Sometimes people can be weird. They say weird things that leave you wondering if they heard themselves say it.
My husband and I became Catholic about 3 years ago. And because I live a pretty public life, I’ve heard some of the strangest and sometimes offensive things from other Catholics. To be helpful, and also a little humorous, I thought I’d list some of them out. And I really don’t mean to offend…just trying to help you guys out. So here they are, 10 things NOT to say to a convert:
1. “I’m just so glad that you are a Christian now.”
Um, I was a Christian before I became Catholic. Believe it or not, people of other denominations can be Christians. Shocking, I know.
2. “Oh, you are just a baby Catholic.”
Okay … this was the most annoying to me. Look, I wasn’t born into this faith. I chose to become Catholic. And I made that choice based on extensive learning and studying about the faith. Yes, I am new to the faith, but it doesn’t mean I’m an idiot about the faith. And seriously, let’s just not call adults “baby” anything.
3. “You have done the right thing for your children.”
Yes, training my children up to be Catholic Christians is the most amazing gift I can give them. But it’s not like I was doing the WRONG thing for my kids when I wasn’t Catholic. Any comment that could potentially be taken as “you really stunk as a parent” should not be said.
4. “I need to talk to you about Vatican 2.”
Listen, I know all of the controversy surrounding Vatican 2. I get it. But someone who has just entered the amazing mystery of the Church doesn’t need a lesson on the controversy in the Church. “I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.” That part of the creed I converted with, I believe in it.
5. “Isn’t sex just so much better as a Catholic???” *said with much enthusiasm*
Yes, multiple people (strangers) have really asked me this question. It’s like, are they asking me or telling me? Is the sacrament of marriage beautiful? Absolutely. Do I want to talk about my new found Catholic sex life with you? Probably not.
6. “Life is so much better as a Catholic.”
Okay, let’s try not go all “prosperity gospel” on new Catholics. Life is great as a Catholic. I can receive the real Body and Blood of Christ every day. Nothing could be better than that. But let’s be honest. Life as a Catholic is hard. And that’s one of the things that we embrace about our Catholic faith: suffering. And it’s beautiful. Though, if we act like all of your problems are going to go away now that you are Catholic, then we might as well join up with the Osteens. In the past 3 years, I have been challenged more than I ever was in the 31 years before that.
7. “What was your first confession like?”
There is probably nothing more personal than confession… especially your first one. I can’t ever figure out what people are asking here. Did you cry uncontrollably? Yes. Did you feel like scum going in? Yes. Did you do everything possible to avoid eye contact with the priest? Yes. Did you feel a sense of embarrassment and shame as you confessed your dirtiest and darkest sins? Yep. Did it take FOREVER because you were such a terrible sinner? Surprisingly, not as long as I expected. Did you embarrassingly have to pull out a piece of paper with the Act of Contrition printed on it because you didn’t know it by heart? Yes. Did the priest give you a million prayers to pray for penance? I’ll never tell. Do you think you remembered everything that you needed to confess? Probably not. If you are really desperate to know about someone’s love of confession, maybe you could just say something like, “Man, confession is really beautiful, huh?”
8. “You don’t need to bring your Bible to church! We have the Magnificat in the pews.”
So, we probably shouldn’t be discouraging people from bringing their Bibles to church. In fact, if you haven’t ever brought your Bible to church, maybe you should try it out. Or if you don’t actually have a Bible (the whole Bible, not the edited version) at home, you should definitely go out and buy one. My mom’s old pastor used to say there were three things that we need to do consistently to strengthen our walk with God: pray daily, go to church every Sunday (and more if you can), and read the Bible. It’s an amazing thing. When you stop relying on the little paperback book in the pew and open your Bible, you learn so many things that you probably didn’t know before. Maybe that’s just my Southern Baptist roots coming out, but you should really give it a try!
9. “What ministry do you want to join? Lectors? Eucharistic Ministers? Choir? Respect Life? Linen washers? Sick and homebound? Food pantry? Coats for kids? Decorating? Which one?”
I just got here. I have been confirmed for about 10 minutes. Give me a sec (or a year) to figure out where God is calling me to serve. Should we all be serving in some way for the Church? You better believe it. I heard a priest say one time, “To not serve in your parish, is to fail your parish.” We should all be connected with one or more church ministries. But give the new Catholics a few seconds to breathe. We are still basking in the amazingness of our First Eucharist.
10. “The best Mass is the Latin Mass.”
Actually, the best Mass is the one where Jesus is present. And yeah, that’s all of them.