Converting Questions

I’m new to this forum (or any forum really to be honest) and if this is in the wrong section, then I apologize for this in advance if this is the case.

My mother is a devout Christian, and sees anyone as a believer in Christ to be a fellow sister/brother, so any Church that she sees as a place to know God is where we’ve gone. However, the trend has been mostly been Methodist churches although I’ve been to Presbyterian church once. Generally I consider myself non-denominational (at least I used to).
Currently I’m going to a Southern Baptist Church, Southern Baptist Church Bible Study on Friday Nights, and a fellowship/worship meeting on Saturday nights (the associated church has “elders” that lead discussion instead of pastors/priests, and uses the New Recovery version of the Bible). I also meet someone from the Saturday night fellowship meet to talk generally about my growth in faith on Thursdays (usually with other people).
I also occasionally go to Mass during the weekdays.

I really believed spiritually I’ve grown so much as a Christian throughout my life and experiences with all these groups. However, I believe spirituality alone is definitely not enough, and I believe the Catholic church is calling me to join. So I have a couple questions.

  1. The idea of praying to saints and to the Virgin Mary are very removed ideas in my growth as a Christian. Is it a requirement that I pray/venerate them immediately if I were to convert? Can I steadily learn to know their place in their veneration? Do I always have to venerate them, because I’ve always been used to praying to Jesus/God directly.

  2. I know the RCIA is not short, and I will be going on vacation this summer traveling in Europe. I know going to Mass is important and is a duty every week. However, what should I do if there are no local mass locations to places I am travelling? Is there some useful website with recordings of the liturgy or some website that I can watch/listen if I can’t go to one? What is the best recommendation in such a situation?

  3. During the summer I will be staying at my family’s house. However, we have limited cars. My entire family goes to a Methodist church. However, what should I do about going to a Mass? I don’t have a license to drive, and cars are limited.

  4. I heard that the Sacrament of Penance is not really true unless I am a full Catholic. However, is it okay to still talk to a priest about things I’ve done etc., as a form of practice in my conversion?

  5. What should I do if a family member (maybe a parent) does not support me in my conversion? My mother would allow, not sure about my father. Just wondering as a possibility.

  6. Can I talk to a priest (before going into an RCIA) about dreams/visions etc. and past supernatural experiences, or is this something that should be reserved until after full conversion?

Sorry for this being really long, but my faith is really important to me and I wish to be thorough.

First of all, welcome!

Some people have more of a devotion to Mary and/or the saints, and some have less. It’s not something you really have to worry about right now. I think you may find that your relationship with Mary is like your relationship with friends. You may first meet someone and think they’re nice enough but you don’t necessarily spend a lot of time with them. But as you get to know them better you may find that you like them more and want to be around them more. Mary (and the saints) are kind of the same. Your relationships with them may change over time.

  1. I know the RCIA is not short, and I will be going on vacation this summer traveling in Europe. I know going to Mass is important and is a duty every week. However, what should I do if there are no local mass locations to places I am travelling? Is there some useful website with recordings of the liturgy or some website that I can watch/listen if I can’t go to one? What is the best recommendation in such a situation?

Probably in most parts of Europe you’ll have the opportunity to go to Mass if you wish. And, in fact, it can be a wonderful part of your travels to explore how things are done in other places. As you become familiar with the Mass in English, you’ll find that it’s the same Mass when offered in Spanish, Italian, German, French, etc. It gives you a sense of the universality of the Church.

  1. During the summer I will be staying at my family’s house. However, we have limited cars. My entire family goes to a Methodist church. However, what should I do about going to a Mass? I don’t have a license to drive, and cars are limited.

You can really only do what you can do. If you have the opportunity to go to Mass that’s great. Perhaps you can invite some members of your family to go to Mass with you. You could also call the local parish to see if they know of anyone who could give you a ride to Mass. But if you can’t get there then there isn’t much else you can do. God doesn’t ask us to do the impossible.

  1. I heard that the Sacrament of Penance is not really true unless I am a full Catholic. However, is it okay to still talk to a priest about things I’ve done etc., as a form of practice in my conversion?

You could certainly call your local parish and make an appointment to meet with a priest. He’d be happy to talk with you about your spiritual life, answer questions about RCIA, etc.

  1. What should I do if a family member (maybe a parent) does not support me in my conversion? My mother would allow, not sure about my father. Just wondering as a possibility.

I don’t know how old you are. If you’re a minor then issues with parents are more of a problem than if you are older. It could be that you’ll have to wait until you are of legal age or not dependent on your parents as much.

  1. Can I talk to a priest (before going into an RCIA) about dreams/visions etc. and past supernatural experiences, or is this something that should be reserved until after full conversion?

If you make an appointment with a priest this could be something you would discuss.

Welcome!
God bless you and I hope you find peace here.
You have a lot of points to cover so I will suggest this:
Call the nearest Parish and ask to meet with the priest to talk about possible conversion. Tell him you’re still discerning, and you have a few questions. Even if he personally is not available, he will direct you to the Primary Catechist for RCIA. Lots of people have the same questions, etc.
There are web sites that list the Parishes and Mass times for anywhere in the U.S. Try not to fret about it for now. Go with whatever advice the priest offers on this.
RCIA in most places, (not all of course) begin in earnest in the fall…some take one year, some 2 years, but they culminate at Easter.
Once you have been catechized about Mary’s role in salvation history, your views may change.
Lots of non-Catholics confide in priests. You can be assured of your privacy.
The only thing you can do about persons who may not be immediately supportive of your decision should you decide to convert is to pray for their ears to be opened, and also to keep the lines of discussion open, particularly with close family. Many times people are against the Catholic Church simply because they do not understand or have only “heard” some thing about the Church. The facts of Church History, and the truth in the teachings convince many. At the very least, they will begin to understand that this is not some oddball cult of sorts. Those who are interested in your spirituality and your salvation will surely support you. If not, as I said, pray for them. Arguing does not serve God and drives wedges further. Be open to respectful dialog.
Finally yes talk to a priest! About anything. Priests have heard most of what you have to say before. They are trained to gently lead you on the path.
God bless you. I hope it doesn’t sound overwhelming. If the Holy Spirit is calling you, go for it!
I’m sure many others in this community will support you in prayer and have more suggestions.
Peace dear one! :wink:
pianist

Hi! I’m a former Southern Baptist who became Catholic. :slight_smile: I was hesitant at first with the intercession of Mary and the Saints. It took me some time, but I made sure to have a solid theological grasp before I launched into it. My habit of asking the saints for help has slowly grown since then. You’re going through life with a “cloud of witnesses” - it’s like picking out friends from the crowd/cloud and inviting them to join you as you go along. Except you discover later that it was they that picked you out! :wink:

Since you’ve not been received into the Catholic Church yet, you’re not canonically bound to attend Holy Mass on Sundays. At least that’s what I was told by my rock-solid priest who brought me into the church. Of course I highly recommend you go, but it isn’t the end of the world if you don’t make it one Sunday (i.e. it’s not a mortal sin), and of course if you are unable to go, well then you’d be OK even if you were officially Catholic. Someone correct me if I’m wrong though.

Best wishes as you discern God’s will and seek out his Holy Church!

The Holy Spirit is calling you into the Catholic Church; welcome home! You can be a Catholic in good standing for your whole life and never offer one single prayer to Mary or saints. Of course, after you get to know them better, this will no longer be an issue for you. RCIA programs vary according to parish, but usually they meet Sept - Apr/May and a Summer vacation should not interfere with the time. If you have completed your conversion process by that time, you will obliged to attend Mass every Sunday (like all Catholics) otherwise it won’t be a problem. Since you will be Europe, Mass should not be a problem. Try to find out what time Mass is celebrated at the nearest church when you visit your relative and arrange to have someone drive you (it would be 1 - 1 1/2 hour commitment) or you can always call a cab and ask the driver to return for you in an hour or so. You can call and make an appointment with a priest to talk about what’s on your mind, anytime. You could go to confession, but if you are not Catholic you will not be able to receive absolution. Unfortunately, opposition to conversion from a family member is very common. Usually, the person will come around after some time, you should just pray for them and leave the rest to the Holy Spirit.

I didn’t read all the responses already, but I am sure they are good. I just wanted to add my own perspective to help you out and commend you on your journey into the Catholic Church. This is a journey and a road that you will figure out as you go. I was told as I was discerning to just put faith in the process and in God leading me to him. We don’t have to have it all figured out initially. We just need to know our next step. As you go through the process if God wants you to be Catholic and you truly are seeking him, you will be Catholic. If not than you won’t. So don’t feel like it all has to be figured out now.

  1. The idea of praying to saints and to the Virgin Mary are very removed ideas in my growth as a Christian. Is it a requirement that I pray/venerate them immediately if I were to convert? Can I steadily learn to know their place in their veneration? Do I always have to venerate them, because I’ve always been used to praying to Jesus/God directly.

For this question, remember you always pray to God directly. Praying “to the Saints” is simply asking them to pray with us and for us. Thats it. Just as I might ask you to pray for me, that doesn’t take God out of the equation, it adds to it. So too with the Saints. You ask them to pray for you as well. The great Litany of Saints is prayed and the only thing asked of the Saints is to pray for us. All the petitions are asked to God. Id encourage you to watch this ordination mass and hopefully see the beauty and reality of the Communion of Saints: youtube.com/watch?v=NOxMzNLiEEY

But yes, by the time you are confirmed (probably at least 1 year from now) you will need to say you believe “all that the Catholic Church teaches” This does not mean that you are comfortable praying to the saints, but that you acknowledge that it is true and participate when asked.

  1. I know the RCIA is not short, and I will be going on vacation this summer traveling in Europe. I know going to Mass is important and is a duty every week. However, what should I do if there are no local mass locations to places I am travelling? Is there some useful website with recordings of the liturgy or some website that I can watch/listen if I can’t go to one? What is the best recommendation in such a situation?

My best recommendation is to talk to your priest when this comes close. He can give you dispensation if necessary. There are lots of wonderful Catholic Churches in Europe so you should be able to find one most of the time. That said, until you are received into the church I do not believe you are technically bound to attend mass every Sunday. But if you believe it is true that God commands it and you don’t then it is perhaps still mortal sin and so I would highly encourage you to start being faithful in this regard now. I work as a firefighter and once every 6 weeks I have to work both Saturday and Sunday. I pray the Rosary and listen to one of Father Barron’s Homilies (www.wordonfire.org) along with the Sunday readings. Something like this is not obligatory but I like to do it to set aside the Lords day.

  1. During the summer I will be staying at my family’s house. However, we have limited cars. My entire family goes to a Methodist church. However, what should I do about going to a Mass? I don’t have a license to drive, and cars are limited.

When you join RCIA you will be assigned a sponsor. If the sponsor is worth anything they will drive you to mass. If you make this known to the faith formation director in advance it can help them find a sponsor who can do so. If that doesn’t work, than you can find a parishioner who lives near you and ask for transportation. I am sure the office can help arrange this for you.

  1. I heard that the Sacrament of Penance is not really true unless I am a full Catholic. However, is it okay to still talk to a priest about things I’ve done etc., as a form of practice in my conversion?

The sacrament of penance is available to any baptized Christian who believes in the power of the Sacrament. You can go and receive absolution, your faith formation director though will encourage you to wait until closer to the time of Confirmation for your first Confession so you can learn more about the Sacrament and the Church. Regardless, the priests are available to counsel you. Set an appointment with a good one and spend an hour discussing your situation. Ask him about your desire for the Sacrament and if he will help you with it. I would imagine he would.

  1. What should I do if a family member (maybe a parent) does not support me in my conversion? My mother would allow, not sure about my father. Just wondering as a possibility.

You need to follow your own spiritual path, not anyone else’s. If you are living in your parents home than you will have to navigate carefully because you will need to respect your parents, but as an adult, you can make your own decisions about your life. Respecting your parents doesn’t mean they dictate your spirituality it means you treat them with honor and loving kindness.

  1. Can I talk to a priest (before going into an RCIA) about dreams/visions etc. and past supernatural experiences, or is this something that should be reserved until after full conversion?

Absolutely, the priests are there to serve your spiritual needs. Talk to them whenever you wish.

Welcome!!

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