This Easter, hundreds of people entered the Catholic Church through the sacraments of initiation. If you are one of them – welcome! Your journey into the Church may be over, but your journey of life as a Catholic has only just begun. As with any journey, it is helpful to seek the advice of someone who has gone before you in order to learn from their experiences.
Shaun McAfee is a Catholic author, the founder of the web site epicPew, and a convert to the Catholic faith. He recently wrote an article for the National Catholic Register titled, 3 Things for New Catholics to Keep in Mind, and stopped by Morning Air® to discuss it. Whether you are a new Catholic or a cradle Catholic, you will certainly grow in holiness if you follow Shaun’s advice.
1. Frequent the Sacraments
The first thing to do is make sure that you make frequent use of the sacraments – all of the sacraments whenever they’re appropriate. But most specifically, new Catholics should make sure that they are trying to attend Mass as often as possible. Not just the weekly obligations and the feast days, but see if they can make it to weekday Mass more than once a week.
And then also regular Confession. Myself, I confess once a week, but I can’t ask everyone to do that. That might be an extension for some people, but it keeps me in a safe zone and a level of comfort, and it also makes me more available and more confident for the sacrament of the Eucharist – as we’re supposed to examine our consciences before we receive.
Also, specifically to new Catholics, unless you’re single, the one unique item on there is for married folks. They need to know, or should remember, that as Catholics they are the ministers of their own sacrament. This is unique to Holy Matrimony, so it’s on them how much they nurture it and how much they put into it. That’s ultimately going to be what they receive from it.
2. Keep a Good Perspective
It’s easy year after year, and month after month, and season after season to get swept up in the latest Catholic controversy. Did Pope Francis say this? Was this cardinal really at this meeting where they were saying this? Did Pastor Johnny really not give a homily? Or did he give a homily on this instead of that?
And those are important things to discuss, but they’re not important things to get bent out of shape over. And perhaps some Catholics over time might get so bent out of shape that they’ll eventually lose confidence in something they once had great confidence in.
So, first of all, you want to build that confidence. That’s your first remedy. Know what the Church is and let that be the basis of your faith, instead of being happy with everything that happens. Because ultimately, Christ passed on a perfect Church and a perfect hierarchy to sinful people.
One of the Twelve was a betrayer. So I always tell people, 1/12 of the Church you can expect to be bad! Not that it is particularly accurate, but it’s a good thing to keep in mind as we become disappointed with this or that in the Church. Have an open mind and remember the special reason we did join the Church. It is His Body, we do have access to the sacraments, and Christ is truly present in the Eucharist.
3. Don’t Miss Out on Opportunities for Grace
My advice to all Catholics out there is to evaluate why you’re not accessing the sacraments more often.
I remember so many times in my life as a Catholic – it’s only been 7 years or so – where I could have been attending daily Mass, but didn’t. It was only a 5 minute walk to the Church, or I worked across the street from a Church, but didn’t. Or I said no on a monthly basis to receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation, either through my own embarrassment or whatever it might have been.
Give yourself the opportunity to analyze why you’re not accessing the sacraments. If it’s an issue of proximity and availability, so be it. But work on making sure that you have the social life of the Catholic Church down as well, and daily prayer.
Get some books on the saints. Get some readings from all the great publishers out there. Visit your local Catholic bookstore and just have a look around. Maybe there’s a brilliant looking rosary, and just holding that rosary makes you want to pray it more often. Maybe there’s a wonderful statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe or Our Lady of Lourdes that you look at and you’re filled with wonder. Those are opportunities to grow in the faith daily.
Check out Shaun’s article 3 Things for New Catholics to Keep in Mind at the National Catholic Register. His article has another helpful tip not discussed here – and it’s an important one! So head on over to check it out.
Listen to the full conversation below:
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