“Ask a Priest: Is It Normal to Feel Fears as I Set Out to Join the Church?”

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Q: I’m a 22-year-old girl, raised by parents who are atheists, and so I wasn’t exposed to a lot of church-related events growing up. Despite this, I still have always felt drawn to religion, to Christianity and God. For about a year and a half now, I’ve felt this weird sort of longing to become Catholic. It seems such a beautiful way to worship! The Masses, the idea of Communion, confession — it all seems so incredible! I’ve been looking into Catholicism, and I’m fascinated by it! And recently, I shyly stepped into my local Catholic church, and I was enchanted by the stained-glass windows, with images of the saints on them. I was in awe! (Will stained glass always seem so beautiful?) But, now that I’ve been invited to the RCIA process, I’m feeling suddenly afraid, suddenly scared. I suppose I’m feeling a little guilty, because I’ve pulled away suddenly from the RCIA director, even though I told him I would love to go to the classes. Is it normal to have doubts once the process has begun? I also worry that maybe (this is going to sound a bit silly!) I won’t be accepted, that I won’t belong, or that they already have all the parishioners they want. Any advice for a gal longing to be Catholic, but having these sudden doubts and fears? Many thanks, and much appreciation to you all, for the wonderful work you do! – T.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: You’ve made my day! It’s beautiful to learn that you feel so drawn to the Catholic faith, despite (or maybe because of) your family background. Sometimes non-Catholics are the ones who can best appreciate the beauty of Catholicism.

At any rate, it sounds as though God has been giving you great graces to draw you, his beloved daughter, closer to him.

Don’t worry about the fears or concerns that you are feeling. It’s normal when someone draws closer to the Church to be tempted toward discouragement or worse. The devil certainly doesn’t want you to discover the riches of the Church that awaits you.

My suggestion is to stay on the path of the RCIA, the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. Feel speak to speak with someone (a priest, an RCIA director, etc.) about your concerns. There is nothing to fear. And there is lots to learn, to help you prepare for your possible entrance into the Church.

In the meantime, you might want to pray for your parents’ conversion.

And I hope the stained-glass windows always inspire you, though keep in mind the words of Jesus in John 1:50, “You will see greater things than this.”

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