As the old saying goes, “if the shoe fits, wear it!” Perhaps something similar happens to those who discover the Catholic faith… something about it just fits. Finding the faith, of course, is much more profound than finding a nicely fitting shoe. Finding the faith is a matter of the heart. Saint Augustine - himself a convert - captures this experience perfectly when he says, “You made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you”.
If you have discovered the Catholic faith as the answer to the pleas of your restless heart, then welcome home! You are only three steps away from becoming Catholic! Now that you found the shoe that fits, just make sure you start off on the right foot, meet the right person, and go the right way!
Step 1: The Right Foot. Do your homework!
Discovering the faith is an exciting time in the journey of every Christian. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that “from the time of the apostles, becoming a Christian has been accomplished by a journey and initiation in several stages” (no 1229).
Starting off your journey on the right foot includes researching the faith and reflecting on why you want to be Catholic so that your decision may be mature and “worthy of the call” (Eph. 4:1). If you’re reading this article, then congratulations, because you have already started! Browsing other articles on this website can help you learn more about the Catholic faith. Other helpful sources are the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Vatican webpage , and the Catholics Come Home website.
It is also helpful to ask yourself why you want to be Catholic. The invitation of the Church is to find in Christ “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:16). Other motivations, like wanting to please a Catholic fiancé or spouse, aren’t bad, but you will be missing out on the depth and richness of the faith that goes beyond pleasing others to having a friendship with God.
Step 2: The Right Person. Get in touch with a priest
If you are convinced about the faith, then the next thing you need to do is get in touch with the right person: a priest! Contact a local priest or one that you know and trust who can advise you and help you. They can answer any personal questions you have about Catholicism and becoming Catholic. Most importantly, however, they can start you on the road to being fully received into the Catholic Church through the sacraments of initiation, also known as Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist.
As the Catechism says, the sacraments of Christian initiation “lay the foundations of every Christian life. The faithful are born anew by Baptism, strengthened by the sacrament of Confirmation, and receive in the Eucharist the food of eternal life. They thus receive in increasing measure the treasures of the divine life and advance toward the perfection of charity” (CCC 1212).
Step 3: The Right Way. The Catechumenate
Getting in touch with a priest is also helpful because he can lead you to the right way: an RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) program. RCIA is a catechumenate program which will instruct you in the faith so that you will be prepared to enter into the Church and receive the sacraments of initiation freely—that is, with full knowledge and therefore deliberate consent.
The catechumenate, however, “is not a mere expounding of doctrines and precepts, but a training period for the whole Christian life. It is an apprenticeship of appropriate length during which disciples are joined to Christ their Teacher” (Ad Gentes 14). It “entails far more than merely learning facts about God. A catechumen embarks on a journey into intimate friendship with Christ, a journey requiring openness of mind and heart to the life-giving word of God, a journey requiring continual conversion of heart” (Homily of John Paul II November 25, 1986).
A Journey that has Only Just Begun!
The good news is that the journey of faith is ongoing—there is always something more to discover about the faith! “This journey does not end when the catechumenate is completed. In fact, the catechumenate merely prepares the way for the rest of the Christian life” (Homily of John Paul II November 25, 1986). The key to living and fulfilling Catholic life is to continue and persevere in personal prayer everyday, and to constantly nourish the faith with the sacraments (especially Holy Communion), retreats, conferences, lectures, articles, and books on the faith and on the Church.
And, of course, no man is an island. Catholics also need the continued support of other committed Catholics to stay strong in the faith amidst the wear and tear of daily life. Find a parish that suits you and don’t be shy! Welcome to your new home!
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|Published by: Mike|
|Date: 2010-09-04 23:08:30|
First, it is wonderful to see that you are a consecrated woman! Second, thank you for the reminder that the journey of the Faith does not end with marriage and children. As a parent, I need to be contantly learning about the Faith so that i can properly teach my children. That leaves just one question that has troubled me for some time - how can I help my wife grow in her new Faith of the Church?
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