In the last two posts, I’ve shared personal aspects of becoming Catholic. Today I move to one of the most difficult parts of that decision, the judgment of your family. For most people, this is the largest obstacle to becoming Catholic.
For others the most difficult part of Catholicism is losing their job or their career if they are employed by a Protestant congregation. I’ve been there, too. Perhaps I’ll share some personal thoughts on that in the days to come. Today, I want to focus on family. I get emails and phone calls from Protestants considering conversion. I’d say that most of them experience difficulties with their families and usually with their spouses.
I’ve also noticed that some people have difficulty with how their parents will perceive them if they are Catholics. Cradle Catholics (those raised as Catholics from the cradle) might find this odd. What they do not understand is that Protestant denominations have their own customs and expectations when it comes to holidays, meals, and important life events like marriage…and the Catholic Church has her own customs.
Let me give just ten examples that will likely come up. If you have others, please share them in the comments:
- At Christmas and other holidays, you will have to go Holy Mass with your family. This creates problems with scheduling wider family events on Christmas.
- When you pray at meals, your family and children will make the sign of the cross. This will startle your extended family.
- When the grandparents pray with your children, your children will at some point innocently and rightly start praying to Mary or to some saints. That might cause grandma to go into a conniption.
- You won’t contracept. This means you’ll start having lots of babies. This means your family will constantly say things like, “Aren’t you finished?” or hurtful things to your wife, “Don’t you want to do something more important than have children and pack lunches?”
- You will have a crucifix in your house which will draw comments.
- Marriages will be Catholic and Catholic only. That means no weddings at the family’s favorite chapel.
- You won’t be able to attend a family wedding if Catholics are getting married in Protestant chapels and in sometimes in difficult situations where there is divorce.
- If you’re practicing, you’ll be praying the Rosary daily. I invite Protestant family to join us, but that may not be comfortable for everyone.
- On Fridays, especially on Fridays during Lent you’ll have to ask questions about dinner before accepting an invitation, because you cannot eat flesh meat (beef, pork, chicken, etc.)
- You’ll have one family member who is very aggressive and challenging. They’ll be playing Johnny Apologetics every time you gather as a family. There will the be uncomfortable debates about sola fide, sola scriptura, Mary, the Pope, Catholic history, and more.
And there’s more. So why be Catholic? Well, it’s the true Church of Jesus Christ and it is a cross to be a member of Christ’s visible and historic body: “And he said to all: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23, D-R).
Many Catholics have even had to abandon their family altogether – even wives and children – for the sake of Christ. Saints Felicity and Perpetua come to mind. Saint Peter is another:
Then Peter said: Behold, we have left all things and have followed thee. Who said to them: Amen, I say to you, there is no man that hath left home or parents or brethren or wife or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, Who shall not receive much more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting. (Luke 18:28–30, D-R)
Hard words, I know. Yet when we consider the gift of the beatific vision of God’s essence and our union with Him for ever, all created happiness and goods fail to compare. Everything is worth it. Catholicism is the pearl of great price. Also, think of it this way. Early Catholics struggled with becoming martyrs. When they were martyred they offered their deaths for the conversion of their accusers and enemies (St Stephen martyrdom and St Paul’s conversion is an example).
Today we do not worry about martyrdom (yet), but we do worry about the disgrace we will experience from our families. That is a small price when you think of it. Moreover, whenever your family ridicules your mocks your for being a Catholic, you can offer that pain for their conversion. It might be the trigger that releases graces upon their souls.
To read the two previous posts about becoming Catholic, click here and scroll down.
ad Jesum per Mariam,
PS: If you have personal experience with conversion and family, please helpful advice below in the comments.