Monday, September 19, 2011

Converts & Cradle Catholics

As a convert, I have found the point of this article from the Wall Street Journal—that converts are more evangelical than cradles—to be true, somewhat.

For a convert, the discovery of the teachings of Catholicism is a profound revelation of truth found at last, after years of the wandering search through the mundane and often ridiculous varieties of religious experience in the world; while the cradle Catholic often takes it for granted, especially true for those cradle Catholics who no longer study the teachings of the Church.

An excerpt.

“Do converts to the faith make better evangelists than "cradle Catholics"? Pope Benedict XVI seems to think so. Christians since childhood should "ask forgiveness," the pope told a group of his former theological students recently, "because we bring so little of the light of [Christ's] face to others, and emanate so feebly the certainty that he is, he is present and he is the great and complete reality that we are all awaiting."

“But are Catholics "by birth"—or any believers raised in a religious tradition—indeed less-convincing witnesses, or less motivated, than are converts? Do they have a greater responsibility to live up to the tenets of the faith since they have known Christ from their earliest years? And are they a bigger disappointment to the Mother Church—and the world—when they come up short?

“Benedict himself would certainly qualify as a "cradle Catholic." Joseph Ratzinger was born at home, early on the morning of Holy Saturday in April 1927, into the all-encompassing Catholic culture of small-town Bavaria. Within a few hours of his birth, the infant's mother bundled him up and trudged through an early spring snow to have him baptized at the village parish—the first step on a long but in some ways commonplace life of faith, at least in that day and age.

"I am a perfectly ordinary Christian," he once said of himself, with characteristic modesty. Yet it's hard to argue that Joseph Ratzinger, now the pope, has been anything less than enthusiastic in preaching the gospel. He entered the seminary while still an adolescent and rose from priest to cardinal to pope.

“But is that enough? Over the past 2,000 years, two narratives have competed in the Christian imagination: the ideal of the child raised in a Christian home, growing steadily in faith and virtue, and that of the repentant soul whose clamorous conversion leads heaven to rejoice more than over 99 of the righteous.”