Just want to thank you for your blog. It has put me on a path to becoming a Catholic that I never figured I would be on. This conversion has been on my heart for the better part of 12 years, on and off, and your blog is what finally got me to actually researching the beliefs of the Church and questioning my own Protestant raised beliefs on the Church. I just ask for your prayers that my feet would not stumble from this path or that the seeds of faith not be snatched up by the evil one. Thank you for your service to the Lord and all of His sheep.
I had one question: Is it possible to take RCIA classes via the internet or distance learning so to speak? I will be traveling for work soon and want to proceed in my learning and conversion process. Any resources you may have would be great.
Also, any thoughts on how to graciously act with a spouse who is quite opposed to this conversion to Catholicism? My wife is a believer, but is really against my even thinking of converting. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
Wonderful to hear from you! Welcome home! No. There’s no such thing as distance learning RCIA. It’s supposed to be up close and personal. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t study the oceans of literature out there on your own too. I just wrote a little piece on just a smidge of the information that’s out there.
Read broadly, and not just modern works. Also, get to know Catholic culture as well as theology. Also, try to do what you can to *do* the Catholic Faith by practicing her prayers and devotions, and living the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Catholic faith is incarnational, both word and flesh, idea and act. And above all, remember that you are looking not at the Perfect Church, but merely at Christ’s Church. It’s a hospital for sinners before it is a statuary of saints. When Catholics let you down (as we inevitably will, and clergy are emphatically no exception to that fact) remember .Uncle Screwtape’s strategy with all new converts when they encounter disappointment at the hands of fellow Christians.
All you then have to do is to keep out of his mind the question “If I, being what I am, can consider that I am in some sense a Christian, why should the different vices of those people in the next pew prove that their religion is mere hypocrisy and convention?” You may ask whether it is possible to keep such an obvious thought from occurring even to a human mind. It is, Wormwood, it is! Handle him properly and it simply won’t come into his head. He has not been anything like long enough with the Enemy to have any real humility yet. What he says, even on his knees, about his own sinfulness is all parrot talk. At bottom, he still believes he has run up a very favourable credit-balance in the Enemy’s ledger by allowing himself to be converted, and thinks that he is showing great humility and condescension in going to church with these “smug”, commonplace neighbours at all. Keep him in that state of mind as long as you can.
As to your wife’s concerns, I don’t have a lot of personal experience with this and so am a dubious counselor. Conversion must, by its nature, be freely done. So there’s no question of trying to force your wife to agree to anything. On the other hand, neither is it right to constrain you from where your conscience calls you to go. Also, your love and your marriage vows must be respected and fostered. So it seems to me it might be possible to come together in love and allow a free airing, not so much of differences as of your love for one another and God. The knowledge that you both love God and seek to do his will can be a powerful tonic against fear. I suspect part of the fear here is simply of what this means for her. So sitting down and really listening to the fear without trying to immediately knock it down with apologetics arguments is vital. Five’ll get you ten that in addition to whatever theological and biblical arguments she is concerned about, a lot of the fear is also of losing friends and family, as well as of trying to form new relationships in an alien culture and atmosphere. Those fears are not unfounded and need to be acknowledged, as well as steps taken to help her feel safe in the face of this unexpected move by God. Once those fears are addressed, defensive wall often start to come down and she can hear you when you talk about what you love in the Faith without feeling threatened.
Also, consider inviting her to Mass and/or RCIA (after you’ve had the fear conversation) so that she can get a little familiarity with Catholics in their natural habitat. There’s nothing like getting to know the stranger to reduce the fear of the stranger.
Just my two cents.