Converts — I Admire them SO Much

When I was about six weeks old they dressed me up in a white silk christening gown, carried me into the church, stood around while I was baptized, renounced Satan for me, and then carried me back home as a child of God. I guess I slept through the whole thing, because I do not have one iota of memory of that day. What I just wrote about comes from what I was told. My siblings all went through the same initiation process into God’s family. We are known as “cradle Catholics’. So are many of you.

I was raised Catholic, taught Catholic, went to Catholic school for 12 years, was an altar-boy, and grew up in a neighborhood that was predominantly Catholic. Today, I am considered a ‘devout’ Catholic. Why? Because all of it stuck. I still love this faith I was born into. I even go to Mass almost every day of the week. It ‘stuck’ to my sister. She still faithfully practices her faith.  My one brother will go inside a church for a funeral or a wedding. That’s it. He must have been coated with teflon because nothing stuck to him. My youngest brother somehow shed his Catholic skin, and, after many years, metamorphosed into a “Born Again Baptist”.  I remember standing at his wedding thinking that I had traveled to ‘Bizarro World’ where everything was backwards. Up was down, hello was good-bye, fat was thin and so on. How could you go from Catholic to Baptist? Whatever–”judge not lest ye be judged”.

So I ask the question; How does that happen to people who have the same background and upbringing? How come so many of the people I knew from childhood and who came from the same type of Catholic background I did have rejected the faith and moved on to other creeds or no creeds? How come 75% of Catholics went to Sunday Mass in 1960 and today we are at about 22%?  The answer may be found in the many volumes of psych books available or in the Bible or the Summa Theologica or maybe nowhere. I know I cannot answer the question. But, do not despair my faithful Catholic compatriots. Rejoice!  There is an upside. They are called Converts.

Converts are the people who have discovered the Catholic faith on their own. Unlike me, who had my faith handed to me as a sleeping infant, these people consciously chose to embrace this gift after personally pondering and praying about it . They are like the first Christians who were mostly Jewish and found Jesus (and vice-versa) who was also a Jew. The first Pope was a Jewish convert.  On the very first Pentecost Sunday thousands of people from all walks of life converted. This was the beginning of the faith spreading. Instead of babies,  it was grown-ups.  Who went out and suffered and died for this new faith they had accepted. They chose  it, embraced it, and knew the consequences of their actions. Imagine that. I admire them SO much.

Last March during the Easter Vigil,  22 people stood up  in my parish alone, and received the sacraments embracing the Catholic faith. I have no  statistics available for 2013 but I have seen numbers of 150, 000 converts to Catholicism in the U.S. in 2012.  That is FANTASTIC. These new, enthusiastic converts who are filled with the Holy Spirit are one of the reasons Holy Mother Church will be around until the end of time. It’s a beautiful thing.

 

 

 

 

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8 Responses to Converts — I Admire them SO Much

  1. It is true. Whether we were raised in the faith or not, at some point we have to embrace it for ourselves, take it to heart. Although a “cradle” Catholic, I left the church for many years and my spiritual journey had some twists and turns until I “converted” back to the Catholic Church with a love and sincerity I never had before I left.

  2. Jeff says:

    This Easter I celebrated my 20th anniversary as a Catholic. It has been the most amazing 20 years of my life. I was baptized Methodist and grew up a nominal Lutheran/Presbyterian. As a lover of all things related to history I began to notice things such as the saints, councils…various events in history that my other faiths ignored or never mentioned. I started digging and loved what I found. I married a great Catholic girl from a big family and our kids all attend Catholic schools in the Lincoln Diocese. Once you look at the world through the Catholic lens it changes you deeply.

  3. Alice Berger says:

    I joined the Catholic Church at Easter Vigil this year. I am very grateful that God led me to the Church through my husband, a cradle Catholic, who had drifted away. We’ve both made a commitment to living the Catholic Christian life together.

  4. DonMulcare says:

    Hi Larry,

    Your experience sounds familiar. My brothers, 2 and 9 years younger than me, schooled by “the nuns and the brothers” no longer practice. I’m not in touch with many in my peer group, but it seems as if their attitude toward religion and Catholicism have cooled off.

    Just read Thomas Craughwell’s book, Pope Francis: the Pope from the End of the Earth. Statistics from Latin America resemble those quoted by you. I’ve started Candles in the Dark, the authorized biography of Fr. Richard Ho Lung, by Joseph Pearce. Fr. Richard converted from Buddhism and finds most of the members of his new order, The Missionaries of the Poor in the poorest parts of the world. The general falling away from the church may have a lot to do with the embrace of materialism in the more affluent areas of the globe, including our own neighborhoods.

    Thanks for sharing,

    Don

  5. J.D. Cowan says:

    I am more of what you would call a ‘revert’, but since I was but a thirteen year-old when I stopped (mostly by forgetting instead of malice… so you could see how much I cared for it) I consider it more of a proper conversion.

    Everybody has to search, we all just do it in different ways and to different degrees. Without my search I never would have understood my faith at all and I might have drifted out on harsher terms.

    I certainly do appreciate it now. Even at my lowest as a Catholic I’m far better than I was at my best as a Secularist.

  6. God uses you cradle Catholics to bring in converts. I was a staunch Protestant with little knowledge and no inclination to go Catholic. What happened? The love of my life. I couldn’t convert for love alone but investigated for myself and converted 2 years later. We all must make an adult decision to nurture a personal relationship with Jesus. Those of us who are converts made that decision as we turned away from our childhood religious practices and attachments. We no longer speak as a child or act as a child but grew up in the Lord to become fully and enthusiastically Catholic. I will never regret the Christian training I had from my parents and grandparents that allowed me to see that Jesus is not limited to one denomination. He is everywhere and in everyone.