Being a “convert”

Labels are funny things. They can mean different things to different people. They influence how people view you. They influence how you view yourself.

In a broad context, Catholics are informally labeled into 2 groups: cradle Catholics and converts. Cradle Catholics were typically baptized and raised as Catholics. The rest of us are converts.

When I first began RCIA I was sometimes introduced along the lines of “this is George, he is converting” or “George, this is Jane and she is a convert too.” Something about the word just did not fit how I saw myself.

Maybe it was because it might somehow imply I was “wrong” before, thus bruising my pride. It might be that I still wanted to keep my options open in case this whole Catholic thing did not work out. I know that some have felt the word implied they were converting to Christianity (although that is sometimes the case). For that matter, it might just be saying “this is George, beware – an outsider.”

Fortunately, it doesn’t take long to figure out the true subtext, and it is all good!

It may surprise many non-Catholics to learn there are a lot of us converts in the Catholic Church. We are not a rarity at all. Meeting a new person starting RCIA for some is a happy, fond memory of starting their own journey.

I spoke of this earlier, but cradle or convert, you will also find that people are genuinely happy for you and that you are here.

Then there is the topic of knowledge. The Church has a long history and deep tradition. There is a lot to learn and probably a lot that may never be learned. The RCIA process together with the zeal to learn of many new adult converts actually places them not on some lower tier but on a higher one in some eyes.

Finally, there is a sort of special blessing in being a convert. We are led here, away from our status quo and accepted the call to be Catholic. We didn’t have to. We could have decided not to make the effort, to beat back that nagging feeling something was missing, to ignore the errant paths of our churches and to just learn to “live with” how things were.

I am happy to call myself a convert. Now if I could only figure out what took me so long!

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Comments

  1. Tiber Jumper sent me over here, but I kept reading. :-)

    I have to correct you on this post: your categories are insufficent.

    We also have reverts, which are those who are cradle catholics who have left and come back, either embracing another tradition or just floating about like a dust mote waiting to be burned up before coming back.

    I belong to this category (dust mote).

    I was raised Catholic fell away, got into Occult and New Age, then found my way back, by God's grace. I still wonder why ME and not many I know and love…

    I'm not entirely convinced that "revert" is applicable to my own status as I never officially joined another religion, but was just a disembodied floater for awhile. You can decide, I guess.

    But on the internet, you will find "reverts" and you should know it is a HUGE and not really defined demographic. :-)

    Welcome Home! :-)

  2. Thanks Adoro, you are correct. Returned Catholics really are a special and large demographic.

    I know there are a lot of reasons why people left. It is such a good thing that after some time, reflection and life experience that they come back. This may be over-generalizing, but it seems to me that upon return they might often be more fervent than before.

    You may be a case in point! Your blog http://adorotedevote.blogspot.com/ is really nice. Would it ever be something you could picture yourself doing before?

  3. LOL…I am CONVINCED that those who leave and come back (or convert from other religions) are more fervent!

    I wrote of this, but in short, I taught RCIA for a year. That year, one woman in a different RCIA class asked that I be her sponsor as for some reason during one of the Rites she connected with me. So that Easter Vigil I stood up there with her as she, and her daughter were Confirmed, there in front of the entire Church, proclaiming in person by my very presence that I truly believed and TAUGHT everything the Church belives and teaches…..

    I was as teary as they,but maybe for a slightly different reason. For years I had slammed the Church and had flaunted her teachings…but that year, had stood in front of a group of people and proclaimed the Truth.

    God is very, very good.

    It struck me that same RCIA year and it hits me even now, that once I was so faithless, and now I am in my last semester of a grad degree in Pastoral Theology. It struck me further when I "heard" Him call me to discern religious life (although that hasn't come to fruition and the search goes on. But still).

    EXPECT this? NO!

    Had someone told me 5 years ago that all this would have happened, I would have fallen over, laughing hysterically.

    In reality, now, I'm in awe of what God has done.

    And I fall on my face in gratitude because I'm still as faithless as they come.

  4. I agree with Adoro that reverts can be more fervent. In my case, after a lapse of a few years, I went searching for the TRUE Church and hoped it would not be the Catholic Church. LOL

    Once I was convinced, I had to study my Faith again as an adult. What really made a difference to me was reading and listening to Conversion stories.

    Dr Scott Hahn made such an impression on me. Here he was, a convert, who had a greater understanding of Church Teaching than I had with all my years of Catholic schooling and attending Mass. It kickstarted me into action and hardly a day goes by that I am not studying the Bible, reading books or listening to CDs as I drive to and from work.

    When I am asked a question, I know that I need to "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have."

    I also need to be able to explain to non-Catholics why the Church teaches what it does and to take the explanation back to Scripture and the writings of the Apostolic and early Church Fathers.

    My thanks to all those converts who have been such an inspiration to me.

  5. hi guys! all your sharings and conversion stories accompany in my journey to re-disccover my Catholic faith

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