Former protestant/atheist becoming Catholic, my story


#1

Hi everyone, I figured I’d make a post here finally since I’ve been lurking on the site for nearly two months reading everything I could about the faith.

For a long time in my life I had jumped around from different things, placing my faith in philosophies, ideas, science etc. I was baptized a lutheran as a child but would not ever have considered myself one, more on that later. There was a time in highschool when I had lost all faith in everything, but it was then that I felt an incredible presence of warmth and love all around me. To this day I still can’t describe in words what it was I felt, but it was a feeling of total security, and the feeling stayed with me for a long time. It was during that time that I started reading the bible, I had not before and I don’t believe it was a coincidence.

Fastforward to college, I started taking geology, archeology and philosophy; all these things together tore down my faith, strange how quickly we forget the past… And this is largely to blame on protestant literalist teaching I had heard as a child. Hearing about a 6000 year old earth, man and dinosaurs living together, worldwide flood, etc etc. At this point I was totally torn and became depressed because I could not keep forcing myself to ignore geological evidence. Instead of looking to God or praying, I embraced philosophers like Hume, Voltaire, Spinoza and so on, and considered myself a deist, and sometimes a pantheist when it suited me. I guess I never really abandoned the idea of God but had no longer believed Him to be a personal one, one who uses miracles or divine revelation. Well ultimately this too left me unsatisfied with no personal God to pray to or commune with.

And after a period of 4 months or so earlier this year, of just being so down and lost I finally started praying again. Praying to find answers, to not be lost anymore. I was shocked to find the huge amount of logical writing that was within the Catholic Church. Growing up I had always heard all the anti catholic stuff, “they worship mary”, “they pray to saints”, “the pope is the antichrist” etc, the whole deal. I don’t want this to turn into an attack but from someone who was raised in a protestant family, it is like finding a whole new world. Thought, logic, reasoning and science weren’t things to be embraced. You were to read the bible and with the holy spirit interpret it for yourself. Well I always asked myself if the holy spirit was telling me one thing, and the same holy spirit was telling another person something else from reading the same scripture than is god a liar? I was lacking the foundation, the tradition and the church that can interpret these matters for the people. God can not be contained by a book alone and it is foolish to believe that all there is to know of him could be contained in it. The day came not too long ago when I realized I agreed with the teachings of the Catholic Church and could no longer consider myself a deist, pantheist, protestant, agnostic… and I taught myself the Rosary!!!

I started memorizing the apostles creed, haily mary, haily holy queen, angel of god, etc. The faith is so much less lonely when you have a whole heavenly congregation of angels, saints, and a holy mother to petition to pray for you in times of need. I have never felt so happy and satisfied in other times in my life than when I first began consistently praying these things. I started reading up on St Bernadette and lourdes, fatima, and guadaloupe. If anyone has any other saints or anything that they think would be good to read please let me know!

I’m not in a church yet, I’ve never had communion in my life, not even confirmed in any church. I don’t really know what the best way about going about getting into one.

Also… during the time when I would have considered myself an atheist, I said horrible things, blaspheming God many times. As well I’m sure I lead others astray with the ideologies I preached vehemently. Looking back I cringe at the kind of things I spewed. I have prayed for forgiveness but I feel some of it may be unforgivable.

Alright that’s about it I just wanted to put this story out there for any who might find it interesting. Any information regarding catholic tradition, dogmas, and also prayers would be helpful to me. Currently I only know the ones of the rosary, angel of god and a little of st michaels.


#2

A beautiful story. You hit the nail on the head above…we are a communion of saints. One Body. When one member of the Body rejoices, the whole Body does. Your above quote is spot on.

God bless you in your continued journey. Much encouragement from all of us I am sure! :slight_smile:


#3

Thank you so much for your story. Like you, I feel very comforted by the idea of the Communion of Saints - that I am not alone in my journey, but that I have many many other men and women who have travelled the path I am travelling and who will pray for me. I am a saint watcher and have been for a long time. I can recommend a very nice little book titled Saints Behaving Badly by Thomas Craugwell which is about a number of men and women who began as sinners and eventually became saints.


#4

Praised be Jesus and Mary!
Thank you so much for your sharing.

About Saints - here are a few.

  • How about St Faustina’s diary? You will learn lots of Jesus’ mercy for us and you will peace and love in Him.
  • St. Francis, St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Anthony, St. Padre Pio – they all are Franciscans.
  • St. Therese of the Child Jesus and Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
  • St. Rita

About joining the church - maybe you can contact the Diocese in your area and ask about joining RCIA program to learn about the Catholic faith and to prepare for Sacraments.

Do you know that Oct 13, we celebrate the 91st anniversary of Fatima - the Miracle of the Sun!

God bless on your journey home!


#5

thank you so much for sharing your journey! Please go find a good Catholic church in your area and see about starting RCIA! Keep going! Christ will walk you down this path!

hugs:gopray::bible1:


#6

Thanks to everyone who responded glad you enjoyed it. I’ve been reading a lot of stuff at newadvent.org also articles at catholic.com and ewtn.com for a lot of the stuff I’ve learned. Thanks Water for the saints, I forgot to mention I had read a lot on Padre Pio, it’s amazing stuff. I’ll check out the others.

Also what are the franciscans? I had been watching youtube video’s from the Franciscan Friar’s after comming across that long haired, rapper/singer, I forgot his name but it seems like most of them have beards and always wear that grey robe. I’ll do some research on my own.

I haven’t been in a church in so many years, and never really in a catholic one except when at a cousin’s first communion. Is it expected to wear suite/jacket etc? Because I don’t have any clothes like that, just some button down collared shirts, and jeans. Also am I able to go to a catholic church if I haven’t been baptised or anything like that, or confession? Hmm now that I think about it I have no clue how that works. Would anyone be willing to fill me in?


#7

I enjoyed reading your story. My husband was raised in the Baptist church. It was the literalism that drove him to the Catholic Church. He is a biologist. One thing to remeber, your sins are not unforgivable. God’s mercy is infinite and he will forgive us if we just ask. Read Divine Mercy in My Soul, the Diary of St. Faustina. It’s all about how much God wants to give us his mercy and forgivness.


#8

How inspiring! God bless your heart!

Praying to find answers - thats a powerful prayer! And it always seems to be answered powerfully.

Yes, I grew up Protesant and I had the same joy of discovery that the answer to so many things is here, and not “Who can know?” and “Now we see through the glass darkly”…

exactly!

Amen!

You already mentioned Fatima but I have to say my all-time favorite book on Fatima is George Walsh’s book. Its published by Image books and has been around a long time.

I love St. Elizabeth Seton, St. Therese of Liseaux, St. Theresa of Avila, St. Padre Pio, St. Maximillian Kolbe, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, St. Francis of Assisi. Thats to name a few but I have lots more favorites.

Someone else probably already said - but R.C.I.A.! Also you can go to Mass anytime and just not recieve - but you can receive Him spiritually as you sit in the pew. You will receive much grace doing that! If you can, shop around and see what parish draws you and go to R.C.I.A. there.

Nothing you do is bigger than the Gods infinate mercy. Read Saint Faustina’s works to learn more of that. God melts at your contrite heart. See a priest about when you wil be able to go to your first Confession!

A well-loved Catholic prayer, a favorite of Mother Theresa:

Memorare

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.
Amen.


#9

You may want to google Zeitoun apparition. A lot of stuff will come up describing what happened in the 1960s. It didn’t take place at a Catholic church- Coptic Orthodox, yet the apparition of the Virgin Mary was witnessed by millions of people (including the president of Egypt) and was televized and photographed by the international press.

It’s an insanely dramatic and exciting story. Up there with Fatima, to me.

I’m so glad God has blessed you in this exquisite way! My gosh, God is good. Praise be to our Lord.

Oh, by the way, I agree with others that it would help your Catholic education to research St. Francis of Assisi. He’s probably the most famous saint in church history that isn’t in the Bible. His teachings and life are incredibly beautiful.

And go to the RCIA :). God bless you!!!


#10

Wow thank you so much for all the feedback. I’ve got a whole list marked down in a notepad file to look through, I’ve always got at least 15 seperate tabs opened on firefox much of the time anyway ;]

I started reading St Faustina’s diary, a portion called notebook 1. I’m still at the beginning and can relate to nearly every portion, especially this:

“The eighteenth year of my life. An earnest appeal to my parents for permission to enter the convent. My parents flat refusal. After this refusal, I turned myself over to the vain things of life, paying no attention to the call of grace, although my soul found no satisfaction in any of these things. The incessant call of grace caused me much anguish; I tried, however, to stifle it with amusements. Interiorly I shunned God, turning with all my heart to creatures. However, God’s grace won out in my soul.”

Wow, I certainly didn’t try to enter a convent but as for the rest of it, it reminds me of myself, and I’m sure many others as well. It is amazing to think that even after the things I’ve done, even total rejection of God I was still called back. I had placed my hopes and future in totally material objects and political systems, but I remained unhappy, and well just empty. I was an angry person all the time… Even though outwardly I looked just like a normal guy inside was totally the opposite. I would see happy people, people with faith, and I would envy that in them. It made me really mad that they had something that I was lacking, and I would try to tear them down for it. Strange how that internal self, or spirit, can have such a profound affect on a person even when the body is perfectly healthy.


#11

Starforsaken,

My soul did smile as I read your post. Especially the part below:

I started memorizing the apostles creed, haily mary, haily holy queen, angel of god, etc. The faith is so much less lonely when you have a whole heavenly congregation of angels, saints, and a holy mother to petition to pray for you in times of need.

I have never seen it as you describe. For me they have always been there - good or bad. It is comforting to know they are there.

Okay, here are two saints I recommend:

St. Kolbe - the book Kolbe: Saint of the Immaculata is a must read. The video Ocean of Mercy is a good one to see as it also has a segments on St. Faustina and Pope John Paul II.

Saint Maria Gorretti - the book In Garments All Red is also a must read. It won’t take long as she only lived 11 years 10 months and a few days. Her love and devotion to God will not fail to make an impression on you. The video 14 Flowers of Pardon is also good.

May God bless you and keep you.


#12

I’m a revert Catholic still trying to ‘get it’ and you know, had my anti days and I said the same things. 2 or 3 years ago on Ash Wednesday I was at a bus stop and there was one woman with ashes on her forehead and another woman waiting asked me what that was for. I was still an anti at that point and I cringe when I remember this… I told her, “Oh, that’s Catholic, I don’t believe in that anymore!” and the bus came at that moment, I got on and it hit me… I didn’t tell her anything about ashes to ashes, dust to dust, didn’t tell her squat about Jesus… just went on my anti-Catholic spiel. God was dealing with me, just took me some time. I’ve seen the woman who had ashes, haven’t seen the other yet.

I had a Lutheran aunt and she was so different. She made it clear she didn’t believe in what we did however she was never an anti-Catholic. She even asked for a rosary and she left a note in it’s container for when she passed away for it to be given to me. I still have it.

They’ll know we’re Christians by our love… wish I would’ve remembered that 2 or 3 years ago but I pray I do better now.


#13

Welcome Home “Starforsaken” , glad you have joined us here and hope you continue in your search for truth. I am also a convert, first a Presbyterian, then Baptist, then Mormon, but now I am forever a Catholic!!! Our Precious Lord will guide you and be with you all the way.

Read anything and everything by Scott Hahn, but especially The Lambs Supper and his conversion story; and another saint that is one of my favorites is St. Francis De Sales. Go to Mass and then speak to the Priest, he should be able to give you the best advice for starting your journey in the church.

May the Lord be praised, may He always be praised.


#14

Of course you can come to a Catholic church! I wouldn’t be overly concerned about dress – most of the masses I have attended in recent history are all pretty casual, especially the ones held in the evenings. My family wears jeans when we go at night, but wear what we wear to work (knakis/polos) in the mornings.

You can and should attend Mass! If you can get your hands on a Missal or find a resource that explains the Mass you might find it helpful as there are a lot of genuflections, standing, kneeling etc that happen and are well-scripted. If you can find (and I am sorry I have no resources) a full Mass explanation, you might feel more at ease the first few times you attend. You should not, however, receive Holy Communion until you come into full communion with the Church through Baptism and Confirmation. I also do not believe that you can go to Confession until you complete RCIA, but don’t know that one for sure.

Speak to a priest or the diocese about starting RCIA. You are on a wonderful journey and there is so much more for you to learn! I pray for the Spirit to continue to nourish your desire for truth and knowledge. As Scott Hahn said, “There is genius in Catholicism.” I know you’ll find what you are looking for!


#15

Thanks so much for sharing, I can relate a lot to your story, only that I was baptised/recieved communion/confirmed in the Catholic Church before falling away (and subsequently returning).

I have a million things to say, but I’ll try to be brief: the deeper you dig into the Catholic faith, the greater the treasures. Sounds like you have an enquiring mind, so don’t stop digging, even when you get discouraged and feel like throwing it all away. The peace of Christ be with you…

PS. The conversion story of Scott Hahn, as someone mentioned above, will be some good encouragement. Please private message me if you would like an audio copy.


#16

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