Do not be an Ex-Protestant
Do Not Be an Ex-Protestant
Listen. To. Me.
Don’t do it.
This is one of the most important things you can keep in mind to survive your conversion before and after reintegration with the Roman congregation.
When I first started attending mass, once I went with a friend who brought an older woman with us to lunch afterwards. She was bitter, and angry. She was less a Catholic and more an ex-protestant. I do not claim to judge her heart, but I do claim to observe her actions as well as my own and those of many converts.
I understand that we carry hurt, we carry pain, we carry fear, and anger and sorrow. We carry anger and loss, and disillusion. But, we also carry Christ, we carry crosses, we carry one another.
I understand that this is a process, that no one is perfect and that we all go through refining and sifting. Just like in relationships, breaking up or taking off an engagement ring does not just restore you to what you once were, you have to go through a reassessment. You have to take the time to develop and to grow.
Just a note: There will be bitterness. There will be anguish. There will be sorrow.
However, this does not have to define us.
Sometimes we get caught on a strongly militant wave of emotion and we attack anything protestant. We are focused on being not-protestant instead of simply being Catholic. Instead of choosing to affirm something we seek to negate something else. If you spend all your time developing yourself by the shape of your enemies, you have nothing to stand on. If you’re determined to be an ex-calvinist, or an ex-evangelical, you’re missing the point.
And to be fair, we all have moments of anger, frustration and bitterness. We all have times where we fall short, or get caught in an “us vs. them” mentality. Converts especially bring a lot of vigor and enthusiasm and passion for the faith with them, but unless it’s eventually properly redirected towards a constructive means, it ends up like adrenaline, turning out to be poison instead of power.
Actively Making a Choice
Eventually, we all need to make a choice for the Church. We need to make a choice to lose the embattled mindset and find things to engage in.
Choose a patron, a spiritual discipline, a prelate, a penance, an indulgence, and do these things. Be for the Church, be for her active call in your daily life, not just her academic call in the thoughts of your mind. Being Catholic is about bodies engaged in worship, find a good work and do this.
You do not have to fit the entire Catholic faith into your mind, rather let yourself swim in the faith, in the scandalous freedom to be and have grace and the sacraments. Let your heart delight in the mysteries, in the call of the saints to worship and behold God. Remember why you wanted to convert in the first place. Was it logic? Or reason? Surely there was some of that. However, what about passion and presence?
Make a choice to be humble, and define yourself by the Church instead of against your “enemies” or those you used to commune with.
If you wish to lord over others, you will fail. If you want to bash others with your truth, you are disgracing the Church and her call to worship. Be an example of the Catholic life. This is your best apologetic.
Be Catholic, Be for the Church
Instead of being a douchebag ex-protestant running around trouncing evangelical Christians, be Catholic, be for the Church, for the poor, for the broken and the needy. Be for the world and all its needs, be for their redemption through your life and your participation in the cross of Christ.
Be for the Church in all her splendor and in all her humble teachings. Be for her in the same way one should be for a lover. Be available to Mother Church, be available to serve her, instead of rejoicing that you are not the husband of every ugly woman that passes by, rejoice that you have the most beautiful wife in the world. Instead of sneering over those with faith that you consider incomplete, serve them, and DO NOT be an ex-protestant.
Simply be Catholic, and watch what God does through your life, your spirituality, and your virtues. In the name of the Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit, amen.