Catholic Reverts, help me out

I’m a convert to Catholicism. I believed all of it just like they teach it here at Catholic Answers. I even embraced NFP, Latin Mass, Creationism… all of it… I really became a full blown Traditionalist. I even considered joining SSPX for a while until I decided they were in error.

But now, I think I’ve lost my faith.

This is very recent.

My main reason for posting this thread is to ask: Are there any Catholics out there that have gone from Orthodox Catholicism to Atheist and then BACK to Catholicism again (whether it resulted in orthodox or even heterdox Catholicism, I don’t care so much - I just want to know if anyone has gone BACK and how they brought themselves back there.)

I’m interested in talking to someone who has been through the whole “de-conversion” process and still somehow found a way back. I’m not looking for someone who was nominally Catholic, then something else, and then later in life reverted to the faith.

Back story: As a teenager I de-converted from a cult-like Christian sect. I left that to Atheism. Years later, after reading Lee Strobel’s the Case for Christ, and digging through Christian history, I found Catholicism. I’ve recently de-converted. The process is familiar to me because it’s my second time doing it, so although it’s heart-wrenching and terrifying, I’m not in as bad shape as I was when it first happened to me many years ago. But I still don’t like it. I rather be Christian, especially Catholic. But I also rather believe things because they’re true, not because I like them. I’m very aware of this confirmation bias, so I’m very careful not to embrace something unless I’m convinced of it. Right now I’m not convinced of anything.

If you could boil it down to one or two issues, what has caused you to doubt that Christianity is true? :shrug:

In this thread I am really just looking to connect with someone who’s gone through it and here how they made it back.

The issues I will probably start another thread, another time.

Okay.

But while we’re waiting for that connection…

:popcorn:

It seems you are given to extremes-- from a cult-like Christian sect to Atheism and then from Atheism to extreme traditionalist “Catholicism” (in quotes b/c I don’t know if you were in a sect separated from Rome or just adopted their extreme views while still in union with Rome).

Maybe the way back is to begin to understand true Christianity, true Catholicism, is nothing like the parody found in the circles you were running in. Maybe the way back is to find authentic Catholicism which is reasonable and logical.

I don’t wish to give personal details but I will say that you must persist in prayer and don’t be too into the ‘club scene’ Christianity. Seek to be small and nothing - God rewards the humble and those that don’t go around proudly thinking they are better than others. To pray is in part to admit that we are weak and in need. Sometimes God does test the faith by turning His face away a fraction and the only thing to do is to keep praying. To pray even when God ‘feels’ distant shows trust, a trust which He is looking for, and He knows we have the potential to give Him.

Don’t just give up.

:slight_smile:

I love your way of thinking. I think you’re right, I am attracted to extremes (I am baptized as a normal Catholic, not a schismatic group, for the record). It must be my personality (granted, I was raised in the cult I mentioned so it wasn’t totally my choosing - I always wonder if that upbringing is what has caused me to be so attracted to extremes).

I’ve known this about myself for some time now, I’m very black or white about lots of things. In some sense I have done what you suggest, though. I think this is what got me into trouble, unfortunately. For example, I explored the idea that faith and reason don’t contradict each other for a while… leading me to abandon Creationism. At first I thought, “this is great!” “I can embrace science AND faith!”

Of course, then the trouble started. In my mind I cannot reconcile the science surrounding origins and the doctrines of Original Sin and the Atonement. I already posted another thread about that topic, but I feel it’s been fruitless. Only the people at BioLogos seem to even get it, but I am not satisfied with their reasoning. And besides, as a Catholic, I’m not allowed to believe in polygenism. The problem with that is that the evidence leads me to polygenism. I can’t not believe it even if I wanted to.

This is just one issue I’m having, it’s currently on the forefront of my mind, but there are others.

I’ve tried ignoring it for a while now. It finally is all boiling over.

Sigh.

Anyway, I don’t know… I’m still hanging out here on Catholic Answers hoping that someone will say something insightful or intelligent… something that will make me go “Oh! I missed that! Phew! For a moment there I thought I had to leave the Church! But now it all makes sense!” So far, no luck.

I hate to reiterate but when Christians have a problem understanding something the best and most direct way for them to learn the answer is to ask God to enlighten them - who else is better than God to give you right perception…:shrug:

I don’t know if what I’m going to say is going to be helpful or really addresses the OP’s question, but for me, I know there is Truth in Christianity, and Catholicism in particular, because of how I’ve seen it at work in my own life.

I was baptized Byzantine Catholic, left the Church for most of my adult life, then came back to it when my mother was diagnosed with melanoma. Without going into too many details, the help (truly graces) that I received and which got me through that time can be described as nothing other than divine. I came back to the Church on my knees, not knowing where else to turn; and begging and pleading for God’s help and mercy for my mother. And He heard me. One day in mass, the homily happened to be about healing. Well, I felt a presence come over me and all my worry and crippling anxiety about my mother was lifted and replaced with the peace of knowing she was in God’s hands.

Again, I’m nothing special and no more deserving of God’s help than anyone else. In fact, I didn’t deserve it at all! But, God loves us through everything - even when we fall and even if we’ve doubted Him. I guess this is my testimony that when we need Him the most, the promise that He will be there is true.

:thumbsup::thumbsup: THIS

OP
Don’t know if I am the cind of revert you are looking for…I was raised Catholic - stopped practicing and sojourned quite a bit before returning to the Church…I too am somewhat attracted to the traditional, but not to the extreme.
I really like the simplicity of the mystical approach but I don’t recommend this to someone given to extremes.
Like 1ke says above, you really need to come to understand true Christianity in all of it’s simplicity and beauty…Then you can truly embrace it and make it part of yourself.

Peace
James

Your testimony is quite beautiful. Thank you for sharing it.

It has seemed sometimes like God is really there for me. Luckily, I’ve never had anything so terrible happen to me as a loved one getting ill like that …

But I have several problems with viewing these types of experiences as reasons for Catholicism.

I know people of other faiths who experience similar things. God is there for them too… in fact when I was in a different faith, God was there for me then. If God is there for anyone of any faith, then it seems that some sort of deism or universalism is more likely than the doctrines of Christianity and it’s claims to Truth, at least for practical purposes it seems not to matter what faith you embrace, the experience seems very similar. I’m sure any other converts here could attest to feeling God’s presence in their lives even before they became Catholic. These types of experiences are more about relationship with God, and less about doctrine and dogma.

Which is my problem, I’m not questioning the idea of some sort of transcendence so much as I am questioning Catholicism. When I refer to loosing my faith now, I’m talking more about loosing my faith in the Church, in Jesus, in the Bible, in Tradition, in Creation… not necessarily completely rejecting Theism.

Maybe you’re the type I’m looking to talk to…

Why did you stop practicing? Why did you come back?

I’m familiar with these ideas regarding God feeling distant. That is part of my problem, and don’t think for a moment that I haven’t prayed and prayed about this.

My other problem is in my head. Ideas. Reasons. Lack of reasons. I guess I’m much more aware of confirmation bias and closed belief systems and all sorts of other things that make the findings that I originally had regarding Catholicism seem obsolete. How much cognitive dissonance can a person take? How am I suppose to continue believing in something that no longer makes sense to me? Again, I’m not talking about God per se so much as I am talking about Catholicism.

Well, I was raised Catholic and turned to atheism early, but I stuck with through most of college until God grabbed me by the nap of the neck and dropped in my rightful place. It’s a long story, but every time I look back on it I can’t deny the Hand of God in my life.

The crazy part is, even thought I believe in The Church and Her teachings and look to God and Jesus, my faith still has a tendency to waver. I have days or even weeks where I start to think, “Yeah, but maybe it’s not true.”

If this is similar to what you are talking about I would say that this is what it’s all about. Our belief is not about how we “feel” about a certain aspect of the faith. Our faith should be pointed towards what we have come to accept as true and holy and good.

“All things beautiful” so to speak.

I compare it to marriage. There are days when a husband might not “feel” like loving his wife, but these are the days when he needs to focus hi love on her even more, because love is a choice that you make, not a feeling that wavers.

As far as dealing with this, I have always enjoyed discussing the faith, even when I was an atheist. Whenever I “feel” my faith start to waver I come to these discussion boards or somewhere where the Faith is openly discussed, read a couple posts, and orient my faith around what I believe to be the core reason I am a Catholic: Because the truth that Christ taught is the truth that God has a plan to bring us to be the best possible persons we can be, the people He made us to be. The only way to get to that best version of your self is to follow the plan, make the tough decisions, and commit to a life of you know to be true.

I never actually left the Church, but at one point I did consider myself somewhat of a deist.
What brought me back was the beauty of the Church and it’s history. That eventually led me back into believing in a triune God.

This may not help and may very well be a waste of time to read…I was raised catholic…sort of…never got confirmed until recently.

I use to believe that I didn’t need a church and I didn’t need the Bible. I only need to recognize God and do the best I can to be a good person. Poor definition because who is to say what is good and what is bad without God’s Words? I could be wrong with this train of thought.

One thing about me was that I always wanted to do whatever God wanted me to do. I didn’t believe in the Bible so much because of all the different “interpretations” that made no sense to me whatsoever. So, I always trusted God to point me in the right direction in life minus the whole church thing…

When I finally decided to study Catholicism (long story there)…I personally realized that there was knowledge here. This happened after I read the entire Bible on my own, which was a pretty hard feat since I was still in college at the time. For every question I had I was presented with Context to understand the passage. This was the key for me…context of scripture from the time the scripture was written and their culture. I was given clear teachings on specific issues that had a lot to back it up. Lots of verses from the bible to back up the claim, as well as from well known and respected thinkers of the past. In other areas of society I was only presented with one verse or even half of a verse…they teach this in speech class for debating your point of view… (I got into a fight with my speech teacher over this ridiculous notion of only telling parts to make your ideas/opinions look like the truth…ended up only failing the class). So, I guess in short, I felt that the church had nothing to hide and they presented everything they had.

I have a deep love for Buddhism and Japanese culture, more so of the times before the Edo period. So, I’m not ignoring or looking down at other religions, but unfortunately, in many religions I see selfishness, escapism, oppression of women, Etc. No offense to anyone. I love other religions, especially of those from ancient times…the stories…so fascinating…

I do see God everywhere…even in crimes, so I understand how hard it is to say, “well they experience God too so what does it matter? Why should I bother?” The conclusion I came to was that God knows what is in their heart and that could have been His way of leading them closer to Him. We don’t know these other people’s history or their inner thoughts. If he never showed Himself…would they react that He abandoned them? What good would that be for God? This doesn’t mean that God should materialize in every single person’s home and say, “Hi, it’s me and i’m real so believe in me, kthxbai oh and don’t forget to pray!” then vanish to the next person’s home.

You may not like to hear this but there is also the prince of lies that adds to the confusion…he does like to perform fake miracles to keep us confused and separated. It is good to know we can look at the fruits of the miracle to see if it was from God or not. Also, if we decide that God doesn’t care about us…that He just made us and left us to our own devices without any sort of guidance…then where does love come from? Humans have to be taught everything, from what love is to how to walk. (not sure if you studied feral children but that can help understand this).

Hope this helps…even if it is just to keep this post alive for an intelligent individual to notice and properly assist you.

Hey, Doubtfire

Maybe not exactly the degree of reversion you’ve experienced, but here it goes. I grew up Catholic, though much later on found out that I didn’t really understand the faith. In middle school and high school, my interest grew in Eastern religions, I subscribed more and more to relativism and “liberal” ideologies that are contrary to the Church’s teachings, and eventually was dabbling with atheism (the morally nihilistic kind). I never took the full plunge, but atheism made a lot of sense (still does).

What brought me back was learning about the faith and what the Church really teaches, specifically through the Catechism and some encyclicals like Theology of the Body and Humanae Vitae. The Church was the only one I found that had the answers that made sense, esp. concerning right and wrong, the human condition, etc. The way atheism describes our understanding of life, that there is no inherent right or wrong and no “point” in living or reason for reproducing because we are all just complex but purely impersonal chemical reactions…I had to be honest, it just felt and sounded like it was missing something obvious. And that’s nothing to say about why there is something instead of nothing. Other religions and belief systems had some Truth, they could get something right here and there, but not so completely like the Church. There was something in that Catechism that just spoke Truth.

There are still a few things that don’t make a whole lot of sense (like the issue with polygenism), but maybe they just need more time for us to really understand. What I consider the real important stuff for salvation, the Church definitely seems right. About polygenism, a biology professor was telling us recently that sometimes, our DNA is altered by bacteria/environmental factors and that sometimes, it’s done in such a way that the genetic changes can actually be passed down to our offspring. Not sure if that helps, but I thought it was interesting.

Doesn’t the breathing on, the giver of the spirit to Adam and later to Eve, suggest a shift in creation to a single set of parents that would represent a whole new creation of morally responsible people? All other hominids of the time evolved to lead up to this new creation of man, that wasn’t genetically new, but new because of its spiritual nature wrapped in a similar genetic frame. All I can think is that these pre-sspiritual creatures were all at the end of their age, like the Neanderthal, and our time was ordained in a new, radical way, emanating from two original parents. The genetic differences in man throughout the various parts of the world are minute changes which show a keen ability of the body to react and adapt to its environment, which is exactly what creatures of all kinds always did.

The rest is pure history wrapped up in mythological language so that we might understand at least that we surely possess something entirely unique and special to God as a morally responsible creature in desperate need of a savior.

Catholic theology explains who, why and what we are in the order of creation, which is of great comfort to me. The stories and parables of Christ were so pointed to our nature that clearly only a creator could have orchestrated such a teaching. But to finish off such an amazing life, redemption via resurrection makes Christianity wholly true and worthwhile.

This is just my take after wavering back and forth for a time in my life as well.:slight_smile:

I stopped practicing initially due to sloth. I just did not want to get up and go to church. Over time and exposed to different views and influences I came to doubt a number of teachings…
Or perhaps it might be more accurate to say that I felt the Church was just to hamstrung with “rules” - that things should be more simple etc…You know - the usual kinds of things.

But then over many years I began to realize that everything tends to get complicated and maybe the Church wasn’t so “rule bound” or “narrow” in her outlook as I had supposed in my younger days

That said, I came back mainly because of the Eucharist. On those occasions when I would attend mass for whatever reason, I knew that I could not receive communion. Not only had I not been practicing for many years, but I have been divorced and remarried outside of the Church.

Anyway - over time, I found that this left me feeling rather empty - incomplete. Eventually I was able to straighten out my marital status and return to the sacraments…
It was at this point that I really began to reassess the Church’s teachings and found that they made much more sense and that they meant so much more to me. Call it my age - or the working of the Holy Spirit or whatever - but I just found things so much more meaningful and not as “complicated” as I had remembered.

Ultimately I found that all things start with, build from and return to Love - Agape. With this foundational principle, everything else falls nicely into place.

Peace
James

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.