If you were an atheist, and now are Catholic, how did this happen? Tell your story!


#1

I was not sure where to put this question. I hope this is the right forum, if not, I will try it in another forum.

I am curious as to how the former atheists here on CAF came to convert. It's quite a jump to go from atheist to Catholic - what started the process for you? How did you come to embrace Catholicism and were there any obstacles to the process? And, how and why did you become an atheist in the first place?

I thank you for your candor. When I see people with "Former atheist, now Catholic," I feel renewed hope for my husband, who is a very lapsed Catholic but is probably more of an atheist. I've been praying for at least 10 years now that he will return to the Church with a fire in his heart for Jesus. The first 10 years, I figured that since he was going to Mass with us as a family, he was good with the Church. Little did I know that he was faking it for our sons' sakes. Now that I know, I asked him one night, "Do you even believe in God," and I got no answer. That told me a lot.

When I hear other people's stories, it helps me keep my resolve to just trust in the Lord and keep praying.

:)


#2

This is not an answer to your question, but I too have loved ones who do not believe. I have been praying the rosary for them and lighting candles for them at Adoration. (But not for 10 years!) Can I ask if you have been praying the rosary as well? I've been praying for my dad, and my mom mentioned the other day that he talks in his sleep and one night he said, "Hell's Angels". Everyone else who heard her say that thought of the motorcycle gang. But I immediately thought about my prayers for him and wondered/hoped that God might be working on him in his sleep! I'm interested to hear what others have to say about praying for loved ones who are athiests or who don't seem to care much about religion.


#3

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:1, topic:264381"]

It's quite a jump to go from atheist to Catholic -

[/quote]

From Atheism to Catholicism is the biggest jump anybody can make. From believing that no god(s) exists to believing in the Holy Trinity, where one Person is both Man and God!

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:1, topic:264381"]

And, how and why did you become an atheist in the first place?

[/quote]

I am going to mix around the questions to make it a little easier for me.

I was an atheist for several reasons:

  1. Lack of empirical evidence
  2. The good ole' problem of evil argument (except my version was much more cogent than most)
  3. The absurdity of even the idea of any god(s)
  4. Suffering (sort of ties in with #2)

There are more, but those are the ones I can think of right now as I lie in my bed during another sleepless night while drugged up... (Medication)

People who are who atheists because of religious wars or immorality of the religious are irrational.

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:1, topic:264381"]

what started the process for you?

[/quote]

This is sort of a vague question considering the topic.

Well, eventually I met this adamant Catholic girl with an unbreakable faith. That didn't phase me much, until I started realizing she would NEVER debate the non-existence of God with me. The only thing she EVER said to me that was remotely close to anything resembling apologetics was this:

"I was in a Bible study this week and they brought up Heaven and Hell. We were wondering what Hell is REALLY like and somebody said that Hell is the opposite of Heaven and I thought of you. Heaven is a warm place and Hell might be cold, and I know you hate the cold."

That's it! That is the only "argument" she EVER gave. Haha... Granted its not a win-all "argument", but it broke the ice, so to speak. (For any atheist reading this, you can debate all you want that this is unreasonably stupid, but I can and will defend myself to the point that you will have no choice but to see that it is reasonable.)

I say it broke the ice because it made me stop reading reading any books that had to do with religion, including Atheist books.

I did that because I just wanted to have absolutely no bias in my thought process. That girl might have been there with me, but she certainly didn't implant the idea that God existed in my head. I still didn't believe a God existed while I was with her. I am not even sure she knew about my thought process.

I started writing down questions and thinking of any and all possible answers and even explained all of those possible answers, whether I agreed with them or not. Well, eventually I joined RCIA to see what the deal was there. Even when I joined I didn't believe in God. BUT the questions had become deeper and deeper.

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:1, topic:264381"]

How did you come to embrace Catholicism and

[/quote]

Strangely enough, it was the Blessed Virgin Mary. That friend of mine had sneakily snuck in a scapular under my mattress. I didn't know until about 1 year into my conversion. I imagine that she had something to do with it. I think it was the green scapular. (I am not so great with colors, so don't quote me on that.)

Catholicism and Judaism were the only religions that had the ability to reasonably answer the questions I had without resorting to any sacred texts. As an Atheist, I had always thought that IF I was wrong (and I was 100% sure I wasn't wrong), Catholicism or Judaism would be right. No other religion made sense, well, so to speak. The fact that these two religions believed in God was nonsensical to me. Just plain dumb... Well, you could only guess which one I rightfully picked. (I still have utmost respect for Judaism... So rich in culture and tradition.)

That and my friend's faith was by far stronger than any person I knew. Just unshakeable.

So, things that brought me into the Church:

  1. The grace of God
  2. Blessed Virgin Mary
  3. My friend's faith

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:1, topic:264381"]

were there any obstacles to the process?

[/quote]

Besides my stupidity (which I've lived with since birth)? Not that I can recall. The process did take me two years.

This is a REALLY rough and disorganized draft of the story of my journey.

I would be happy to answer questions. Be patient though. It may or may not take a while.


#4

[quote="Veronica97, post:2, topic:264381"]
This is not an answer to your question, but I too have loved ones who do not believe. I have been praying the rosary for them and lighting candles for them at Adoration. (But not for 10 years!) Can I ask if you have been praying the rosary as well? I've been praying for my dad, and my mom mentioned the other day that he talks in his sleep and one night he said, "Hell's Angels". Everyone else who heard her say that thought of the motorcycle gang. But I immediately thought about my prayers for him and wondered/hoped that God might be working on him in his sleep! I'm interested to hear what others have to say about praying for loved ones who are athiests or who don't seem to care much about religion.

[/quote]

I know this is lame, but I actually made up a scriptural "rosary" for unbelievers. (Although I don't know if it can be correctly called a rosary.) While believers can pray it for unbelievers, it can also be read and/or prayed by unbelievers. Some are open to trying to pray. Most aren't.

It is really dumb though(like its maker), but I like it.


#5

I would love to see your Scriptural rosary! Sounds like a wonderful idea to me!

:thumbsup:


#6

[quote="Veronica97, post:2, topic:264381"]
This is not an answer to your question, but I too have loved ones who do not believe. I have been praying the rosary for them and lighting candles for them at Adoration. (But not for 10 years!) Can I ask if you have been praying the rosary as well? I've been praying for my dad, and my mom mentioned the other day that he talks in his sleep and one night he said, "Hell's Angels". Everyone else who heard her say that thought of the motorcycle gang. But I immediately thought about my prayers for him and wondered/hoped that God might be working on him in his sleep! I'm interested to hear what others have to say about praying for loved ones who are athiests or who don't seem to care much about religion.

[/quote]

I have only recently resumed praying the rosary, well, a couple of years actually. I have become very gradually more and more traditional/orthodox and I find that returning to the familiar tools of my youth gives me a lot of strength and comfort.

GreggAlvarez mentioned a scapular, which I hadn't really considered because hiding one seems deceptive and I know my husband would consider it pure superstition and would never wear it. But I am rather tempted to get one and put it under his mattress or inside his pillow. Couldn't hurt, could it?

:shrug:


#7

I was an atheist from the age of about 12. I think I first declared myself an atheist in an RE class, where I had received a low mark for a test ( I was a very stubborn child!).

Prior to that I had been raised Church of England, my Mum's church, although my Dad was a lapsed Catholic.

I was still interested in religion as a sociological thing, and studied religion at college for my BA, concentrating on Eastern religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism.

When I reached my late 30s I started to think about faith and belief, why some people could feel God's presence in their lives and some could not. I had tried praying and felt empty. And then one day I walked past a Catholic church in the city of London - and something made me go in - maybe curiosity, I don't really know, but in I went and sat down in front of a large statue of Our Lady holding the infant Jesus out towards you as if presenting Him. I sort of thought in my head "ok, I'm going to start praying and I wonder if I will feel anything" and just at that moment a group of people started praying the Rosary! I moved over to sit behind them and the leader turned round and motioned to me to lead the next decade! I quietly slipped out while her back was turned, but found myself in a shop, buying a Rosary and a booklet on how to pray it.

I was nervous about going back to the church, but went in again and this time joined in the Rosary and strangely enough it all made sense. From that time I knew God was there, and that the Catholic Church was the right one - it has been there since the beginning.

I feel Our Lady opened the door for me, first with that statue showing her presenting the infant Christ, and secondly with that small group of people praying the Rosary.

I am convinced that the Rosary is a powerful tool in converting people and Juliane, I do hope that with God's help your husband will find his way to the Good Lord.

God bless you both.


#8

The Green Scapular is a “no brainer” and a “shoe in”.

Ten years after the manifestation of the Miraculous Medal to Sister Catherine Laboure in 1830, the Blessed Mother entrusted the Green Scapular of her Immaculate Heart to
Sister Justine Bisqueyburu, likewise a Daughter of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul.

Practices

  1. Wear or carry the scapular
  2. To help another, place it in their vicinity (i.e. their room, wallet, purse)
  3. Pray, at least daily: “Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death.”
  4. The prayer should be said for oneself and separately for each person to whom it has been given (unless they pray it themselves)
  5. No enrollment of any kind is necessary, but each scapular should be blessed by a priest (general blessing of sacramentals)
  6. Have trust in Mary’s promise.

"The GREATEST graces come from using the scapular but these graces come
in direct proportion to the degree of CONFIDENCE IN ME which the user has."
Mary’s own words.

Promises/Benefits

  1. Conversion of those who do not have the faith
  2. Reconciliation to the Church for those who have lost/strayed from the faith
  3. Assurance of a happy death
  4. Strengthening of the faith for those already in the Church
  5. Protection from Satan for those who wear or promote the scapular

Remind Our Lady each day that she promised and that you know she will make good.

Be faithful to the prayer. She didn’t say when, just that she promised it would happen.

Then he may look at the following website if he begins to have questions about the faith.

davidmacd.com/catholic/mary_in_the_bible.htm

“Yes, blessed is she who BELIEVED that the PROMISE made her by the Lord would be FULFILLED.”
(Lk. 1;45) St. Elizabeth extolling the absolute trust of Mary in God’s promise.


#9

I hope you don't mind if I cut and paste from my profile:

I was an observant Catholic until I became a teenager. I started having questions about organized religion that I wasn't able to answer, and I didn't have good resources. (I was too embarassed to talk to my parents, and back then there was no Internet.) By the time I started college, I considered myself an atheist. I stayed that way on and off for 30 years, while continuing to read the Bible "as literature."

Then, about a year ago, I was listening to some lectures on the history of Christian theology. They made me miss being a believer. Around the same time, I began to want for myself the same kind of direction that one of my Mormon co-workers seemed to have in his life.

I finally decided to stop resisting the call of the one true Church.


#10

I was an atheist all my life until a year ago. It was the lack of evidence and the problem of suffering that turned me away from God, and the way a lot of believers I knew were (mostly Protestants and Orthodox Jews, few Catholics) didn't help.

What changed me was seeing how bad moral relativism made the world. I knew there had to be a better way. When my mom (who had been a lapsed Catholic) went back into the Church, I followed her, and I knew that this was what I wanted to do. I was prepared to accept the whole thing on faith. I didn't find evidence until later. My "evidence" was "by their fruits you shall know them" before I knew that verse. I think God was calling me in a way I could understand. Then I got to know Him through prayer and tons of reading.

I knew from the start that I was in this for the long haul. One year later, here I am. I've quit the major sins, God is my best friend, and I can articulate the faith better than most cradle Catholics.


#11

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:5, topic:264381"]
I would love to see your Scriptural rosary! Sounds like a wonderful idea to me!

:thumbsup:

[/quote]

This is my non-finalized version. I imagine it will never be finalized. We shall see. I have yet to read the ENTIRE Bible for this stuff. I don't want to read it JUST for this though. Anyway, here is my work thus far.

Jeremiah 29:12-4
"Thus says the LORD: When you call me, when you go pray to me, I will listen to you. When you look for me, you will find me. Yes, when you seek me with all your heart, you will find me."

2 Kings 6:20
"O Lord, open their eyes that they may see."

  1. 2 Maccabees 7:28
    "I beg you, child, to look at the Heavens and the earth and all that is in them; then you will know that God did not make them out of existing things."

  2. Hebrews 11:1,3,6
    "Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. By faith, we understand that the universe was ordered by the Word of God, so that what is visible came into being through the invisible. But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for anyone who approaches God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him."

  3. 2 Corinthians 5:7 and 4:18
    "For we walk by faith and not by sight... as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal."

  4. John 20:24-9
    Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

  5. Revelations 22:13,17,21
    "Jesus said, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." Let the hearer say, "Come." Let the one who thirsts come forward, and the one who wants it receive the gift of life-giving water."

Rev. 22 (last verse, I forgot the number):"The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all."

The Jeremiah passage is said before the "Mysteries" and the Kings passage is said after each Glory Be. The last Revelations passage is said after the Hail, Holy Queen.

I like it. Most people probably wouldn't.

As with most rosaries, you could focus on your husband or whoever.

It is still a work in progress. I was going to put the first three verses of First John before each of the 3 Hail Mary's, but that is too much typing for a Blackberry. :)

I call it "Scriptural Rosary for Unbelievers and Doubters" even though it can certainly be used to increase your faith, more specifically, your beleif.

Anyway, enjoy! Or not enjoy!
Gregg


#12

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:6, topic:264381"]

GreggAlvarez mentioned a scapular, which I hadn't really considered because hiding one seems deceptive and I know my husband would consider it pure superstition and would never wear it. But I am rather tempted to get one and put it under his mattress or inside his pillow. Couldn't hurt, could it?

:shrug:

[/quote]

Well, I certainly would have thought the same exact thing had I known. But, I had no clue. Granted we weren't living together, so the circumstances were different. And deception is to make somebody believe something that is untrue, sometimes for personal and selfish gain.

I don't think that would be the case here.


#13

:yukonjoe::popcorn:


#14

Marking my place. Be back tomorrow!


#15

Thanks Gregg, for posting those quotes. What a brilliant idea! :)


#16

It's interesting that none of us former atheists who have responded so far were converted through argumentation or reasoning. Instead, it seems like we all came to our faith through experiences that made our hearts open to God's call. Maybe because reasoning is what got us into the downward spiral of atheism, we were not capable of being saved by reasoning.

:shrug:


#17

[quote="Langdell, post:16, topic:264381"]
It's interesting that none of us former atheists who have responded so far were converted through argumentation or reasoning. *Instead, it seems like we all came to our faith through experiences that made our hearts open to God's call. *
:shrug:

[/quote]

I'm following this thread with great interest. I've never been an atheist so I can't contribute from that perspective, but I have always believed that for many, if not most atheists, it is the experience of God that converts them. Because after all, God is not a system of principles we believe in, but a person. An encounter with Him is more powerful than any argument that we can come up with.


#18

[quote="Langdell, post:16, topic:264381"]
It's interesting that none of us former atheists who have responded so far were converted through argumentation or reasoning. Instead, it seems like we all came to our faith through experiences that made our hearts open to God's call. Maybe because reasoning is what got us into the downward spiral of atheism, we were not capable of being saved by reasoning.

:shrug:

[/quote]

I'm curious how many theists have been "converted" to atheism by reasoning.

It boggles my mind how someone can go from atheism to Catholicism. Atheism to Buddhism - sure. Atheism to deism - yep. Atheistic Jew to theistic Jew - yes, I can see that happening.

But atheism to Christianity? Toottttallly don't get it. Unless one wasn't really an atheist to begin with - perhaps a nontheist/apatheist though?

Were you guys really and truly atheists?


#19

[quote="samiam1611, post:18, topic:264381"]
I'm curious how many theists have been "converted" to atheism by reasoning.

It boggles my mind how someone can go from atheism to Catholicism. Atheism to Buddhism - sure. Atheism to deism - yep. Atheistic Jew to theistic Jew - yes, I can see that happening.

But atheism to Christianity? Toottttallly don't get it. Unless one wasn't really an atheist to begin with - perhaps a nontheist/apatheist though?

Were you guys really and truly atheists?

[/quote]

Hi samian

Like previous posters described it's a personal encounter with Christ , it's hard to describe if you've never experienced it. It will be like meeting a new person and then later being presented with a ton of evidence that he/she doesn't exist. It would be quite hard to deny their existence though since you MET them. I could honestly say that it would be easier to deny the existence of my cat that is next to me than to deny the existence of God at this point in my life.

I pray to God that one day you receive the same grace, then it will be quite easy to understand. In the meantime many blessing to you and to your cute dog.


#20

[quote="samiam1611, post:18, topic:264381"]
I'm curious how many theists have been "converted" to atheism by reasoning.

It boggles my mind how someone can go from atheism to Catholicism. Atheism to Buddhism - sure. Atheism to deism - yep. Atheistic Jew to theistic Jew - yes, I can see that happening.

But atheism to Christianity? Toottttallly don't get it. Unless one wasn't really an atheist to begin with - perhaps a nontheist/apatheist though?

Were you guys really and truly atheists?

[/quote]

Speaking only for myself, yes, I was really and truly an atheist. I participated regularly on atheist discussion boards and argued against belief in "a god or gods." I'm now sorry to say that I may have helped a few other people to become atheists.


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