Convert Me

Sorry the title is a little strange, but it gets right to the point. I grew up Catholic, left the church as a teenager, and now I’m searching for something bigger than myself but am not convinced anything is truly out there. There are some nagging concerns I have that I will present to you in the hopes that there are people on this forum more informed than I am. I’ve read some of the posts here and I know this place is full of knowledgeable Catholics.

  1. Why is religion so regional? If I were Japanese and wanted to find a path back to my faith, would I be on a Catholic forum or would I be somewhere else? It seems that because I grew up where I did, Catholicism was it. But for people around the world, other religions fill this void, and they are just as adamant that their religion is the true religion.

  2. Why do you believe in the Catholic God? Was it because you grew up having that faith drilled into you? Did you come to it some other way? As an adult, perhaps? And why? I know people who claim to have seen miracles (i.e. the miracle of the sun). Why should these miracles be attributed to Catholicism rather than some other religion? Could this be a misinterpretation? And for those of you who believe you feel the presence of God when you pray or at church, is it possible that you’ve simply convinced yourself this is what you feel? I remember having such a feeling when I was younger, but later came to believe I was deluding myself. If I were to believe again, I fear I wwould always have that nagging sense that I’m once again deluding myself.

  3. I’m a writer. My art is extremely important to me, and I believe that art must be honest. It cannot be censored. Is there a way for me to continue writing about the real world after adopting Catholic principles? I find that much of the truly great art being produced today is shunned by Catholics because it offends their moral sensibilities.

If no one replies to this, that’s okay. I’m just putting it out there. I apologize if it’s abrasive.

Actually, I was correct on that earlier post, you are searching. You have a lot of philosophical and searching questions.

I’m praying for you and that your questions are answered in a way that will be helpful to your and your journey to faith. Because you have been baptized and raised Catholic, I would recommend you talk to a priest and find a priest or Catholic trusted person you can connect with. Somone you have some common interest with, who can assist you with these questions. Faith in Christ and the journey through life with Him as my Lord and Saviour and with Him in His Church with the Sacraments, and Liturgy, and fellowship with other Catholics has made my life more blessed than I ever thought possible.

I would suggest you pray the Our Father, He does love you so much, the Holy Spirit is prodding you Home to Our Father, and I think you feel it. I know I felt your searching before you told me. Your Heavenly Mother the Blessed Virgin Mary loves you also, and as she does with all of us she points always and directs us always to her Son, Our Lord.

I’ll pray for you here: “Heavenly Father, your child Realist is seeking answers in his life. We pray that Your Will be done in Realist’s life, and that he will receive his answers and receive direction in decisions he should make. Bless
Realist Lord, take away obstacles that would hinder his journey to You. Restore his belief, and help Realist to seek your Will. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Sprit. Amen.”

Peace be with you. You will remain in my prayers. There are some wonderful Christians who will help and inspire you on these forums.

  1. Cultures developed in different ways, especailly when they are relatively isolated. Their religion (or interpretation of a religion) will be influenced heavily by and will influence their culture on the whole. There are Japanese Catholics. Not a lot of them, but thye exist.

The slightly condescending interpretation is that every religion in the world contains at least one important kernel of truh- it must be at least partially true. The question is which is most true, or, if possible, whether a religion is completely true- as best as we can judge.

  1. If I were not raised Catholic, I would not be Catholic today, if that answers your question. But then, I am not yet out of my teens. I have never witnessed any miracles, and my faith is grounded in philosophy more than anything else. There is, from time to time, a “feeling” of fatih, but it does not to me serve as proof of anything. It simply seems to me logical that God exists, and that the Catholic God looks the most like what God must logically look like. As far as I can tell, anyway.

  2. J.R.R. Tolkein (Lord of the Rings) was Catholic. St. Thomas More (Utopia) was Catholic- and a saint. C.S. Lewis was a Christian with a very similar theology to Catholics. Their writings were informed by Christian principles.

So, how’s that for starters? :slight_smile:

To answer your first question, Catholic Christians are 1.2 Billion strong and are scattered all over the world, if if you add all other Christians, there are over 2 Billion Christians in the world, nearly 1/3 the population. The Gospel of Jesus Christ appeals to people in many cultures, a lot of them poor countries as in Africa and South America, because it is one of true hope and care for fellow human beings. That is not a regional message but a human message.

To your second question, I grew up with no religion in my life, other than I was baptized Luthern. I had no real need at the time for religion, everything was going good in my life, I was 46 years old at the time. But for a few years earlier, I kept getting this feeling that I should be going to Church. Nobody was was asking me to go or talking to me about God. I finally started going to Borders bookstore and started reading about Christianity. I could not stop reading about it, I bought a Bible, I bought books about Christianity and Church History and then I started attending the Catholic Church near my house. I learned later that it was the Holy Spirit that had been calling me, I just could not put a name on it earlier.

Your third question poses a little more of a problem for me because I am not an artist, but I am not aware of the Church coming down on any art, unless it is pornographic in nature. Maybe some one else can help you on that one.

Good luck in whatever you are looking for, if you want more information about Catholics and what we beleive, pickup a book called, ‘Catholic and Christian’ by Alan Schreck, it is available in most bookstores, I found my at Borders as mentioned earlier.

Have you ever researched the history of Christianity?

2009---->you are here.
2000---->over 30,000 different denominations with a new one being born every week. How to choose?

1900’s If you belong to one of the religious organizations known as 'Church of the Nazarene," “Pentecostal Gospel.” “Holiness Church,” “Pilgrim Holiness Church,” “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” your religion is one of the hundreds of new sects founded by men within the past century.

** 1829—>Mormon (Latter Day Saints), Joseph Smith,Palmyra, N.Y
** **1744—>Methodist, by John and Charles Wesley in England **
** 1605—>Baptist, John Smyth, in Amsterdam **
1517—>Martin Luther a Catholic monk begins the "Protestant Reformation"
1500’s—>Catholic Church
1400’s—>Catholic Church
1300’s—>Catholic Church
1200’s—>Catholic Church
1100’s—>Catholic Church
1000’s—>Catholic Church
900’s---->Catholic Church
800’s---->Catholic Church
700’s---->Catholic Church
600’s---->Catholic Church
500’s---->Catholic Church
400’s---->Catholic Church
300’s---->Catholic Church
200’s---->Catholic Church
100’s---->Catholic Church
90’s----->Catholic Church
80’s----->Catholic Church
70’s----->Catholic Church
60’s----->Catholic Church
50’s----->Catholic Church
40’s----->Catholic Church
33 a.d. Jesus builds His Church on Peter

(written around 100-110 a.d. by Saint Ignatius)

The Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans

Chapter 8. Let nothing be done without the bishop
See that you all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as you would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as,** wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church**. It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid.

The Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans
newadvent.org/fathers/0109.htm

How Old is your Church?
ewtn.com/faith/teachings/churb4.htm

Firstly, no one can convert you - you have to do it yourself. Think of it as a big step a hero must take before taking on his archenemy: no one can make him do it, he has to do it himself. It is a tough thing to do, and it might take a lot of thinking, but it can be done if the hero really wants to do it.

Now, to answer your questions:

  1. Catholicism is Catholic, which means Universal. It is not bound by space or culture, so anyone can become Catholic.

  2. I became Catholic because I met God.

Catholics do not worship a Catholic God, Catholics worship God. God is the God, and we acknowledge Him as the only living God: “I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth.” You can argue we believe and worship in God as we believe and worship Him to be, and you would be half-right: on one hand, we worship God according to how we believe in Him, which is limited by our finite minds and hearts, but, on the other hand, God revealed Himself to man and so, rather than making up attributes for God, we acknowledge Him as He has revealed Himself to us. You can argue that God might be lying, but God is the truth and the truth cannot decieve nor be deceived.

  1. I am also a writer, and currently working on a fantasy novel (my first novel!). You are free to write and draw and use the gift of creativity which God has given you; you may use it for good, but never for evil (pornography, lying, sacrilege, etc.). If you need any help writing, let me know :wink:

Hello Realist. Have you had a look at this? catholicscomehome.org/

I’ll offer some food for thought on the very valid points you raise. These are the ways I think about these things however, part of finding faith is discovering your own way of thinking about it.

Is it regional? Sure, religion exists throughout the world, as the CCC puts it, this is because “at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength. He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church. To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son as Redeemer and Savior. In his Son and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life.”

Religion throughout the world is a reflection of the search of man for something he inherently knows is there–God (as you put it, something bigger than yourself). God sent His Son to demonstrate the objective truth of this search, to provide a pinnacle of achievement of understanding of God which all men can aspire to. Jesus is the intersection of the search of man for God and the reaching out through history of God to man.

I

I suppose this is about knowing. You have to get to know God and the only way to do that is by knowing Jesus.

I think it’s about what offends your moral sensibilities isn’t it? As a Catholic, I think the world I inhabit is more real than the false, visceral pseudo reality of modern secular culture. If you form a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you might well find your own moral sensibilities changing, what you want to indulge in and what you want to avoid may alter. You are freeing yourself of the shackles of a physical world and embracing a more spiritual reality.

Hi Realist,
Please read the following link (from this website): catholic.com/library/pillar.asp

I think it will be a good start to your journey home.

As a Catholic, I think the world I inhabit is more real than the false, visceral pseudo reality of modern secular culture.

That is awesome - I am going to use that :wink:

You ask “Convert Me”…

I answer “NO”…

For your last question, you do realize that some of the greatest writers of all time were Catholic? There are many brilliant Catholic artists. Have you ever BEEN to the Vatican? The Catholic Church has protected the greatest works of art for centuries.

I’ll make this reply brief. I feel obliged to thank everyone for their thoughts and their reference material. I’m checking out the websites now and will look for the books in the library. I’m still not convinced (which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone… it’s only been a couple of days), and I don’t yet feel I’m on the path to being convinced, but I’m looking. I’m trying to find the hook that makes sense to me.

I won’t engage in the conversation about Catholicism not being regional because my knowledge in this area is limited, but I would like to extend the dialogue on art. Perhaps, as has been suggested, my sensibilities might change if I became a convert, and that’s a legitimate concern for non-convert me. I don’t agree with censorship and I believe that by suppressing ideas and experiences we miss important opportunities for growth and understanding. I know many of you are telling me that Catholicism isn’t in the business of censorship, but this comes with the asterisk that art can’t be pornographic (which I assume to mean anything involving nudity or overt displays of sexuality) and it can’t be produced in such a way that it could be construed as sacrilegious or as promoting behavior that runs counter to Catholic morality.

Obviously not all art needs these elements that Catholics might consider unsavory, but great artists do explore these elements as themes or employ them as integral pieces of their work. Great art has always been in the habit of doing this. We can even go back to Christian figures like the reverend Jonathan Swift to see evidence of this. Look at his poem “The Lady’s Dressing Room,” or his novel “Gulliver’s Travels” and you’ll see work many considered pornographic in it’s time (and many still do today), but you’d have to have flipped your brain off while reading these pieces to miss the value in them.

To everyone who has listed their favorite Catholic artists: I will never deny the fact that Catholics can’t create great works of art. Flannery O’Connor is my favorite Catholic author and is my second favorite short fiction author of all time. But she is unique. Her thematic interest was in exposing hypocrisy, something no one would want to censor (except perhaps hypocrites). Her writing would be a different story if she was interested in, say, sex.

Lordy knows, we catholics have made sure that there are aprons draped across all those great works of art. We ran the “put pants on the David” and “buy knickers for the Sistine Chapel” committes :eek:

Only God can convert, people can’t. :getholy:

Jonathan Swift is a funny one, he was a notably anti-Catholic protestant and wrote a terribly bigoted satire about killing Irish babies for food to solve the famine in Ireland (the worst part is he was Irish and jumped across to England to make such comments!)

Anyhow… You sound sceptical about Catholic morality. It should be noted that Jesus was not a moralist nor a legalist, rather quite the opposite - everything out of love not out of mindless obedience to the law for the law’s sake itself. All I can say is that I used to keep half the Church’s teachings regarding sexual morality at arm’s length, until I dug a little and found out how amazing they were.

Lastly, from the outside you won’t find a hook that will take you and pull you all the way in. Don’t look for a sign or for a proof, that’s the whole point of faith. Trust that if God is good then he will not cheat you. Oftentimes you need to crucify your logic and your intelligence and become like a child, as God did not reveal himself to great and scholarly men. We need to humble ourselves and embark on a journey that may seem foolish but yields great rewards. The cross made no sense to the philosophising Greeks, and likewise will not make any sense to anyone that tries to enter the faith through that door.

All the best.

God is our source and our destination. When you embrace the faith, you will realize that He is most important in our lives. Embracing your identity as a Catholic first and foremost will help you be a “Catholic artist,” a “Catholic parent,” a “Catholic friend,” a “Catholic neighbor,” a “Catholic (fill in the blank).” You will no longer separate “artist” from “Catholic.” When you love God, you won’t want to offend Him.

=Realist;4860130] I grew up Catholic, left the church as a teenager, and now I’m searching for something bigger than myself but am not convinced anything is truly out there. There are some nagging concerns I have that I will present to you in the hopes that there are people on this forum more informed than I am.

My dear friend in Christ, we welcome your inquiry:)

1) Why is religion so regional? If I were Japanese and wanted to find a path back to my faith, would I be on a Catholic forum or would I be somewhere else?

**Awesome question! **

It has to do with two practical issues.

  1. What has been (and perhaps still is the common “religion” (religiois practice would be amore accurate question."Buddhism, for example had no belief in a god, nor do Hindus, so they are not really "religions."

  2. Where has the RCC been able to make an religious impact?

  3. On every Continent, and in every country, even the most remote, there is evidence of belief in a “Superior Presence.”

  4. Habits, both good and bad, are difficult to modify. Faith, hope and love, are all taught responces to the culture we happen to live in, and were raised in. Peer Pressure has always been a favorite tool of both God and Satan. (Sit tight we’ll address God shortly.)

  5. However, every human is born with an indellible understanding of “good and evil.” In it part of our very nature. It is why, every human person is aware of a “superior presence.” Some acknowledge it, some chose not to, and everyone does so in their own way, as interiorly directed.

  6. The fact that one finds evidence everywhere of some sort of spiritual, external, power, or source, is in itself evidence that sucn a source does exist.

2) Why do you believe in the Catholic God? Was it because you grew up having that faith drilled into you? Did you come to it some other way?

Despite being raised in a Orphanage throughout my years of basic formation, I always felt loved. I (me) understood it to be some source outside of my environment. I now know it is my God.

If I were to ask you to tell me on one four letter word, what the bible is all about; what would that one word have to be? LOVE!

Now if I ask a second question, “what is the entire bible about?” I suspect the most common responce, would be something to do with man trying to find god, or have a realtionship with God?"

One of my favorite Catholic authors, is Archbishop Fulton Scheen, may he rest in peace. In a book he wrote, kindly **explains that, the bible is not about man seeking a relationship with God, but rather, God seeking a relationship with his most prized CREATION
**.

From seeking Adam’s : “where are you,” to selecting Noah and his family to be saved from the flood, to selecting Abram, and making him the “father of all nations,” to chosing Moses and Aaron to save His chosen people, to Kings David and Solomon, to the Prophets, to John the Baptist, to his Apostles and first Pope, to you and to me; it is God searching for a relationship with us, even before we inturn seek a relationship with Him.

Now as to evidence of God, and specufically, evidence of our Catholic God.

The RCC accepts the possibility (not yet scientifically proven) of Evolution. But She has some unanswered questions.

Evolution’s basic premise is that **“this” **came into existence out of “that.” The RCC’s first question is where did “this” orginate, so “that” could transform itself?

The secound issue is the uniqueness of humanity. Science can logically prove the existence of all humans being both “MATTER” and “SPIRIT.” Eventhough different names may be applied to these “things.”

So some groundwork. Basic logic.

**Something can only be what it is

Something cannot be what it is not

Something can only share what is has

Something cannot share what it does not have… Agreed?**

The bible tells us that we are Created in the image and likeness of God. In what way is this true?

Humanity consist of both MATTER and SPIRIT. Our bodies and brain for example are clearly MATTER.

Each human person is gifted with (none of God’s other Created Things are so blessed) … intellect, mind (not brain), memory, and a freewill. So my friend, quanitfy any of these for me. How much does it weigh? How long, wide deep is it? You can’t tell me because: 1. They are “personal,” meaning everyones is different yet the same, and everyone of these common traits are SPITITUAL. (Lacking MATTER.)

We have already agreed something can’t share what it does not have. So we can know with certitude that these Spiritual “THINGS” are not a part of Evolution. So where did they come from?

God is SPIRIT, so that is the origin of the THINGS that are Spiritual. (This is obviously the short explaination.)

Now raise toyr right arm, put it down. We have just demonistrated the superiority of SPIRIT orver MATTER. The Superior always rules the inferior.

What makes a “THING” live? Scientist can follow the bith of a seed into??? But in following the birth of a dog, their is no physical evidence of “instinct” yet it is there. And what force annimates, for example a dog? They don’t know.

**What annimates man? **Man has, as we have shown, intellect, mind, memory, freewill, and what annimates all of these THINGS, and as a necessary SUPERIOR THING, is what we choose to call “The Human Soul.” And it is the soul, the most SUPERIOR of all of HUMANITIES PERSONAL THINGS: **my **arm, my memory, my choice, that makes us “in the image of God who Created Everything.” It is the "power, this source, who makes itselself known, by the reality of "IS."

There could Not be an “IS” if there were no GOD!

Balance on next post:thumbsup:

REALIST

Part TWO:

3) I’m a writer. My art is extremely important to me, and I believe that art must be honest. It cannot be censored. Is there a way for me to continue writing about the real world after adopting Catholic principles? I find that much of the truly great art being produced today is shunned by Catholics because it offends their moral sensibilities.

If no one replies to this, that’s okay. I’m just putting it out there. I apologize if it’s abrasive.

I am facinated by just what you mean:shrug:

If you could be more specific and supply sufficient information, I might be able to share what we believe and why? I can’t identify your specific concern.

So be frank, but please do so in charity.

One of our most basic tenets is " we are to live in the world but not of the world." Meaning consumed and controlled by what the “world choses to believe, teach and practice.”

In other words Catholics are to know and live their Faith. We cannot for example subscribe to the theology of “Relativism” with its premise of “its only wrong if I say that its wrong.” Subjective Morality, not Objective reality:)

The ONLY way to share ones beliefs is in candor, and truth.

The late Great Pope John Paul II, and our current Pope, have speciffically addressed this isue, by explaining that "their cannot be your truth and my truth, because then their would be NO TRUTH. Amen (I believe!):thumbsup:

So let me know how I can be of assistence. I am an informed, practcing Roman Catholic. If I don’t know the answer, I will pretend that I do. But I do know how to get you what ever information you seek.

Love and prayers, we welcome your inquiry!

I’d like to share this link with you
forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=315192
It’s one of our Apologists answering a question I think is closely related to yours.
Next, read the Song of Solomon. This should give you an idea of what Catholics think about sex.
I also want to echo an earlier poster in inviting you to share about your art with us. As you mentioned, Flannery O’Connor wrote to expose hypocrisy, a noble goal. Do you feel your art, writing about “the real world” is also noble?

I think that your first few questions have been well answered for the moment, but I was very interested in your concern that your work not be affected in what you consider a bad way were you to return to the Church.

I am not an artist of any sort, but I have been studying literature lately because I homeschool my children, so I am interested in the issues you bring up.

When I look at how I have changed since I returned to the Church, I see that if I had been an artist of some sort, my work would have changed. But that does not mean that I would have been unhappy with the changes–the changes would have been part of an over-all growth and increase in understanding about the nature of God’s creation.

There are stories which I used to enjoy which no longer really do anything for me because my view of reality has changed so much. Which is not to say that I don’t enjoy stories about “real life.” Instead, I simply see real life differently than I once did. Sin bothers me more than it used to, but that does not mean that I avoid books with sin in them! It means that I want sin to be put into its proper place.

A quick example: I read a book in which the romantic part was adulterous: a man was attracted to a co-worker who was married to a psychologically manipulative bully. Part of the plot was that as the two main characters grew closer, she was strengthened to leave her husband and run off with this man.

Once, that would not have bothered me; now it does. It bothered me that marriage was treated as an extension of dating rather than the formation of a family and that instead of being strengthened to do something to help her husband she just got to ride off into the sunset with another man…

And I think that this is the sort of way in which an artist’s work would change, not that they would avoid certain aspects of “real life,” but that their treatment of it would change, and that this change would be a *deepening *rather than a “cleaning-up.”

One more quick idea: a lot of “real life” stuff is more titillating than necessary to the plot, kwim? Writers who do that are cheapening their work when they do that: they are appealing to the lower aspects of man in order to make a quick buck. Avoiding that type of writing is good for *all *writers, no matter what their world-view.

One writer whom you might like to read is Fr Robert Barron. I offer this with *extreme caution *because while he himself seems very orthodox, he cites Catholics who promote New Age stuff and heretical notions. Here is a link to some of his mp3 lectures, and he has written a couple of books. I really learned a lot from him about looking at literature, and he uses Flannery O’Conner’s (among others) works to illustrate what he is saying. What he wrote helped me to understand her work because before that, I thought she was just too weird, altho I enjoyed her letters :slight_smile:

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