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Wednesday, July 28, 2004

I am not a convert.

I am a cradle Catholic, and I love my faith. But when I look around, sometimes I feel like I'm in a rather small minority. Most of the "big names" in Catholic evangelization seem to be converts, with the occasional revert mixed in. People like Scott Hahn, Marcus Grodi, and James Akin talk about, educate about, the faith... and people listen. Such people have done a tremendous service for the Church, and more importantly, for Jesus Christ.

But I find myself repeatedly coming back to the question: why are there so few cradle Catholics in that collection of name-brand Catholic evangelists?

Part of it, I think, is that converts have a testimony to give. Their conversion stories inspire, and let's face it: someone who converted, like me, at the ripe-old age of three weeks doesn't have much of a conversion testimony to tell.

And then there is the fact that the convert is usually more on fire than the lifelong Catholic. The convert to anything is likely to be more enthusiastic than the lifelong member, because it takes a lot of courage and dedication to make a conscious decision to convert.

Another reason for the preponderance of former Protestant evangelists for Catholicism is the Protestant tradition of giving testimony. Most cradle Catholics tend to be more private in their expression of faith, because giving testimony is not a regular part of our worship experience.

But I think the biggest factor may well be something for which many of us must shoulder our own blame: lethargy. Not a full-fledged, I-don't-give-a-hoot lethargy about our faith, but a lack of motivation to share it. If you've had something as long as you can remember, it can be awfully easy to take it for granted.

It takes courage to overcome the lack of conditioning to give testimony, and it takes effort to overcome the lack of education many of us have to practice apologetics. But the Baltimore Catechism put it well when it says we are put here to know, love, and serve God in this world so that we may be happy with Him in the next. How can we love Someone we do not know? We owe it not just to potential converts, but to our very selves to learn everything we can about our faith. Perhaps the more we know, the more courage we will find to share it with others. I strongly believe that the more we make the effort to learn, the more we will catch fire with the zeal of the Holy Spirit.

I am not a convert. I'm a revert. And if you aren't excited enough about your faith to share it, maybe it's time for you to be a revert, too.