And Still They Come to Be Catholic

rite election becoming catholic And Still They Come to Be CatholicLast weekend I traveled with pilgrims.

We trekked 90 minutes west to the cathedral in Peoria, IL for the RCIA Rite of Election.

Sometimes I wonder, in the midst of all the scandals, negative press, and misconceptions touted as fact, will people still want to join the Church?

Will they come seeking the Truth the Church has to offer, or will it be obscured by falsehoods and misunderstandings?

There, amid a packed church that seats over 1,500, my faith in the Church was renewed.

The Rite of Election wasn’t always so easy

The Rite of Election is a carry over from a more ancient time. A time of hidden mysteries and persecutions.

In the early Church, candidates for Christianity were screened for their readiness. It wasn’t just an automatic. They had to show by their actions they took to heart what they were learning.

The bishop questioned candidates on the kind of life they led. Were they still getting drunk at the pagan festivals? Did they still go to the public baths? In other words, was there a change?

And, he didn’t just take their word. Someone trusted in the community, a sponsor, had vouch for this change of life.

But still they came

Very much like today, the culture was hostile toward anything Christian.

But in those days, it was downright risky to become a Catholic. The whim of an emperor turned you into an outlaw.

And still they came…in droves. Drawn out of the world to follow Christ’s radical call, they joined a religion that might mean their untimely death.

They came searching for something not found in the world. For the promise of “the good life” elusive to all but the elite and noble. For a peace not of this world that still eludes the wealthy, powerful, and lustful who are blinded to the reality of something more than this life.

And despite the problems, they still come

And, like last weekend, they still come

It never ceases to amaze me that, even with the Church’s problems plastered all over the media, the same number of people call me every year about joining the Church.

Despite the scandal of child sexual abuse, they come.

Despite the scoffs of popular media that portray the Church as medieval and barbaric, they come.

Despite the derision of gay marriage proponents and rampant misconceptions circulated about Catholic belief, they come.

They come from different backgrounds. Some searching for what’s missing in their lives. Some to find peace. Often they’re looking to make sense of inconsistencies in their protestant understanding of God. And more often they want to rekindle the smoldering embers of a grandmother’s faith that was abandoned long ago by their parents.

It hit me as I watched them in the cathedral, they were full of joy at the prospect of joining the Church. Excited. Elated. The pageantry and fanfare of the bishop’s opening procession drowned out the naysayers and pundits of the secular media.

They were overwhelmed with beauty.

Because they find truth and the power to live fully

Joining the Catholic Church is not easy. It never was. The Church wasn’t popular in ancient times and it still is not today.

So, why do they still come? Because they recognize Truth.

The Church is ancient. But in that ancientness is the vein of golden truth that stretches back through the millennia to the time when God walked the earth and taught.

Jesus left the apostles power and authority to preach the truth and make people children of God. And, they passed on that power and authority to their successors. It’s not a human construct. It’s a spiritual and divine reality.

The Church is a solid rock pounded by the swirling tide of change. The still point of the turning world. This is where teaching of the apostles can still be found–developed but unaltered.

And so, they still come…even though half of the country writes Catholics off as anachronistic. The Church will thrive because people will always long for and recognize the truth.

For meaning, purpose, truth, and the power to live fully, they will continue to come.

P.S.

Did you become Catholic as an adult or do you know someone that did? What drew you/them to the Catholic Faith? Tell me about it in the comments. 

Photo Credit: prayitno via Compfight cc

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About Marc Cardaronella

Church worker by day, blogger by night. I'm passionate about the most effective ways to transmit the Catholic Faith and spread Christ's Gospel to the world. Join me? Find me on Facebook, Twitter, and for the catechetical ramblings of the day.

Comments

  1. You be pleasantly shocked at the local Evangelicals and Fundies who drag themselves into the Church because they can no longer deny it is the one Jesus founded, warts and all.

    • Marc Cardaronella says:

      Definitely pleased but not that surprised. I see it every day. Well actually, I’m always a little amazed and also grateful. I love to hear the stories that bring them in.

  2. Here is my conversion story. Your post is encouraging. I stand in awe frequently to witness how the Holy Spirit changes hearts, and especially HOW he reaches people.

    http://thedevoutlife.blogspot.com/p/my-conversion-story.html

    • Marc Cardaronella says:

      Hi Mindy! Thanks for sharing the link! I love to read conversion stories to see how people come to the Church. I’ll definitely check it out. I agree, the Spirit leads us in so many different ways and by different paths. It really is amazing to see.

  3. Make that “He” with a capital H. :-) Sorry.

  4. Hi Marc,

    I started a blog to chronicle some of the issues related to my journey into the Church. You touched on one of the things I noted while converting: that the blind, unreasoning hostility of many in the media toward Christianity often finds its focus in the Catholic Church. Who was it who said, “The character of those who are against us is the best thing that can be said for us”?

    • Marc Cardaronella says:

      Hi Kevin,

      That’s an interesting quote. I like that. I definitely think it’s true that Catholics get the brunt of a lot the hostility toward Christianity…unless some protestant congregation is really doing something big. We’re large, visible, and centrally organized so it’s easier to direct toward us I think.

  5. I appreciate your story. It seems like the world is full of sound and fury, but underneath the tumult, God is still present and people still seek Him. This is much more important and enduring than the newspaper headlines.

    My conversion story link:

    http://www.abcsoffaith.com/html/judith.html

    • Marc Cardaronella says:

      Absolutely right Judith! God is still working in the quiet of people’s hearts drawing them to the Faith…sometimes not so quiet and with much sound and fury. There’s so many misconceptions that often, when the truth comes out, people are shocked and surprised and find themselves drawn to it. That’s the way I was, I know. Yes, that is much more important than the headlines, but I sometimes wish we could get that too. Thanks for the conversion story. I’ll take a look.

  6. I was baptized and received into the Catholic Church last Easter. I am in my 40′s. I was raised Mormon, even spent 2 years as an LDS missionary trying to convert people into Mormonism. Later in life I came to the realization that the Mormon church was not true, and by God’s grace, I discovered at the same time the richness and depth of the ancient Christian faith. Like many others, it was history and the Mass that brought me into the Church.

    Please pray for my wife and children who are still Mormon.

    • Marc Cardaronella says:

      That’s awesome Phillip! Welcome! I definitely pray that your wife would be open to the Church and someday convert. When you really study the history, it’s hard to deny that there’s something there huh? I find that’s a big point of conversion for many.

  7. I converted two years ago after being raised Lutheran and going to non-denominational church for awhile. I now volunteer with RCIA and seeing people come into the church every year gives me great hope, esp with the “scandals” you mentioned. Current news has been disheartening and your post almost made me cry, thank you!!

    • Marc Cardaronella says:

      Thank you for your comments, Joy. I really appreciate them. Current news is disheartening as yet another scandal hits the streets. That’s kind of why I wrote this, because it was hard for me too. But I do trust in the Church and her leadership despite recent events. And I know the Church will prevail in the end.

  8. Mary brought me into the Catholic Church. I was an active Mormon and 58 years old. I served a mission and was married in the temple. I’ve held just about every calling open to a male priesthood holder on the local level. I attended the LDS Church up until about a month before being received into the Catholic Church. My wife, children, and grandchildren are all still Mormon. For most of my life I had been taught that we had a Heavenly Mother. Now I know who she truly is.

    • Marc Cardaronella says:

      Hi Bob! Your’s sounds like an amazing conversion story from the LDS Church. My conversion was very influenced by Mary as well. She really is our heavenly Mother. So glad you truly found her too. Thanks for commenting.

  9. I’m a convert from Evangelical Protestantism. During my last year of law school, I knew I would be moving, wasn’t happy where I was in my relationship with God and so started to pray and look into local congregations in what would be my new hometown. This led me to consider theology and the roots of Protestantism for the first time. A while later, a coworker invited me to a weekday Mass and I couldn’t think of an excuse to say no, so I went. This led me to look into the Catholic Church so I could evangelize her! As my studies progressed, I came to realize God answered my prayer by leading me to the Catholic Church. I entered into full communion at Easter vigil in 2008. I’ve since discerned and been accepted to enter Corpus Christi Monastery in Menlo Park, CA, a community of cloistered Dominican nuns (I must confess, I delight in the fact God would call me to an Order which has “Veritas” as a motto and was begun by St. Dominic with women converted from heresy). More of my story may be found at my blog, Truth in Love (http://supporttarasvocation.wordpress.com). God bless!

    • Marc Cardaronella says:

      Wow, awesome story! Congratulations on discerning your vocation. I love the Dominicans. I pray everything works out great. Thanks for sharing.

  10. I fell in love with a stodgy, extremely traditional Polish boy when I was 17. That relationship only lasted 6 months, but it showed me a Truth that I couldn’t ignore. I was received into that Church a year or so later, and now I’m preparing to marry a stodgy, extremely traditional German boy :)

    • Marc Cardaronella says:

      Sounds like a pattern. ;-) It’s funny what or who God will use to show us the truth and bring us closer to him, huh?

  11. My conversion story is a little different! I grew up an agnostic, with a strong desire to know what was TRUE. When I was 32 I became a Christian – stimulated by the witness of my sister-in-law to REFUTE Christianity, then met on my own ground by the Lord when I sat down to write out what I believed about the nature of the universe. Not having roots in any particular denomination, I started checking out all of the Protestant denominations (not realizing then just how many there were!)

    I went to a number of different denominations while my husband and I moved from place to place, but never found one that had THE truth. Then one year I was inspired (that’s got to be the word) to do a personal Bible study on obedience and authority… and when I read Christ’s words to Peter (“…and on this rock I will build My church) it occurred to me that I’d never checked out the Catholic Church.

    So I saw a priest, read the Catechism of the Catholic Church… and became a Catholic!

    • Awesome story Jeri! How convicting…after reading the Catechism you recognized it as truth and couldn’t turn your back on it. It reminds me of St. Edith Stein who read a biography of St. Teresa of Avila in one night, declared it to be truth, and set about joining the Church to later become a Carmelite nun. Sounds similar to your story. Thanks for sharing it.

      • Thanks, Marc, but I can’t take too much credit. Since I came to the Christian faith as an adult, I wasn’t steeped in any given Protestant tradition – and was blessed to have never picked up any anti-Catholic prejudices along the way, either – so I didn’t have any real barriers to overcome.

  12. ‘Me too.’ I’m a convert to Catholicism.

    I’m new to your website, and finding my way around here. So far, it looks good – and thanks for these posts.

    The rest of this comment is ‘why I’m Catholic.’ Feel free to stop reading: you’ve probably heard it before. :)

    I’ve been a Christian as long as I can remember, but grew up in a mainstream Protestant family.

    A particularly nasty sort of faith was endemic to the region I lived in, so I heard quite a bit about the Satanic evils of commies, Catholicism, and rock music: not necessarily in that order. That, and teen years in the ’60s, made me wonder if religious faith was a psychiatric disorder.

    Eventually, I decided that someone could be sane and hold religious beliefs.

    I’d been learning about history, and had noticed that the Catholic Church had been around for almost two thousand years. That was remarkable. Other systems of belief were older, some had emerged since the Roman Empire fell apart.

    What struck me was that the Catholic Church had been operating since Roman times: with an unbroken succession of Popes, always from a headquarters in Rome. I’d learned that the Catholic Church claimed to be working under the authority that Jesus had given Peter, which had been passed along: again in unbroken succession. The Church also claimed to be operating with the support and guidance of the Holy Spirit (I know: that’s an oversimplification).

    No other institution had endured that long: not under a single administration. Ancient Egypt came close: but their string of thousand-year runs included frequent changes of dynasty.

    The Catholic Church shouldn’t have lasted this long: not intact; not through the rise and fall of empires; not with this sort of continuity. Applying Occam’s Razor, I decided that what the Church had been claiming since before our version of Western civilization started was probably true.

    After that, I didn’t have much choice. Since I claimed to follow Jesus, I had to join my Lord’s outfit.

    • That is a great conversion story. You know, it seems so simple to me, the way you state it. It’s so logical. How could any institution last this long without divine help. But so many people can’t see through that. They have many other issues that cloud this one very simple fact. I will say, however, that laying out this truth about things come down from the apostles and how the Church preserves the truth does more to convince people than almost anything else. When I do the lesson on apostolicity and the Magisterium, that’s usually the game changer for people in the RCIA.

      I love this, “Eventually, I decided that someone could be sane and hold religious beliefs.” I think I’ve felt that way at one time in my life too!

      Thanks for commenting. Glad you like the site.

  13. Dear Marc,

    This Sunday, March 31st, 2014, will be exactly one full year in full communion for me! I grew up in a Presbyterian (PCUSA) denomination, was very involved in evangelicalism through Cru, as well as Reformed University Fellowship (PCA). I spent over 3 years in college researching, studying and asking questions about ecclesial authority, church history, sola scriptura, and sola fide. I came to the conclusion that if I walked away from the Church and the Eucharist, I’d be walking away from Jesus Himself. Hesitantly but firmly I entered full communion; it has been a very difficult year, but worth it for truth. I blog about it here: http://www.seekingtofindhim.wordpress.com.

    In Christ,

    Christie

    • Thanks for sharing your story Christie! I have a ton of admiration for people who will seek the truth no matter what and enter the Catholic Church despite potential negative reactions from family and friends. I know it can’t be easy. I’m glad to hear it’s been worth it. God bless!

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