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 nineteen, 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
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.
Do you have advice for a sacred Baptist who wants to join the Church and raise a Catholic family? }
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" [Wikipedia] 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.
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 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.
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 (RCIC) Rite of Christian Initiation of Children. Very young children can probably just be baptized.
Consult a priest for details.
You said: I want to raise my family Catholic. I want to feel the love I felt at age fifteen again.
I would also encourage you to consider buying a cheap copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church so you know and understand what we totally believe as Catholics.
830 The word catholic means universal, in the sense of according to the totality or in keeping with the whole. The Church is catholic in a double sense:
First, the Church is catholic because Christ is present in her.
"Where there is Christ Jesus, there is the Catholic Church."
(St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Smyrn. 8,2:Apostolic Fathers,II/2,311)
In her subsists the fullness of Christ's body united with its head; this implies that she receives from him the fullness of the means of salvation. (Vatican II, Unitatis Redintegratio 3; Vatican II, Ad Gentes 6; Ephesians 1:22-23) which he has willed: correct and complete confession of faith, full sacramental life, and ordained ministry in apostolic succession.
The Church was, in this fundamental sense, catholic on the day of Pentecost (cf. Vatican II, Ad Gentes 4) and will always be so until the day of the Parousia.
831 Secondly, the Church is catholic because she has been sent out by Christ on a mission to the whole of the human race: (cf. Matthew 28:19)
All men are called to belong to the new People of God. This People, therefore, while remaining one and only one, is to be spread throughout the whole world and to all ages in order that the design of God's will may be fulfilled: he made human nature one in the beginning and has decreed that all his children who were scattered should be finally gathered together as one. . . . The character of universality which adorns the People of God is a gift from the Lord himself whereby the Catholic Church ceaselessly and efficaciously seeks for the return of all humanity and all its goods, under Christ the Head in the unity of his Spirit. (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 13 §§ 1-2; cf. John 11:52)
I will keep you in my prayers.
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.
Hi, Linda —
First, the only dumb question, is the one not asked.
Don't worry about asking dumb questions. When any man, woman, child, or anyone asks a question related to the faith or any supernatural issue, it is really a positive response to the Holy Spirit guiding (him or her) on their faith journey . . . so ask away!
No, they are not guidelines; they are all the doctrinal teachings that 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:
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. Ephesians 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.
This Catechism is not intended to replace the local catechisms duly approved by the ecclesiastical authorities, the diocesan Bishops and the Episcopal Conferences, especially if they have been approved by the Apostolic See. It is meant to encourage and assist in the writing of new local catechisms, which take into account various situations and cultures, while carefully preserving the unity of faith and fidelity to catholic doctrine.
At the conclusion of this document presenting the Catechism of the Catholic Church, I beseech the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Incarnate Word and Mother of the Church, to support with her powerful intercession the catechetical work of the entire Church on every level, at this time when she is called to a new effort of evangelization. May the light of the true faith free humanity from the ignorance and slavery of sin in order to lead it to the only freedom worthy of the name (cf. John 8:32): that of life in Jesus Christ under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, here below and in the Kingdom of heaven, in the fullness of the blessed vision of God face to face (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:12; 2 Corinthians 5:6-8)!
Given 11 October 1992, the thirtieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, in the fourteenth year of my Pontificate.
Joannes Paulus II
The end of this Letter is signed by Pope St. John Paul II.
Hope this helps,
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.