Perhaps I shouldnt say this but… I would first try to look at mere Christianity before you think about Catholicism. The Catholic church has a lot of doctrines that seem strange to non believers and protestants alike. Therefore, I would start of by considering Christianity generally and then look at the Catholic Church.
I think the best advise I could give you to help you in developing your faith is to continuously read the Gospels. If you do, you will realize one thing, your Love for Jesus. I am sure you have never encountered anyone like him in all your readings and study. It is almost impossible not to fall in Love with him. His words and actions break your heart in its wisdom and beauty.
For example, in the book a Case for Christ, Lee Strobel tells the story of when he interviewed Charles Templeton (an ex Evangelical Christian turned agnostic). Despite all the negative words Charles Templeton had to say about theism, when he was asked what he thought about Jesus Christ himself he said," He was… the greatest human being who has ever lived. He was a moral genius … his commitment was total and led to his own death… what could I say about him except that this was a form of greatness… he is the most important thing in my life and …I…I…I adore him!." Upon hearing this, Lee Strobel who was interviewing him writes, I wasnt sure how to respond, “You say that with some emotion” To which Templeton says, “well yes, everything good I know, everthing decent I know, everything pure I know, I learned from Jesus… There have been many other wonderful people but Jesus is Jesus… he is the most important human being who has ever existed and If I may put it this way I miss him.” At this point his voice cracked and he broke down crying.
I find that passage interesting because even a hard core agnostic like Templeton recognize the beuty of Jesus. I am also reminded of a book titled Ben Israel by Art Katz in which he tells the story of his conversion. He says how he lost his Jewish faith during vietnam and he spent many years studying Buddhism, Islam and other world religions. He had read all the holy books in the world exept the new testament and still found life meaningless. Finally, while waiting for a train he decided he was going to commit suicide. But there by the train station a man was selling books one of which happened to be the New Testament. So he figures… why not read the New Testament since he has already read all the other religious books, might as well read this one before he dies.
So he gets on the train and starts reading the Gospels and falls in Love with Jesus. He doesnt believe in him, he just thinks he is an incredible character. He gets to the story about the prostitute in which the Pharasis ask him if they should stone the woman before them who was caught in adultery. At that point Art Katz thinks to himself… Ha! they got him. No one can escape that trap. If he says stone her, he isnt God. If he says dont stone her, then he is violating Jewish law and so he isnt God. Either way he is traped. So he closes the book, climbs on top of the train and is about to jump off and kill himself. But something compels him to finish the story so he reads about how Jesus simply writes in the sand and he closes it and thinks, “see! I knew it… he has nothing to say”. And yet, something tells him to finish the story so right before he jumps off the train he opens the book and reads Jesus words to the Pharasis, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” And upon reading that he thinks, “This is God!” And thus begins his commitment to Christ.
I guess what I am trying to tell you is that you need to realize who you are as an individual and who Jesus is to come to believe in him. Are you good and righteous man who has complete self control and has never felt a longing for meaning? Or are you a sinful individual who does the things he does not want to do and despite your best efforts you continuously sin and have a pang in your heart for meaning in life and a savior to rescue you. Jesus provides an answer to all the deepest questions in your heart, Origin, Meaning, Destiny, Identity. You will not find any other comprehensive and fulfilling answer to these questions outside of Christ. He also provides an answer to the toughest objections to the idea of a loving God. Ravi Zacharias tells the story of a friend of his who was in a concentration camp. One day, the Nazi’s had all of the inmates come outside to witness the hanging of a couple of inmates. Two of them were older individuals and one of them was younger. When the first two were hung, they died instantly but when the third younger inmate was hanged, he struggled greatly. His entire body was contorting left and right desperately trying to cling on to life with his last breath. As his body was flaying on that noose many of the inmates began to weep and shout “God! God! Where ARE YOU!, Save Us! Help Us! Where Are You!” And Ravi’s friends recounts how inside of him, he too asked that question as he watched this young man die, “God where are you.” And he says that after silently asking that question he got a response inside that told him, “I am up there in the gallows… where else?”
Christ answers our deepest longings and through his life, he demonstrates that Love is Stronger than Death.
If you have not read the Gospels, I would highly encourage you do so. Ask yourself who am I, and who is Jesus. James Stewart has an excellent response to this:
“He was the meekest and lowliest of all the sons of man, yet He spoke of coming on the clouds of Heaven with the glory of God. He was so austere that evil spirits and demons cried out in terror at His coming, yet He was so genial and winsome and approachable that the children loved to play with Him and the little ones nestled in his arms. His presence at the innocent gaiety of a village wedding was like the presence of sunshine. No one was half so compassionate to sinners, yet no one ever spoke such red-hot scorching words about sin. A bruised reed He would not break, His whole life was love, yet on one occasion He demanded of the Pharisees how they were expected to escape the damnation of Hell. He was a dreamer of dreams and a seer of visions, yet for sheer stark realism He has all our sheer stark realists soundly beaten. He was a servant of all, washing the disciples’ feet, yet masterfully he strode into the temple and the hucksters and moneychangers fell over one another to get away from the mad rush and the fire they saw blazing in His eyes. He saved others, yet at the last himself he did not save. There is nothing in history like the union of contrasts which confronts us in the gospels. The mystery of Jesus is the mystery of divine personality”