Attention Catholic Converts


#1

Dear fellow Catholics,

I’m renewing my Catholic faith - it’s been up and down all through my life. I guess I’m on the road traveling for the truth. With God’s grace and mercy, I know the end of the traveling road is not too far from me right now.

Please post your experiences in this thread. I would love to read personal experiences from fellow Catholics who also went down the road, and especially former non-Catholics who found the truth and the light within the Catholic Church. I will regard those experiences as inspiration as I travel down this road.

Let the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete guide us all.

PAX


#2

Hm, that’s weird I just posted in apologetics questioning whether people post their conversion stories or if there should be a forum for it etc. I’ll post mine in this if thats what you’re asking for.

I grew up in a non christian house. My mother never taught us anything religious or moral, or anything else. She is basically an atheist but I don’t know if she would ever admit to it outright to someone she didn’t really know. She never admitted it to me until about a year ago when I really questioned her about it. The thing that I remember her saying when I was growing up was that she didn’t believe in organized religion. But the thing I remember most about her disbelief in organized religion was her outright hatred of Christianity. This was passed onto me. And for all I know onto my two sisters. In my growth and especially during my adoclescence, I absolutely hated Christianity. I grew up in the bible belt, and all I saw was stupidity and I was disgusted with all of it. I thought Christianity was childish, stupid, unreasonable, ugly, etc. And when I came into my adolescence I read a lot of Nietzsche and other things like that that reinforced this belief. But when I was 13 I discovered something else. It was an author by the name of Anne Rice. I read almost everything of her that I could get my hands on. And almost everything she wrote was in some way informed by the Catholicism she was raised in. This was a positive although heterodox exposure I had to Catholicism in my youth. After this exposure I still hated protestantism for being childishly stupid but I had a growing respect for Catholicism in its beauty and intellectuality. I never really differentiated them in my mind because I had no need of it, but I soon would. In my life I had never been an atheist, I always believed in God, but I never defined that for myself. I attempted to and ended up failing miserably. More and more I found it unacceptable that I had no clue what God was. And having a depressive bent, it became more and more depressing and important to me. I looked to Hinduism for a while, superficially, as I did to Native American beliefs and other philosophies. But none of them were sufficient. One night, at the end of my rope, I could not live my life without knowing what God was. I knew it was of the utmost importance, just from reasoning it out. I called out to God in my horrible despair to help me. And He did. He gave me this growing feeling of love for Him. And I knew and still know that it was only from Him that I had this love of Him. I had such love of Him that I had to know what to do to please Him, how to worship Him and be with Him. When it came down to it I simply reasoned it out. It was fairly easy. I knew there was only one God. Polytheism is a mess and anyone who really stops and thinks it through can know this. Besides Polytheism was soundly defeated by Monotheism, so those ‘gods’ had no power obviously. As for Hinduism which still has many adherents, I had studied it enough and I knew it for what it was. Either it proclaimed that you had to be born into it to be a hindu or it was an offshoot like Buddhism which I found to be a hateful religion, as to be absolutely irrelevant to any thinking objective person. And as for pagan religions that still exist, I saw them as mainly an effort to hold on to heritage than anything else. In any case I knew that the true worship of God had to be universal. As anyone with any honesty will say, there is only one truth. I also knew that God wants everyone to know Him because I knew He is good. I got that from God Himself. So it came down to the three. Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. Islam, there was no way. I don’t need to go into it anymore than that. Judaism I saw as a dead religion who didn’t even want non jews to enter it. That left Christianity. Now I knew Protestantism was out of the question because it is unreasonable, or in the words I used then, stupid. That left Catholicism. When I went to the Parish of my town, the one Parish there is, I felt that God was telling me it was right. So I became Catholic. That isn’t the end of it, as Catholics know. There were many signs God gave me that it was right. One was that a childhood friend of mine who I had not kept in contact with was becoming Catholic at the same exact time I was. I ran into her at Mass. It was a complete shock because she had much the same upbringing I had, pseudo hippy, and because I knew her to be a drug addict for some time now. I became friends with her again and her husband who was Catholic, and we were baptized and confirmed on the same day.


#3

cont.

(i wish it ended there)

I talked to her husband a lot about the faith and he knew so much about it I took a lot of intsruction from him about it, being that I was new to it. Then one day he told me he was going to become Eastern Orthodox. I was shocked. I thought he was so devout, and I had never really thought about Eastern Orthodoxy. So I went to the Eastern Orthodox Church for a while. But I never converted. I found it’s theology to be basically a bunch of nationalistic, pie in the sky, trash, to put it crudely. I actually missed Roman Catholic legalism. lol So I went back to the Church. Then I fell into this trap of sedevacantism. It didn’t last long, it lasted about as long as the Eastern Orthodoxy lasted. But in between each time I failed miserably to hold fast to the true faith, I drifted. Which is where I am now. Right now I want to go back to the Church. The only thing holding me back is stupid stuff like the parish I go to which is the only one I have and which I don’t like very much, and my own selfishness. But I am on the verge of making it back home again. I just hope that the third time is the charm. The main thing is though that none of the times I left was a lacking of the Roman Catholic Church but of myself. I hope that I can get over myself and come back soon. But it doesn’t really matter, because even now I know that it is the one true church and the only thing keeping me out is my own selfishness and stupidity. But that’s my story so far in a condesced version. I wish the end could be me back in the Catholic Church but no such luck for me. Not yet. But I will go back. I know it’s the only thing that matters.


#4

Dear Oren,

That was a very inspirational testimony. While your case is much of selfishness and stupidity (John Paul 2 has said that stupidity is also a gift from God, but not it’s misuse.), mine is much of laziness, immorality and disappointments from the clergy (ex. the church sex abuse scandals).

Pray to the Holy Spirit for continued guidance as I do. Say a constant prayer. God has revealed himself to you,
let no one, and not even youirself, ever ruin that personal experience you had with the Lord. Above all, God is most important. I look forward to see you down the end of the road.

When in times of trouble, think of the "Footprints In The Sand."
Have you read about it? It’s very much faith-enriching. God Bless.

PAX


#5

[quote=Oren] So I went to the Eastern Orthodox Church for a while. But I never converted. I found it’s theology to be basically a bunch of nationalistic, pie in the sky, trash, to put it crudely.
[/quote]

Trash, eh? Well, I guess you missed all the best bits! :frowning: So, how did they find you?


“O strange Orthodox Church, so poor and so weak, at the same time so traditional and yet so free, so archaic and yet so alive, so ritualistic and yet so personally mystical, Church where the pearl of great price of the Gospel is preciously preserved, sometimes beneath a layer of dust — Church that has so often proved incapable of action, yet which knows, as no other, how to sing the joy of Easter.”
~ Fr Lev Gillet


#6

[quote=Oren]The only thing holding me back is stupid stuff like the parish I go to which is the only one I have and which I don’t like very much, and my own selfishness
[/quote]

I know how you feel, when I re-verted, I went to the parish I was baptized and made my first communion in. The parishes by my house do not have that sense of unity, they feel more like a Sunday social club. And so I drive 15 minutes every Sunday to go to church. Needless to say, I also made my confirmation there last year.


#7

Why be Catholic?


#8

I grew up in what would be in Dr. Laura Schlesinger’s phrase “an interfaith-less home”. My father was a semi-lapsed Catholic and former altar boy. My mother was a Methodist who never went to church. My father put my mother in charge of raising me Catholic, so you can figure out how well THAT worked. I can still remember my mother trying to teach me the Hail Mary! Anyways, my brother and I attended CCD off-and-on for a couple years and my family went to mass off-and-on, but more off than on. It didn’t help that we were going to a typical suburban parsh with in the era of “God loves you no matter what you do, go make your collage” catechism and campfire-song guitar music at mass. Definitely NOT the way to inspire reverence for the faith. By the time I was a teenager, we weren’t even C-E Catholics (That would be Christmas and Easter, for those not familiar with the term) and I was basically an agnostic. I still got confirmed, but I don’t honestly remember much from confirmation class except some cheesy retreat we went on.

My freshman year of college, I was attracted to a girl who went to what was then called the Church of Christ (Boston Movement). (My understanding is that they’ve undergone a few name changes since then). I went to her church for about 3 months, including undergoing a full immersion baptism in a condo swimming pool. The whole issue of baptism was pushed very fast on me in their Bible study, before I really knew what I was doing, and there was definitely an issue of psychological pressure going on. That night, after I got back to my room and dried off, I broke down and started to cry because I knew that something just didn’t feel right. I called my friend, intending to tell her that I wasn’t going to the Sunday service the next day. She convinced me to ride it out and continue to come, which I did for the next few months.

My parents were upset at my decision for different reasons. My dad felt betrayed, even though he hadn’t really practiced his faith in years (this is a common reaction), and my mom because there had appeared on the local news a story about this church labelling them a cult. This particular church has certain cult-like aspects, including use of “disciplers” who are sort of like spiritual directors. One other aspect is that they insist on all the members of a large metropolitan area meeting in a central location for most of the services. Those that fail to show up could expect to get a phone call from their discipler. In my case, once I was home for the summer, it was very impractical to make it all the way into downtown every Sunday as I was in the far-flung outskirts of the suburbs. I started reading a book by Isaac Asimov called “Beginnings”, which basically was a tour of history going backward to the Big Bang. When asking my fellow church members what they thought of the dinosaurs, I got what I considered some very unsatisfactory answers (Stuff like “The devil put the bones there to confuse us”). I wasn’t about to turn off my brain and accept that, so I quit that particular church and went back to being an agnostic.

Flash forward about 3 years. I met another girl (a freshman at the time) who was Catholic but was a bit more serious about it than I was. She taught the local CCD class. I’m sorry to say that I eventually had a very bad influence on her, and we ended up living together (with all that entails) for a couple years before we finally got married. She was insistent that we get married at the local Catholic parish, and were aided by the fact that the priest didn’t ask too many probing questions about our living arrangements. My wife was a little sensitive to the situation, and therefore opted for a wedding ceremony without a mass – an option that I wasn’t familiar with. We attended church sporadically.

About a year later, my wife was struck with a sudden need to go to confession. She had been going to a job which she absolutely hated for a few months. During her lunch hour, she noticed that there was a church nearby, and, driven by a need to get out of her office environment, she had been going to the noon daily mass there. The peace she received there proved to be just enough to get her through the day. She made an appointment to go to a priest for confession and spilled her guts over the course of an hour. After that, we went regularly to mass and she eventually convinced me to go to confession too. I have been going to church ever since then. (cont’d)


#9

(cont’d)

It was not a Damascus road experience, and in many ways, I am still converting. I still struggle with getting the “head knowledge” into my “heart”. But I know that there is enough there that I don’t want to go back. It helped my conversion to have a large group of faith-filled young adults to hang with and reinforce each others faith. I consider some of those people my best friends in the whole world and keep in touch with them, even though I am now living in a different part of the country.

Hope that helps.


#10

Thanks! Now I got more reasons to be a Catholic
and praise to Jesus, my Lord.

PaX

[quote=Ahimsa]Why be Catholic?
[/quote]


#11

Stories like yours sometimes make us wonder and ponder
on the thought why we keep on struggling for Christ in the church.
Why we sometimes get astrayed even if we are already on the right track, and why usually it’s those people who already know Christ - usually the ones who get astrayed most of the time.

I believe, faith should come from the heart itself, and not from the head down into the heart. But faith often backs off because of our search for the truth as a result of the doubts that we allow to dwell in our heads. The quest for knowledge and truth should not affect our faith in Christ and his church. In fact, it (the experience) should enrich this faith.

Christ reveals himself to us in so many ways, and one of his greatest revelation is the Church itself - that same “large group of faith-filled young adults” you mentioned is part of it. Maybe you are no longer “still converting” but rather just enriching
and strengthening your faith. God bless and thanks for sharing.:slight_smile:

PAX

quote=INRI

It was not a Damascus road experience, and in many ways, I am still converting. I still struggle with getting the “head knowledge” into my “heart”. But I know that there is enough there that I don’t want to go back. It helped my conversion to have a large group of faith-filled young adults to hang with and reinforce each others faith. I consider some of those people my best friends in the whole world and keep in touch with them, even though I am now living in a different part of the country.

Hope that helps.
[/quote]


#12

[quote=Oren]So I went to the Eastern Orthodox Church for a while. But I never converted. I found it’s theology to be basically a bunch of nationalistic, pie in the sky, trash, to put it crudely.
[/quote]

One of the greatest scholars of our time, Jaroslav Pelikan (5 volume History of the Christian Church) and a personal friend of the late Pope John Paul II, converted to Orthodoxy a few years back. He obviously does not see it as all pie in the sky and trash. But then maybe he is not as crude?


#13

I found your story of ‘re-conversion’ very interesting INRI. I was raised Catholic and at the same time had a profound interest in science and nature. As I matured from a young child and received more and more education, my acceptance of faith was hard to do. My parents had me receive Eucharist later than most kids (I was 12) and never encouraged me to receive Confirmation. I decided on my own, when I was 19 and a sophmore in college to receive my confirmation. I also had a strong feeling/desire (i’m not really sure what it was) that Holy Orders was something else I should receive. I allowed my sinful behavior (I was involved in a sexual relationship with a girlfriend at the time) rule my heart. Eventually, I decided I had better things to do with my time then go to chruch on Sundays - besides science tells me that most religion, and even Catholocism, was off-base. But then something I had read concerning Pope John Paul II had said regarding science made me think. “…science is another language in which God speaks to us…” is the thrust of what he said. At this time I was a police officer and had met an amazing woman (who would later become my wife) and we had started living conjugally without the grace of marriage. She inspired me to return to Church and we started going on a regular basis. Then one day our priest came to us and told us we were no longer allowed to receive Eucharist. This hit home…I knew I had to come into full communion with the Church. My wife and I married. That was almost 6 years ago. Life has been a struggle in dealing with matters of faith and obediance to God. There have been times where I have fallen, times where my faith has been small and times where I felt like giving up. I have gotten to the point where I desire the grace I receive form Confession - I even go to Confession for venial sins. I go to Confession when I have doubts. I have re-discovered what has always been in my heart: service and obedience to God. I have found that I love The Church, I love Mary, I love the Sacraments and above all I have re-discovered my love and utter devotion to Jesus Christ.

What I have learned in the past is that I’m human. I am capable of sin, capable of failing. At the same time, however, I have reliazed that I am also capable of being redeemed through Jesus Christ. I cannot succeed in my faith unless I allow Jesus to work through me.


#14

I was raised Southern Baptist. I was very fortunate in having preachers who lived what they taught. One thing they taught me was to read the Bible and PRAY. If the doors were open I was in church. After many years I met a wonderful woman and guess what religion she was??? She was a very devout Catholic. She would go to mass then come to church with me. When I asked her to be my wife she agreed. But wanted to be married catholic. I said fine by me and we went to see a priest. Just our luck we see one that has a strong dislike of any non-catholic. When we left the rectory I swore I would not step foot into a Catholic church. My wife and I were married Baptist. She left the catholic church and joined the baptist church with me.I had a few questions that the baptist preacher could not answer. He always told me to pray and find the answer in the bible. About this time a disagreement arose between the deacons and the preacher. The preacher was forced to retire. And I quit going to church. My wife went back to the Catholic church. After a few weeks I started going with her. This was to a differnt parish then the earlier priest. And I found answers to my questions. RCIA classes were GREAT. The priest could answer: “WHY” I have been catholic for 9 years and I love it. I am now involved with the RCIA program. And put my Baptist background to very good use teaching prospective Catholics our faith. My daughter will make her first communionin a few weeks. Anyone who works with our faith finds the job very rewarding. I am still learning and growing I now teach the person who sponcered me. We are still married after 14 years. One bit of advice be open minded and the Holy Spirit will lead you.


#15

[quote=Fr Ambrose]One of the greatest scholars of our time, Jaroslav Pelikan (5 volume History of the Christian Church) and a personal friend of the late Pope John Paul II, converted to Orthodoxy a few years back. He obviously does not see it as all pie in the sky and trash. But then maybe he is not as crude?
[/quote]

Father I don’t think Oren meant to hurt your feelings, I guess Oren feels like the Catholic Church like you feel about the Orthodox:)


#16

[quote=Lisa4Catholics]Father I don’t think Oren meant to hurt your feelings, I guess Oren feels like the Catholic Church like you feel about the Orthodox:)
[/quote]

Except I never said: ‘I found it’s theology to be basically a bunch of nationalistic, pie in the sky, trash, to put it crudely.’


#17

[quote=Lisa4Catholics]Father I don’t think Oren meant to hurt your feelings, I guess Oren feels like the Catholic Church like you feel about the Orthodox:)
[/quote]

While I appreciate Oren’s zeal for Catholicism, labelling a theology that is in many ways shared by Catholicism as “pie in the sky trash” is harsh and uninformed, to say the least. I love reading convert stories, but it never hurts to exercise a little tact in regards to other religions.


#18

Dear Fr A,
Probably better to turn the other cheek or not post here if it upsets you. Obviously he didn’t like the Nationalist flavour of the EO church he attended, and I’ve heard this issue is an important one in the EO church in America. George,my friend, sent me an interesting email on the subject which described the problem.

Don’t take it personally, ok? :slight_smile:


#19

What a beautiful testimony. Indeed, very inspiring. Thanks and God bless you always and your family.

PAX

[quote=Seeks God]I found your story of ‘re-conversion’ very interesting INRI. I was raised Catholic and at the same time had a profound interest in science and nature. As I matured from a young child and received more and more education, my acceptance of faith was hard to do. My parents had me receive Eucharist later than most kids (I was 12) and never encouraged me to receive Confirmation. I decided on my own, when I was 19 and a sophmore in college to receive my confirmation. I also had a strong feeling/desire (i’m not really sure what it was) that Holy Orders was something else I should receive. I allowed my sinful behavior (I was involved in a sexual relationship with a girlfriend at the time) rule my heart. Eventually, I decided I had better things to do with my time then go to chruch on Sundays - besides science tells me that most religion, and even Catholocism, was off-base. But then something I had read concerning Pope John Paul II had said regarding science made me think. “…science is another language in which God speaks to us…” is the thrust of what he said. At this time I was a police officer and had met an amazing woman (who would later become my wife) and we had started living conjugally without the grace of marriage. She inspired me to return to Church and we started going on a regular basis. Then one day our priest came to us and told us we were no longer allowed to receive Eucharist. This hit home…I knew I had to come into full communion with the Church. My wife and I married. That was almost 6 years ago. Life has been a struggle in dealing with matters of faith and obediance to God. There have been times where I have fallen, times where my faith has been small and times where I felt like giving up. I have gotten to the point where I desire the grace I receive form Confession - I even go to Confession for venial sins. I go to Confession when I have doubts. I have re-discovered what has always been in my heart: service and obedience to God. I have found that I love The Church, I love Mary, I love the Sacraments and above all I have re-discovered my love and utter devotion to Jesus Christ.

What I have learned in the past is that I’m human. I am capable of sin, capable of failing. At the same time, however, I have reliazed that I am also capable of being redeemed through Jesus Christ. I cannot succeed in my faith unless I allow Jesus to work through me.
[/quote]


#20

Fr Ambrose,

I started this thread for Catholic converts to share their wonderful experience that should serve as an inspiration to members of the Catholic Church. This thread is not for in defense of your Orthodox Church. Because this thread is about stories from converts who came from other churches, it is understood that there would be elements in the stories that might not be acceptable to your church or other churches where converts came from, but definitely this doesn’t mean any intention of hurting other members from other churches like yours.

I already left the “I want to know more about Orthodox thingie” thread because we just seemed to go in viscious circles, and Fr Ambrose while my discussions with you there were knowledge enriching, sad to say it was not faith-enriching. Please spare this thread for us, Catholics. Thank you very much and God Bless. :slight_smile:

PAX

[quote=Fr Ambrose]One of the greatest scholars of our time, Jaroslav Pelikan (5 volume History of the Christian Church) and a personal friend of the late Pope John Paul II, converted to Orthodoxy a few years back. He obviously does not see it as all pie in the sky and trash. But then maybe he is not as crude?
[/quote]


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