Converts and What Holds Them Back


#21

As a Catholic, I can’t understand why anyone would be in such a mad rush to partake of Holy Communion without fully understanding what they’re doing. It’s not like we’re just having a snack of bread together as a symbol.

Latin Catholics (as opposed to Eastern Catholics) go through quite a bit of instruction before being allowed to receive Communion even if they have their first Communion as children, so it’s not like a convert is being treated differently. If somebody really wants to join then they should have the patience to go through the process. In the meantime, the person is free to attend Mass and participate in Catholic life of a parish, while taking instruction.

Receiving God in the form of Holy Communion is a privilege and should be regarded as such.

If someone’s spirit is so weak they don’t want to learn, then they’re a bad risk as a convert. They’re a bad risk as a cradle Catholic, for that matter.


#22

Would be interesting to know how this was handled in regards to converts to the church in times of yore. People who couldn’t read or for that sake natives that didn’t even speak the language.


#23

The priests instructing people who didn’t speak the language would either learn the language of the people, or teach them enough rudimentary English or French or whatever the priest spoke, in order to be able to instruct them. Priests did not just rush around handing out sacraments willy-nilly to converts without instructing them first.

Also, through much of the history of the Church, Holy Communion was distributed much less frequently to the faithful, and people would go months or even years without receiving it. St. Catherine of Siena would beg her confessor to allow her to receive, so even people living holy, saintly lives didn’t just get Communion every week, much less every day like we can now. Children weren’t allowed to be instructed and receive until the early 20th century.

I’m troubled by the fact that nowadays people, including non-Catholics, seem to think they’re entitled to get Holy Communion. That to me shows they don’t understand the gravity of what they’re doing.


#24

What I found difficult was that I had no way of starting RCIA, there was no group here, I had to approach the priest to begin it, and then there was a lot of things that were natural to cradle Catholics that I had to ask about as it wasn’t covered in class.


#25

We’re just having a conversation here, no need to pinch me with opinions I might not have.

And with regards to that, what you say about how converts were confronted seem to be an ideal rather than an actuality in many if not the majority of cases.

Understanding of doctrine and faith was generally low among laymen is what I’ve come to understand from studying similar subjects as a history major, I can’t speak with absolute certainty about all cases but even among priests in the catholic church in the middle ages for instance there were a lack of education in doctrine and faith as well as a lot of ignorance- everyone wasn’t St Augustine.

Now with regards to taking communion I have no idea, it was my impression it was far more uncommon in the early church than today as well but that doesn’t mean people got excluded from the faith. Christianity isn’t Judaism, it’s not exclusive, all can be saved.

In Sweden for instance after the reformation it was mandatory to study Luther’s small catechism and know it by heart and the parish priest held hearings with all his church members 1 time a year at least. This had the effect of Sweden actually probably having the highest literacy rate of all European countries in the early 18th century and that Swedish laymen in generally had a far greater understanding of the faith than her brothers in Europe in general and Catholics in particular since it didn’t use common tongue in scripture.

Instruction is also not study has to be said.


#26

Yes, so profoundly true – so many people shopping for “a church that agrees with everything” they already believe in, and asks nothing of them in terms of personal sacrifice and growth other than to provide a fun and welcoming atmosphere for others.


#27

If you don’t have the opinion, then why would you take the statement personally instead of as a general observation? I’m not sure why you’re acting offended, but it doesn’t make me really want to discuss with you further.

The impression I’m getting from your posts is that you have a lot of preconceived impressions or ideas you have gotten from somewhere and are just looking for confirmation that your view is correct, and also that you think your ideas are the way the Catholic Church should behave. That’s not how it works, sorry.

Not receiving Holy Communion doesn’t mean people are “excluded from the faith”, not in the past, not now and not ever. We have one saint (St. Mark Ji Tianxiang) who was barred from Communion and I believe also Confession for 30 years due to the priest not understanding his opium addiction, yet he kept coming to Mass and is a canonized saint today. We have had other saints who died while catechumens and not fully received into the Church, and still other saints who died before receiving their First Holy Communion.

I’m also not sure how what Lutherans did has anything to do with this discussion, as you asked about Catholics.

I’ll be leaving the thread now, as I do not really like the turn the discussion is taking here.
Have a nice day.


#28

If you have no interest in discussion then I don’t see the point of being part of a forum. Certainly not with hostility. Regarding the subject I’m not yet convinced one way or the other but you’re not interested in hearing it either way.

In the interest of the topic, hurdles to conversion I brought up some of the underlining reasons to why that might be and in context to history, the reformation is also part of this. I’ve just wanted a civil discussion and had no preconceived ideas about Catholic doctrine at all. I simply answered the question posted in the thread and the question at hand had to do with people not yet in the church.

I’m fairly new here and I’m sad to say you’ve tainted my short experience here already having given a bad impression about how high the roof is in here.

Good day,


#29

Out of interest where are you getting this number of 3 years? For those seeking to partake in the sacraments all they really have to do is go through RCIA and attend mass in that time they’re going through RCIA. And that’s only about a year. I don’t think most people take 3 years to become a full Catholic. And really more than anything it’s up to a person to decide after a year of RCIA if they’re ready for communion and baptism. Some people may feel they aren’t ready, so they’ll wait a year more.

And if you were to talk to the priest at your local parish about converting they would more than likely do everything they could to help you come into the Church if you had a lot on your plate as far as schedules go, because they do want to help save everyone they can. But it still does require some level of commitment on the part of an individual. Depending on the parish size priests can have a very very busy schedule too

Some cradle Catholics do take time away from the faith that is true, but that doesn’t mean they can just take the sacraments whenever. Certain pre-conditions have to be met, like being baptized as an infant etc.


#30

This. I think this, coupled with just a ton of bad information in general out and about in society are the main reasons. We live in an “I’m OK, you’re OK, details don’t matter” world full of misrepresentations of the Church and her teachings. If everything is equally OK and it doesn’t matter which church (if any) I go to, why this one with all the rules and hurdles and bad reputation (or at best, a dubious notoriety thanks to American anti-Catholic history)? Besides, not even the “Catholics” most people are exposed to really believe and practice their faith, so what’s enticing about that?


#31

For me personally I think I need the level of structure that comes with the Catholic Church, I need things to be firm. I realize I’m probably in the minority on that, especially considering I grew up in the South and the South is not very big on the structure and orderliness of the RCC.


#32

Well in Stockholm, Sweden we have 4 catholic parishes that I know of, 3 mention conversion and out of those, 2 says the program takes 2 years and one says 3 years. Don’t know what the last one says about it though.

Of course I know it takes commitment and I’m not at all against that in any fashion, I just can see these longer periods really making people in the middle of their lives considering whether they have the time that is all.

And with cradle catholics I did mean those who was baptised and confirmed (I was in the lutheran church in my early teens). It’s easier to do it as a minor I believe, you lack responsibilities of an adult.

But overall I believe we’re in agreement, I just wanted to try answer the question posted to what I believed to be the reason (one of them at least).


#33

Ah i see. Well, here in the US confirmation and baptism takes about a year. But more than anything it’s up to the individual to decide whether they’re ready to be confirmed and ready for baptism. So it could be a year, or it could be 2-3. It’s very dependent on the person on the road to converting


#34

Actually, I would contend that this need is basic to human nature (exceptions not withstanding); the fact that you recognize this about yourself is what places you in the minority.


#35

I suppose it is very individual in that sense. There are very few catholics in Sweden (having been outlawed for so long) that there’s not much information from actual members here or converts, being a very secular country.


#36

You’d probably have an easier time finding Catholics in somewhere like say Poland. Scandinavia is very much the domain of Protestantism and the non religious


#37

I think also some of that has to do with me being on the autism spectrum. I absolutely do not like or want anything to do with something if it’s completely disorganized and lacking in anything structural to it. Because that is exactly how I get confused and unsure of myself


#38

In the early Church (first few centuries) it was a normally a three year process in becoming a Christian.

Saint Eugenia parish in Stockholm have a two year instruction programme for converts. The first year is also open to those who are interested in the Catholic faith regardless if they are interested in becoming Catholic or not. They have taught most of the converts in the Stockholm area for a good number of years. Highly recommended (from personal experience and those I have know).

The Cathedral parish has a one year programme and sometimes but it has not taken place every year in the past 5 years or so. They send the converts to St Eugenia if they are not having a group.

Marie bebådelse hasn’t had a group that I know of but send their converts to Saint Eugenia as that parish is basically next door.

The other parishes in the suburbs have mostly one on one instruction or send their converts to St Eugenia. This one on one instruction is basically for those who are learning Swedish, have odd work schedules, are ill or persons who are married to Catholics and “have already been a part of the parish for decades”. When they are ready to be received then they are so either during Easter or another suitable time like when the bishop is coming to celebrate Mass. Sometimes the priest is also learning Swedish (like my old parish priest) and would prefer another priest or deacon teach the converts.

It took me 20+2 years of teaching to become Catholic. I never met any Catholics at school or work that I could talk to. I couldn’t see myself as a Catholic as I didn’t know any Catholics.


#39

About 2500 in the year 1900 has increased to just under 120000 in 2018. About 2% of the population including all those who are not registered in a parish (but should be). I heard that some 20% are of Swedish origin and the rest have immigrated or their parents/grandparents did. 80% of the Swedes who are Catholics are converts to the Catholic Church.


#40

A few doctrinal issues that Catholic are required to believe which I can’t in all honesty say I do. Well, I could say I believe them, but it wouldn’t be true.


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