Becoming New in Christ

One of the many happy occurrences of this radiant Easter season in the Church is meeting those former “candidates” and “catechumens” who entered into full communion with the Church at Easter Eve.

They bring an exuberance, a joy, a devotion that I at times find lacking in lifelong Catholics, myself included.

In addition, they easily speak about Catholic doctrines, practices, and traditions that they find “awesome,” which, once again, sadly, for us “cradle Catholics,” may have lost their luster.

Let me mention a few:

For one, they love Sunday Mass and receiving the Eucharist.  For instance, Easter Sunday morning, at 10:15 Mass at Saint Patrick’s, I saw one of our brand new Catholics, who had just been baptized, confirmed, and received his first Holy Communion the night before.

“You didn’t have to come back this morning!” I teased him.  “You went to Mass last night!  You could have slept-in.”

“I know I didn’t have to come,” he replied.  “I wanted to!”

Two, believe it or not, they enjoy the Sacrament of Penance, and see the need for it.  At a time when a lot of us folks, Catholic from birth, have quit this powerful sacrament, our new Catholics love it.

Three, they rejoice in the Holy Father, not just in Pope Francis – although they sure love him – but in the papacy itself.  The tradition, the living teaching authority of the Church personified in the Pope, gives them confidence, they tell me.  Good to hear…

Four, they appreciate Mary and the saints.  One of our new Catholics told me that the most powerful moment of the Easter Vigil came during the chanting of the Litany of the Saints, when it dawned on her that she was joining a spiritual family with older brothers and sisters – the saints – and a mother – Mary – in heaven.

Finally, they speak eloquently about the power of conversion.  They have left their “old selves behind:” they are a “new creation.”  They have accepted the invitation of Jesus to conversion.

Sometimes that means the cross. So, a number of years ago, a nurse who had become Catholic at Easter saw me a month or so later.

“Well, I know what Jesus meant when He said His followers must take up His cross,” she remarked to me at the coffee and donuts after Mass.

When I asked her to explain, she went on, “In my work as a nurse, I’ve a time-or-two had to assist at an abortion.  I knew that, after I converted, that would have to go.  So, this week, when I was assigned to help at one, I told them I could not.  My supervisor told me to give up hopes of any raise or promotion…”

There it was…conversion…the cross…our new converts know about that.

Can they ever teach us a lot about our “old faith”: the appeal of the Eucharist, the power of confession, the gift of the Holy Father, the solidarity with our blessed Mother and the saints, the call to conversion…

Welcome, new family members!

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21 Responses to “Becoming New in Christ”

  1. David Oatney says:

    Your Eminence, bless you for your heart for new converts. We look forward to having you in the Diocese of Knoxville at our Eucharistic Congress this fall.

  2. Thank you Cardinal Dolan… Today is my ‘re-birthday’ as I experienced a profound spiritual rebirth one particular Easter which fell on April 11th, 9 years ago… I was as you say a ‘cradle Catholic’ but that Easter changed my life forever…

    This Easter & Pentecost season it is my hope and prayer that those thirsting for more may experience the renewal, regeneration and rebirth of their faith through the baptism of the Holy Spirit… Peace be with you and our Church around the world!

  3. You are correct, we new Catholics, who are Catholic by conviction – not convenience, do love all we have found. Years of experiencing the confusion present in evangelical Protestantism have prepared us for the fullness of the faith, found only in the Catholic Church.

  4. Prasida says:

    I was baptized and received into the church under your jurisdiction two years ago. Recently I’ve been noticing that holiness in either the clergy or the laity gets reflected in the other. We are seeing the effects of our new pope’s zeal for the gospel reaching people’s hearts. I do hope that it also goes the other way! Your blog affirms that this is true. It means so much to know that personal holiness and zeal in the laity goes right back to the priests.

  5. Charlie says:

    Wonderful!!!!! I am seeing new creation and it has inspired my devotions…. I so admire these new Catholics!!!! They are a good example for all of cradle Catholics!!!! Be people of Joy!!!!

  6. kidonhayca says:

    Thank You Cardinal Dolan. A convert of only 3 1/2 years, I have yet to meet a Catholic who enjoys being Christian or Catholic. Less than 1/10 of all the Catholics I know voted “pro-life” in this last election and I can not convince them to confess the sin of voting for a “pro-abortion” president. The Catholic Church has had 2000 years of opportunity to teach the truth – Jesus Christ – and have failed. I really don’t expect anything to change

  7. Hortense Casillas says:

    I agree with the “conversion” I too have been converted. Holy Thursday was my turning point. I was born into a Catholic family and have always been a Catholic, howevr, I agree.

    Christ has called me to a new “awakening”

    thank you for sharing.

  8. Daniel says:

    It is truly beautiful. I love the sense of wonder and awe that our converts have. I didn’t start to see just how wonderful the institution of the Church was until my Confirmation unfortunately. All the years I was missing out on what was right in front of me all along.

  9. . for sharing your faith with us. We listen to you all yhd time on Sirius radio show. Ur show isvery educational

  10. Vijaya says:

    I have a big smile reading this because four years ago (on this date, Apr. 11th) my husband, two children and I were received into the Roman Catholic Church. It ranks right up there with getting married and having children. All thanks to the hounds of God who chased us and caught us. I’ve never been happier.

  11. Walt says:

    Easter 2009 was my time. In my late 40s, a life long Protestant, came to the Church through a desire led by my 15 yr old. But as I yearned to learn the faith I studied the first 300 years of RCC church history. I also listened to Scott Hahn (specifically his you tube lecture: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4ACgaIJH_0E&feature=related) and I now love Mass and all it is about. Now I go to Mass several times a week if I can.

    I look to increase my faith, trust and love so that I can be give the gift to see His presence. I want to be spiritually unblinded ( watch the you tube link above ). It will change the way you participate in Mass, and it will never again be boring.

    We are blessed to be Catholic. Learn from where we came, pray to be unblinded…!

  12. Deacon Ed Peitler says:

    A fine article with excellent observations by the good archbishop, except for one comment to the neophyte: “You didn’t have to come to Mass; you could have slept in.”

    Putting ‘sleeping in’ in the same sentence as the Mass makes a travesty of the Mass. Putting emphasis on the obligatory and legal aspect of one’s participation in the Sunday Eucharist, rather than on the many graces and blessings that accrue assisting at Mass sends the wrong message. The neophyte had it right; the cardinal had it wrong.

    Sadly, the Archbishop of NY, in his attempt always to be the consummate jokster betrayed the attitude of many post-Vatican II Catholics: attend Saturday Mass and you get to ‘sleep in’ on Sunday mornings. This is quite the model for living the sacrificial Christian life. The cardinal is right about one thing: converts into the Catholic Church will save the Church from Herself.

  13. theo says:

    Thank you for this encouraging post! I’m a convert too, and experience everything you write about. And I have to add, have often felt put down by cradle Catholics who accuse me of being “too zealous,” “too pious,” etc etc. The thing that strikes me about it is that these people, though having been Catholic all their lives, appear never to have made a serious effort to actually study and get to know their faith. They’ve never read the Catechism, never read the bible, never tried to develop a prayer life, rarely or never go to confession. There’s such a lack of formation – and then they judge those of us who, coming out of this broken world, reach out and grab and make the most of it, with joy. So, I’ve become a teacher and evangelist of cradle Catholics in my diocese. It’s good work, the heart of the New Evangelization. God bless you, you are an encouragement to all of us converts out here!

  14. Michael says:

    I think the Church is better served by “old faith” notions, such as ones worthiness to receive Holy Communion. Pastorial leaders have a responsibility to insure those who publicly support evil, oh like aboration for example, are not encouraged in their sin and re-enforced in their efforts by administering Holy Communion to them.

  15. Irene says:

    I always go to mass regularly, but I just went to confession for the first time in 25 years a couple of weeks ago. I find our new Pope really inspiring and feel like I want to further re-engage because of him.

    (Plus my Church was open for confession until like 8 at night which helps since i don’ get home from work until 7:30)

  16. Kent Trompeter says:

    Cardinal Dolan – My wife was just confirmed at The Easter Vigil, I was her sponsor and I attended aALL of the RCIA classes with her. As a ‘cradle Catholic’ I learned a lot! I cannot recommend enough that sponsors attend with the ‘elect’, it’s well worth and you make the journey together. On a side note, I think she almost cried when she received The Eucharist for the first time.

  17. Cotton says:

    Cardinal Dolan,
    Is it possible you bishops can get together and start explaining the Mass to us that are still in the pews????? Being the center of Catholic worship one would think this would be a given but even those new to conversion have a hard time with what’s going on at the Mass.
    Thanks,
    Cotton

  18. Michael Flynn says:

    The Cardinals article on those who have been baptized, confirmed, received their First Eucharist at the Easter Vigil; was very insightful and the reason I participate on a RCIA Team. I wish every cradle Catholic could be exposed to the same journey; to be refreshed and born again. Thank you

  19. Nanci K says:

    What a great reminder. My husband and four young adult kids came into The Church two years ago at Easter (with me reverting the August before). We all LOVE going to Mass as well as well as confession. My two boys- 20 & 21- are both discerning priesthood too. It’s always fun to hear my kids say things to people who have been in The Church for a long time reminding them of how wonderful it is to be Catholic!

  20. Chris says:

    It is not enough that we say we found Christ and we are one with Him. These claims are nonsense if we will not be able to live according to what His life has set us example. It doesn’t mean that we have to be martyred and die on the cross too. Simple acts that show wholehearted kindness and that flaring passion to be instrumental in sharing His words to greater number of people – that’s how our life in Christ should be.

  21. Marlon says:

    Cardinal Dolan has very succinctly said what I have seen every year. Our RCIA program’s “shiny new Catholics”, as well as the several parishioners each year who come to the classes as a refresher, find a deeper and more meaninful faith. All of the Sacrements, the Divine Liturgy, and our sacrementals seem to have not only taken root, but are bearing fruit. The only warning is that we must continue to nourish these growing Catholics. As Jesus told Peter to do, so must we. We must continue to feed the flock, not just with the Word and the Eucharist, but with “continuing education”. Informally encouraging and growing their faith with involving them in the parish life and inviting them into the “family”, having movie nights with lives of the saints and other subjects which show our identity, faith, and heritage, and continually showing them that ours is a living, breathing, growing faith.