Do converts make better Catholics?

Converts to Catholicism are usually very spiritual and eager to learn about the Catholic faith. They often become very knowledgeable about a faith that cradle Catholics know little about.

Do you think that converts make better Catholics? Can we lump
cradle Catholics who “convert” to their own faith (by their learning efforts) as adults into this category?

Why, as children, do so few Catholics ever really get taught their faith?

[quote=paramedicgirl]Converts to Catholicism are usually very spiritual and eager to learn about the Catholic faith. They often become very knowledgeable about a faith that cradle Catholics know little about.

Do you think that converts make better Catholics? Can we lump
cradle Catholics who “convert” to their own faith (by their learning efforts) as adults into this category?

Why, as children, do so few Catholics ever really get taught their faith?
[/quote]

As a convert, I can say that, in my opinion, converts don’t really make “better” Catholics so much as “fresher” Catholics, because “cradle” Catholics a) have been exposed to this religion their whole lives, and are kind of bored or jaded by it and b) they really aren’t taught their religion. My fiance went to RCIA with me, because he wanted to learn more too and he was my sponser. He says he learned a LOT they never taught him while he was growing up.

So I think the only real difference is that converts are new to it and know more, and cradle Catholics just need a refresher. :yup:

~Stacey :shamrock:

Please forgive the rambling. My thoughts are not very cohesive today.

Do converts make better Catholics?/HTML] 
 
I'd be tempted to twist the phrase around to say that converts make all of us into better Catholics.
 
There are cradle Catholics that know their Faith well.   But as a matter of perspective, in much of history I don't think the Church really considered it a priority that the average Catholic knew the Faith other than what was necessary to practice it.    
 
A couple of thoughts...
 
There is so much to know about Catholicism that a lifetime would not be enough to explore it.  I went to Catholic schools as a child and really cared about learing everything I was taught and actually remember most of it.  But I'm continually learning new things.  I'm not sure how anyone who learned through C.C.D. could possibly have learned as much.
 
In todays mass-media culture I think we get just as bombarded and overloaded by "Catholic stuff" as we do with all other 'information'.  It seems we are expected to know more.   
 
While I would certainly never say that heresies and schisms are good things, I do think that God has brought fruit out of them by  bringing about greater understanding of their own Faith by Catholics.
 
Converts, since they come from a background which does not recognize all that the Church teaches, give those already Catholic (usually cradle Catholics) an opportunity to examine aspects of the Faith that they never had cause to think about before .

That is a very charitable way to phrase it! :slight_smile:

I am a cradle Catholic who even went to a Catholic school, for all the good that did me. I grew up knowing almost nothing about my faith, even though my mother tried. We always went to Mass and followed all the teachings of the Church, but I never really knew what it meant to be Catholic.

As an adult, I met a protestant convert, who was on fire with the Catholic faith. I really learned a lot from her. She was the first person I was exposed to who ever actually discussed Catholic teaching in detail with me.

Do you know how many Catholics don’t even realize that Jesus is God? And how many don’t know about the real presence? It’s truly amazing that a large number of Catholics go through the motions of being Catholic without ever learning what it means to be Catholic.

I, as a convert, don’t know if we make better C’s. I mean i wonder of the 30 people in my RCIA class how many attend Mass regularly. (I hardly if ever see them at Mass) How many seek to learn more about C? Since I joined the church 2 1/2 years ago I have immersed myself in C theology I must have read thirty books.

There was a post in another thread about RCIA where with the exception of the poster all the others were there so they could have a catholic wedding. That does not sound like those persons will be on fire, sounds like there might be some selfish reasons. But who knows let the miracles begin.

But those converts who truely embrace do make a difference, challenge those around them to learn and hopefully are a fresh breeze. I mean look at this forum its mostly ardent cradle C’s and newbies.

What’s a “better” Catholic? Do you have a scorecard or something?

I certainly think the average convert knows more about the rules and doctrines of the Faith than the average cradle Catholic. Does “more knowledge” = “better”?

I don’t think it does, really. We’ve come a long way from where we started out. The Church started out as a carpenter, a bunch of fishermen, a tax collector, and assorted hangers-on. Most of them probably couldn’t even read. There was no doctrine except for the Beatitudes and the Great Commandment.

I don’t think there is such a thing as a “better” Catholic. There are always those who try to sort out the sheep from the goats, dismissing others as radical traditionalists, modernists, Albegensians, cafeteria Catholics, and what have you. I don’t think we get to do that. I don’t think it’s our job to decide who’s a “better” Catholic.

God’s job, not ours. Foolish question.

I don’t think the issue is so much with who is better, converts or craddle catholics, but with the type of knowledge they have.

I am a craddle catholic who almost fell away (I suppose I am a revert of one month). Before this happened I knew a lot about the church and everything seemed natural to me until I was challenged by others. At this point I was forced to learn about Catholicism in a different way; I started learning apologetics.

Craddle catholics know what they believe, because they grew up learning it and know what sounds right. Converts (and reverts) know why, because they asked the questions and learned the rules. In the same way as a native English speaker know what sounds right gramatically, whereas someone who has learned it as a second language knows which rules make it right.

Great question! As a convert of some 20+ years, I think in general, yes. We ‘converts’ chose to be Catholic. I’m frequently amazed what my ‘cradle’ wife doesn’t know and sometimes just a little annoyed at her tendency to just take it for granted.

I think it’s a little like growing up rich, as opposed to working hard to get rich. When you grow up rich, it’s hard to appreciate having money compared to growing up poor and getting money later on. Cradle Catholics grew up in the richness of the faith, so it’s understandably harder, if not impossible for them to have an awareness of what it’s like growing up in darkness.

If you’ve never been ‘poor’, and I mean really poor, how could you ever be expected to know what it’s like. I’ve been rich and poor, and I can tell you, rich is better. I’ve been poor in faith and then Catholic. Catholic is better.http://forums.catholic.com/images/icons/icon12.gif

[quote=Penny Plain]What’s a “better” Catholic? Do you have a scorecard or something?
God’s job, not ours. Foolish question.
[/quote]

I guess you could substitute devoted, holy, learned, faithful or dedicated for the word better in this question. Maybe then it wouldn’t seem so foolish to you. But then again, maybe it would :slight_smile:

[quote=cargopilot]Great question! As a convert of some 20+ years, I think in general, yes. We ‘converts’ chose to be Catholic. I’m frequently amazed what my ‘cradle’ wife doesn’t know and sometimes just a little annoyed at her tendency to just take it for granted.

I think it’s a little like growing up rich, as opposed to working hard to get rich. When you grow up rich, it’s hard to appreciate having money compared to growing up poor and getting money later on. Cradle Catholics grew up in the richness of the faith, so it’s understandably harder, if not impossible for them to have an awareness of what it’s like growing up in darkness.

If you’ve never been ‘poor’, and I mean really poor, how could you ever be expected to know what it’s like. I’ve been rich and poor, and I can tell you, rich is better. I’ve been poor in faith and then Catholic. Catholic is better.http://forums.catholic.com/images/icons/icon12.gif
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Cargopilot, you have put his into perspective with amazing clarity! It’s easy for me to relate this to the rich/poor analogy. Thanks!

[quote=paramedicgirl]I guess you could substitute devoted, holy, learned, faithful or dedicated for the word better in this question. Maybe then it wouldn’t seem so foolish to you. But then again, maybe it would :slight_smile:
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My point exactly, actually.

Does being more of any of these things make one a “better Catholic” than somebody who isn’t? If learned is the standard, for example, we’re all better Catholics than the bunch of illiterate fishermen who were following that Jesus guy around. Does that make sense to you?

There are atheists who are learned in the Catholic faith. Some of the most dedicated folks you’ll find are those who are dedicated to a version of the faith that doesn’t match up with what the Church teaches. Does that make them “better Catholics”?

I’m fine with discussing whether cradles or converts are more informed. I think it’s a great question. I’m a cradle, and I find that converts help me to see the faith I grew up in in a whole new light. I think that trying to extrapolate from that to determine who’s a “better Catholic” is keeping score. God’s job, not ours.

I am a convert, as well, and I think that, perhaps I take my Catholicism more seriously than some cradle Catholics. (I, also, hesitate to use the term “better Catholic”) For many converts, they have converted at great personal cost to themselves or their family. My dad is an evangelical pastor and former theology professor. For me to become Catholic has been a pretty huge blow to my parents and siblings. To not “take it all the way” doesn’t make sense. I gave up too much to not be serious about studying and growing in this faith. Many Catholics that I come in contact with seem to think they can choose which teachings they want to follow and which they don’t. If I wanted to pick and choose what I wanted to believe about Jesus Christ and His church, then I would have stayed a Protestant.

This is just my experience. I hope I don’t come across sounding too “holier than thou.”

Oh, I don’t know. Let’s see what some Cradle Catholics have done.
Well…for one, Pope John Paul the Great was a Cradle Catholic, and the present Pope is also…I think they know their faith pretty well. Mother Teresa was also a cradle Catholic. I don’t think they come much holier than Mother Teresa. Our Bishop is a cradle Catholic, and he’s pretty darned good. My parents know their faith very well, and also Church history. I could keep going but there’s no point in it…

I think Lady Cygnus put it very well:
Craddle catholics know what they believe, because they grew up learning it and know what sounds right. Converts (and reverts) know why, because they asked the questions and learned the rules. In the same way as a native English speaker know what sounds right gramatically, whereas someone who has learnedit as a second language knows which rules make it right.

Any child speaks their native tongue quite well, but often can’t explain it. Even children that grow up bilingual "just know " what’s right without necessarily being able to say why.

How do you measure holiness?.. because that is the only thing that matters in the end. I don’t think that convert, revert or cradle has a bearing on this.

That’s a great quote by Lady Cygnus. What a neat way to put it.

[quote=Penny Plain]My point exactly, actually.

Does being more of any of these things make one a “better Catholic” than somebody who isn’t? If learned is the standard, for example, we’re all better Catholics than the bunch of illiterate fishermen who were following that Jesus guy around. Does that make sense to you?

There are atheists who are learned in the Catholic faith. Some of the most dedicated folks you’ll find are those who are dedicated to a version of the faith that doesn’t match up with what the Church teaches. Does that make them “better Catholics”?

I’m fine with discussing whether cradles or converts are more informed. I think it’s a great question. I’m a cradle, and I find that converts help me to see the faith I grew up in in a whole new light. I think that trying to extrapolate from that to determine who’s a “better Catholic” is keeping score. God’s job, not ours.
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I’m sorry that by placing so much focus on a single word you are missing the whole point of what I am asking. If you take the whole concet of my original post, you will see that what I really wonder is why are so many cradle Catholics so uninformed about their faith? Why do converts have a greater understanding of the Catholic faith than those who were born into it?

So many people who have posted here have already given me good insight into this issue.

[quote=paramedicgirl]I’m sorry that by placing so much focus on a single word you are missing the whole point of what I am asking. If you take the whole concet of my original post, you will see that what I really wonder is why are so many cradle Catholics so uninformed about their faith? Why do converts have a greater understanding of the Catholic faith than those who were born into it?
[/quote]

I thought you meant what you said. My mistake.

I think other smart people have already given you the answer, but I’ll throw my perspective in as well. The converts I know were required to learn the Faith systematically as adults, and they’re eager to do it. So they do. Some of the cradle Catholics I know never really learned it – they went to CCD classes until they were confirmed, and that was pretty much it.

I went to Catholic schools until university. I learned the Faith pretty well, I think, but I still learned it from the perspective of a child. I was 17 when I went to university, and that’s when my formal learning about the Faith pretty much ended. I’ve certainly seen Catholic education classes for adult converts, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen what you’d call “continuing education” for adults who are already Catholic.

So with cradle Catholics like me, what you get is people tackling adult questions – those that come up when you’re 25 or 30 or (whimper) 40 – and answering them with knowledge of Catholic teaching that pretty much ended in any systematic way years ago.

Note the use of “systematic.” Yes, I go to church and listen to homilies. The chance that any particular homily is going to dovetail with the issue that I’m dealing with at the moment is really quite low. For instance: my husband’s mother is getting elderly and ill. Is that an issue where my faith’s going to be involved?

Yeah, no question. But it’s not a question I paid a lot of attention to when I was 17 and bulletproof.

I think it’s an interesting question. It’s much better without the word “better” in it.

Our parish has an Adult Ed. program, and I see that they have Bible studies and classes for adults that want to increase their knowledge of the Bible and the Catholic faith. I just don’t know if anyone goes. My in-laws were going to a great class for awhile, and MIL indicated that everyone in there was a senior citizen. Probably people under 65 are too busy with family, career, etc to make time for faith formation. Our protestant friends all have adult and children Sunday School at their churches. My father teaches a Sunday School class every week at his church and it’s always full. Why is this? I’m not sure except that it’s kind of part of their “culture” to continue growing and learning.

[quote=paramedicgirl]Converts to Catholicism are usually very spiritual and eager to learn about the Catholic faith. They often become very knowledgeable about a faith that cradle Catholics know little about.

Do you think that converts make better Catholics? Can we lump
cradle Catholics who “convert” to their own faith (by their learning efforts) as adults into this category?

Why, as children, do so few Catholics ever really get taught their faith?
[/quote]

I’d say, yes, generally speaking converts understand and take thier faith more seriously then cradle Catholics. Of course there are many cradle Catholics who love the church too. I think the reason for this is simply statistical in nature. Most Christians do not take thier faith seriously. Since Catholics become Catholics at birth (hence cradle), they simply represent a cross section of the Christian populus. People who become Catholic, do so for a deliberate reason. Acting on this reason they are set apart.

I take my faith seriouly and am a cradle Catholic. However I consider myself a cradle Catholic by term only. Catholicism ment very little to nothing to me most all of my life. I reverted ( I suppose is the term) to the faith.

To answer the last question:

Why, as children, do so few Catholics ever really get taught their faith?

I have a theory. Most parents desire to comfort themselves by sending thier children to CCD classes. They feel they are fulfilling thier parental duty by following the crowd and sending thier children to religious education. However it begins there and ends there. No follow-up at home, no real practicing or living of the faith. The children see through this and do not take thier time at CCD seriously. It becomes a social hour.

I think there are some wonderful CCD teachers with the best possible intentions in mind. However you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.

Poor religious education is a ramification of a non-religious society.

Three weeks ago the gospel reading was about the workers that were paid the same amount for different amount of work. The ones who worked since the morning complained.

This is the generosity of God.

Do converts make better Catholics? That can only be judged by the only one with the right to judge: God.

But the gospel brings some light to this. What I receive as a cradle catholic is the same as what the convert from last easter receive. We both get the infinite value of the Most Holy Eucharist when we go to Mass.

On the otherhand, it is of immense hope and elation that I see the fire that new converts come in with. The faith is fresh with them. It’s like falling in love for the first time. They can’t help but glow.

I think the relationship is symbiotic. The cradle catholics see the youth of the faith in the converts and the converts see the weathered, tried and tested, begin everyday, long distance run that the faithful born, raised, orthodox and practicing catholic bring. Both are needed. As the gospel demonstrate, it is not a competition but a complementary display of God’s generosity.

in XT.

That has been my experience too.

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