Question for former Protestants -- What was the major obstacle you had to overcome to become Catholic?

Hello all,
This thread is directed to Catholics who used to be Protestants who are happy you converted to Catholicism. I wanted to see if you could briefly share the following for my benefit.

Background:
I’m an evangelical Christian who has felt an intermittent tug in my spirit toward Catholicism since May of this year after I started listening to Catholic Answers. At this point I am still an inquirer and cannot promise I will ever make it to RCIA because I still struggle with certain Catholic beliefs, but I haven’t ruled it out because I have deep and abiding respect for the Catholic Church.

I love the Lord with all my heart and want to serve and live for Him daily. I am happy in my current faith tradition but feel something is missing but I can’t put my finger on it.

Questions:

  1. What were your main hurdles to becoming Catholic?

  2. How did you overcome Question 1?

  3. Outside of the Eucharist, which I know is a major difference, how was your spiritual journey enhanced through Catholicism?

  4. Name a couple of positive traits of your previous Protestant faith tradition that you miss or look back on fondly.

Feel free to answer one or all of these questions. My only request is that your answers be fairly concise if at all possible because I have A D D and have trouble concentrating on super lengthy replies. Much appreciated. :tiphat:

P.S. I am especially interested in questions #1 and #2 most of all.

Good question love to hear the answers.

Questions:
**

  1. What were your main hurdles to becoming Catholic?**

I had some sins in my life that I wasn’t ready to fully repent of and to attempt to fix.
**
2) How did you overcome Question 1?**

Frankly, I simply bit the bullet. I realized I had become rather convinced in my conscience that Catholicism is true, and I decided to take things one step at a time with RCIA.
**
3) Outside of the Eucharist, which I know is a major difference, how was your spiritual journey enhanced through Catholicism? **

Frankly, I was floored by how much I changed internally after receiving the Sacraments of Initiation. God graced me with many consolations, and I certainly never expected to perceive Faith, Hope, and Charity in my soul, but there they were!

A bit of time after my baptism, I remember sitting and looking at pictures of children in poor countries, and of simply weeping over them. To say I surprised myself was an understatement.

The Sacraments are absolutely wonderfu**l.

**Outside of the Sacraments, I would put things like having Doctrines and Dogmas which I can give assent to with full confidence. This helps me to keep focused on the important things, rather than obsessing over things like how predestination might really work.

I also love the Communion of Saints, Marian Devotion, and of knowing that all of those who are experiencing the Beatific Vision can pray for me.

Finally, the lives of the Saints, along with their beautiful works, especially the deep thinkers or the highly mystical.

All of these things have helped tremendously, and they are just the beginning.**

  1. Name a couple of positive traits of your previous Protestant faith tradition that you miss or look back on fondly. **

This may sound silly, but the only thing I truly miss are the awesome Bibles that Protestants have access to, but which a Catholic can’t make full use of since they’re incomplete. I don’t want to pay 115 dollars for a Bible that relegates the Deuterocanon to an “Apocrypha” subsection, but I would pay that much for a beautiful Catholic Bible. :slight_smile:

A friend of mine once described an answer to your questions 3 and 4 like this:

*Imagine that Christianity is a big, beautiful pool. Yes, there may be some individuals like Corrie Ten Boom who are diving into it from the high dives, and others who are wading in the shallow end. But I always thought I was right there in the deep, swimming around like a serious swimmer should.

But then I read the lives of the saints, and I learned that Christianity isn’t a pool, it’s an entire ocean, and I’ve barely got my feet wet.
*
As Fr. Dwight Longenecker says, Catholicism is just “more Christianity” than Protestantism, and entering the Church doesn’t feel like you’ve given something up, but like you’ve finally found what you’ve been looking for all the time in mere types and shadows.

Ugh. Forgive me for not being concise. As you can tell from my first answers, I started out trying to do that! :stuck_out_tongue:

You did fine, InNomineDomini. Thanks for the reply and the insights. If I may ask, how many years have you been Catholic at this point?

Were there any doctrinal hurdles that you had to overcome?

Oh sure: my view at the time that I started wrestling with Catholicism was that the Reformed Tradition was the Gospel, and that Catholicism had abandoned the Gospel for a man-made treadmill of Sacraments and works.

So my issues revolved around the theology of Salvation as taught by the Catholic Church, versus what I thought was clearly taught in the Bible.

I also felt that there were good arguments against the other, standard things that Protestants feel Catholics get wrong: veneration of saints and images, Mary, the Papacy, the Real Presence, views of what the Church Fathers really taught.

But the first thing to really start to crumble for me doctrinally, was how I felt that a Protestant could defend sola Scriptura along with answer the question of whether or not we need an infallible Church to define for us what is or isn’t canonical Scripture.

If you’re familiar with James White, he defends sola Scriptura by invoking a concept he calls sola Ecclesia. He attempts to show that there are two ultimate authorities on the table in discussions between Catholics and Protestants: either Scripture or Church. He then tries to show that Catholics rely **only **on the Church – even when they attempt to argue from Scripture or Tradition – and has various ways of trying to refute this understanding.

Anyway, I thought the argumentation was wonderful, but then I started to find some holes in it, which led to me having more of an open mind with regard to some other doctrines.

My main obstacle was my prejudiced Protestant southern family and the ridiculous things they thought were true about Catholicism.
At first I joined the Episcopal church to try to preserve peace in the family. But my family was church of Christ Campbellites, and of course they thought they were the only Christians. So I went “whole hog” and became Catholic.

It cost my family relationship. I was disowned and disinherited.

Thanks for sharing the detail on that, InNomineDomini. I appreciate it.

I’m sorry to hear about the family division your conversion caused, andrewstx. You must be a very strong person to endure that. I pray that someday their love for you will outweigh any faith differences. It’s not like you converted to a non-Christian religion.

Note: Forgive my ignorance, but I have no idea who the Campbelites are, although I know folks who are Church of Christ, if they are related.

I became a Catholic this year and I’m now 56 years old, previously brought up in the Church of England.

  1. Main hurdles - the reason I left it so long was mostly because I was with someone for many years who was vehemently anti-Catholic, so I never took it any further - it would have caused me great difficulties on top of the ones I already had. I attended a Catholic church quite often when I was a young woman, sat quietly at the back and always liked being there. But for about 20 years, I attended no church at all.

  2. How did I overcome the hurdles - my personal circumstances changed when I was in my late 40s, so I decided to return to church attendance. I tried an Anglo-Catholic church for a while, but it was sparsely-attended and the priest had some unconventional views. I then decided to attend RCIA. I only contacted the priest the day before the course started last year, so it was a last-minute decision in the end, but one I have not regretted. I have had full support from my (small) family and non-Catholic (but Christian) husband.

  3. How has my spiritual journey been enhanced - I love the structure of Catholicism, the mystical elements of the faith, Marian devotions, the enthusiasm of the parishioners, the welcome I’ve had and the wisdom of our wonderful priest. All of that (and a lot more) has made me feel that I belong and that I am part of something which has continued unbroken for thousands of years. This has made me more spiritually-focused and I want to find out more and more.

  4. Positive things I miss about Protestantism - the music (my childhood church had a wonderful choral tradition) and the familiarity of a service you have attended for many years. However, the first is not really an issue and the second is becoming less of an issue the more I attend Mass!

We live for 5 months of the year in Italy and so I also attend Mass there, in a language which I don’t really understand and with a very different culture. But I manage. :slight_smile:

I’ll list the big doctrinal hurdles that I had to overcome.

**1) Catholic specialness
**
I was under the impression that Catholics condemned Protestants as automatically going to hell or being unChristian. When an acquaintance actually showed me what the Catechism said about non-Catholics (“Wounds to Unity”), I had to reconsider my opinion of Catholicism in general. That was the start of it.

**2) Papal infallibility
**
Especially since it was declared late in the history of the church, the dogma of Papal infallibility looks to most Protestants like the RCC is shutting its eyes to the possibility that its leaders and teachers are even capable of making mistakes–this is still something you see pop up from sincere Catholics who honestly believe that the Church can never be wrong about something important.

To overcome this hurdle, I had to actually meet Catholic scholars and theologians who were capable of putting this particular dogma into historical perspective for me.

**3) Marian doctrines
**
It’s weird, okay–the amount of veneration directed at Mary can be especially unsettling to Protestants, because they remember the verse in the Bible where someone starts to celebrate Jesus’ mother (“Blessed be the paps that gave thee suck”) and Jesus corrects the speaker. The stuff about Mary’s assumption (dogma 1950s) might have roots in 2nd century church teaching, but if it were absent, who would it hurt? Most Protestants are under the impression that this is superfluous veneration.

To overcome this hurdle, I had to come to a new understanding and appreciation of Mary as a typological icon of the Church, and as a positive and powerful female presence with which Catholic women and men can identify–Protestant theology is very male-centric, in large part because they cut out all the women. The prominence of Mary in Catholicism is an excellent counter to the masculine tendency to suppress the positive role of women in religion.

**4) The cult of the saints
**
Also weird–praying to dead people? But they’re alive, aren’t they? Once you put aside the traditional Protestant bias against including the saints in your prayer life (honestly, there is no real good reason NOT TO–you believe in God and heaven but you can’t believe that people in heaven with God can hear you?) As a Protestant I found praying to saints to be superfluous theology, and today I still pray straight to Jesus (God) most of the time—but I found myself praying to my patron saint the other day for the first time. Until you experience this kind of spiritual communion, it is hard to appreciate.

**5) The shadow of the backwards Magisterium
**
There is a wing of the Catholic church that is closed to things like practical inquiry, innovation, critical scholarship, etc. I used to think this was something unique to Catholicism, but as my studies led me to question my own Protestant traditions, it became obvious to me that the conservative impulse to protect tradition at the expense of growth is something that is characteristic of human beings across all religions–Protestant, Catholic, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim… even Atheist–they all have conservative branches and liberal branches…

And so I came to the startling conclusion that Catholicism was the right church for me, because although there are millions of active conservatives in the Church who are threatened by the things I find fascinating, the same Catholic church has a rich tradition and history of theological innovation that spans centuries, and is still consistent with the fundamental preaching of the evangelical gospel. The best original theology originates with the Catholic church. I am allowed to ask questions, to investigate history and the Bible, and still am welcomed in my parish community as a good Christian–there are some Protestant traditions where this is forbidden.

I have big problems and big questions–the Catholic Church has the best resources and enduring answers. I just had to set aside my prejudices and investigate.

What I miss about Protestantism: I miss only the people I had to leave behind.

How has Catholicism enhanced my spiritual journey? Immeasurably. Confession and penance = accountability; Eucharist = actually encountering Christ, not just memorializing him; theology = so much richer; history = so much deeper; community = so much broader; priests = so much better… it’s a long list. Good luck with your discernment process. RCIA can take awhile, but it’s a worthwhile journey.

Hello, Isca. I am also 56. :). I heard that the Catholic Mass is basically the same in all countries, whether it be England or Italy. Has heat been your experience, also?

To 1newcatholic, it’s like you were reading my mail. :wink:

I struggle to varying degrees with your points 1-4, mainly #3 and #4, along with the requirement to confess to a priest as opposed to confessing directly to God through Christ.

I realize priests are godly men who do the Lord’s work, especially in the areas of administering the sacraments, accountability via the confessional, counseling, proclaiming God’s Word, etc, but I don’t see why a person can’t just confess his sins directly to God through Christ in the quietness of his living room or while he is driving in his car alone, etc, as I have done.

I realize there is a God and I am not Him so I might be wrong, but these are long-held and strong beliefs that are not easily undone. I would never want to start RCIA unless I was “All In”, so to speak.

Campellites is the name a lot of people who don’t belong to the “church of Christ” call “church of Christ” members. It is because the so called “churches of Christ” was founded by a father and son named Campbell. There we others but they were less important.

Members of this denomination which won’t admit they are a denomination often believe they are the only Christians to exist, and will be the only people in heaven.

As for family relations, they have died, without family ties restored. Their sect was much more important than any love they may have felt for me.

My Father is an Episcopal Priest. As such I got a small taste of Catholicism. I lamented not being Catholic for years.

I hate to say this, but the thread calls for it. My biggest obstetrical was what I call “the Jesus of the Southern Baptists.” Let me add, I do know some wonderful Baptists that are fantastic Christians, but overall, what I heard from them was fear, and sanctimony. I ran into so many mean unchristian like Christians. Over time, I began to judge Christianity and eventually…sadly… our Lord by these followers.

I was a ship with no harbor. I refer to this long period of my life as “wandering the desert.” I tried other religions and faiths, and nothing really filled the void. I always watched the Catholic Church, it never left my eye. I liked Pope Paul VI but it was not till Pope Francis, not the doctrinal press interpretations on liberal issues, but rather his message of hope, acceptance, love, charity, and most importantly, his focus on the poor and the helpless that drew me in.

He was not interested in gilded trappings, rather he was Mother Theresa meets the Vatican. That is all it took. I read books, attended Mass, visited different churches. I liked what I saw. I felt the true presence of Christ in Perpetual Adoration. The people and the Priests were wonderful. I felt at home.

Gone were all the billboards flames and threats. Gone was all the bitterness I had felt over the years. The year in OCI flew by. The so called traditional Catholics, the so called Liberal Catholics, none of that stuff bothers me because while I might not agree with all of my brother Catholics, I do agree with the teachings of the Church, and there is no arguing with the feelings I have when I pray the Rosary, when I spend time with the Lord in the Chapel, when I unburden myself after confession.

I may not always be a happy camper… but I am a very happy Catholic!:knight1::highprayer::knight1:

Andrew, thanks for explaining further on the Campellites. I have a brother who married a church of Christ lady and they attend there, and our family has visited that church before when on vacation in their town. The main aspect that I thought was a little odd compared to mine was no musical instruments of any kind, but I’ve only attended there a couple of times.

I feel badly that your family relations couldn’t be restored before they passed away. That must be very painful and I appreciate your candor in sharing that. I pray that the Lord would ease any lingering pain from that in your life.

PS: One thing more, too important not to mention. Under the Baptist scenario you can grievously sin on Thursday and be totally forgiven Sunday, no strings attached.

In the Catholic Scenario, you must truly be sorry, and if you keep doing it, even if you later repent, confess and are forgiven, there is a chance that you will have to shovel some coal down in purgatory for a while, reflect on the harm you have done, and THEN go to Heaven.

There are no free rides, you get your medicine, but you also get Heaven. This makes sense to me, the other system… just doesn’t, not to me.

PPS: To any of you good Baptists out there or former Baptists, again, I know some great Baptists, and I know that there is much good in the Protestant Church, I mean no harm, these are just my personal feelings and answer to the thread.

Hi esieffe,
I think I remember you recounting your “offering” story a number of months ago involving your mother’s first visit to your parish. Didn’t it involve a snake or something? That was a hoot, if that was you. :smiley:

I apologize if that wasn’t you.

By the way, we attended a Southern Baptist Church for a few years when my wife taught at a Baptist-run school and it was a requirement to attend there. We had a good overall
experience there and met a lot of solid and decent Christian folks with good hearts, although they had their share of people who thought the Baptist way was the best thing going in Christianity.

:rotfl:

I may have posted something about snakes before, but certainly nothing in conjunction with my mother or a visit to a church. I might have been surprised that there weren’t snakes in a couple of places, but so far, the only place I have been in that had snakes is a zoo.

I take that back. At the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta’s Mountain mountain retreat, there were a few black racers [rat snakes] that would invade the Chapel from time to time, but they were just there to get out of the heat, not to bite unbelievers!

Sorry about that, esieffe. The story I remember a Catholic from the south sharing on CAF was about the first time his Baptist mother agreed to go with him to his parish for Mass.

She was so freaked out and nervous about going that he couldn’t resist teasing her by telling her to watch out because Catholics put a snake in the offering bucket and to be careful when she passed the offering to the next person because it might jump out and bite her, or something to that effect. Sorry for thinking somehow that that was you who told that story.

Come to think of it, that kind of sounds like my sense of humor. :smiley:

That’s a fair point, though I think most priests would tell you that you can still speak privately with God.

Whether or not there are other ways to do it, I’ve found the actual structure of confession to be very good for my positive spiritual development. There is something powerful about speaking with another human being about who you actually are, and the process of confession is an ideal opportunity to take real stock of what is actually going on in your soul.

Without the sacrament of penance (confession) I would probably be doing what I used to do–sweeping all those little petty sins under the rug, along with the big ones, and say a simple prayer and pretend that I had unburdened myself, when in reality I had done no such thing; it was an insufficient practice, and I made very little progress.

RCIA or not, good luck :slight_smile:

Fair enough, 1newcatholic. I respect and appreciate your insights and you taking the time to help me better understand things. I had never looked at it from that perspective before.

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