I need help to understand what is happening

I am a protestant living in northern ireland. I was born a protestant and raised in a very protestant community with those same beliefs and values. So why do I now feel inexplicably drawn towards the Catholic church? I have no reason or explanation for feeling like this. I am married to a protestant and my family would more than likely be disgusted at me for even thinking like this. I therefore have no one to talk this over with or confide in. I have always believed in God and I bring my kids up to believe in God and to have good Christian values but I have absolutely no reason to tie me to the Catholic church. I cannot understand this but the pull is so strong that I feel that I may have to go and speak to a Catholic priest. You all know what Belfast is like for religion. It is uncommon for anyone to convert from protestant to Catholic unless maybe through marriage and even then communities can turn their backs on the convertee.
I need your help and advice.
All comments gratefully received.
I just need to talk to someone about this.

I suggest that you first get down on your knees and start praying. Ensure there is nothing between you and God. Come to Him with a contrite spirit and submissive heart. Confess all sin and then repent (turn from any sin). I am not saying you have sin in your life, just make sure if you do, that it is taken care of first.

Now, get down on your knees again and ask Him for His guidance. He will reveal Himself and His will to you if you are true to Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ alone. Go speak to a pastor that you can trust. One that you know has compassion and does not look at the Catholic church with distain. But most of all, PRAY!!!

To be honest, if your family and community would be disgusted with your choice, I would have to wonder the state of their relationship with Jesus. A true believer in Jesus Christ does not turn their back on those in need. If you made the decision to convert to Catholicism, they should love you the same. If the Protestant attitude in you area is like what you described, I can see why your soul is yearning for something more. Maybe is not a call to Catholicism you desire, but real relationships with true believers in a Christ-centered Church (not that you can’t find that in the Catholic church).

I will pray for you.

Well this might simply be the Spirit drawing you to the Church or you might have taken a interest in something because you want to learn about it. You can pm me if you have an questions about the Church. I suggest you talk to the local parish priest about your thoughts. Also do lots of research so you know what you are getting into it would be bad for you to convert then find something you hate and leave the True Church. Even Paul says it is better to never believe then to believe then fall away because you re damned twice

As you know well, the Protestant/Catholic divide in Northern Ireland has a lot more to do with politics, national identity, and history than with actual religion.

I would encourage you to go talk to your local Catholic priest and discuss your concerns and your fears.

Is your family a highly political family? Are your fears based on things they have said, or on what you think they will think?

Perhaps keeping religion and politics separated would be one approach. Is your family Unionist or Nationalist? Which are you? (rhetorical questions for you to think about). Does changing religion mean changing position on NI politics? I don’t think it does. That is certainly not something the Catholic Church is going to demand or be concerned about. A large number of Catholics are actually in favor of NI remaining part of the UK.

I come originally from a Presbyterian background in Scotland and although the situation there is not as extreme as in NI I have some idea as to the strains you are under. I also understand the attraction to Catholicism, I converted to the faith almost exactly 20 years ago.

Firstly, the people that really know and love you might not understand you but there is some chance that they will stick by you whatever you do. In NI, of course there is some chance that they will not. If you explore Catholicism you are taking a risk there is no getting out of that. The upside is that Catholics will be happy to accept you and not view you with suspicion.

Why do you feel drawn towards the Church? I can only guess. My experience of the Calvinism that is so prominent in my country and in yours is that it does not speak to the whole of me as a human person. It disdains things like lighting candles, praying for the souls of our loved ones, being inspired to love God through our senses of seeing, hearing, smelling tasting and touching. Catholicism though sees that since God became fully human then He made all of our senses vehicles to know Him better and to love Him more. Calvinism is too abstract, too much religion in the head and too little in the heart and in the very pores of our skin. To pay heed to your human side is every bit as Christian as to pay heed to your spiritual since our Jesus is both man and God.

By all means seek advice from a priest, even in Belfast it can be done without everyone knowing about it. Perhaps if you can manage it get away by yourself on a spiritual retreat, Iona for example has a little Catholic guest house, and you can spend time in quiet reflection and chat to whoever God in His providence sends to be your fellow guests. Also, and finally, I recommend reading the Psalms, partly because they are the prayer of the Church but mostly because as you read through them you will describe some that exactly describe how you feel and then you will know that you are not alone.

You dont need to announce to the whole community if you convert…its nobody elses business…you could go to a catholic church and pray without needing to tell the whole ommunity about it…
I cant see why its anybody elses business…if you tell everybody then you make it everybodys business

God is Calling You…Follow Him…Maybe there is something He wants to say that You have never heard before…

Open Your Heart & Follow Him Blindly!!!
What would it hurt to see a Priest…start there & see where it takes you!!!

God Bless Your Journey!!

Thank you for all your replies. I am going to go and speak with a priest. In answer to some of your questions. My family will always love me no matter what, although some will be disappointed. My family are not involved with any political or paramilitary organisation. I would be the only person I know of in my family to ever have converted. I have no political opinion whatsoever. In fact I do not vote as I dont believe any of the politicians in my country are worth voting for. I am actually a Police Officer and find myself caught in the middle a lot of the time. Police here are often refered to as the third religion in northern ireland. I am therefore neither loyalist nor republican.

The apolitical nature of your family will certainly be a plus.

Prayers and best wishes for your spiritual journey.

Dear dazedandconfuse,

I have prayed for you. I know that there are still serious undercurrents in Northern Ireland, May God bless your journey Home.

Does the PSNI have a Catholic chaplain? That might be a good place to start if you can be sure of confidentiality .

I would suggest that you try this website…the Coming Home Network…they may have a contact in your area you could talk to…they do have a CHN international…chnetwork.org/

And let me post this passage…for you to ponder…1 Samuel 15:22-23
22 But Samuel replied:
“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

I’ve visited Ireland in the past and can appreciate how difficult your situation is. Very different than here in the U.S.

I wonder if you might be able to attend Mass on your own and get a feel for it? Also, find out from the weekly bulletin if there are any inquiry classes or general theology discussion groups or bible study groups taking place at a nearby Catholic parish.

If family or friends question you, explain that you want to become educated and satisfy your curiosity (which is true) and by doing that you will ease them into the situation. I don’t think you want to come down to breakfast and blurt out, “Good morning, everyone. I’m converting to Catholicism”.:okpeople:

Hebrews 3:15
If today you hear the voice of the Lord, harden not your hearts.

Would I be welcome atba Catholic mass or study group if not a Catholic?

Absolutely…you are welcome to attend Mass…just do not go to communion.

As for a study group…you would be welcome too…I may suggest that you contact a parish near you for a contact person…or the parish may have a study group for non catholics already…:thumbsup:

You would certainly be welcome at Mass. You should not receive Communion until or unless you become Catholic but you can participate in every other way. There is a programme called RCIA which many parishes run, although given the divisions in NI I can’t be certain it does so in Belfast, which basically put Catholics and enquirers together to go through the major elements of the faith. If something like that is running it probably is just what you are looking for.

As the others have said you would be welcomed. Not everyone who attends mass or is active in the parish is necessarily a Catholic. Our organist is Church of England.

May God bless you on your journey.

This is a sad question that speaks to the damage done by all the divisions in Christianity. Jesus sent his apostles to all nations (Mt 28). Of course you’d be welcome. You shouldn’t even have to ask. God Bless…my parents are from the south.

Dear Dazed&Confused:

You say the pull to the Catholic faith (for you) is coming unexpectedly and strongly. Like a previous poster said, best to pay attention to the Holy Spirit working in you. Pray, pray, pray and do not doubt. It may be that God has a special plan for you in this calling, and that you might, in turn, be called to be a light to others.

An interesting prayer to St. Patrick, Patron of Ireland:[FONT=Franklin Gothic Medium]

[/FONT][FONT=Franklin Gothic Medium]“Dear St. Patrick, in you humility you called yourself a sinner, but you became a most successful missionary and prompted countless pagans to follow the Savior. Many of their descendants, in turn spread the Good News in numerous foreign lands. Through your powerful intercession with God, obtain for us the missionaries we need to continue the work you began.” [/FONT]
From what I hear of the Emerald Isle, they could use some missionaries right at home these days. :shamrock2:

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