April 02, 2018

Article at Authory

A Baby Catholic's Guide to How to Catholic

I’ve been enjoying seeing all the stories of new converts entering the Church at the Easter Vigil last night. Welcome, one and all!

Now that the excitement of your first day as a Catholic has passed, I’d like to offer you a few words from a 20+ year convert. I won’t call these “words of wisdom,” but they are advice I wish someone had told me when I first entered the Church.

Shut up about it.

Well, that sounds harsh, but I mostly mean it as hyperbole to make my point. By all means, share your exciting news of having become Catholic with anyone in your immediate circle whom you believe either needs to know, or will be happy to hear it and will be supportive.

But don’t share your conversion story with the public. At least for the time being. Why? Here are a couple of reasons.

You will suddenly be inundated with expectations, especially if you are any kind of public figure. You might start getting requests to tell your story on radio, podcasts, or in print publications. If you are especially well known, you might even get requests to appear on Catholic TV. These offers are well-intended, are no doubt flattering, and may be tempting so as to share with the world God’s work in your soul.

But they can also turn you into a “celebrity Catholic,” and there is hardly anything that can be more detrimental to the faith of a baby Catholic than celebrity.

You’re a baby Catholic! Even if you were a committed Christian and theological rockstar before your conversion, you are not even a kindergarten Catholic now. In RCIA you hopefully learned enough about the faith to know what you were doing in becoming Catholic. If you studied the faith on your own in addition to that, that’s great. But all that did was provide a foundation for entering the Church.

You likely still have a lot of baggage from your years in your former religious community, and it may be years before you have shed all the baggage that must be shed. If you try to teach the masses the Catholic faith now, even if only in contradistinction to your non-Catholic faith, your baggage will likely color your presentations.

Bottom line? Be circumspect in sharing your conversion story for the time being. I’m not recommending you hide your conversion or deny it. I’m recommending you do what St. Paul did soon after his conversion. He listened to and obeyed the apostles, who told him he was in over his head in preaching the faith so soon after his conversion, and who sent him home to Tarsus for awhile (Acts 9:19–30).

(Image: Baptismal candle, Pixabay.)