Hard to be Catholic if you're not already


#1

Oh my gosh... this DID go on and on.. I hope not too long. Sorry. Still.....

Recently, I was led to the Catholic church through extensive studies of most flavors of protestant denominational doctrine and theology, after having been a Protestant for 40 years, and finding I had less knowledge than I'd thought. After discussing the reasons for my own change, and having shared the journey with my wife over the last two years or so, we finally decided that ours would be a Catholic family. Sounds great, right? I thought so too. I still do. but......

First steps: I underwent what I consider to be a miraculous conversion a few months ago, when all this really began in earnest. I made an appointment with the sister who is in charge of the RCIA at our local university parish, (college town) had a very good conversation about what was going on in our lives regarding our conversion, and began the process. I went alone to the very next Mass I was able to attend, just to get a sense of it so that I could help my wife and daughter. It's a pretty informal University church which we like in a way. Of course, there are limited structures in place for families, but there are many families that do attend, especially families with young children.

I'm in an RCIA inquiry class, which I feel is not at the level I'm at, after having been a Christian for 40 years. My wife will soon join that too, and really, needs that conversation more than I do. I don't think anyone has taken any time, or really understands where either of us is at, we were just plugged into the only and limited program they have. It's not like we need to be swooshed up in the arms of the church, (which would have been nice, I admit) but real, authentic interaction and more than a cursory welcome was really missing. To be fair, this all happened during Lent and the holidays, and of course, the students are leaving for the summer and the school year is ending, as well as a change in Pastors this year.

The local parish has 'Sunday School' which is really no more than day-care for children 5 and under, but no other accommodation for children. Our daughter, sadly lacking any early formation, has to go to Mass with us....I'll just say that she lacks the understanding of what's happening to have it be the best possible experience. A little Liturgy of the Word for Children seems not much to ask. This had not been a particularly Christian household for the ten years we've been married. It's only in the last couple of years, as I began to understand my obligation to my family and embraced it that we've come to this. Thanks be to God.

My family and I try to pray the rosary together at least once a day, I do much more often. We often listen to the Divine Mercy Chaplet in song (YouTube) around the house, just because we love it so much. EWTN is on the TV more often than not. We've been to Mass together every Sunday for the last five weekends, and I don't fail to go to the Divine Mercy Chaplet and Night Prayer on Tuesday nights at our local university parish. It's a beautiful service, conducted purely in prayer and song. I wouldn't miss it for the world.

I guess the good news is we live in a major metropolitan area, so there are a lot of choices for us besides the small University based parish where we started. I think the catholic Church has relied for so long on big families that they have lost the skills they need to welcome people like me into the church. Our bishop did say (to much protest) that our parish was not set up for or attuned to families and children. I see now that he was correct, even in the face of the dissension from many young families. He had a point.

We've just returned from Mass at the Basilica downtown. We found it a much more welcoming, and more tuned in to people like ourselves. My wife came back from being blessed during the Eucharist (as a non-Catholic) in tears of joy. That's more progress than she'd made in the previous 6 weeks of going to Mass. We understand that we will have to take time to become Catholic, but if we were not so determined, we would easily have been put off by our initial reception at our local parish, as well as having found two other close parishes nearly impenetrable. Sad...maybe some evangelicals need to teach them how to bring in converts and take care of them?


#2

Thanks for sharing! I just became Catholic this Easter. I admit, I’m a little different because when I go to a new church, I’d rather be left alone while I scope things out and find things to do.

RCIA is a little slow for those who already have a good foundation of God and have done their research. However, it was also a great place to get to know people - those coming into the church, sponsors, and teachers. Perhaps as that revs up you can find some friends there.

The Catholic church is not as in-your-face community funtime as most evangelical denominations, but one reason is the respect given to the sacraments. If you check your local bulletin, you may be able to find activities to get plugged in, or you can ask your RCIA sponsors about groups. (We were told about ways to get plugged in in our last RCIA class after becoming Catholic).

I am finding myself having difficulty as well, and have actually began to pray for Catholic friends, since my family and current friends are pretty rude about my decision. I have already seen a change. Trust in the Lord!


#3

Convert here as well :slight_smile: Wow 5 years this past Easter.

Typically RCIA (non-inquiry) part starts around August or September. I went to the “Inquiry” sessions and felt the same way, but make sure you ask the questions you have (even if they are above where some others are).

Most children attend Mass with the family. My parish doesn’t have a nursery and “Sunday school” (SRE/CCD) is after Mass. Some parishes even have “Church school” on other days (my SIL took her kids to “Monday School”).

Some parishes, even with lots of families, still have a hard time with “family activities”. I’m a homeschooling mom and can’t leave my kids when I want to volunteer. If I can’t take them, I don’t volunteer (my husband works 6 days a week 14 hours each day)

Welcome Home, by the way! Keep reading (I recommend stuff written by Scott Hahn for your wife)…(well and you as well). Keep praying. I love being Catholic.


#4

Welcome home. Never forget what a blessing it is to be in Christ's Church. :)


#5

First of all, welcome home!

Let me make a few comments first about belonging to a university parish. I belonged to one – despite the fact that I’m well past college age. Things were mainly geared toward students since that was their primary mission. Mostly I loved being a part of that but occasionally I felt like “hey, what about the rest of us?” I think the non-student parishioners had to be more active about making their needs known than the students did. But the priests were responsive when we did let them know what we needed, especially when we took the lead on organizing things.

I don’t know how many children are part of your parish. Are there enough children to make a children’s Liturgy of the Word workable? Perhaps this will be an area where you will take the lead to make it happen. You may also need to take the lead when it comes to children’s religious education if that is not happening in the parish.

As far as RCIA goes, it’s important to understand that the process is not merely catechism classes. Since you’ve been a Christian all your life you’re not going to need years of instruction. On the other hand, you will need some time to learn what it means to be Catholic. This is not just a matter of knowing what the Church teaches – though that’s part of it – but also taking on a Catholic worldview. I think you’ll find that you’ll learn a lot going through RCIA, but it may not be what you expected.

Many blessings as you start this journey.


#6

Hi! I’m converting at age 41, and (like you) have been Protestant for a long time.

The only thing I really want to say is this: You list your religion as “Catechumenate”. My understanding (which I already know is still limited) is that a non-Catholic Christian who is converting to the Church is never to be known as a Catechumen, as our status is simply different (not better or worse) than a non-Christian coming to know Christ for the first time.

Catholics, if I’m wrong, please correct me!


#7

Ah me, I find this so true. Find a parish that has a functioning elementary school and a dedicated pastoral staff for the parish. They usually have a lot more everything for everybody. Find a group activity that you would enjoy and volunteer to help. We have moved around a lot and that strategy has always worked for my family. Right now my parish is calling for volunteers for several activities – Fourth of July float, summer camp helpers, vacation Bible school helpers, fall festival helpers, and food closet. Later they will be calling for new members for the choir and band. The best way to be welcomed is to become involved.


#8

Catholic parishes, like people, have different personalities. The parish where you are presently attending Mass is more focused on single young people, who are away from home for the first time; not much in common with a growing family. You might find it helpful to visit a few more churches in your area to find one that fits you and your wife. We are one, universal church, but it is importand that you find a faith community that will support you on your journey. Also, you might it find it helpfuly to join the local Knights of Columbus; there you will find support and fellowship of other Catholic men. Welcome Home!!


#9

Part of what I am hearing (or in this case reading) is that you are going to a University Campus Ministry. Due to this you are not going to a Parish that is going to meet your needs. You may want to try a different Parish that has an active CCD program as well as an active adult ministry program. You may find the social activities to be helpful to you and your wife just to meet new friends. Do not caught up in the - I have been a Christian for 40 years hype - depending on how you were taught to interpret the Bible there is a lot you may learn in RCIA - especially if you were more of a Fundamentalist Protestant.

And for clarification- Catuchumen - one that has not been baptized - we only get baptized once. If you were baptized in the Trinitarian formula you will not be baptized again and will be a Candidate - this was my status - Baptism and marriage are the only two Sacraments we share with the other Churches. This is also assuming that you and your wife are on marriage #1 (both of you) and have no other reasons that your marriage would have been invalid.

If you were of a Protestant Church that did not baptize you in the Trinitarian Formula you will need to be baptized as you have never been baptized. Therefore you would be a Catuchumen. I went through RCIA in 2008 as a Candidate and received Reconciliation, Eucharist, and Confirmation.

Oh, and by the way as a Candidate you get to receive Reconciliation - as a Catuchumen - Baptism will take care of that - THIS TIME. :stuck_out_tongue:

Any questions ask away, or feel free to PM. Welcome home.


#10

That’s exactly what I was talking about. I just didn’t know the right way to explain it. Thank you!

Oh, and by the way as a Candidate you get to receive Reconciliation - as a Catuchumen - Baptism will take care of that - THIS TIME. :stuck_out_tongue:

LOL … quite right!


#11

The problem with comparing the developing faith life of a protestant with that of a Catholic is enormous (minus the “Catholic lite” churches). Many protestant churches today are very faith-based, family based, service-based, or scripture-based. They are able to accept new members instantly because their values are simple. Their teachings can be quite simple and rely on “feel good” ideals and not any real code of moral standing. Also, they bring you in first, then let you ask questions later. It’s like a netflix subscription…sign up now for free and then get charged on your credit card when you decide you like it. But you’re a member, period.

The Catholic Church has quite a few universal tennants to uphold. There’s alot to learn. We want you to research first, we want you to desire the faith and it’s life. We also have something that is beyond sacred to protect and that’s the Holy Eucharist. So we draw people in by giving them all the information, and letting them choose to invest with us.

Also, when you join a protestant church, even when you join a “franchise” you’re really joining the congregation and the people. Sure, you’ll never hear guitar in a church of Christ, but from town to town everything else will change.

About one Catholic Church versus another. Each church has their own charism. Just look at what the church is named. Sacred Heart parish may be a big missionary church focused on soup kitchens, St. Johns has a big RCIA group, St. Thomas has a high school, St. Anne’s runs the preschool, Holy Rosary focus’ on alot of devotional prayer. Of course, churches aren’t that clear, but they cannot focus on all, and a parish isn’t what you’re really joining as I said above. You’re joining the Catholic CHURCH. It’s ok to look around for what fits your family best. Years ago there used to be churches by ethnicity or parishes by geography or parishes by other demographic factors…now you can hop in your car and go anywhere.


#12

If you really love Jesus, it's easy to be a Catholic, because you will want to do what is right for Him.
Do everything in the light of "eternity". Our stay on earth is just a short while.

Keep reading your Catholic Bible, and read your Catechism. Pray the Rosary.


#13

I think the OP has a point. I, to be honest, can think of nearly no scenarios in which I would even consider becoming Catholic and this is after studying the Catholic Church for nearly 20 years —*and I would think a great number of Catholics feel the same way going the other direction.


#14

Welcome home. :slight_smile:

My husband and I were recently confirmed this past Easter and I have already been growing so much since then.

I can definitely say that at least in some way I know where you are coming from. When it comes to the intro classes and the first few classes of actual RCIA, things can seem a bit basic if you have been a Christian of another faith for many years. I remember leaving the first meeting telling my husband that I liked it, yes, but I felt like we were just going over basic things that we already knew. We were being taught what Jesus came to do and so on and so forth and it honestly frustrated me. I felt like we weren’t being reached on our level. However, that changed after those first few meetings. In Pre-Cat that is what you are taught, because there may be some members in your class that are new to the Christian faith entirely, not just Catholicism. Later on in the classes you get to the real “meat and potatoes” of RCIA where topics like Comminion of the Saints and Transubstantiation are taught.

I hope that you will talk to someone in authority at your Parish to find out if there are programs that you simply did not know about. In terms of learning right now as you, frankly, wait for the classes to reach your “level” I would HIGHLY recommend Scott Hahn’s books and CD’s like a previous poster mentioned. I can honestly say that I doubt that I would have become Catholic if God hadn’t placed Scott Hahn’s resources in my view. That may sound a bit of extreme, but I’m sure there are many converts who would agree with me. You can find his CDs at lighthousecatholicmedia.org/ Definitely worth listening to. Your Parish may already have something set up with these CD’s so you may want to ask before you get them online.

May God bless you and your family in this journey. Nothing could ever compare to it, I promise you.

Grace and Peace
Sarah


#15

Thanks so much to all of you.

I truly appreciate your input and all the information and advice. So sorry it took so long to get back. Homework was due, hard to justify personal time! I think I’ll probably change the religion in my profile just to make it less of a distraction, but I appreciate being set straight. I may just leave it Christian for now, but I sure feel Catholic in worship!

I think we just chose less than the best parish for us as a family, not that we chose the wrong Church, although I love the parish and the informality of their Sunday 10:30 Mass. Nothing like knowing that if you had to you could show up in jeans and no one would look at you twice!

Still, our experience at the Basilica was just great. One of the Franciscan brothers spent so much time talking with my wife and I about the Children’s LOW and RCIA, etc., that he was almost late getting to Mass himself, and he was going to be helping with four infant baptisms! LOL What a kind and warm man he was. Sadly, he’ll be leaving the parish this year for a new assignment, but we met several others there that will be of great help, not least important, the lady in charge of parties, as she says. LOL

We will probably not be able to start RCIA in earnest until fall, but we will continue to work on our family catechesis and growth in prayer, worship, and knowledge at home as a family, as well as attending Mass, and other opportunities, so we’ll be just fine. There’s a “soup kitchen” that several parishes support with volunteers and treasure that I have a feeling would be a good place for me, someone who loves to cook, will be able to do more to serve. That will hold us over summer, the worst time for the homeless here in our city. I’d love to respond specifically to several of you, but just can’t do it now. I’m already up watching EWTN and doing this after midnight as it is. I love being a full time student and only a part time worker. It’s more like the semi-retirement I had in mind before I met and married my beautiful Scots-Irish red-haired, blue eyed wife 8 years ago, and had our darling daughter! God led me here too, to work on a secondary education math teaching degree and later, God willing, graduate work in theology and religious education.

I’ll try to set aside some time to speak more directly to some of you soon. Thanks again for all your well wishes, welcomes home, etc.

God Bless! .


#16

It might be possible to do some study time with the director of the RCIA classes. I am a revert and my husbandand children are converting. We made our wishes known in maybe February and have been meeting one or two days a week and watching videos and asking questions. My dh just started a study of the timeline of the Bible. This is all to keep him involved before he can join the official RCIA classes in the fall. You might be able to arrange something similar if you ask.


#17

Just perusing through this morning…As someone who will be joining the church tomorrow morning, I can tell you everyone has their own road to travel. I spent 20 yrs squwirming in the pew w/ my Catholic wife…just misserable over my faith life. She was frustrated too w/ me…but not equiped to explain her faith, or extend any kind of welcome to me to explore joining…very sad indeed. For years & years as a protestant, it seemed just mind bogeling no one ever offered to include me in anything to do with church. I was a guest only…pure & simple. I finally found this forum, some good friends here, & eventually a fantastic priest at a totally different parish.

Based on my path, I recommend finding the right priest…& then working w/ him on an idividual basis…especially since you are not not a “newbee” believer. I too had tried RCIA like 10yrs back & found it to be not what I needed…at the time, it actaully drove me away…

Good Luck…Keep learning - Knowledge of the church makes ALL the difference ! You’ll find your way too if you keep trying…

Mikehere


#18

Thanks Mike.

I think it’s pretty common for a lot of Catholics to have no idea how to share their faith with others. Not to say that none do, certainly many do. It seems that many would rather not ‘impose’ or more sadly, but more likely, be bothered. It seems that ‘becoming’ Catholic just doesn’t make sense to them. I wouldn’t go into why that might be, but I do think it’s a bit of a sense of exclusivity and apart-ness. If you’re a cradle Catholic, you’re in immediately, if you’re anything else, and don’t have a priest or active and open member of the church on your side, well, you’d better want it.

We’re just pleased that someone like Brother Jeff was there when we needed him last week. It just goes to show what a difference one person can make, and how people will allow themselves to be run by their internal conversations and biases, to the possible detriment of those who want to share their faith. I’m guessing most of them wouldn’t think to even come to this site. Don’t get me wrong, I know plenty of Protestants who are the same way, but it’s easier to plop your butt in a pew and become a member there than in the Catholic church. .


#19

As you stated it is easier to plop your butt…

But - it is often easier to do the wrong thing that may look like the right thing than it is to actually research and do the truly right thing. For instance. Lets take Chastity—

The Protestant view:

Don’t have sex outside of marriage - that is chastity

The Catholic View:

Save yourself for marriage/vocation - avoid unnatural means of contraception, abortion is always immoral, those in religious life choose celibacy for the good of the kingdom, not all sex acts are licit within the marriage bed, virginity does not neccessarily equal chastity, etc.

One thing to remember when comparing the two Churches - The Protestant Church was just that it was “In protest” to everything that was God’s Church and accepted version of Christianity for 1500 years. Of course you can plop yourself down - it is Satan’s message against Christ’s teachings passed down by Apostolic Succession. I don’t mean to be so hard - I come from the that Churc and have been shown the truth - I have found that most people that stay with the Protestant Churches stay for reasons that they eupemistacally call tolerance, love, and acceptance. What they mean is - homosexuality, birth control, divorce wit remarriage, and female ordination. It keeps going from there.


#20

I was probably the fluidity, variability, and equivocation that had to do with my own questioning and rejection of what's going on there. (let alone for the last 500 years or so). Not that I'm particularly intolerant, socially, but when it comes to faith, well, sorry if people find it uncomfortable, but it is what it is. It's funny, one of my major problems with Christianity in the past was my own rebellion against authority, exclusivity, and rules, and yet, when God restored my faith, I chose which church? Only the MOST authoritarian! LOL

I do try to avoid the we/them conversation, in particular because I haven't quite become one of the WE yet, but more because I think unfair to characterize others who are living in profound relationship with God, even though they may believe in one or more of the many variant doctrines out there. It was that doctrinal variability, the ability to simply change the rules to become more inclusive, to reject the unpopular, to gain or use temporal political power (right or left, Kennedy or Palin), all to make more people more comfortable. It's as though the goal has been to make them feel that the church is an extension of their opinions and politics, rather than the foundation of their relationship with God, and to get people in the pews, no matter what you might do their souls. That's what I've found extremely troubling. (Read as: Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, Rick Warren, ad nauseum) Those guys were recognizable, but now, the list grows longer, the leaders are less flamboyant and noticeable, and it's less about lining their pockets immediately, than it is about gaining power. It's gone almost underground, or at least under camouflage.

Even now, some of the more conservative denominations, Nazarenes, Foursquare, AOG, the Church of God in Christ, and many Baptist organizations are being pulled into the "emergent church" conversation. There are parts of that conversation that "sound" good, but there are dangers within it that I don't think people are foreseeing. For one thing, I doubt they really understand the underlying philosophies that it began with, and many of those furthering it are (to my mind) deliberately avoiding discussing those fundamentals by cloaking it in terms that don't feel so foreign to those churches as they would if they were up front about the genesis of the movement. It's deception, plain and simple.

I think that many of their congregations will, as did the Anglicans in the US, wake up one day and find their churches nearly unrecognizable, and sadly, find that the very reasons for their existence has been made secondary. The core of their faith community is arguably, altogether lost in the social conscience oriented thrust of these "conversations". The proponents of these ideologies carefully avoid calling them movements, ideologies, or new denominations, but that's exactly what they are.

They're called conversations, which don't sound as threatening as doctrinal displacement, overhaul, or takeovers of their churches. Much of the language seems to have come from the old Werner Erhard/EST mindset, which in and of itself, probably did a lot of good for people as individuals. When applied to matters of faith and doctrine, however, not to mention being bent by the ambitions and denominational rebellion so common to many Christians today, it becomes much more inclined to err. Same as it ever was.

Those efforts do not seem to me forthright, open, and honest methods and tactics for causing Spirit driven change in the church. It's ecumenical, but in a way that isn't what we would want if we understood it fully. This latest threat is growing and becoming ever more popular, because it rebels against some of the problems of the older Protestant denominations. Concepts like "missionality", the so-called "emergent church", messages of moral tolerance, social relevance, etc., attract younger, more morally or religiously disconnected and ambiguous "seekers".

The fact that it does so by diverting the focus away from the message of the Gospel and more toward an amorphous "spirituality" and social involvement seems to get lost on the older, more conservative members of the church. It makes that easier by couching it all in familiar sounding terms. On the surface, these are attractive to people who easily reject the more difficult path, and reasonably acceptable as "more modern interpretations" by those conservative people who have long been part of those churches.

There's a reliance on a post-Christian message and watering down of the Gospel in order to make it more palatable, more inclusive, and accessible. I could go on about the dangers, pitfalls, and problems of this extremely widespread change in Protestantism, but for now, just this: Narrow is the gate; even if it's unpopular and un-hip to consider that important warning.

That's one of the many reasons becoming a Catholic was really the ONLY choice for me to make, no matter how hard it is.


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