This is the second installment of a 2-part series. Read Part I.
In the first article, we discussed some ways we can practically become more at home in the Catholic Church. We hope that those ideas have been helpful to new converts and even those who are long- time Catholics who might need a bit of encouragement in their faith journeys. In this article, we will look at various means Catholics have at our disposal to continue to grow closer to Jesus and learn more about His Church.
A Sacramental Life
The most important thing for new and longtime Catholics to remember is that the sacraments are here to strengthen us and give us grace. Take advantage of all that Jesus wants to give you through frequently going to Communion and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. With the recent Coronavirus pandemic, Catholics have been reminded just how we should never take for granted these opportunities of encountering Jesus. Even if going to Confession is hard or feels uncomfortable, remember that it’s a beautiful encounter with the mercy of God. While the requirements for Catholics to go to Confession are rather minimal (once a year if you have serious sins to confess), making a point to go at least every month is a good way to foster a healthy awareness of our sinfulness and regularly repent and be forgiven. In addition to frequent Mass and Confession, finding a regular confessor or even spiritual director can be immensely helpful in growing in our faith. Also, making a retreat (yearly or even more often) is another way to take time for God and going deeper in our relationship with Him.
Rosaries upon Rosaries
Another sometimes unexpectedly hard part of being Catholic is finding your way through the plethora of Catholic devotions. In making the journey to the Catholic Church, you might be confused or overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of options within Catholic devotions. Have you ever wondered how many rosaries a day you need to recite to be a good Catholic? Or how many novenas you need to pray in order to be granted a petition (and what if you miss a day?)? How do you pick and choose what devotions to “make your own”? We encourage you to prayerfully discern God’s leading in this area of your life and focus on devotions that are particularly meaningful to you and that attract you. You might find yourself drawn towards one devotion but not another, or your devotional life might change from one year to another. And that is fine. The point of every Catholic devotion is to enrich your faith and draw you closer to God. It’s not a laundry list of to-do items that you must check off before entering heaven. Start simply. Be consistent. If something doesn’t appeal to you after you’ve tried it, by all means feel free to explore other devotions or prayers. Some of the most popular Catholic devotions are Eucharistic Adoration, the Rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and there are numerous novenas and prayers to saints. We offer resources on our website that help guide you in learning about various devotions and how they fit into a Catholic spiritual life.The point of every Catholic devotion is to enrich your faith and draw you closer to God. It’s not a laundry list of to-do items that you must check off before entering heaven. Click To Tweet
Aside from nourishing our faith life through the sacraments, retreats, and devotions, we also need to give our spiritual life the opportunity to grow through feeding it with good material. We are singularly blessed in having an abundance of ways to learn more about our Faith, both in print and online. Online portals such as Formed, the Saint Paul Center for Biblical Theology, the Knights of Columbus, the Institute of Catholic Culture, and, of course, the Coming Home Network have a multitude of resources that allow us to learn more about Christ and His Church — often for free. There are a number of good faithful Catholic publishers too that provide excellent written material. Try reading one spiritual book a month for the next year and you will be amazed at how much richer your faith will become.
Building up our Faith
As social beings, we also need to make time to further our faith life within our local community. Joining (or starting!) a local Bible study or faith formation group is another favorite way to both learn more and make friendships. The Great Adventure Bible Study and Catholic Scripture Study are a couple of Catholic Bible studies that might be available in your area or you could always form a group yourself. Men’s and women’s groups are also excellent means to grow in your faith through your local community. Two examples of such groups are That Man is You, for men, and Endow, for women. Even asking a few other people from your parish over for dinner and to pray the rosary once a month is an easy way to foster fellowship and build up one another’s faith.
Becoming Catholic is often a big paradigm shift. Converts can lose friends along with the support of their faith communities, and need to re-orient a large part of their belief system. New Catholics are blessed in so many ways in experiencing the depth and richness of our Faith, but that doesn’t make the transition easy. In these struggles, the CHNetwork wants to encourage you and pray for you. Please reach out to us, join our online community, and connect with a staff member if we can be of help. Know that we pray for all those connected with our apostolate and that we are happy to support you in your continuing faith journeys.