Thoughts On The Playground by Lisa Jones

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jones_lisaLast week, I met some friends at the playground and we began talking about another friend who converted to Catholicism many years ago. When I clarified that they were not “cradle Catholics”, another mother, a non-Catholic, laughed and said that was really backwards. That normally people don’t move from a Protestant faith back into a “strict” religion.

I couldn’t help feeling offended. Is it a common perception that people only come into the Catholic faith through birth or marriage and that later they leave to become Protestant because they are fed up with all the “rules”?

In that moment I was quite taken aback with her comment and as we were supervising kids on the playground, I didn’t really have a chance to lead her into further discussion. Plus, I’m not really quick on my feet with my three-year old yelling, “swing me Mommy, swing me” from across the playground.

But since our meeting, I have been giving her comment much thought.

Was she alleging that people usually pick their faith by who has the least rules or requirements?
That people want to worship God in a way that doesn’t intrude on their daily life?

Because I didn’t have that desired detailed discussion with her, I can’t put those words into her mouth. But I think her statement might be a common misperception among other Christians.

I also feel that I missed an opportunity to break down a stereotype of the Church and help someone understand what could draw a person into the Catholic faith.

Our church is not simply one of tradition and strict rules, but one of devout faith. Catholics might not be as demonstrative of our love of Christ as many other Christians, but that does not mean our faith is any less real. In the Mass, I actually feel the real presence of Christ with us, both among the congregation and within me. That feeling, that experience, is something I would love to be able to convey with words, to explain why we are Catholic.

There is a difference in Christian religions, and it’s not how many times we stand up, sit down and kneel or the alleged strict rules of no-no’s. There is a very real difference in what we believe and how we choose to exercise those beliefs. It has taken years of exploration since my Confirmation as a teenager to begin to understand the depth of my faith. I would not trade that journey or think for a moment that it is over. I welcome it and invite others to walk with me as I learn more about Christ, our Catholic faith and myself.

Thousands of people a year come into the Catholic Church as adults because of this real presence of Jesus Christ, because of our devout faith, rich traditions, and heritage. For some reason, our American Catholic Community is not recognized for the surge and growth in membership.

Here is my challenge for you: Learn more about your faith so that when someone says something disparaging, uninformed or jokingly about Catholicism, you may take the time to politely educate them and share your faith.

If you have a friend who is a non-practicing Catholic, don’t be afraid to discuss your faith with them, invite them to reconnect through literature, prayer groups, internet sites, and podcasts; anything you think might help them better connect with the Church.

Our journey never ends and only leads to growth in our relationship with Christ – and through Christ with each other.

Copyright 2010 Lisa Jones

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About Author

Lisa Henley Jones is a former stay-at-home mom who discovered a new career as an online marketer/social media manager. She blogs at Of Sound Mind and Spirit with her sister, Shelly Kelly, about faith and family life. During the hot summers in Houston, Lisa can be found by the pool eating popsicles with her husband and three school-aged children.

3 Comments

  1. I was born and raised Missouri Synod Lutheran. I became Catholic after my son was born since we had decided to raise our children Catholic and I don’t believe in a 2 church household. Since converting, I feel I have more freedom and have been allowed to participate more than before. I once had a minister tell me that unless I was going to live, eat, breathe and die Mo. Synod Lutheran, he did not want me in his church. I know that this in not indicative of all Lutheran churches, however I personally have found the congregations that I have been associated with to be more conservative than the Catholic congregations I have dealt with. Many in my family still don’t understand, but the more I teach religious ed, and the more involved I become in church, the more I enjoy and appreciate the beauty of the Catholic faith.

  2. Teresa Donaldson on

    I was brought up in the Southern Baptist Church. I met my now husband in college and began to learn that alot of what I was taught about Catholics was incorrect through talking to him about his religion which he was not practicing at the time. I became very interested in the Church. We were married in 1999 and I joined the Church in 2002 and I’ve never looked back. Being Catholic has been one of the greatest decisions I have ever made. There is something so reverent about Mass that you can actually feel the presence of God moving about the room. My mom in particular was not completely excited about my conversion. But she knows it was all my decision. It was not made under pressure from my husband. It was made by the grace of God. I understand how you feel when people make comments especially out of ignorance. I’ve had some tell me that for some reason they seem to think that because I’m catholic I’m going to hell. I’ve asked where that is stated in the bible and they just laugh and walk off. I love being Catholic and I love everything about the catholic church. Besides some people need more rules than others. Isn’t that what they say that Children actually do want boundaries and rules. Even though they protest them?

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