Need a little advice/help with discernment


#1

Hi! I have been away from the church for a few years and am currently a member of a Lutheran church. Lately, I have been feeling convicted about a possible return to the RCC. I did not grow up Catholic. I converted in my early 20’s but lapsed shortly thereafter. I tried returning once or twice before with no success and now feel like a complete flake. I am well established in my current church, so I feel like I need some really huge reason to move again and I feel like telling my friends and family “I don’t know, I just feel like God wants this” will come across as really lame.I know I don’t need the approval of others to do God’s will, but I guess I need to articulate something for my own benefit as well. Any help you might have for me will be most appreciated. Prayers are welcome as well.

Thanks!


#2

It sounds to me like you already have the conviction to return.

I can tell you that the Catholic Church has the actual Eucharist that becomes the Body and Blood of Christ. The Lutheran Church does not, even if she does believe in consubstantiation.

I’m guessing that there is something that is keeping you away. Is it just the opinions of friends and family? Are you having trouble believing and/or following a teaching?

It sounds like maybe you need to learn more about what the Church actually does teach. Some parishes have programs for returning Catholics. You could probably attend the inquiry classes at a local Catholic Parish. They are usually geared toward RCIA participants but they can be just as useful for others who want to know more about their faith. Maybe you could pick up a copy of Catholicism for Dummies.


#3

I went to a Protestant church for a few years (though I grew up/ was raised Catholic), and like you, felt something pulling me back to the Catholic faith. I did so, and I am SO GLAD that I did. It’s been the best decision I’ve ever made! However, I didn’t realise how right the decision to return was until after I’d returned. You’re in my prayers.


#4

Consider attending a Catholic retreat - Cursillo or something like that. It might help you better articulate why you are drawn to the Church. You should also think about why you lapsed shortly after you converted. Why are things different today?


#5

Thanks for your reply, smhw. Going in paragraph order:

  1. I have a conviction, but it is somewhat vague. I realize that this sounds like a contradiction in terms. I suppose it is simply that I have erred before and no longer trust myself. I also am afraid to rush into a decision.

  2. How do I back up your point about the Real Presence not being present, for lack of a better term, in the Lutheran church? I’m going to have to talk with people about this eventually and I need to be able to really answer, not just recite a talking point.

  3. What’s keeping me away? The first thing was that I moved to the suburbs and my new parish could easily have been a mainline protestant church in architecture and liturgy which led to a lukewarm, why-am-I-here feeling. The second was that I wanted to take birth control pills (I no longer have an issu with contraception), and I decided to go back to being a protestant rather than be a cafeteria Catholic, which felt dishonest. My relatives were supportive of my Catholicism, with the exception of my mother who was VERY anti-Catholic. She has now passed away, unfortunately, but I was never able to truly defy and her dislike of the Church undermined my faith greatly.

I’m very close to coming back. I think my main problems right now are first, not wanting to disrupt my family or confuse my children and second, I really love my current church family and am afraid of losing friendships. Have any more advice?

Thanks for your prayers!

Stephanie:)


#6

You might try reading a few books like Rome Sweet Rome by Scott and Kimberly Hahn, and Patrick Madrid’s series, Surprised by Truth. Good conversion stories.


#7

One more thing - You said you wanted to contracept. You will need to reconcile yourself to that teaching of the church, even though you no longer personnally contracept. It might help to listen to Contraception, Why Not by Janet Smith. You can get this CD for free from OneMoreSoul.com (may be .org)


#8

I also said that I had gotten over the desire to contracept.


#9

My mistake. That’s what I get for speed reading!


#10

Hi Stephanie, I hope my thoughts will help you. Since paragraph order seems to be working lets stick with it.

Jesus suggests that we ought to “count the cost” of discipleship before taking such a big step (Luke 14:25-33) so I think you are wise to be cautious before you return to the Catholic Church. But please don’t let your caution turn into procrastination.

There should be lots of information on the Catholic Answers apologetics site. (See the “Faith” tab at the top of the web page.) There is also a lot of discussion about the Eucharist in the Liturgy and Sacraments forum and probably in the apologetics forum. I’m not sure how many deal with transubstantiation versus consubstantiation. I’m trying to find some good things for you to read and will post when I find them. The gist of the matter is that Lutherans do not have a valid priesthood so Lutheran pastors are unable to confect the Eucharist.

Please don’t let architecture and poor liturgy keep you away. Perhaps there is a different Catholic Church that you can attend. The good thing is that Lutherans and Catholics both share a liturgical heritage. And when you study that liturgical heritage you learn that heritage is Catholic. I’m guessing that you don’t want to have your family going to different services and your children may be learning some things that contradict Catholic teachings. Yes, that can be tough. You may need to start out attending Mass on a Saturday evening or very early on Sunday for a while.

My husband was a nominal Lutheran when we first met but he eventually converted to Catholicism. At first he was very resistent toward even attending a Catholic Church but he eventually would attend with me. What finally brought him into the Church was his desire to receive communion. I think that is what eventually draws many Anglicans, Lutherans, and Methodists into the Catholic Church. I suggest that you and your entire family make it a point to learn what your Lutheran Church believes. That’s what my husband did. It turns out he had a lot of misconceptions about what Lutherans believe. And many of the things he was surprised to learn turned out to be rather “Catholic”. When he found out he was supposed to believe things that Catholics believe he figured why not just become Catholic.


#11

Stephannie,

You can’t go wrong with the books above, especially Scott Hahn’s conversion story (you can purchase the CD/tape from this website). Otherwise, these two websites are specifically for you:

chnetwork.org/ - The Coming Home Network
www.catholicscomehome.org

Marcus Grodi hosts a show where people share their stories about converting / reverting to the Catholic Faith (EWTN.com, radio), it helps when you can hear someone’s story and realize you are in the same place, having the same questions and hear how they made the transition. Be Not Afraid! It is the Holy Spirit prompting you. If family reactions are setting you back, then ponder these questions on your own, research on your own (like you are now) and don’t be afraid to seek out a Catholic Priest to share some of your concerns with. You could even go to Mass and sit in the back. While you won’t be able to receive the Eucharist, there are no rules about sitting in on a Mass and getting back in touch with Our Lord humbling Himself in the Real Presence of bread and wine before you during the sacrifice of the Mass. Having a conversation with our Lord in front of the Tabernacle will also be very beneficial. Know you will be in my prayers as are all converts, its not an easy thing leaving what you know, but the fullness of what you are journeying back to will surpass any fleeting emotion expressed by your family/friends.


#12

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