Thank you all!
A few folks have asked me to share why I became Catholic/why I am not an atheist.
Many (most?) ex-Mormons become atheists/agnostics. This is an excellent blog post (the first of five) about how the LDS Church prepares its members for atheism. I think it is very accurate.
When I started to fall away from Mormonism as an adolescent, I became an agnostic. I was definitely not an atheist, I just truly did not know if there was a God. I was skeptical of other religions. It seemed like all of them were false but some had the luxury of being older than Mormonism and therefore less easy to disprove. I was very stuck on the idea of knowing rather than believing. It’s understandable if you have experienced a testimony meeting at an LDS Church. Indeed, I am very empathetic toward atheistic and agnostic people.
I was agnostic up until about three years ago. About four years ago I started dating my now husband who is a cradle Catholic. Things began to get more serious and I decided I should learn a little about Catholicism. Being born and raised LDS in east side Salt Lake City, I knew practically nothing. I bought “Catholicism for Dummies” and it was really helpful but a lot of it went over my head. So I ended up finding a parish that was starting inquiry the following week.
I slowly fell in love. I had to “unlearn” Mormonism and learn Christianity. It was difficult but intellectually and spiritually stimulating. I love the depth of Catholicism and how there are so many beautiful ways to live one’s faith. There is so much to learn and new ways to think about particulars of Catholicism. True questioning is welcome, disagreements are welcome, the Catholic faith is simply welcoming.
My husband was very standoffish when it came to me learning about the faith. He was so neutral about it that at times I thought he didn’t even care. It wasn’t until the Holy Thursday before the Easter Vigil when I was baptized that he finally said, “I am so excited that you are becoming Catholic!”
Everything about converting to Catholicism was no pressure and very open. When I read about the tactics LDS missionaries use to convert people, I cringe. All the good, bad, confusing, and bizarre facts about the Catholic Church and her history were laid out in front of us. The rationale was that we needed to know what family we were joining when we jumped in that font. It was so unlike Mormonism.
In hindsight, I feel like Catholicism has always been in my life in quiet and surprising ways. I especially think that St. Francis of Assisi, my confirmation saint, has prayed for me for a long time. When I was 10 years old, and still active in the Church, I took a little money to a bead store and bought an olive wood cross. I loved the symbol. Every time I wear my olive wood tau from Assisi, I think back on what I must have known deep down in my heart as a little girl. Maybe that’s silly but I think it is pretty incredible.