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Did Anyone Here Become A Catholic As An Adult? What Was It Like?


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My bf grew up with two parents of different religions and then converted at the behest of his then-S.O., whom he later married. I think he's conflicted about his religion now that he's divorced, but he doesn't go to church anymore.  I think he still identifies as a Catholic sometimes, but sometimes not. It doesn't matter to me since I'm willing to date someone religion or non-religion as long as the person is not devout.

 

In any case, I was wondering what the conversion process was like for him. I saw a sales-y 8-step guide to becoming a Catholic, and the last step, the baptism, surprised me. I had always thought that baptism involved water; something about bending over onto a table and having a priest put his hand on your head made me wince, but I'm not sure why.

 

If you converted to Catholicism, what was it like? 

 

Mods: Feel free to move this if it belongs elsewhere.

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Well I converted to evangelical Christianity as an adult (and then went back).  But it sounds like you're looking for info on Catholicism specifically, so I won't say more unless you're interested.

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Well I converted to evangelical Christianity as an adult (and then went back).  But it sounds like you're looking for info on Catholicism specifically, so I won't say more unless you're interested.

Thanks for responding. Intellectually, I'm very interested in your story but it seems like the conversion to Catholicism is pretty different from conversion to evangelical Christianity. From a quick look through, it seems like most of the posters here are ex-Protestants.

 

BTW, the sentence in my first post should read "It doesn't matter to me since I'm willing to date someone of any religion or non-religion as long as the person is not devout." Sorry about that.

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From what I've seen from my Catholic friends and one friend who converted as an adult, it's about a year-long process. First you have to find a current catholic to sponsor you. I'm not sure what all that involves; the sponsors I know of at least went to the final ceremony and celebrated with the person they sponsored. Then you go to catechism classes. Someone who grows up catholic will have done those as a kid. You're supposed to learn all about what catholics believe and ask questions and stuff. Once you've had the whole class, then there's some ceremony where a whole group of new catholics become official. I'm not sure if anything else is involved, those are just the bits I've heard about.

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The Catholic church does not believe in rebaptism, so if the person has been validly baptized, they don't get baptized again.  They are confirmed, which is probably the ceremony that VF refers to.  Yes, you have to have a sponsor.  I became a Catholic at 25 after having been Calvinist.  The local priest realized that by then I knew enough about the faith that I wasn't asked to attend classes, but I understand, as VF says, that usually one does, or at least has "instruction" from a priest. 

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I almost did, but i backed out when i realized i couldn't live with myself if i continued. I made it to the week of their little "rite of sending" when i called it quits. I'm not sure if you've ever heard of William Lobdell, but he left RCIA just before Easter. He has a book out called "Losing My Religion," and it's a good read.

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Maybe this should be at another post, but the OP of this thread made me wonder what happens to cause any adult to convert to Xtianity of any denomination? I've know very well educated people in their prime convert to Xtianity. I never could get a sensible explanation as to why from them because they were still Xtians. What about those who have deconverted? I'd like to know what factors caused the conversion.  bill

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Maybe this should be at another post, but the OP of this thread made me wonder what happens to cause any adult to convert to Xtianity of any denomination? I've know very well educated people in their prime convert to Xtianity. I never could get a sensible explanation as to why from them because they were still Xtians. What about those who have deconverted? I'd like to know what factors caused the conversion.  bill

 

I bet the most common scenario is when a non-Christian marries a Christian.

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^That, or the fact that a lot of adult converts to xtianity are in a tough situation, whatever it is. There's almost always some degree of vulnerability, and then the xtian heroes fly in, in the hopes of saving these people from themselves. When you're basically between a rock and a hard place, your decision making abilities aren't the best, and they know this.

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I'm not certain, but I think the major factor is guilt. Too much drinking, to much carousing around,  too little time with spouse and or family, bad business practices, etc. It's got to be a strong emotion that drives them.  bill

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The adult "convert" I knew was raised christian, never really stopped believing in some form of god, found a catholic church that was more about social justice than many other churches, and had a huge crush on a catholic girl or two. I think he liked the intellectual side too; catholics at least accept evolution, and they have fancy complex systems to explain why they believe what they believe.

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Maybe this should be at another post, but the OP of this thread made me wonder what happens to cause any adult to convert to Xtianity of any denomination? I've know very well educated people in their prime convert to Xtianity. I never could get a sensible explanation as to why from them because they were still Xtians. What about those who have deconverted? I'd like to know what factors caused the conversion.  bill

 

I suppose I fit the mold of a well-educated adult who converted to Christianity in his prime.  For me it was a combination of a misplaced and idiotic need to rebel against the religion I was raised with (yes, I rebelled by converting to Christianity), fulfillment of a desire to be religious (to this day I enjoy practicing religion, regardless of whether it's based in truth), and intellectual fulfillment.  While I now realize that Christianity discourages intellectualism, at the time I saw it as a good reason to study doctrine and theology.  If you want a deeper explanation I could probably contemplate this period of my life in a bit more detail.

 

One item of note is that I did not cite recognition of my sinful nature as a reason for converting to Christianity.  When I became a Christian I didn't feel particularly sinful or in need of redemption; I just wanted to be a Christian.  The repentence and faith in Jesus came later as I read and understood the Bible.  When I recognized my error, this need to repent departed from me more quickly than I had acquired it.

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Maybe this should be at another post, but the OP of this thread made me wonder what happens to cause any adult to convert to Xtianity of any denomination? I've know very well educated people in their prime convert to Xtianity. I never could get a sensible explanation as to why from them because they were still Xtians. What about those who have deconverted? I'd like to know what factors caused the conversion.  bill

 

I converted at 21 Bill. Why? Well, I was always interested in things spiritual, but had not been brought up religious, then I hit this crisis point in my life where I was needing help (poorly treated clinical depression). I was actually half-way through a science degree (Biological Science) when I converted so I really should have known better. Basically, I was emotionally vulnerable and open to the idea of a god who loved me and wanted to comfort me. Guilt wasn't a big issue with me as my suffering was not due to my mistakes and I was not aware of any major things I had done wrong to others (until of course the bible told me so, but I was hooked by then). My guess is that a bulk of adult conversions are from people who had drug/alcohol and/or mental health problems (such as PTSD from war or abuse), people who really need help but unfortunately go to the wrong place. I can confirm that 15 years as a christian did not help my PTSD or Depression, in fact it exacerbated it intensely. Now I have been receiving proper medical treatment for three years I am beginning to feel more stable than I ever was as a christian. Christianity teaches us that deconverting would be a disaster for us mentally, physically and spiritually but that is clearly not the case based on many testimonies on this site.

 

To help answer the OP, my sister converted to Catholicism when she married her husband. She is a science teacher who agree evolution is correct and is generally very logical in all areas of her life but she likes to have her faith as she finds comfort in it. It is the only area in her life where she is not logical. I don't challenge her on it as it does her little harm. Some people just like the 'mysteries' of life to fit in a known box. 

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I was a devout evangelical/charismatic protestant (in full time ministry for many years) who converted to Catholicism in my last stages on the path to atheism (although I didn't know that was where i was going!).  I was deeply dissatisfied with historical issues of my protestant background (i.e. essentially ignoring EVERYTHING that happened prior to the reformation!  What about the 1500 years between the death of the disciples and Martin Luther???).  I was craving to connect historically with the roots of Christianity.  I had major theological problems with the doctrine of "sole fide" (faith alone), and I was intrigued by the contemplative spirituality found within Catholicism.

 

I went through the RCIA classes, did not need to be baptized as the Catholic Church accepted my baptism.  However, I could never really buy into a lot of the hokey Catholic theologies and was soon disappointed that my quest to find the historical church of Christ got me no closer to "the truth."  I also started discovering MORE history, such as the fact that the story of Jesus is mostly a plagiarism from earlier mystery religions in the middle east...and thus the slide towards the death of my faith.

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My guess is that a bulk of adult conversions are from people who had drug/alcohol and/or mental health problems (such as PTSD from war or abuse), people who really need help but unfortunately go to the wrong place.

I suspect you're right.  That said, I do want to emphasize that in my case this was definitely not true.  I grew up in a very stable home with two orthodox Hindu parents who drank maybe once a year, never physically abused me (so no PTSD, etc.), were highly involved in my life, and taught me to work hard, pray hard, etc.  If anything they were overprotective, and the closest thing I developed to a mental disorder was a love of science.  And how do I repay this superb parenting?  By going through a late teenage rebellion phase, and taking a dump on them by converting to evangelical Christianity.

 

The only excuse I can come up with for converting to Christianity as an adult is "I was an absolute douchebag."  And for that sin, I utterly repent.  One of the reasons I'm so into Hinduism these days, despite that I don't actually believe in it, is that I see it as a way to partially repair the damage I've done.  From now on I plan to be as un-Christian as possible.

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  • 1 month later...

My bf grew up with two parents of different religions and then converted at the behest of his then-S.O., whom he later married. I think he's conflicted about his religion now that he's divorced, but he doesn't go to church anymore.  I think he still identifies as a Catholic sometimes, but sometimes not. It doesn't matter to me since I'm willing to date someone religion or non-religion as long as the person is not devout.

 

In any case, I was wondering what the conversion process was like for him. I saw a sales-y 8-step guide to becoming a Catholic, and the last step, the baptism, surprised me. I had always thought that baptism involved water; something about bending over onto a table and having a priest put his hand on your head made me wince, but I'm not sure why.

 

If you converted to Catholicism, what was it like? 

 

Mods: Feel free to move this if it belongs elsewhere.

That is a very poor picture, but what you see there is not a person bending over a table, and the priest is not putting his hand on his head.  He has placed his head over a baptismal font, and the priest is pouring water over his head to baptize him.   Catholics do not require baptism by immersion (although that is perfectly valid).  Many churches just have fonts like that one in the picture and pour water over the person's head to baptize them.   And yes, baptism always involves water.

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Hello Narnia, did you pick your handle because you attended Narnia meetings in school?  Just wondering, not trying to set you up.  In the school where I used to teach, some of the students went to Narnia meetings.

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Hello Narnia, did you pick your handle because you attended Narnia meetings in school?  Just wondering, not trying to set you up.  In the school where I used to teach, some of the students went to Narnia meetings.

No, I picked it because I love "The Chronicles of Narnia" by CS Lewis.

 

I usually do well enough setting myself up, thanks. smile.png

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No, I picked it because I love "The Chronicles of Narnia" by CS Lewis.

Hello Narnia, did you pick your handle because you attended Narnia meetings in school?  Just wondering, not trying to set you up.  In the school where I used to teach, some of the students went to Narnia meetings.

 

I usually do well enough setting myself up, thanks. smile.png

 

 

Interesting.  C.S. Lewis was of course a Protestant (Anglican specifically, and perhaps an ecumenical one).  He seems to be a favorite of evangelicals, but I suppose he's accessible to Catholics as well.

 

When I was in a summer school after first grade we once watched a cartoon version of the Chronicles of Narnia.  Having not been raised Christian, I of course didn't notice the obvious allegory to the story of Jesus.  Shortly after converting to Christianity, I once randomly recalled Narnia and realized the connection.  Strangely that's how I discovered Lewis.

 

Since returning to my actual religion I've of course abandoned all interest in Lewis.  But I do understand why he enjoys such a following among Christians of all stripes.

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No, I picked it because I love "The Chronicles of Narnia" by CS Lewis.

Hello Narnia, did you pick your handle because you attended Narnia meetings in school?  Just wondering, not trying to set you up.  In the school where I used to teach, some of the students went to Narnia meetings.

 

I usually do well enough setting myself up, thanks. smile.png

 

 

Interesting.  C.S. Lewis was of course a Protestant (Anglican specifically, and perhaps an ecumenical one).  He seems to be a favorite of evangelicals, but I suppose he's accessible to Catholics as well.

 

When I was in a summer school after first grade we once watched a cartoon version of the Chronicles of Narnia.  Having not been raised Christian, I of course didn't notice the obvious allegory to the story of Jesus.  Shortly after converting to Christianity, I once randomly recalled Narnia and realized the connection.  Strangely that's how I discovered Lewis.

 

Since returning to my actual religion I've of course abandoned all interest in Lewis.  But I do understand why he enjoys such a following among Christians of all stripes.

 

Lewis was "Anglo-Catholic" or high church Anglican.  Most evangelicals become very uncomfortable with his work when they get past "Mere Christianity" and "The Chronicles of Narnia".   For instance, he espoused a belief in the distinctive Catholic doctrines of Purgatory and prayers for the dead.    The greatest influences in his conversion from atheism to Christianity were Catholics (JRR Tolkien and GK Chesterton). 

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This is a little bit off the OP but it does relate to your last, Narnia:  I have read those works of Lewis but long ago, so I forget.  Why did he convert from atheism to Christianity?  Was part of his process the "liar-lunatic-Lord" trilemma that he sets out in MC - i.e. was this his own reasoning?  I gather he accepted the historicity of the Gospels pretty much.

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This is a little bit off the OP but it does relate to your last, Narnia:  I have read those works of Lewis but long ago, so I forget.  Why did he convert from atheism to Christianity?  Was part of his process the "liar-lunatic-Lord" trilemma that he sets out in MC - i.e. was this his own reasoning?  I gather he accepted the historicity of the Gospels pretty much.

 

It's been a while since I've read the particulars of his conversion; I know GK Chesterton and his book "The Everlasting Man" were very influential.  I don't think the "liar-lunatic-Lord" trilemma was influential in his conversion from atheism though.  The premise of the trilemma is that a person accepts the historicity of Christ and to a certain extent the Gospel stories, but rejects the divinity of Christ in favor of that he was simply a good moral teacher.    Since the basis for Christ being a good moral teacher is the Gospels, and Christ claims to be God in the Gospels, Lewis' premise was that if one accepts the Gospels as the foundation of what one knows about Christ, then one has to logically conclude he is liar, lunatic or lord.  It is directed more towards those who waffle within Christianity towards certain leanings that Lewis felt had no logical basis, not atheism, in my opinion.

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This is a little bit off the OP but it does relate to your last, Narnia:  I have read those works of Lewis but long ago, so I forget.  Why did he convert from atheism to Christianity?  Was part of his process the "liar-lunatic-Lord" trilemma that he sets out in MC - i.e. was this his own reasoning?  I gather he accepted the historicity of the Gospels pretty much.

 

It's been a while since I've read the particulars of his conversion; I know GK Chesterton and his book "The Everlasting Man" were very influential.  I don't think the "liar-lunatic-Lord" trilemma was influential in his conversion from atheism though.  The premise of the trilemma is that a person accepts the historicity of Christ and to a certain extent the Gospel stories, but rejects the divinity of Christ in favor of that he was simply a good moral teacher.    Since the basis for Christ being a good moral teacher is the Gospels, and Christ claims to be God in the Gospels, Lewis' premise was that if one accepts the Gospels as the foundation of what one knows about Christ, then one has to logically conclude he is liar, lunatic or lord.  It is directed more towards those who waffle within Christianity towards certain leanings that Lewis felt had no logical basis, not atheism, in my opinion.

 

 

My vague memories are that it had a lot to do with the power of stories. He looked at the myths of other cultures, saw a lot of similarities, and decided that instead of that meaning they were all made up by men, that the other myths where based around the same truths that christianity is. If I'm remembering correctly, he even believed that good people who were non christians could get to heaven, because even if they put the wrong name on it, they were acting more christ-like than people who claimed the right labels. On the other hand, he also claimed that bad people claiming the name of christ isn't an arugement against christianity, because they may well have been even nastier people without god.

 

He may have also gone with the "overall story of history" view that's currently pushed by Ravi Zacharais. The idea there is that the christian story provides a framework for, and makes sense of, human history, and that somehow being a compelling story is proof of its objective truth.

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Thanks for the lucid explanation of Lewis' aim in setting out the trilemma, Narnia.  I hadn't realized that it presupposes that one accept the historicity (or substantial historicity) of the gospels.  Makes more sense now.

 

@VF:  I think you're right about Lewis' views on who gets saved.  At the end of the Narnia series--isn't it?--they all get to heaven, and the professor is looking around and saying, "it's all in Plato."  In the Screwtape Letters, a guy who is an unbeliever shows heroic self-sacrifice during the blitz and is saved (Wormwood or whatever his face is gets in big trouble for his failure to corrupt the guy).

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My vague memories are that it had a lot to do with the power of stories. He looked at the myths of other cultures, saw a lot of similarities, and decided that instead of that meaning they were all made up by men, that the other myths where based around the same truths that christianity is. If I'm remembering correctly, he even believed that good people who were non christians could get to heaven, because even if they put the wrong name on it, they were acting more christ-like than people who claimed the right labels. On the other hand, he also claimed that bad people claiming the name of christ isn't an arugement against christianity, because they may well have been even nastier people without god.

 

He may have also gone with the "overall story of history" view that's currently pushed by Ravi Zacharais. The idea there is that the christian story provides a framework for, and makes sense of, human history, and that somehow being a compelling story is proof of its objective truth.

 

 

The concept that the similarity of the same mythology appearing in different and unrelated cultures being somewhat of a 'clue' related to ultimate truth didn't originate with Lewis but I do agree that it influenced him.   And yes, he believed that one could have recognized and accepted Christ and be in service to him without an actual intellectual counterpart of officially knowing about Christ in the traditional sense.   And you're correct, he did argue that it's impossible to know how much being Christian had improved the character of a person because it was impossible to know what their starting point was.  He has this great analogy of what it means to 'stand naked before God' when everything sort of drops off and the real person is revealed.   I think he said that some people were going to find their good disposition was simply the result of having a good digestive system and not anything really meritorious on their part.   While others, once all the baggage life had given them dropped off, it would be found that they had been truly heroic.   He says it's why we can't judge people

 

I do believe he concluded that yes, the Christian faith provided the framework that made the most sense in explaining humanity, but I don't know that was the compelling evidence for him. 

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