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Converting, family acceptance....experiences


Jennifer132
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If you've converted from the faith you were brought up in to another, how has your family taken it? Or perhaps you converted and your spouse didn't. I've brought up a few times on here that I'm considering converting to Catholicism. My extended family and my immediate family are all Protestant. I don't think they would take it well. All our close friends are Protestant. Is there a way to soften the blow? Some of them may worry that I am no longer a Christian if I convert. I'm not as worried about my dh--he seems to be on the same path as I am, just at a slower pace.

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You will find there are many of us who converted to a different religion or from being a none to being religious. Becoming Christian has completely changed and transformed every facet of our lives. The majority of the people we once called close friends were non-traditional / spiritual but not religious or atheist. It was painful to experience being excluded from our former community of friends. We once overheard friends talking about how we had become "nutty and quirky Christians" as we were arriving at a party. Another time, one of my closest friends told me that he could no longer let his daughter come over to play with my kids since I had become a child abuser in his eyes by becoming Christian. I won't say it was easy. My husband and I cried a lot over devastated relationships. My mother is very devoted to her religion. She did not speak to me for 6 months after we became catechumens and wouldn't see us for 3 years. By the grace of God all this was happening while we were also forging new bonds with others within our faith community. We had to be very intentional about focusing on the people who showed up instead of on the ones who turned away. It hurts to be abandoned. Despite those initial growing pains, it was so worth it. We are 4 years into our journey and so grateful to have the (Eastern Orthodox) Church to call home!

Edited by TianXiaXueXiao
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Will pray for you in this process. I don't know exactly what to suggest to soften the blow, other than explain (if asked), that you have done your research, are interested in the Catholic faith, and maybe even say you feel God is calling you to do this? As far as not being Christian, you can gently remind them that the Catholic church was started by Jesus Christ, His apostles were our first Bishops. Christ is the foundation of our faith. The best of luck in your journey! My mil converted decades ago, I think it was hard on her parents but they eventually accepted it. My bil also converted, not sure how his parents reacted, but it was definitely the best for him and his family.

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I second the advice to say that this is how God is calling you. People often take it personally as a rejection of themselves when someone they care for changes her world view or religion. Perhaps it would help to minimize discussing doubts regarding the faith you were brought up in and to keep the conversation positive about the particulars in Roman Catholicism that attract you. I wish I had more to offer but there many who have btdt who I'm sure will respond. Prayers for you!

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We were Presbyterians and converted to Eastern Orthodoxy.  My mom was the one I dreaded telling but it worked out OK.  She had met several of our friends from both our Presbyterian church and the Orthodox parish we had started attending when they came to my 50th birthday party.  My pastor (Presbyterian) and my priest (Orthodox) and his wife and children came to that party as well, and spent most of it talking to each other.  So when I told my mom, I think her observation that these were normal people and that the pastor and priest got along fine made ti easier for her to accept.  She won't attend services with me ("I don't want to feel uncomfortable--I think that's allowable at age 93" LOL) but she is OK with it all.  

 

But I have seen the gamut of reactions, everything from shunning to coming along for the conversion; your job is to remain gracious (but that can be hard).  I've seen very little benefit from trying to argue a position; it's better to be kind, even as you stand firm in your convictions.  

 

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It put enormous stress on my marriage. I did things now I wish I hadn't. It changed the way I looked at my husband, at my kids. We were not on the same page any more, and that created strife I was not expecting. 

 

I know you probably only want to hear encouraging stories, but they aren't the only ones that exist. At the very least, you should be aware of the possibilities that your family may not be receptive. 

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I probably wouldn't say a word unless someone asked, especially in immediate family. Or I'd say we switched due to our convictions and it's not up for discussion *smile*.

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My immediate and near-immediate family was loving, curious, and encouraging.

 

My more-extended family were never told as far as  I know. They are bigots, we are NOT close obviously.

 

My husband was/is amazing about it. He is completely non-religious.

 

My two cents is this: Be nice, be loving, be understanding yourself. [To a certain extent, too, be smart....you know what their theology is, you know what yours is....] Don't try to convert them, but be open to heir questions and curiosity. That's all you can do. The people who will be cool about it, will be without any prodding from you. And the people are going to take it personally or be decidedly uncool about it....same.

 

((((hugs hugs hugs)))) I know it's rough. Other people will always be wild cards.

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Ugh.When I first converted I didn't tell anyone until after the fact. My mom acted surprised that i didn't tell her, and said she would have been supportive. Then, after a lot of circumstances I left the Church for a bit. When I went back I was SO glad to be going back. But my mom and dad were NOT happy...they wrote me an email asking why I thought I was better than everyone else or some such thing, by being Catholic. Um? I have no idea where that came from, and we just don't discuss it. It's a touchy subject. Mind you, they don't even attend church! And they are Episcopal, so not THAT different!

 

My DH met me as a Catholic, but for a while I didn't go to the Catholic Church after we married, thinking it was more important we attend the same place (Episcopal Church). Except, after a few years I realized he didn't want to attend at all, he just went grudgingly, or not at all. And if I was going to go by myself anyway, I might as well go where I wanted to go! So...i told him I wanted to go back to the Catholic church. At first he was not happy, but now he is supportive. He has even said he predicts he will convert eventually, although he isn't ready yet. It is hard to go by myself every week, but I'm so glad I came back. I can't imagine NOT going to Mass now. 

Edited by ktgrok
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I am in the process of converting to Catholicism, and most of my evangelical friends don't understand. Neither does my extended family. I was very nervous about "coming out" Catholic knowing that many of my evangelical homeschooling friends would distance themselves. And they have.

 

However, the reward of following God's call makes it all worthwhile. Once I surrendered my fears and followed God into the unknown, I felt like the path before me just opened up and became sure and steady. The Jesus I intimately knew in Protestestism is even more real and more close, walking this path with me.

 

Our priest introduced us to a homeschool family that had recently converted and they have been wonderful at helping us connect with others and become part of a Catholic homeschool group. There, I am welcomed and cared for even when I'm not officially Catholic and I am enjoying the depth of relationships that I could never seem to pull off with my many of Protestant friends.

 

I don't think you have to say much to your family other than that you are pursuing the Catholic faith more. Many times my family members will ask questions or try to discredit the Church with age old arguments. I just say I'm trying to figure it all out and I don't have all the answers and there are still things I don't necessarily agree with. Most of the time I just don't engage. I don't want to marr this beautiful conversion that's happening deep within my soul with words that can't possibly express what I'm going through. No one can quibble with you saying "I feel that this is how God is leading me "

 

I pray that you will be blessed in whatever direction God leads you.

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Prayers for you. I understand. I was in your place not that long ago. For me personally, I am so thankful that I heeded God's call and converted to Catholicism. The peace I have now is worth any negative reactions that I have faced. Thankfully my husband (who is still Southern Baptist) was and is supportive, although he does ask questions from time to time. My immediate family reacted much better than I expected, as my parents are Southern Baptists and that's how I was raised. There have been a few Protestant friends who have said negative things, but I've simply answered with truth spoken as lovingly as possible. That's been enough to quiet them and have the subject quickly changed. Two of my dearest Protestant friends were there for my first Holy Communion to celebrate with me, as was my husband and my children. I was quite terrified of the potential fallout that might occur when people "found out" about my conversion, but it hasn't been nearly as scary as I'd anticipated. I pray that it will be the same for you.

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I converted to Islam in my 20s.  This was pre-9/11, so at the time, very little was said.  Although after 9/11....and then when

I married a Muslim guy, I heard a lot.  Lots of comments.... lots of blame for everything that goes wrong on the religion, etc. 

Lost a good friend.  That still hurts 20 years later.

 

I did the RCIA course before converting to Islam, though.  I really enjoyed it and learned a lot.  It helped dispel a lot of "rumors"/misconceptions I had heard growing up protestant about Catholics.  I want to say I started the class in the Fall, and then we were suppose to take our First Communion around Easter Sunday or early May.  So I'm going to assume that either you're in a class, or are planning to start one next Fall.

 

I really want to believe that the protestant/catholic divide has mellowed over the past 40=50 years.  If you want to make it easier for them to take, tell them you're becoming a Muslim (!)  Then decide to be Catholic instead. ;)

 

Seriously, though, you can't help what your heart longs for and what faith feeds your soul.  I hope and pray that your loved ones will understand that and nothing will change.  Even if things do change at first, people usually mellow over time.... so try to be patient.  My parents are now  OK with my faith....and have even attended interfaith type learning events.  Things did get better. 

Edited by umsami
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We converted to Catholicism and no one had any issue with it. Most of my family is Baptist but they were all supportive and fine, as was my previous pastor who I keep in touch with and who baptized me. 

 

Dh and I ended up doing it together. Dh was an atheist when we married (I was still Baptist), though, and we didn't have issues in regards to religion then either. I am happy he wanted to convert at the same time as us though. 

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I was raised Catholic, but was never a believer (though I did go to church, CCD, etc. out of obligation). I assumed that I was just agnostic until my late 20s, when I converted to Judaism. My family has been very supportive. They were never the type, though, that really understood the tenets of their own faith all that well, IMO. So, my family doesn't believe, for example, that my kids and I won't be "saved" because we don't believe that JC is the messiah. (Wow, that was a triple negative -- hopefully that made some sense!)

 

Anyway, they aren't uber religious -- mostly just Christmas/Easter Catholics. The biggest issue was my mom getting over not buying my kids Easter baskets and engraved Christmas stockings -- you know, the important stuff about Christianity. :lol:  I think my family is just glad that I believe in "something" -- they feel that it is grounding for me. Having said that, I am not an Orthodox Jew, which would be more difficult (food restrictions, for example). I would also still go to a family funeral or wedding, even if it was held in a church (something the Orthodox won't do). I just don't take part in the actual service. So, if I was more observant in my own faith, it would likely be more alienating to my family members.

 

ETA: Likewise, my family has participated in Jewish festival/holiday/ritual events in my family, without any issues.

 

If you are super observant in your new-found faith, you might have more issues as well. But, I wish you well on your journey, and hope that your news is well received by your loved ones. 

 

Edited by SeaConquest
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I did the RCIA course before converting to Islam, though. I really enjoyed it and learned a lot. It helped dispel a lot of "rumors"/misconceptions I had heard growing up protestant about Catholics. I want to say I started the class in the Fall, and then we were suppose to take our First Communion around Easter Sunday or early May. So I'm going to assume that either you're in a class, or are planning to start one next Fall.

 

 

I haven't plunged into RCIA yet. I am doing a lot of reading and asking questions though.

 

My mom grew up in a nominal Catholic family (made all the kids go to mass, but themselves didn't go) and suffered abuse at home. Though the abuse was not related to her parent's faith, but to alcoholism, it has left a bad taste in her mouth re: Catholicism. She also doesn't do change well.

Edited by Jennifer132
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About 15 years ago, DH and I left the religion we had both been raised in. Our situation was a little different than yours, because we were primarily deconverting from something rather than converting to something. (We attended other churches, and even became members, but we started looking for another church because we knew we were leaving our denomination.)

 

Things were rough at first. Lots of tears were shed. We couldn't attend my husband's sister's wedding. (Their church's rules, not our choice.) Ditto for weddings of nieces and nephews. The denomination tends to view those who leave as either people who got offended and let their feelings get in the way of the truth, or people who left because they were sinning or wanted to sin. There were veiled and not-so-veiled assertions that we were one or the other of those. We were told our marriage wouldn't last. Etc.

 

And on our part, we had some of the convert (or deconvert) zeal. If only everyone would realize the truth like we had! We did not bite our tongues as successfully as we should have. I think it took my husband 10 years before he could get through a vacation with his parents without at least one loud argument about religion with his mother, despite him really trying.

 

However, honestly, for the most part, things are very, very good. People got over things and got used to things. We got less twitchy about things that used to bug us. They adjusted to us being outside the fold.

 

So, my advice would be to not stress too much if things are tough at first. It takes some time to settle into the new normal.

 

What worked best for me was to identify the relationships that were really important to me and then go out of my way to make sure those people knew that. With one friend, especially, that meant calling her slightly more often than usual, and being willing to talk about anything but the elephant in the room. If she brought it up, I'd answer questions, but I wanted to emphasize the things we still had in common.

 

Good luck!

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What worked best for me was to identify the relationships that were really important to me and then go out of my way to make sure those people knew that. With one friend, especially, that meant calling her slightly more often than usual, and being willing to talk about anything but the elephant in the room. If she brought it up, I'd answer questions, but I wanted to emphasize the things we still had in common.

 

 

 

THIS.  

 

And after a few years, now, we ARE talking about the elephant in the room.   But I STILL am jumpy even answering her questions because I value her friendship so much that I make it very clear that her response to my answers will have NO impact on our friendship.  My husband rolls his eyes at this very "female" way of talking, but it is a friendly eyeroll, like "I would never make it as a woman" kind of eyeroll.  LOL

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I have a question, and please know that this is not meant to be snarky, but I'm genuinely confused. Why is it considered "converting" when you are remaining in the Christian faith? Catholics and Protestants are all Christians.

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I have a question, and please know that this is not meant to be snarky, but I'm genuinely confused. Why is it considered "converting" when you are remaining in the Christian faith? Catholics and Protestants are all Christians.

There are some huge differences, some of them foundational to how individuals view their relationship to God.

 

Typical American evangelicalism: Children are born innocent. At some unspecified age, depending on their maturity and intellect, the child becomes aware that they sin and need forgiveness. They are encouraged to ask Jesus into their hearts and become saved. Then they get baptized to show their obedience to Christ.

 

Catholic/Orthodox/Lutheran: Everyone is born sinful in need of a Savior. Parents bring their children to baptism soon after birth. God works through the baptism ceremony to mark the child as a Christian and work forgiveness of sins. No age of accountability. No sinner's prayer needed in the future. just raise the child in the faith.

 

So switching from one to the other makes a huge difference in how one approaches religious instruction to children, for starters.

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Whee, favorite topic!

 

We are sorta in the midst of the process still... I began studying, reading, observing etc about it about 3 years ago and was received into the Anglican Ordinariate of the Catholic Church (look into this option if you are a former Episcopalian or Methodist!!) in September. Hubby and kids are taking the slow track, still attending the evangelical church but learning about it. Tried RCIA at the local parish but due to scheduling issues etc it wasn't a good fit.

 

Family acceptance? Well we have some folks in the family who have been deeply wounded by the Church. Let's go in order...

 

My mom: Dad's a Catholic, when he feels like it. They divorced 10 years ago, and 4 years ago he sought and was granted an annulment. (This was a massive wound for me, as well as Mom, that had to be dealt with before I joined the Church.) Mom's a cradle Episcopalian (Grandpa was a priest) who has deep loyalty to that community. Thanks to my Dad she has a kneejerk assumption that most Catholics are legalistic, don't actually know or care about their faith, and so on. She also is offended and angry and always has been that Eucharist is restricted to Catholics only.

 

Despite all that she was mainly supportive. I made sure to include her early & often in the discernment process. ("Recently I've been reading some Catholic theology and I was surprised/impressed by ____. I think that's a very well-thought-out position." --> "I read this awesome conversion story about an atheist who met Jesus thanks to the witness of Catholics on the internet, it was really moving" [something Other Than God by Jennifer Fulwiler, HIGHLY recommended] --> "I met a priest and asked him some questions about ____ Catholic belief that Protestants don't believe and he gave me a really reasonable answer. It's given me a lot to think about") I think letting people in on the process is good.

 

As a baptized Christian already, you have the Holy Spirit, so it's perfectly legitimate to say that you feel prompted by the Holy Spirit to investigate the Catholic Church, and you're going to "test everything and hold fast to the good." You have nothing to fear from the truth, and a thorough investigation with advice from outside parties should make it pretty clear what the Spirit wants you to do. This is the approach I used with my brother, a Pentecostal, and he was very receptive to it and interested.

 

My church friends: I moved abroad around the time my serious discernment started. They knew I believed Catholics were Christians (not all evangelicals agree). I got busy and naturally lost touch with many of the folks who would have had a serious concern about it, and then our church plant imploded after our beloved pastor apostasized. So they had enough to deal with, and most of them eventually found out through Facebook. Again, as my trickles of shared Catholic blog posts and so on became floods, most of them got the picture. I made sure to constantly share about my continuing love of Jesus too--in other words, I did not lose my evangelical vocabulary upon becoming Catholic, and that helped a ton.

 

My in-laws: are in general much more conservative, angry protestants than my husband. Hubby's Dad and Grandma are angry former Catholics, deeply wounded by a small-minded priest and rigid extended family when they met Jesus at one of Billy Graham's revivals. However, as above, I just adopted a "kill em with kindness" attitude, made use of the shared evangelical vocabulary, and have made it my goal NEVER to talk theology with them unless they directly ask. (They never have.) I have enough apologetical chops to win a fight, I think, but I don't want to fight. The "just keep being Jesus to them" method has brought them to the point where they admit that at least SOME Catholics can actually be devoted, Spirit-filled Christians, something they never would have acknowledged when I was beginning discernment. At that point hubby and I were not married, so they were pretty against our relationship. Things have super improved!

 

Last few bricks in this wall o' text, I'm SO GLAD you are considering the Catholic Church. Whether your discernment leads you to reception and full communion with the Church (in response to QueenCat, this is the language the Church prefers, rather than conversion, because we do indeed regard Protestants as separated brothers and sisters, not a different religion--although "conversion" is briefer and therefore used colloquially), or if God leads you to take a different road, knowing more about what your brothers and sisters in Christ teach and believe can never be a bad thing! I will be praying for your discernment, and PM me if you'd like to talk about anything!  :hurray:  :grouphug:  :wub:

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btdt . . .

 

I became a latter-day saint before I married.

 

my grandmother, NPD and NOT a nice person (she also believed only baptists were okay.  as a teen, my mother wanted to attend a methodist church - grandmother had a fit and forbade it. . .  I found that out many many years later.), I didn't allow her to know I was even thinking about attending any church regularly until I was ready to deal with her *specifically*.  . . . . My NOT-religious mother (seriously - she wavered between complete atheist and agnostic), used to bring antimormon literature home and leave it lying around for me to read.  it was soooo stupid . . . and she'd deny it when I confronted her . . . we were the only ones living there . . . and it wasn't me.

 

some people are going to believe as a catholic you aren't a christian and are going to h3ll becasue their own religious beliefs teach that - for them to think otherwise is a rejection of their own beliefs.  that's their problem, and they *may* (or may not) come around in time.  what you *can* do, is assure them you still love them, you still believe in God and Jesus Christ and you are just trying to be a more Christlike person by attending a church you believe will better help you accomplish that goal.  then *live* the actions that show the truth of the words.

 

learn to tell the diffrence between someone honestly wanting information - and someone who is only interested in "saving" you.  the former you can have a sincere discussion whether you agree or not - the latter, aren't interested in anything but their own view and it is pointless. the latter also bring alot of contention into the relationship.   you will  learn who respects YOU - and who doesn't.

 

My mother did eventually come around, supported me, and on several occasions openly acknowledged it was a very good decision and greatly blessed my life. (and by extension - hers.)

 

 

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Wonderful!!!!

 

I was raised nominally Catholic and then married a nominal Protestant. We were married in the Catholic Church by the insistence of my grandparents. When I was pregnant with our second child I believed the grass was greener on the other side and became Protestant. My husband and I wanted our children to grow up with a strong faith and ignorantly I didn't think that could happen as a Catholic. I really didn't understand the doctrinal differences and for 15 years desperately struggled in my faith. I was so frustrated and confused much of the time. Basically I had a life changing spiritual experience where I found myself in a Catholic confessional very unexpectedly. I poured out my heart and by the grace of God a wonderful priest began to gently guide me. My husband was supportive in a sense but only because I said I occasionally wanted to attend Mass, not actually return to Catholicism. But I began studying. I didn't really understand Catholic teaching or Church history so I dove in. My husband started reading over my shoulder and became cautiously interested. At the time our four children, ages 17, 15, 13, and 11, were not supportive. They only knew evangelical Protestantism. But I was beginning to feel more and more pulled. In February of 2013 I decided to "try" being Catholic for Lent. I didn't go to the Protestant Church at all and had to resign from my volunteer positions. I decided to do whatever Catholics did for the whole liturgical season. By Easter I knew where I was supposed to be. And the amazing part is my husband decided to convert as well as my two youngest children. The three of them joined RCIA in the fall and were welcomed into the Church at Easter 2014.

While this has been the most incredible journey for our family it hasn't been easy with family and friends. Some friendships are gone. While my family, all Catholic, were extremely supportive but most of my husband's have not. There is still A LOT of tension but we don't talk about it. I even work for our parish part time but it's the elephant in the room. My children lost a set of grandparents over it. But the peace I have transcends all of it. I know we are where we are supposed to be. Jesus said that following Him would cost us something.

 

Bless you as you journey home. There will be obstacles and heart break but never take your focus off of Jesus. I will be praying for you!

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There are some huge differences, some of them foundational to how individuals view their relationship to God.

 

Typical American evangelicalism: Children are born innocent. At some unspecified age, depending on their maturity and intellect, the child becomes aware that they sin and need forgiveness. They are encouraged to ask Jesus into their hearts and become saved. Then they get baptized to show their obedience to Christ.

 

Catholic/Orthodox/Lutheran: Everyone is born sinful in need of a Savior. Parents bring their children to baptism soon after birth. God works through the baptism ceremony to mark the child as a Christian and work forgiveness of sins. No age of accountability. No sinner's prayer needed in the future. just raise the child in the faith.

 

So switching from one to the other makes a huge difference in how one approaches religious instruction to children, for starters.

 

Catholics do have an age of accountability...it's age 7. No need for confession/reconcilliation before that age. But yes, we believe Baptism is something that happens to us, not a show of obedience. In baptism we die and are reborn with Christ. 

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My experience is a little unique. I was raised in a Christian home, and fell away in my teens. My parents were very happy that I returned to the Christian faith, even if it was not the one in which I was raised. Also, my mom had converted from her original faith when she was in college and her family was very angry and not supportive. Because of this, they were very understanding, although still sad. Fast-forward a few years and my dh and I were my parents' sponsors when they entered the Catholic Church. A few years after that, my sister and her kids came in, as well. So, you never know what can happen. Blessings to you in your journey.

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Catholics do have an age of accountability...it's age 7. No need for confession/reconcilliation before that age. But yes, we believe Baptism is something that happens to us, not a show of obedience. In baptism we die and are reborn with Christ. 

 

Well...to my knowledge, there isn't an official age of accountability. It's often considered to be around age 7 and is one of the reasons children celebrate First Holy Communion then, but that isn't official. Some churches do it slightly earlier; others later.

 

As for my story...I was raised Catholic. I wasn't well-catechized though. Now I am doing my best to rectify that. And I am becoming even more conservative in my beliefs, which is slightly strange to my family. But, as they are Catholic, it doesn't bother them too much.

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I've gone from Methodist to episcopalian to lutheran to Catholic. It has been fine, and I haven't lost any friends because of it. The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist is a big change, as is confession. I've dispelled myths about Catholicism, and that has helped most people who had issues. Most people (including myself) believe myths about Catholicism that are incorrect, and once you clarify those, it all works out usually.

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Catholic/Orthodox/Lutheran: Everyone is born sinful in need of a Savior. Parents bring their children to baptism soon after birth. God works through the baptism ceremony to mark the child as a Christian and work forgiveness of sins. No age of accountability. No sinner's prayer needed in the future. just raise the child in the faith.

 

 

 

Presbyterian (at least how I was raised) was like this, too.  Infant baptism.  Go to church.  No need to confess or any big deal.  Communion with grape juice in shot glasses and Chiclet like bread. :)  Not give by a Reverend/Pastor/Priest....but just passed around. 

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I have a question, and please know that this is not meant to be snarky, but I'm genuinely confused. Why is it considered "converting" when you are remaining in the Christian faith? Catholics and Protestants are all Christians.

Not all Protestants believe that Catholics are Christians. While we both have a high regard for scripture, Catholics believe equally in the authority of scripture and holy tradition, while Protestants believe the sole authority for Christians is scripture. Also, Catholics have quite a different view of justification than do Protestants, and many Protestants, especially of the reformed tradition, take issue with this view and would say that it is different enough to say that Catholics aren't Christian. Not to mention, some Protestants consider the veneration of saints and Mary specifically, to be idolatry.

 

I was raised Protestant (I'm the OP), and I was taught as a child (though I have no specific memories of this being taught, it seems to me it was assumed in our faith tradition) that some Catholics *might* be Christians (basically if they denied some of these major tenets of catholicism that I mentioned above). So you can see, that coming from my tradition, it truly is a conversion, and, might I add, a bit scary for me.

 

I will say, the more I educate myself about what Catholics actually believe and teach, the more I agree with you that Protestants and Catholics are both Christians....and I'm finding that a lot of what the Catholic Church emphasizes makes more sense to me than what I had always been taught in the reformed tradition.

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My definition of Christian-- anyone who believes in and accepts Jesus Christ as their Savior, and tries to live in a Christ-like manner.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Not all Protestants believe that Catholics are Christians.

 

 

This. 

and if you look at the various evangelical home school communities and their statements of faith (or even the 'christian' insurance companies) - they are deliberately written to exclude anyone who doesn't meet their specific definition of a Christian.  Catholics, LDS, Lutherans, Episcopalians, etc. are just some of the groups considered to NOT be Christian by some of these protestant groups.

 

I used to joke my grandmother would consider that old acronym WASP overly broad. . . .  (wasp: white anglo saxon protestant)

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I've gone from Methodist to episcopalian to lutheran to Catholic. It has been fine, and I haven't lost any friends because of it. The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist is a big change, as is confession. I've dispelled myths about Catholicism, and that has helped most people who had issues. Most people (including myself) believe myths about Catholicism that are incorrect, and once you clarify those, it all works out usually.

 

Were you taught something other than the Real Prescence in those other groups?  Normally they all teach that view of the Eucharist.

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I can answer this from the outside looking in: my sister converted to Catholicism last Easter.  We were baptized Episcopal (me) and Lutheran (her) and grew up in a Presbyterian church.  She rejected Reformed theology in college, where she majored in theology at a Lutheran school.  But it took another half-dozen years before she gave Catholicism the time of day!  

 

Maybe we just have a very open-minded family, but when we got wind that my sister was going through RCIA classes, we were all happy and supportive.  (We are a family of WASPs from waaaaay back...I had not even met a Catholic until I went to college.)  She did not pound anyone over the head with all the things she now believed were true, and that probably helped insofar as my father/stepmother were concerned.  I had been reading about Catholicism off and on for several years, and had grown fond of it in many ways, and so I was happy for her.  We have attended Mass together twice (she lives in a different city).  I asked questions and she answered my questions--in a mutually respectful manner.  She was really nervous at first about telling us The News, but we all knew it was coming down the pike and she and I had had many fruitful late-night discussions about trans-substantiation, Mary, and the saints. 

 

So, from my own perspective, part of it was that I was prepared (I'd been reading about Catholicism before knowing she was interested in it?!!)...part of it was that she was willing to answer questions in a conversational, exploratory way (rather than a defensive way)...and part of it was probably just that our family is open-minded and we cling more to Jesus than to some interpretation of "theology"--so we never saw her conversion as a threat.

 

 Perhaps there's something there that is useful to you! God bless you on your journey!

 

 

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Were you taught something other than the Real Prescence in those other groups? Normally they all teach that view of the Eucharist.

Methodist didn't talk about it much at all. Lutheran and episcopalian taught that Jesus was around during the Eucharist, but did not have the same regard for the actual transformation of the host.

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My favorite quote from my daughter about communion after she attended a Methodist camp and had communion I there(she hadn't made her first communion yet in Catholic Church) was that the pastor just didn't take it nearly as seriously as our priest. :). She realized the reverence wasn't there either. My family is mostly Baptist, and my aunt had leftover communion (oyster) crackers at her house that she served with soup for lunch. You should have seen my daughter's face when my aunt said we were going to have communion crackers with our lunch :) I had to quickly explain the situation.

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I converted from Catholic to Protestant.  My remaining family at that time wasn't bothered (only siblings left).  DH also converted at the same time.  His mother was very offended but she was ignorant of the Catholic faith, let alone of the reformed beliefs that we now held---I had never held some of the Catholics beliefs even as a Catholic.  

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My favorite quote from my daughter about communion after she attended a Methodist camp and had communion I there(she hadn't made her first communion yet in Catholic Church) was that the pastor just didn't take it nearly as seriously as our priest. :). She realized the reverence wasn't there either. My family is mostly Baptist, and my aunt had leftover communion (oyster) crackers at her house that she served with soup for lunch. You should have seen my daughter's face when my aunt said we were going to have communion crackers with our lunch :) I had to quickly explain the situation.

 

Catholic societies aren't necessarily as pious about such things as you might expect.  In Quebec communion wafers are sold as snacks, and a lot of French swear words are related to the Eucharist or other religious ideas.

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Catholic societies aren't necessarily as pious about such things as you might expect. In Quebec communion wafers are sold as snacks, and a lot of French swear words are related to the Eucharist or other religious ideas.

I think part of her concern was that we were somehow eating the flesh of Jesus with our soup :)

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As an American Evangelical, I want to clarify something here.

 

We do NOT believe children are born innocent. We believe all humans are born with a sin nature. But we believe that young children aren't held accountable for that sin until they are able to recognize it in themselves, usually around ages 5-8. At that time, they are encouraged to seek forgiveness through the blood of Christ.

 

That might seem like splitting hairs, but it is an important distinction.

You're right, I should have been more careful. Thanks for clarifying.

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Catholic societies aren't necessarily as pious about such things as you might expect. In Quebec communion wafers are sold as snacks, and a lot of French swear words are related to the Eucharist or other religious ideas.

I've heard of some pretty disturbing liturgical abuses but swear words related to the Eucharist takes the cake! I can't even imagine how horrified I would be if I heard those words. God help us!

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I've heard of some pretty disturbing liturgical abuses but swear words related to the Eucharist takes the cake! I can't even imagine how horrified I would be if I heard those words. God help us!

 

Go ahead and be offended.  I've not met a Quebecois or other French Canadian yet who would care what a bunch of anglos have to say about they way they choose to express themselves.  Unless you speak French, you wouldn't understand them anyway.  And, even if you did have a cursory (pun intended) knowledge of standard French, you wouldn't understand the nuance of what they're saying when they use certain curse idioms.  It's more than a use of "liturgical" words. It's a way of cultural expression.  If you don't understand the cultural significance, you wouldn't get why they swear the way they do, nor understand the various levels of emphasis. 

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I think the bottom line is that reactions are entirely individual.

My family/families are a mishmosh of rotating conversions of Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, and who knows what else.  I've never heard a peep about it.  I've heard talk about us "nones", but there's never been an issue with converting that I've heard in our circles.  Not even with big church events!

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My family seems to consist of generation after generation of Catholics marrying non-Catholic Christians and the non Catholics coming into communion with the church. In my husband's case, his parents live quite far away and were sort of a non issue as they just didn't care that much. His extended family were all pretty strict MS Lutherans and had some weird ideas of what Catholics believe. It was all civil, and he knew his catechism well for discussion, There were still little snarky comments when we would leave the group to go to mass. But in general it was fine.

My Mom had no religion, but was a believer in God. Her family were pretty accepting, but there were Catholic roots with some past problem with the church in that family. Her mom was Catholic and Dad Protestant. If that caused the trouble, it was well over before I was around. My Father's Dad was MS Lutheran and his family disowned him and wouldn't speak to him for 20 years when he married my Catholic grandmother.

I think it depends a lot on what the local pastors teach. Sometimes there is some hate and prejudice taught from the pulpit. People have accepted some falsehoods as truth and frequently base their opinion of the Catholic church on them. There is still some hate out there. Search the Catholic threads and notice how at least one person will pop in and say something about the priests that implies all priests all guilty of horrific actions( this hasn't happened much lately). My grandmother had crosses burnt in her yard. I used to walk home from my K-8 Catholic school wearing a uniform and public high school kids driving by yelling "fish!" from their car , and sometimes throw garbage. I think things are way better, but there are remnants of prejudice and hate still there.

I think if your family and friends are open to discussion and disagreement, it will be fine. There may some pushback, but it will be ok. If they all live close by and are taught by a pastor with an axe to grind, it will be more difficult.
Spelling edit.

Edited by Silver Brook
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I think you are confusing Real Presence with Transubstantiation.

 

I don't know that that is the case.  In any case, transubstantiation is a trickier idea to pin down than many people think.  Even within Catholic theology there have been competing ideas about how to talk about and understand it.

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There are some huge differences, some of them foundational to how individuals view their relationship to God.

 

Typical American evangelicalism: Children are born innocent. At some unspecified age, depending on their maturity and intellect, the child becomes aware that they sin and need forgiveness. They are encouraged to ask Jesus into their hearts and become saved. Then they get baptized to show their obedience to Christ.

 

Catholic/Orthodox/Lutheran: Everyone is born sinful in need of a Savior. Parents bring their children to baptism soon after birth. God works through the baptism ceremony to mark the child as a Christian and work forgiveness of sins. No age of accountability. No sinner's prayer needed in the future. just raise the child in the faith.

 

So switching from one to the other makes a huge difference in how one approaches religious instruction to children, for starters.

 

Thank you for your explanation. I am aware of some of the differences that you mention. Many Protestants would fall more under your description of Catholic/Orthodox/Lutheran, I would think. For example, Presbyterian, Methodist, Episcopalian. But most of them don't consider themselves evangelical.

 

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Not all Protestants believe that Catholics are Christians. While we both have a high regard for scripture, Catholics believe equally in the authority of scripture and holy tradition, while Protestants believe the sole authority for Christians is scripture. Also, Catholics have quite a different view of justification than do Protestants, and many Protestants, especially of the reformed tradition, take issue with this view and would say that it is different enough to say that Catholics aren't Christian. Not to mention, some Protestants consider the veneration of saints and Mary specifically, to be idolatry.

 

I was raised Protestant (I'm the OP), and I was taught as a child (though I have no specific memories of this being taught, it seems to me it was assumed in our faith tradition) that some Catholics *might* be Christians (basically if they denied some of these major tenets of catholicism that I mentioned above). So you can see, that coming from my tradition, it truly is a conversion, and, might I add, a bit scary for me.

 

I will say, the more I educate myself about what Catholics actually believe and teach, the more I agree with you that Protestants and Catholics are both Christians....and I'm finding that a lot of what the Catholic Church emphasizes makes more sense to me than what I had always been taught in the reformed tradition.

 

I appreciate your explanation. I was raised Protestant but never was taught that Catholics weren't Christians. I did hear that a bit in some homeschool circles and from friends of a couple of "flavors" of Protestantism but not from most.

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If you've converted from the faith you were brought up in to another, how has your family taken it? Or perhaps you converted and your spouse didn't. I've brought up a few times on here that I'm considering converting to Catholicism. My extended family and my immediate family are all Protestant. I don't think they would take it well. All our close friends are Protestant. Is there a way to soften the blow? Some of them may worry that I am no longer a Christian if I convert. I'm not as worried about my dh--he seems to be on the same path as I am, just at a slower pace.

My DH is/was a Lutheran pastor and is converting to the Catholic church....so we can relate! Anyway, we've found that being open and honest always but easing into the idea is best. DH did not let his parents know for all 5 years this has been in the works until he left his call, moved, and started attending a byzantine Catholic church exclusively. Not the right way to go about it, lol! But he was scared of what his parents would say and he very much did not want to lose their love or the close relationship. One thing he's currently doing that helps is he's had periodic theological discussions on the phone with his mom to address her concerns. As the resident already-Catholic I keep my head down and try not to mention Catholic stuff around my in-laws. I just hope they don't think it's my fault! They're not pleased about DH joining the superstitious masses and ignorant peons of the Catholic Church :P

 

I say lean heavily on prayer and your spouse. You'll be surprised how okay some people will be with it and surprised at how bigotted others will turn out to be about it. People are just flawed and all of us react badly to unexpected news sometimes.

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My dh and I were both baptized as Catholics in infancy.  He was essentially raised as a nothing.  I was, occasionally, raised as a nominal protestant.  We both started practicing our faith after we got married.  We don't have any religious family, so that's a non-issue.  But we do have issues with, mm, irreligious? family.  My brother and sister were both married in nominally protestant churches (by which I mean Christian-flavored chapels with rent-a-ministers).  We attended both weddings, no problem.  But now my sister (still married) is shacked up with her husband's friend (husband is in jail).  My brother is divorced and re-married (we did not attend the wedding, as we consider him to be still married to his "first" wife, and this relationship to be adulterous.  I'm not close (never was) with my brother or sister.  I've never said anything - at all - to either of them about their situations (or to anyone else), but they deeply resent me withholding support (even though the only thing I've done is maintain silence on the matter).  My husband's sister got divorced and supposedly told their mother, tearfully, that she was so sad because "now they will never let me near their kids" - a situation I might have had some sympathy for (her upset, I mean, because we wouldn't have cut her off from the kids) if she had ever had any interest in our kids to begin with!  But she only had seen them a few times in their lives.  She had never called them, or written to them, or sent them presents or cards, or even post cards from her many travels.  She is "childless by choice" and has no interest in my kids at all, except to make some weird remarks about our Catholicism.

 

All of this to say, you are going to encounter all kinds of ways in which being Catholic will be difficult.  Some people are bigots, many are ignorant, some will know better but use it as an excuse to beat on you anyway. 

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