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High Profile Conversions

  /   Thursday, May 02, 2024   /   Comments(0)

If you follow much social media, I’m sure you’ve seen news of a lot of high profile conversions lately. I mean, they’ve been happening over the years, but recently I’ve noticed a group of them. They range from people converting from a life of serious sin to famous news personalities. Of course, like everything on social media, there are a lot of different reactions. For some of these people making comments, I just can’t fathom how they can think the way that they do.

Some people get too excited and put them on a pedestal. It’s like they figure these famous people are now members of the Super Saints simply because of who they are. Truthfully, some of these conversions are heroic. There are people who sacrificed, or at least risked, a lot by becoming Catholic. However, it’s too easy to forget that they are at the beginning of their journey and will still need to grow like we all do.

Even worse are the ones who are more disparaging. You can find comments in which people have said that someone who was such a sinner could not possibly have undergone such a conversion. Worse yet, in the case of someone who turned from a seriously sinful life, there are those who seem to say that God won’t forgive them. I hope there aren’t Christians saying that, but I’m afraid there are some that are. How can a true Christian really doubt the amazing mercy of God like that!

With that being said, I’m not saying that we should throw out our common sense and ignore obvious problems that we find out about. It’s quite possible that some of the conversions that we learn about will turn out to be phony. However, we really should assume sincerity, or at least hold out hope, as long as we can. I’d much rather stand before God and hear about how I welcomed someone who was an absolute hypocrite that hear about how my snarky comments regarding someone’s sincere, even if weak, conversion contributed to him having fallen away.

Even a sincere conversion can have its weak points. Some people just experienced an emotional high and then could not keep going when it wore off. Some were not well formed and therefore had a poor understanding of what it means to be Catholic. Others may have fallen into their old sins (or other sins), and instead of hurrying back to God and going to Confession right away, they became discouraged. Just think of what reading hateful comments will do to these people. People fall away, and we don’t want to contribute to the fall.

When you add to this the public nature of the life of someone who is famous, it becomes easy to make judgements that we shouldn’t make. New converts are, well, new to the faith. There are things they don’t know yet. Maybe in their formation they learned about chastity and modesty, but it can take time to sort out the particulars of how to live it out and therefore, genuine mistakes are made. Maybe the person has lived for years, if not decades, with a worldly mindset. Chipping away at that mindset can take a really long time. We probably all have aspects of a worldly mindset that we adopted without realizing it. It may be okay to post charitable comments correcting the error, but be careful!

So, what should be our attitude towards famous converts? We have every right to be cautious and acknowledge things (but not necessarily post our opinion about them) that are not quite right. However, let’s welcome them with open arms and encourage them if we are in a position to do so. We want to pray that they will be shining lights that bring people to conversion. They’ve got the ability to reach many people. We can be excited about their conversion and also be charitable and understanding about how they, like those of us who have been in the Church a while, still have work to do.

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