Lessons from the Newest Converts

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I had the privilege of being a sponsor for an RCIA candidate at the Easter Vigil this year. My parish welcomed several individuals into the faith. Three received the sacrament of Baptism; others received First Communion and/or Confirmation. These adults provide such a powerful witness. They were excited and nervous prior to the ceremony and totally committed to what they were about to do.

I am a cradle Catholic. While I have learned intellectually about other faiths, I have never known anything else. I have certainly had times when I have struggled with sin in my life and my relationship with God has not been what it should be, but I have never been away from the faith. I never stopped going to Mass; I never stopped praying. My faith has been my strength in my darkest moments. I can’t imagine life without it; I wouldn’t want to. I consider this a blessing.

Yet, there is something to be said for the incredible decision these individuals have made. They chose the faith. They have studied for a year, considered the ramifications, and decided that the Catholic Church is something that they want to be a part of. The choice was not made for them, as it was for those of us brought up in the Catholic Church. The choice is theirs. They own it.

I do not know the stories that brought them to this day. I do not know how or when they first received the call to explore the Catholic faith; the struggles that they faced along the way; the opposition that they may have come up against. I do know that such a major life choice does not come easily. I also know that the path they have chosen is not an easy one. They have chosen “the road less traveled” and it will indeed “make all the difference” for them.

The world at large says that faith doesn’t matter; following the commandments doesn’t matter; going to Church doesn’t matter. Life is about doing what feels good at a given moment. Eternal life is rarely given more than a passing glance. These converts have decided that the world is wrong. They have chosen to make a public statement that they want to be different, to live differently.

Those of us who have always been Catholic can learn from these newest members of the Catholic faith. We can embrace their enthusiasm. These are people in love with the Catholic faith. They were so excited to receive the sacraments. While Baptism and Confirmation are one-time events, how often are we excited to receive Communion or go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation? Do we appreciate the miracles that we are so blessed to receive?

We can also make the choice to live fully Catholic lives. Even those of us raised in the faith need to make the adult decision to continue following it. It isn’t a one-time decision. These converts may feel that this is the end of one part of their journey – the culmination of study and discernment. Indeed, it is. It is a moment to be celebrated. But it is also a beginning. They have made the choice. They now must live their lives as Catholics. They have been called to a new way of living. Each one of us is called as well. Every day we must make the choice to be committed to our faith and to make decisions in keeping with that faith.

Please join me in welcoming and praying for all the new members of our Catholic faith. We are blessed to have them as part of our Church family!

Copyright 2011 Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

 

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3 Comments

  1. Welcome newest members of the Church, newest sons of the Father, brothers of Christ, spouses of the Holy Spirit!
    You are now upon the Way of the Cross, even when days seem better than others, so deny yourselves, offer up your daily crosses, and follow Christ.
    As you grow in holiness, and so in union with Christ, and He gives you faith – which gives you eternal life – be assured of the following, lest you fall prey to error or sin:
    – Faith is not belief without proof but is believing without seeing, which includes studying the proofs of Faith: Creation, sin, Mary’s Virginity, the Mystery of Jesus, etc.
    – The Pope is not infallible in every word but is infallible when he speaks as the Pope to the whole Church on matters of faith and morals. He can err in opinion just as he can sin.
    – There are many different churches and rites in the Church, each of which express the surpassing Liturgy in their own way and each of which are united under the Pope.
    – Love your Bishop as Jesus Christ loves the Father, for he is a vicar of Christ. Even if he is wicked, love him. Satan will tell you he is just an ordinary man, and by this suggest to you that you don’t have to honor the Bishop, but do not listen to him; rather, ask God to rebuke Satan, and love your Bishop prudently.
    – The Devil does not sleep but continually seeks your own destruction; the Lord does not sleep but continually wills your salvation. Though strong, the Devil is nothing before the Lord. Trust in the Lord and keep close to Him, and know that though Satan can try to stop God’s Will, he can never succeed.
    – The angels and saints will always help you with their prayers, and you glorify God, Who created them, when you ask for their intercession.
    – Before you join a community or movement, you ought to study it, and turn your ear even to the critics of said community or movement. For there are false prophets. The Rule of Faith suffices to know whether or not something is good and truth or bad and false.
    – The Church’s teachings are from Jesus, and because He is our God, and so our Creator, the teachings of the Church are founded on those truths and realities He created: the Moral Law, science, human reason, etc.
    – Public Revelation is the completion of Divine Revelation, and because Divine Revelation is God’s communication of Himself to man, and there is nothing greater than God, so, there can be no new Public Revelation, nor can any private revelation complete, surpass, replace, substitute, or contradict Revelation.
    – Private revelations can be judged by the Church at any time, so she does not have to wait for a revelation to cease in order to judge it.
    – The Church believes in many of the realities and truths which God has created, and one of those truths is that the creation stories in Genesis are symbolic; they do not reveal that God created the world in six days, nor that God created day and night before there was a Sun, nor any other misinterpretations.
    – Because God is the Truth, no truth or reality can contradict Him, and any apparent contradiction is either a fallacy, a misunderstanding, or a lie.
    – You will never be able to fully come to the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ, yet, your finity is no excuse to not delve into the Infinity: So study Jesus Christ and imitate Him, by His grace. Study and prayer is the Christian life, to put it briefly.

  2. I think articles like this can be a little disheartening to the Catholic faithful who often go through extreme dry periods in their spiritual life. Most converts to the Faith (myself included) are given many graces by God when first coming into the Church. This makes them so excited to receive the Sacraments and learn about the Faith. However, after being in the Church for decades, the emotional highs are often not there. Not because they are less faithful but because God no longer provides those emotional gifts. Many saints went through almost their entire life without the spiritual excitement mentioned in the article. Mother Teresa of Calcutta even admits in her works how dry her prayer life was and how alone she felt. She did not feel like she was floating on clouds while working with the poor (which is what many thought she did feel like). We are excited for those coming into the fullness of the Faith but to exaggerate their emotional peaks is really not comparable to the rest of us who have to offer sacrifices just to get ourselves to say daily prayers.

  3. Kaylan, I appreciate your comments and I can certainly relate. I’ve had several difficult periods in my own spiritual life. I know the road these converts have ahead of them is hard. In the article, I acknowledge that this is a decision that they will need to make every day of their lives. I do think that sometimes those of us who have walked the road for decades can use a jolt of enthusiasm, however. It can be good to see the sacraments through fresh eyes.

    I wish you all the best in your spiritual journey.

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