This is my first post and it may get lengthy, so please bear with me.
I was born and raised Catholic: I’ve received all the sacraments save for vocational ones and Annointing of the Sick (I’m only 20, after all). Before college, I was active in my local parish in altar serving and youth ministries, and still participate in events at the church when I’m home.
Now to the fun part. I was very feverently Catholic through 8th grade, and for a decent part of my first half of high school. In 9th grade, I joined an after school group at my high school dedicated to reading and learning from the Bible, Christian doctrine, etc. I joined without (fully) realizing the group was explicitly Protestant, but enjoyed the community and teaching, and thus continued going. Near the end of 10th grade, I thought I got “saved,” but in retrospect, it seems more plausible I received something along the lines of Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
This is where things get weird for me. I’m well aware of the central tenets which split Catholics and Protestants: sola fide, saintly intercession, purgatory, Real Presence (though this seems to come up less often, which I find to be a bit strange), et al. I understand these on a general level, but attempts to Google the matters deeper seem to just bring forth angry forum arguments online (hence my posting here; Catholic Forums has proven to be one of the most tamed, reasonable, and reliable places to pose a question such as this). In spite of these differences, however, I find it hard to see a distinction in my worship and walk with God, be it in a Catholic or Protestant setting. I have little doubt that God has spoken to me since that moment in 10th grade. The Holy Spirit explicitly confirmed things to me in prayer regarding my senior year, including my acceptance to my current college before I even sent in the application. On one occasion a few months ago I heard Him speak something to me in prayer that was reiterated verbatim by someone praying for me at the same moment (in a Pentecostal church, for what it’s worth).
Still, I’ve seen similar things in the Catholic Church. My home parish has a strong charismatic community: I’ve witnessed demons cast out, seen healing prayer (even in my mother to an extent), and heard speaking in tongues at least since I was six years old (didn’t realize it until I was 16, though…:shrug:) (I also speak in tongues in prayer at times); Jesus said “no kingdom divided against itself will stand,” so these would have to be VERY elaboarte deceptions by Satan were they fake. Speaking of which, I’m absolutely sure no demonic influence has taken over my life.
I’ve witnessed the tremendous power of prayer in both circles. I have an extreme gratitude and respect for the liturgical tradition of Catholicsm, as it first taught me to have reverence for the things of God, but it was ventures into Protestantism that first emphasized for me the need for devotion to Christ on a personal/relational level. And it doesn’t help that for years people have pushed for me to enter vocational life/be a pastor (I’d have dedicated myself to the priesthood when I was 12 if priests could marry). I’ve been told “Le Salut est personnel” by my mother (not an express endorsement for conversion, btw; the topic hasn’t really come up at home), and heard from my closer Protestant friends/“mentors” that denomination doesn’t matter so long as my focus is on Christ (again, strange; not your typical internet-brand-“the Pope is Antichrist”-evangelicals), but even if it’s that simple it bugs me, and has for quite a few years now. I figured it was about time to see what the fine Forum folk had to say.
So to get to the heart of this post: if the Catholic Church (alone) is Christ’s church, how is it that I could receive such a great grace as this outside of the Church? I haven’t done enough research to clearly discern this matter, but I want to at least hear what people have to say so I can consider it. Thanks.