What I Was Before I Became a Catholic
I wasn’t born Catholic, nor have I been a Catholic for very long. I was baptized about a year ago and I want to share with you how God has changed and transformed my life. Like most people, I never thought I did wrong, nor that I was a sinner. I didn’t even know what sin was. God changed all that.
Why I Converted to Catholicism
My girlfriend Johana always told me that she wanted to get married in the Church, and I would always respond that I didn’t want to get married at all. But one Sunday while she was at work, I decided to go to Mass alone. It was there that I felt God’s presence for the first time. It was the first time that I actually listened to what the priest was saying. But it was not what he said that impacted me; it was a feeling that “woke me up.” I felt a warmth deep inside that I could not explain and since that moment I decided to convert to Catholicism.
How I Converted to Catholicism
I started taking RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) classes in English, because I didn’t feel prepared to take them in Spanish yet. I had been taking the classes for a few months when we decided to move to Los Angeles, California. We faced many problems as we arrived in Los Angeles. First, the people who had invited us to stay in their house (all seven of us in one bedroom) got angry with us, and we had to go out and find a place to live. I found a two-bedroom apartment, and we lived much better there. I had to start the RCIA classes all over again, but this time Johana joined me because she wanted to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. We were a small group of six or seven people, but we really liked the sister who was our catechist. After being baptized, confirmed, and receiving the Eucharist for the first time, I felt . . . the same. We even had a party since it was also my birthday, and I drank way more than enough. I didn’t change my mindset or my lifestyle, because I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong.
This is a key point that people need to know. Being a Catholic doesn't mean you are pure and perfect, but you should try more and more everyday to reach that goal. Following the example that Jesus has left us, we can become more like the people He wants us to be.
The Bible is key to your relationship with God and the Church. Read it, study it, and put its messages in practice in your life. Read Catholic books; two that I really like are The Collar by Jonathan Englert and Why I Am A Catholic by Garry Wills. Live the sacraments. Build relationships with other Catholics. Immerse yourself in the church life at your local parish.
Don't be afraid to ask questions. You shouldn't expect yourself to memorize the Bible or know the complete history of the Church right away. I'm a two-year Catholic, and I probably know more than most people in my parish. Education is so important. This is a big difference between born Catholics and converts. Converts usually have a much stronger connection to the Church, and those born into it feel it more as an obligation. It is important to educate not only ourselves but others whose knowledge of the Church does not exceed the stereotypes.
- Educate yourself in the Catholic tradition, Church history, and of course the Bible.
- RCIA is just an initiation, but continue learning more and more about your Faith.
- Pray. One-on-one with God.
- Follow the example of Jesus Christ in your daily life.
- Talk to other people about your faith.
- Join a Bible study in your church.
- Participate in your local parish. By surrounding yourself with other faithful people you will find it easier to make the change yourself.
- Live the sacraments.
- Don't let anyone negatively affect your faith.