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Linda C. wrote:

Hi, guys —

I have always been fascinated with Catholicism. I am 29 and was baptized Baptist at the age of twelve. I attended church every Sunday and loved every minute, then my life took a turn for the worse. My mother and father went to prison and I was left alone. I lost all spiritual guidance and chose the wrong path. I ended up:

  • getting pregnant at a young age
  • being a single mom, and
  • marrying a fellow just because I thought it was right.

I was only nineteenth, too young and naive. I went to Mass with a friend for the first time when
I was fifteen; I remember it feeling like home to me. I knew my Baptist family wouldn't approve
so I stuffed my feelings away. For the past ten years or so, I have:

  • gotten involved with a group of Catholic friends
  • read a lot of books by Catholic authors, and
  • prayed hard.

I now know where my heart belongs. I am remarried to a wonderful man and have three children.
I want to raise my family Catholic. I want to feel the love I felt at age fifteen again.

I am scared and don't know where to start my journey.

Any help would be awesome.

Linda

  { I'm a Baptist women being drawn to the Church and want to raise my family Catholic. }

Eric replied:

Dear Linda —

I am so glad for your interest in the Catholic Church and that you have decided to take the next step!

While I think you are making the right choice, and while often good experiences are a part of the conversion process, I have to issue a caution. The reason you should convert to Catholicism is because the Catholic Church teaches the truth.

It sounded like you wanted to join to relive a good feeling, but if you go in, expecting to relive a good feeling you had at 15, you may be disappointed. Your goal is not to "feel" something, but to embrace the truth. You may recapture that feeling, or get something better, or not get anything at all — and you should be prepared for and accept whatever happens. The good feelings and experiences are what we call "consolations", and God sometimes employs them, but in order to grow spiritually, he almost always withdraws them from us at some point. Look up "Dark night of the Soul" and St. John of the Cross.

Anyway that's a far distance for you, probably. First you need to get in. :-) The first step is to approach your local Catholic priest about enrolling as a candidate for reception into the Church. They will probably enroll you in RCIA classes, which strictly speaking is for the unbaptized but,
for efficiency, they usually use the same classes for the following candidates:

  • Catechumens (baptized non-Catholics)
  • the unbaptized, and
  • Confirmation candidates (Catholics who haven't received the sacrament of confirmation).

Now is a good time, classes usually start in the fall.

Eric

Linda replied:

Hi, Eric —

Thanks for the response!!

I have done infinite amounts of research, read books and prayed hard about this decision.

In talking to some Catholic friends, I have even shared with them some things they had forgotten along the way. I am a very information-based person who needed to fact check to make an informed decision. I found love and comfort in the Scriptures that led me to where I know
I belong.

I also love the morals that Catholicism stands for. My biggest concern is that I am divorced.

  • How will that affect my journey to Catholicism?
  • And how do non-baptized children become Catholic? (my oldest is 8.)

I'm sorry for so many questions.

Linda

Eric replied:

Being divorced is not a problem so long as you haven't remarried.

You'll probably want to get an annulment sooner rather than later but if you're not remarried,
it won't affect your reception into the Church. If you are remarried, you will need the annulment.

Non-baptized children become Catholic through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Children (RCIC). Very young children can probably just be baptized. Consult a priest for details.

Eric

Mike replied:

Dear Linda,

You said:
I want to raise my family Catholic. I want to feel the love I felt at age fifteen again.

I would encourage you to consider buying a cheap copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church so you know and understand the teachings from which that love came from at age 15.

I will keep you in my prayers.

Mike

Linda replied:

Thank you!

I bought one yesterday. I visited a shrine close to where I live; they had a bookstore. I picked up a copy as well as a couple of Scott Hahn books.

I'm having a little trouble reading the Catechism, only because I don't really understand the premise.

  • Is it a set of guidelines?

I feel dumb to all of the information I'm encountering but am so eager to learn.

Thanks again,

Linda

Mike replied:

Hi, Linda —

First, the only dumb question, is the one not asked.
Do worry about asking dumb questions; I ask them all the time.

No, they are more than guidelines; they are all the doctrinal teachings Catholic Christians base their faith in Jesus Christ on. On page 5 of the introduction to the Catechism, Fidei Depositum, under Doctrinal Value of the Text it states:

3. The Doctrinal Value of the Text

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which I approved 25 June last and the publication of which I today order by virtue of my Apostolic Authority, is a statement of the Church's faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition and the Church's Magisterium. I declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion. May it serve the renewal to which the Holy Spirit ceaselessly calls the Church of God, the Body of Christ, on her pilgrimage to the undiminished light of the Kingdom!

The approval and publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church represent a service which the Successor of Peter wishes to offer to the Holy Catholic Church, to all the particular Churches in peace and communion with the Apostolic See: the service, that is, of supporting and confirming the faith of all the Lord Jesus' disciples (cf. Luke 22:32 as well as of strengthening the bonds of unity in the same apostolic faith. Therefore, I ask all the Church's Pastors and the Christian faithful to receive this catechism in a spirit of communion and to use it assiduously in fulfilling their mission of proclaiming the faith and calling people to the Gospel life. This catechism is given to them that it may be a sure and authentic reference text for teaching catholic doctrine and particularly for preparing local catechisms. It is also offered to all the faithful who wish to deepen their knowledge of the unfathomable riches of salvation (cf. Ephesus 3:8). It is meant to support ecumenical efforts that are moved by the holy desire for the unity of all Christians, showing carefully the content and wondrous harmony of the catholic faith. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, lastly, is offered to every individual who asks us to give an account of the hope that is in us (cf. 1 Peter 3:15) and who wants to know what the Catholic Church believes.

The end of this Letter is signed by Blessed Pope John Paul II.

Hope this helps,

Mike

Eric replied:

Hi, Linda —

The Catechism is a teaching tool — it's like a textbook. (The term comes from the Greek word
"to echo", because it was customary to teach by having learners "echo back" and memorize what the teacher taught them.) It explains in an authoritative fashion what we believe. I should have recommended YouCat to you instead, but YouCat is just a few weeks old so it didn't occur to me.

If you find the Catechism hard to digest, consider either the YouCat or the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (which is in question and answer format). There is also the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults but I don't think that's a good alternative for you.

The Compendium is two thirds the size of YouCat but YouCat is written for youth.

Eric

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