…) As an Episcopalian, I had never paid any attention to a pope before. But John Paul II was fascinating and fired the imaginations of youth everywhere. He was splendid and the world knew it–I knew it. When I finally did convert, I was ecstatic to be a part of the Universal Church headed by a living saint. My current parish priest was ordained by JPII. Everytime I receive the Eucharist from him, I am reminded of that fact–the apostolic succession becomes very real to me and not just a theological concept. My priest said that on the day of his ordination, John Paul told him to “be holy.” Thankfully, he strives to do just that!
You know, I heard the same thing from a Protestant of my acquaintance, who took issue with the words “convert” or “conversion” being used to describe a Protestant becoming Catholic (or vice versa for that matter). He made the same point about how these so-called converts were already Christians, so they didn’t really convert. At first I tended to agree with my friend’s point, but I still continued to use “convert” or “conversion” simply for lack of better words.
However, on further reflection, I decided that I really don’t have any problem with using these words in this context. I should clarify that I *definitely *agree that Protestants are already Christians, so that they do not convert in that sense – please don’t misunderstand that. But the fact is that even someone who is always Catholic, and who never leaves the church or loses faith, even such a person can have multiple conversion experiences throughout their lives.
Fr. Groeschel talked about this idea a month or so ago on the Journey Home on EWTN; Marcus Grodi interviewed him on the topic of “second conversion” or “ongoing conversion.” He made the point that we are constantly called to re-convert our lives to Christ. So in that sense, I consider myself a convert, and I hope to convert again multiple times in the future, even though I am a cradle Catholic with no intention of ever leaving the Catholic Church. So that’s why I don’t really have a problem with using these words in a Protestant to Catholic (or Catholic to Protestant) context. I hope that makes sense.
However, I also understand your point, and I agree that a Protestant to Catholic conversion is fundamentally different from a non-Christian to Christian conversion.
I really love Pope John Paul II, but I was not happy with him prior to the media cracking open the scandals. In fact his eccumenical approach to appologizing for all of the Catholic Church’s scandals actually helped. I often wonder if he’s been praying purposefully directly for me. I was a seminarian in the late 70’s/early 80’s and I was one of the victims that fell away. The continuing actions of the current Bishops is what helped heal my wounds. But for it to take a scandal to begin straightening things out…that doesn’t feel good. But it’s a start.
What actually brought us home was discovering the Ancient Church Fathers and a convert that came from our then faith that saved me from my struggles. Initially, I was pushing towards Orthodoxy because I had lost all faith in Catholic Bishops. BTW, my father-in-law was a bishop. But the more I studied and listened to Scott Hahn and other converts on Journey Home with Marcus Grodi, the more I understood the teachings. Listening to Fr. Groeschel also made the big difference in climbing over the hump.
I still love the Orthodox Church, but my wife a former anti-Catholic became convinced rather early that the Catholic Church was in fact the making more sense than the Orthodox priest with whom I was engaged. You see, we were part of an early church restoration movement. I had always thought they were trying to restore the Church to what it was in the beggining, but in fact I discovered that many if not most believed that they had already restored it. I knew better, but still believed that the Catholic Church was apostate, because of all the scandals that I witnessed with my own eyes along with many other issues. I truly believed that I wasn’t Catholic because I didn’t believe what I thought the Church was teaching all along. I heard so many contradicting answers to the same questions by priests and lay.
It was an EWTN miracle, Church Fathers and lots of Prayer Warriors that brought us home and probably saved me from well intentioned heresy. I’m sure my father is happy now. He died in 2000 before witnessing my return. Now our 12 year old wants to become a priest. We’ll see where that goes in time and lots of prayers for him.
The idea that our conversion is ongoing is something I proscribe to also. When I was a Protestant I thought my conversion was when I was “born-again” (as a Catholic I now count my Baptism as my born again experience not my initial acceptance of Christ), but now I see that my conversion has had different levels of conversion and different milestones, so to speak over the years. It is truly something that grows and is not a one time deal.
But I see the use of the word convert as a word of conflict when used to describe non-Catholic Christians coming into full-communion.
Some of my protestant friends are always asking me if I’m trying to convert them when I talk of my experience of coming into the Church - I talk about it alot, I tell them no, because they are already Christian. This keeps our conversations open and many show great interest about learning more about the Church and more acceptable of the Church teachings. This acceptability I think comes from the fact they sense I respect and accept them were they are at as Christians. But I do pray that they do follow me into the Church - but I’m patient for I was married to a Catholic 18 years before I finally made the choice to seek full communion.
I guess there is no fully right or wrong way to look at it.
The more I read JPII, I hear his call to a continuing conversion for all of us.
Much as I admire this Pope, it was more other theologians such as Hans urs Von Balthasar and also classical ones like Gregory of Nyssa, Augustine, Aquinas, John of Cross, Meister Eckhart and Dionysius the Aeropagite, which made me feel Catholic spirituality was what I was seeking.
And there was also the loving witness of a close Catholic friend who treated me with far more respect and love than anyone before had done, and interestingly she felt close to Therese of Lisieux and her ‘little way’ of love. Sometimes it is not the biggest people who matter most to reassure us where it is right to be, but the smallest.
He was certainly influential – and greatly so. However, so was John Henry Cardinal Newman and Hans Urs Cardinal von Balthasar.
I never left the Church, but I really didn’t take things seriously until about the 9th grade (John Paul II was still Pope then) when I began engaging in apologetics in the classroom. Then, when John Paul II died and Benedict XVI was elected, I found myself on this forum watching coverage of the election–and thus became as serious about the Church as I am now. Even in the midst of a liberal diocese full of liberal parishes, I have managed to begin discerning a vocation, and I owe that in large part to this forum (as well as spending a year away from my diocese and being at Belmont Abbey instead–that helped a lot too).
I always considered the process to be a conversion–that is, from one branch of Christianity to the fullness of truth. In other words, I knew I was already a Christian, but some beliefs I had at the time were erroneous–and from that standpoint, I was in dire need of conversion.
I did, in a way. I converted half way thru my second reading of the new catechism. I had to out my body where my spirit was. This after 40 years as a protestant.
My conversion was because of doctrine and desire for truth. But John Paul II was a great witness throughout my conversion process, and I developed a real attachment of heart to him. I felt bereft when it was mistakenly announced he died. I was beside myself. Then when he did die a few days later, I was more prepared, and felt that the whole awesome worldwide mourning and funeral Mass was shrouded in the great Peace of God.
Sometime during the months of my conversion, which were such a whirlwind, I turned on the television and there on the Catholic station were a bunch of Catholic and Orthodox dignitaries in the Holy Land, and I stopped and stared. I was mesmerized by a man exuding an essence of holiness as he prayed the “Our Father”. I had never, ever seen anyone pray it with such reverance! I didn’t know it could be prayed that way. I listened for his name, and I always remembered it. Later our local Catholic newspaper’s celebrated columnist Richard O’Brien wrote condescendingly of this cardinal. (That was the day I realized there was something seriously wrong with O’Brien). Anyway, I think my Guardian Angel really wanted to make sure I noticed him. That cardinal was Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger.
I returned to the Church because of John Paul II. The day he died, I felt God tell me to give Him another chance That brought me here!
After about a month’s worth of research, I was ready to return. At my first confession back, the priest asked me what caused me to reconsider Catholicism after 8-10 years. I told him that it started with the passing of the holy father. The priest told me that he’d heard that a lot. He said that he knew the late pope was praying for me and everyone who had left the Church. I still choke up a little when I think about it :o
Not directly because of JPII, but the atmosphere of love, trust and hope he created certainly made it easier for me to leave behind my fears and misconceptions and embrace the Church and its teachings.
I’d have to say that he really was not an influence on my decision to become a Catholic. I did really come to appreciate and love him during the process, but the prime movers for me were the doctrine and authority of the Catholic Church.
Now if he had been a scoundrel, that might have delayed or prevented my “conversion,” but such was not the case.
It was watching John Paul II on tv during his 1987 visit to Miami that first softened my heart toward the Catholic Faith somewhat. His gentle smile, unfeigned love for people, and his deep spirituality definitely attracted me to him and caused me to think of him as a deeply holy man. And at that time I still believed in the doctrines of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. But there was something special about John Paul II as a person, something definitely very special indeed. I later noticed that same inner sweetness and beauty radiating from the face of Mother Teresa.