What to Expect When You’re Converting

Franciscan Friars of the Renewal

My friend Anthony just became Catholic. We posted his story under the pseudonym “Steven” a month or so ago, but he’s now made his identity public.

We chatted on the phone recently, and I remembered all the things I wish someone had told me when I was a newly minted Catholic. Here they are in no particular order:

1. Dive In

The Catholic waters are deep and broad. It’s impossible to plumb their depths, even in a lifetime, but what a joy to swim and go deep! So make use of that head of steam that often accompanies conversion and plow full speed ahead. We’ll see some concrete ways to do this shortly.

2. Time is on Your Side

The flip side to diving in is realizing that you have time–hopefully, the rest of your life–to immerse yourself in the Church. So you haven’t read the Summa yet? Well, it can wait a while; you don’t have to read it now necessarily.

So you haven’t yet experienced Mobile Loaves and Fishes, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Perpetual Adoration, Corpus Christi processions, the March for Life, read the Catholic Encyclopedia, all the lives of the Saints, gone to the Tridentine Mass and prayed the 54-day Rosary novena? It’s okay! You’ve only been Catholic for a month (or a year, of five years). You have time for it. Do whatever God leads you to do, during the current season of your life.

3. Write Down Your Story

And also write down the thoughts and emotions you have experienced in converting. Write down your mindset as a Protestant and how the paradigm shift occurred that led you to become Catholic. The central part of it is mysterious, unquantifiable, hidden in the heart of God and His grace. But you can commit to paper (or electronic ink) as much as you comprehend. It will be valuable later, for you certainly, maybe for others.

You could start a blog right away if you feel called to. Or just jot them down on paper, or save them on the computer. Whatever medium you like is fine; the important thing is just to do it. It is easy to start forgetting (quite quickly) what it was like to not be Catholic.

4. Watch Out for Wonkiness

No, not Willy Wonka and his delicious chocolate confections. Wonky people. Confused people, ones who do not believe in the Church’s teachings. Sometimes they are priests and nuns; sometimes liturgists and organists; sometimes Joe Catholic next to you in the pew.

It can be a shock to the system to encounter such persons, especially since you gave up a lot to become Catholic and can scarcely imagine why someone would remain in the Church who rejected her divine authority. Yet these persons exist, in need of prayer and love. Give them that, but do not let your faith be shaken by their doubts.

5. Get Involved, Meet People

Join the St. Vincent de Paul Society, the Knights of Columbus, or some other group you are interested in; go to Theology on Tap and Eucharistic Adoration. Go to daily Mass and get to know the oldsters there (and maybe as well that lovely young lady who is on fire for her faith and feels called to marriage!). Before you know it, you will start recognizing people at your parish, and they will recognize you.

6. Saints, Catechism, Devotions

Read the Catechism, and use the footnotes as a launching pad for reading particular encyclicals, Church Fathers, and Bible passages. Don’t forget that you now have seven new books in the Bible! Read them all and enjoy them.

Find out which saint’s day you were born on. Or hopefully you got to choose a Confirmation saint. Read all about them. Find a novena to them or make one up (yes that’s okay to do). Pray the Rosary and/or the Divine Mercy Chaplet, both alone and in a group and see how the dynamic differs. This entire area is inexhaustibly rich.

7. Don’t Try to Convince Your Old Friends

I became Catholic and immediately set out trying to “convert” my old Baptist friends. Did it work? No. None of them became Catholic. Instead, we had heated arguments and feelings got hurt.

Sure, always be ready to give a defense for the hope you have. But do so with gentleness and love. You may not be able to accomplish that just after becoming Catholic; the feelings of betrayal your friends are undergoing are painful and raw. You are new to the Faith and still learning a lot. It’s best just to explain as lucidly and kindly as you can why you made the decision, and then leave it to God how they respond. You cannot convince them through reason alone. It is a mystery of grace, faith, and their response to it.

8. Discern Your Vocation

If you are single when you become Catholic, guess what? You have new vocation options open to you! You may have assumed (as almost all Protestants do) that you will get married and have a family. But God might be calling you to religious life or the priesthood. How amazing, to be chosen to give yourself radically to Christ and His Church, in poverty, chastity, and obedience!

Read about St. Francis, and St. Benedict, and St. Dominic, and Sts. Ignatius of Loyola and Francis Xavier. Read the lives of St. Catherine of Siena, St. Teresa of Avila, and St. Therese of Lisieux.

Check out the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, the Sisters of Life, the Dominicans of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, and any other religious communities you discover.

It may be that, through your discernment, God confirms that you are called to marriage. Wonderful! Study the theology of the body, preferably with a group of other single Catholics, and learn about how beautifully we have been created by God, to give ourselves as gifts to another.

Conclusion

Becoming Catholic is the most awesome thing in the world. The fullness of the means of salvation are now opened to you, as well as the fullness of the truth. Embrace it all, and be not afraid to put out into the deep, for a catch, as Blessed John Paul II constantly exhorted us to do.

What did I miss? Do you have any tips for new converts to Catholicism?

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60 thoughts on “What to Expect When You’re Converting”

  1. As someone who came into Full Communion in the Church through the RCIA myself, my tip would be a sub-set of #5 – Connect with people – make friends. Find a small prayer group or regularly meeting ministry group such as a choir, if you sing, for example – or consider becoming part of the RCIA team for next year. This is especially important if you are the only person in your family who is Catholic.

    Yes, you will meet people at Mass or Adoration, but you will not necessarily share friendship with them the way you would with people you see every week outside of liturgical opportunities. One reason many people disappear after the RCIA is that they do not replace that deep connection from the small group during their time in RCIA formation with their own small community. Connection and sharing the challenges of life in a faith community is what best locks you into becoming more deeply Catholic. I know – I have been there.

    1. Joyce,

      Very good points. It is hard to meet people in Adoration, since everyone is silent! Find groups of interest and people there will share some things in common with you. Thanks!

  2. Ditto to #7. Dont try to convince old friends, and dont try to convince family. Be ready with answers, but also dont accept “machine gun” style questioning. Let them ask a question, and give then an answer. I have some regrets in this area with being too combative with family and friends after my conversion.
    Think of St. Francis and act like him.
    “Preach the gospel always… and if necessary use words”.
    If you cant tell people something without a genuine smile and a caring heart, then keep quiet and go pray.
    ANd if you figure out how to do these things, please let me know how! 😉

    1. “If you cant tell people something without a genuine smile and a caring heart, then keep quiet and go pray.”

      I need to print this out and wallpaper my house with it! Thank you. 🙂

  3. Beautifully written. As a recent “convert”, I can relate to all of this, particularly the disappointment found in realizing not every Catholic thinks the same way I do (#4). I am so grateful for this gift.

  4. If you live in an area with more than one church within a reasonable driving distance, do some research* and find the most orthodox one to select as your parish. To have sound, orthodox (faithful) teaching and preaching forming your soul should be priority number one.

    * ~ check the bulletin for “red flags” (talk of mother earth, labyrinths, calling oneself a Catholic “community” instead of church, referrals to the local Buddhist retreat center…the list is (unfortunately) quite long. Look for a parish with a pro-life group, the Legion of Mary, perpetual adoration, classes on church doctrine, the offering of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form.

    ~ Ask around. If you question someone about a parish’s orthodoxy and they look at you like you have three heads, considering them a not-so-great source. The key word is orthodoxy (right way of thinking, as in thinking with Holy Mother Church). Find someone who knows and loves this word, and chances are they can point you in the right direction.

    ~ Look around. When you walk into the sanctuary, is it actually sacred? Is the tabernacle prominent and properly ‘dressed’ (gold tabernacle and not a wooden box)? Are the statues and reverent works of art? Is there a crucifix behind the altar, preferably a very large one? Is there a confessional? Do you feel like you’ve walked into something special? Bad signs: No tabernacle to be found. Banners abound. No crucifix. Signs that the choir is on/near the altar (choir should be heard, not seen). “Modern”, irreverent artwork is displayed.

    ~ Go to confession. If the priest talks down your sins as if they are not important, or does not give you a penance, or does not use the proper form (you can google this), its a REALLY bad sign.

    ~ Go to Mass. If the priest is changing the words to the Mass, or if his homily is more like a news commentary or conversation with the people in the first few pews, RUN AWAY. (Okay, maybe not right then and there…;-)). If the priest mentions sin, addresses the readings for the day, and actually challenges you to be a better Catholic, its a good sign. If there are birthday announcements and applause….not so good. I would say you can judge a parish by its music, but unfortunately, there are a lot of good priests at good parishes stuck with lousy music. Even if you find a great parish, you may still be stuck with a choir singing about themselves and not God. Music is certainly not the church’s strong suit at the moment.

    ~ Come to blogs (such as this one), and ask if anyone lives in such and such city/town. Chances are good you will find someone who knows the area and can point you to a solid, Catholic parish. I also highly recommend Fr. Z for new (and old and orthodox and heterodox and…) Catholics. I am quite sure Devin won’t mind me pointing you in his direction. His blog is so good, I check it even before I check Devin’s! 😉 http://wdtprs.com/blog/

    The source and summit of our Catholic faith is the Holy Eucharist, and you cannot have the Holy Eucharist without the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. As such, it is so very important that you find a priest that knows this and runs his parish accordingly. Nothing will benefit you more than to assist at a reverently celebrated Mass.

    1. Very helpful, very true, we really need to be watchful. Thank you.
      Thank God we can pray for all these. Maybe we are called to do something about it? – Holy Spirit please guide us.

      Suggestion only – I think the best is still to try to stay in your own Parish – the one closest to your home. Go to Sunday Mass celebrated at different times and attend the celebration that works out for you. Parishioners, most of the time go to the same time Mass on Sunday. That’s why sometimes we never meet others until there are church functions and we make sure we attend it. Weekday masses, Eucharistic Adoration, Morning Prayers, etc. – might not be in every Parish – so this one, you might have to look for. I know people who drive distances just to go to a Parish that still allow regular candles (not electric or battery) lighted for offerings. There are just so many ways, we learn, and we think the best way to worship and acknowledge our faith, that gives us peace, – God provides.
      Search if we must, however, maybe we have to be the one to effect a change lovingly, patiently and generously. There are just not enough volunteers and the ones who are there sometimes have been doing it all their parish life, and that’s why they are doing what they are doing??? Several of us are reluctant to have more ministries/devotions, everyone is so busy. God’s work for us is never done until He says “well done, my faithful servant”.

      1. Moonlight said:
        “Suggestion only – I think the best is still to try to stay in your own Parish – the one closest to your home.”
        And:
        “Search if we must, however, maybe we have to be the one to effect a change lovingly, patiently and generously.”

        I want to firmly and gently disagree. There is a staggering variety between parishes. Some have many abuses. I have seen things that made my skin crawl and I wanted to cover my childrens eyes and/or ears. As a new convert with small children, I felt the need to be surrounded by orthodoxy, not to go from the frying pan into the fire by going to a local parish to try to change things. So I drive 45 minutes to a “destination parish” that has very little to no abuses and has rock solid teaching.
        I compare it with the school choice debate.
        Some people want all the kids in an area to go to the failing public school because if the good kids leave, the school will get even worse. But what about the kids? Dont they deserve a good school? Perhaps the schools that are failing just need to close and go away, and the kids can all go to better schools.
        I feel this way about some of my local parishes unfortunately. I think the harm done to my children would not be worth whatever positive effect my family might have on the parish. They are just too far gone in some cases.

        1. Agreed. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you have some obligation to go to your local parish. The Church hasn’t provided uniform parish experiences, so you aren’t obliged to respect the parish lines, IMHO.

          As a matter of law, this used to be the case. Up until 1983, you had a requirement to support (if not attend) your territorial parish. This is no longer the case. Your territorial parish must provide services to you, and a “foreign” parish doesn’t have to accept you, but you can pretty much go where you please. Father Z, consulting Ed Peters, kindly did a canon law study on this several years back at my request.

          Given that you can go wherever they will have you, I also agree that you should find a rock solid parish. These things are tracked by the chanceries. If they see a parish become a “destination spot” (as my adopted parish has become), it will be a model of success. Other pastors, if they want to share that success, will take notice. The bishop will take notice. Territorial parishes drained of their members will start asking hard questions. This is the power the laity have to tell bishop and priests that we want authentic Catholic liturgy and theology. Don’t forfeit it.

          Vote with your feet, and your wallet. The laity have the right to Catholic worship as the Church has given it to us in the way in which she wants it given.

          1. I think the best is still to try to stay in your own Parish

            Notwithstanding the erroneous comments implying the contrary, parish shopping is NOT an orthodox Catholic practice. Rather, it is rather Protestant in its congregational, pick-and-choose-what-you-like-best mindset. The Catholic way, on the other hand, is that we are ONE Church, such that the territorial parish is just as Catholic as is the one an hour’s drive away. To be sure, the authentic orthodox parish will refuse to register someone who does not live within its territorial limits because canon law establishes belonging to the territorial parish as being the norm.

            Formenting division within the Church is especially inappropriate when advising new Catholics. Again, we are One Church.

            1. Bender said:
              “parish shopping is NOT an orthodox Catholic practice.”
              “To be sure, the authentic orthodox parish will refuse to register someone who does not live within its territorial limits because canon law establishes belonging to the territorial parish as being the norm.”

              This is simply false. No evidence is given by you so I will also give none. But I have researched this and officially the Church does allow this.

              “Rather, it is rather Protestant in its congregational, pick-and-choose-what-you-like-best mindset.”

              Actually it is the opposite. It is not the family like mine who seeks out orthodoxy that has the Protestant attitude, it is the (some) local parishes that seem to do everything possible to look, act, and sound protestant. And each one is totally different from the other ones… just like protestant churches. Are they Catholic? Yes. Do they have the Eucharist? Yes. Do I go there sometimes? Absolutely. But for a permanent parish home where my children will learn the faith… sorry, but many of these parishes are not up to the task. If they are in need of formation themselves, how can my children benefit from being formed there?

          2. Also agreed. Any given parish already has in place a certain mini-culture that flows from the little society of parishioners. Enough members already have their minds made-up about all the various hot button issues, and if they are unorthodox and suspicious/hostile toward the church through the ages (tradition), then there is little that you can do. Been there, done that. No degree of patience, humility, catechesis, or good works will matter. Think of how many saints or holy people left their original religious order to transfer to greener pastures elsewhere (Mother Theresa, John of the Cross, Anthony of Padua, Mother Angelica, Fr. Groeschel, etc.). So go to green pastures!

        2. I agree with you quite strongly. My family lived in Minneapolis for a few years, and had the great blessing of living near St. Charles Borromeo (for whom I am giving a shameless plug), where there is always a deacon, altar boys, Catholic music sung well, and occasionally a seminarian from SJV. Then we moved North into the Saint Cloud Diocese. I will not say exactly where, because nobody in this story has moved yet. Making a long story short, we had lectures on the car rides home about heresies preached from the pulpit. These were not the most enjoyable car trips, as you can imagine. We live over 100 miles from St. Charles, and it is still the parish we belong to. We do not make it to there nearly as often as we would like, but we go there whenever we get the opportunity.

          1. I am from Minnesota too. I live out west in Rockford and drive to Holy Family in St. Louis park. Fr. Dufner is awsome. He is just being transfered now after 17 years!! That is the longest time in our archdiocese a priest has been at a parish! So yeah, it is a destination parish. You will not even hear him say the word “guitar” or “drums”, but you will hear things like “sin”, confession”, “repentance”. His sermons are the most gentle fire and brimstone you will ever hear.

  5. Thank you for this sharing. I grew up a Roman Catholic Christian, however I find “converts” much better Catholics, specially in explaining basic teachings. When I sponsored in RCIA, I discovered how much I had taken for granted and how much more I have to reflect, learn, etc. You are our mentors, because when I see “Converts” excited and praising the Lord – I wonder what it is about – and I start searching.
    My prayer is that all “Converts” to please have patience for some of us cradle Catholics who maybe not catechized, we are converting too and it seems, in much slower pace and might have a rougher, longer road ahead than you. To be able to move forward I hang on to part of St. Therese of Lisieux prayer – “believe that you are where God wants you at this moment…….”. All you mention above is right on – I will comment on #4, because we pray this won’t be the reason others decide to discontinue. JESUS IS THE EXAMPLE, keep focused, keep the faith. Let’s pray and keep positive thoughts for each other. God bless us all.

  6. Awesome post Devin! Especially #4 and #7.

    I think it would be a great idea to write down your story right away as well. You forget things as you go along and certain emotions, thoughts, and insights that you have at the time fade. You don’t think they will but they do.

    I told me reconversion story all the time when I first got to FUS and then, a few years later, started telling it for RCIA classes. But I remember I had to really go back and work it out again and try to get back all those ideas and emotions that were going through my head at the time. I didn’t think I’d forget but that’s the powerful aspects of the story that are really helpful for others thinking of converting.

    1. Hhahaahah! You just described my wife and I. When a terrible song comes up, she’ll give me a big eyeroll and I usually have to tell her to knock it off because everyone around us sees it.

      1. This brings up another point–find a parish that is moving away from hymns and toward singing the Mass. Indicators include: use of the “Vatican II Hymnal” by Corpus Christi Watershed; use of Gregorian Chant; use of Simple English Propers; existence of an Extraordinary Form at a parish.

  7. Don’t join Regnum Christi or any of it’s recruiting arms? I almost did. It’s the Amway of conservative Catholicism, a parachurch organization (“movement”) founded by child-molester Priest who lived a double-life. In fact, join Amway instead.

    But more generally, you just made a big jump to Catholicism; I wouldn’t join anything else for a couple years. Keep your common sense and don’t join groups or causes or blindly trust persons because they seem conservative or orthodox, especially if it involves money.

    1. Chad,

      Yes and I actually was a member of Regnum Christi for two years. This was long after my conversion and only after I overcame a distrust of the group. Unfortunately shortly after I joined the news broke about Maciel. A vicious man, and terribly sad how he hurt people directly and destructively influenced so many.

      Joining a lay movement or third order or Opus Dei is a big decision, and I think it is probably wise to not jump in too quickly, as you said.

    2. Agreed. I would dovetail this with a “cooling off” period on vocations. Wait at least two years before joining any groups or acting on a vocation change. Instead, slow down. Get to know your way around the house. Go to Mass at different places. Pray in different but approved ways. Read about the saints.

  8. My suggestion to new converts, particularly from evangelical protestant expressions is this: DON”T BECOME A PART OF THE DREADED LOCAL LITURGY POLICE! (DLLP) I can’t emphasize this enough as I have seen good solid evangelicals become good solid Catholics because protestantism wasn’t enough, but then before you know it, basic Catholicism wasn’t enough, so then they sought the tridentine mass(which is fine) but then before you know it, the novus ordo mass is barely licit and most Catholics are sheeple and the bishops are liberal and Vatican 2 may or may not have been a valid council. This then leads to…sedesville, where the Church is not the Church and you have appointed yourself to know which popes are the valid ones…. this ultimately leads back to protestantism full circle. Remember, we tolerated and lived in heresy and schism for years with no sacraments, no Jesus in the Eucharist, no confession, heretical teaching and preaching. Now we waltz into the Catholic Church that Jesus started and demand liturgical /musical/theological perfection? Yes the Church is Christ’s bride, but she is often not without spot or wrinkle and it is not the convert or reverts vocation to correct the 2000 year old Church. I would encourage you to be extremely thankful for God opening your eyes to the Truth and when you genuflect deeply toward the tabernacle before and after every Mass, thank God for the wonder of His coming to us in the flesh, under the appearances of simple bread and wine, and realizing He lets us consume Him and we are consumed by Him….Even when the sermon stunk, the music was lousy and some of the priests gestures werre not particularly reverent! Sorry for the rant. God bless Anthony/Stephen, his testimony has made great reverberations across the blogosphere!

    1. This presents a false choice. The options are not, A) endure your local bad parish, or B) start putting up pictures of Pope Pius XIII (N.B., there were only XII) on your refrigerator.

      Rather, find a good solid parish which is firmly rooted in the JP2/B16 repair of the Church. Then enjoy the ride.

    1. Agreed! (It’s been five years for me, too!)

      I have often heard, “You don’t have to do that!” about various devotions or practices or even something mandatory like going to Mass or Confession – even, regrettably, from my husband at times. I usually say something stupid like “I know” in response because I just don’t know what to say, but I would like to say something like, “Yes, but isn’t it wonderful that we can?!”

      I would add, “Go to confession. A lot. Even if you don’t think you need it.” – a thorough examination of conscience clears that idea up rather quickly. There was a three-year gap between my first and second confessions. The idea was not overly explored in RCIA (maybe because the priest sensed we would “chicken out” over it; the emphasis was definitely on the “only NEED to go once a year.”) Even though I still “hate” going, I try to go about once a month, and it has been really, really good for me. The first few years after converting I was sort of lost by all the #4s out there and I did a lot of things that were not good for me or for the Church. With the grace from frequent Confession, I find that I have the grace to stand firm in my convictions and continue to GROW in my faith, rather than just continue.

      1. Redundancy is redundant. That should say,

        “With the grace from frequent Confession, I find I can stand firm in my convictions…”

        Mid-sentence editing fail.

    2. Agreed, and five years for me as well! At least when I was a womanizing, secular academic who didn’t believe in the claims of the Church I had the decency to leave my cradle catholicism (80’s style suburban catholicism , that is). It is actually horrifying how many catholics take the Eucharist and then essentially war against the Church in public words and private actions. Horrifying.

  9. I would add that, depending on your circumstances, I hope learning to be alone isn’t a shock to your system.

    1. ” Learning to be alone ” in certain circumstances is a marvelous point to be made.

      I converted in 2000 by the grace of God and EWTN. Jumped into everything all at once, made friends easily, accepted my priests recommendation to serve as an extraordinary minister; helped teach RCIA, sat on the parish council, served as chair of school council, did the parish church newsletter, saw priests circulate in, and out, five times. I had to get my catechesis from EWTN and eventually discovered I like few Catholics! I love them, yes, but I like few Catholics. Piety is dead, and I resent that. Youth programs are just short of an abomination and catechesis is non-existant, music is politics and awful, and women run EVERYTHING. There is nothing extra-ordinary about serving Holy Communion if you’re name is on an ordinary regular monthly schedule! A lay woman is about the last on the proper order of “ministers”, above a child which is not allowed. It is not appropriate for the parish church bulletin to call for “volunteers” for communion. After seeing the “teen Mass” with the girls and boys in lake togs (shorts and flip flops) zipping around the alter I now suffer from an internal conniption.

      Having backed out of all the busyness, I attend only Adoration and participate in only particular Sunday Masses, that are the least offensive, avoiding forevermore the heartbreak of a “teen Mass” on Sunday. In the Mass, I now participate with my eyes closed practically the entire time to avoid distraction and have memorized the tiles in the floor, lest I scandalize someone else who might think I am sleeping, during the homily.

      I say this with humor, because nothing in me will leave the Church, God help me, nor its teachings. I love her. My diocese is just barely Catholic, but the great Church is, and I am. Forever. I love the Catholic Church. She IS the Church, after all.

  10. Yes, Ryan, I don’t disagree. If there is an option to go to a parish that is less offensive absolutely, I would do that myself especially if my kids were young and my parish had a priest dressed as Barney for Halloween Mass. (true story)
    However, being a convert (a revert after 31 years as a protestant) we are most at risk to start looking for the “perfect Church” …again.

  11. I have really enjoyed this blog post and the comments. It has brought back alot of memories from entering the Church 2 years ago. My RCIA experience was awsome. Our priest taught most of the classes. My sponser was a blessing to me. I was very quite, did alot of reading of the CCC and other books on Catholic Theology…still do.
    Here are a few things that were recommended to me by my sponsor and others. Pray the rosary. Go to adoration (I like to go at 4 a.m. and stay til the sun rises). Try to do your morning and night prayers. Look into getting a spiritual director. Go on retreats if you can. Fast. I could go on and on. I am so grateful to God for His church and for all of the blessings he has given to me and my family through the teachings, sacraments, and people that have become family to us. Thanks for this post and for the comments that brought back memories and thoughts for things to do and not do.
    Alan R.

  12. I’ve written down my experiences in converting and my experiences since my baptism on my own blog. What you have outlined here is very helpful, especially #4 right now. Captured how I feel sometimes exactly.

  13. I’m just starting on this journey (converted from atheism to “megachurch” about 3 years ago, was convinced that Catholicism is true early this year, will be looking for a parish and an RCIA class after I move to a new city in August). Just wanted to say that this blog has been a great help in building my knowledge as well as exciting my curiosity to learn more about the faith. Thanks!

  14. Catholicism is true and the Truth will judge you continuously and the real state of your heart will be made manifest. This is the reason you do not see uniformity of behavior in the Catholic Church as in other Confessions.

  15. Very beautifully written. I as a born catholic can vouch that points #4 and #6 hold true even for born and oldster Catholics.

  16. The other day a friend who’s converted a couple or so of years ago asked me a question that I had never heard before. Talking about this or that priest to a friend of his, he asked me what his friend meant when he said that his or that priest had this or that spirituality.

    I was a bit taken aback, for living out a spirituality is something that comes naturally as you grow in prayer, so I guess that I, as a life-long Catholic, took it for granted, having grown up aware of different religious orders and later getting to know their different charisms.

    He understood the concept of different charisms, but was curious about which spirituality he had, when I recommended that he just get to know about the life of a few saints and to find out which one he identifies with, if not with the path that led them to God, with how they interacted with God.

    So, in sum, getting to know the lives of a few saints, those who’ve lived the Christian faith to the fullest, might be very helpful for recent converts to inform their faith life.

  17. Haha – maybe expect your Protestant friends to unfriend you on facebook? (Thankfully most of the anti-Catholicism I’ve personally encountered hasn’t been too much more “in your face” than that, but it still helps to have a thick skin when people want you to answer the question: “Why have you abandoned the truth of the Gospel for a lie?”) And yes, I have been asked that question directly. *sighs* :-p

  18. This article and the responses are about converts but as a revert so much of what is said sounds familiar. Having been in a deep sleep for the best part of forty years I awoke to find a Church which was not exactly the same one that I had been used to in the past. I found two practices I had previously only associated with Protestants: church-hopping and talking to your neighbours in church before and after Mass. I liked all of Devin’s suggestions but in my case I’m not sure that I have quite the length of time which he suggests in #2! However, I have to say that converts to Catholicism are among the most interesting people to read. But then that’s not so new. Just consider, for example, G K Chesterton and Ronald Knox.

  19. I became a Catholic on 22nd May 1953, and I was the only catholic in the family at that time. I read this site with great interest. However I have never liked abbreviations and Joyce Donahue suggests in the first comment – join the RCIA. What does RCIA stand for? Somebody enlighten me please!

    1. Hi Cherry!

      It stands for Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, the somewhat unwieldy title given for the classes one takes to become Catholic. We Catholics have never been marketing wizards!

      So glad you commented and are Catholic!
      Devin

  20. I was born Catholic but not a good one. When I attended a Catholic college I went to mass regularly but still was lacking so much in virtue, apologetics, catholic teaching and character. I told my father when I was attending the local catholic high school that the theology we were learning was weak. Thirty some years later we now hear of such a “crisis” in Catholic religious ed.

    I drifted from my faith because of my lifestyle though I never considered myself not Catholic. Actually, while listening to a protestant radio station I gained interest in how each pastor interpreted the Bible, I appreciated the zeal of the
    commenators, pastors, various authors an many other peoples “take” on scripture as another way to look at the Bible. I knew in my heart that the church founded by Christ, warts and all was and still is the Catholic church. My faith began to grow as I listened to the programs and the deep devotion and sincerity these people interested me. But I was deeply sadden that the Savior of the world’s mother role was often minimized by several pastors. I began to note that some of the pastors were like a bunch of little popes claiming
    Their own version of the truth to various and particular biblical passages yet neglecting much of church history or rather plain world history altogether concerning the church in general.
    Thanks be to God, all of heaven and many rosaries and prayers from my family
    I turned away from my sinful lifestyle and spiritual drifting and was rescued by Jesus. Pereptual Adoration, various spiritual classics, mass and various good souls, priests and The sister servents pierced hearts of Jesus and Mary and other things and people – Like hearing the above conversion stories inspire, help maintain, develope and encourage my faith journey. I really love hearing about the steps, struggles, obstacles over come and the intellectual rigor and deep faith of Catholic converts.
    THANK YOU for sharing your journies and some fustrations of those born into the faith. Your bold witness gave me misty eyes and helped me appriecate more the gift of the Catholic faith. As I learn more fully my faith and grow in Love of God and neighbor I hope one
    day be the kind of true witness as all of you have been to me.
    have read on this blog.

    retreats they put on in the Peoria diocese (a diocese more orthodox than mine in Iowa)

    one ever quesened hthidi The Holy Spirit, the ionhan
    Tr

  21. Sorry for the typing errors in my post. I am not used to writing with the Nook tablet and it not very forgiving.

    Lyn

  22. Ditto connect with people. When I came back to the Church, I joined a Rosary group, which got me connected with an “all night vigil” group, and with the “Consecration to the hearts of Jesus and Mary (i.e. first Fridays and Saturday devotions)” groups, who connected me with the “Daily Eucharist” group… and so on and so forth.

    These things seem to be almost underground. When I came back to the Church, I had no idea that all these things had been going on ALL MY LIFE. I’d never heard of them before.

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