I am a potential converting Catholic and currently attending RCIA classes with my husband.
I grew up Protestant, largely non-denominational, with exposure to a vast spectrum of churches and practices, from speaking in tongues/slaying the the spirit to no musical instruments in worship. I attended a Christian middle school, high school and college. I myself “accepted Christ” when I was 8 or 9 at a Vacation Bible School. It was not a big experience, it just happened to be the moment I decided that I ought to do the right thing and raised my hand when asked if I wanted to be “saved”. A lady said a prayer with me that I repeated, and tada, I was now officially considered a Christian.
As I grew, I just wanted to be a good person and do the things I was supposed to. Even at a young age, I instinctively felt that there was some sort of supernatural presence in the world, and since my community was largely Christian, I naturally accepted the Christian faith as the proper definition and outlet for that belief in a supernatural.
My first serious questioning in late high school/college stemmed from an authentic desire to understand God more. In seeking to understand (and be a “better Christian”), I allowed myself to question so that I could deepen my beliefs. What instead ended up happening was that, once I began being honest with myself, I realized that I did not actually believe in the Christian faith. I instinctively believed in a God, yes, but I did not necessarily have that same belief for the figure of Jesus, that the Bible was the sole document we should use to guide our lives, and of Christianity in general. But at the time, I did not know enough about other religions to feel that any of them were more right than any others. I grew to see all religions as different paths to the same ultimate goal.
In college and young adulthood, I probably was more of an agnostic than anything else, though I seldom claimed that title. I still respected all my Christian friends and family and was not interested in rocking the boat and trying to challenge them on their faith. If anything, I wished I could still be naive and believe in something.
However, after getting married 9 yrs ago to a man with a similar background (protestant upbringing but now uncertain) and especially since having our first child 3 yrs ago, my husband and I have had a longing to find a religion to belong to. Over the past few years, I’ve come to really appreciate the Catholic religion for several reasons:
- its views on marriage, family, and openness to life
- its consistency and the hierarchy of authority
- its history, traditions, rituals, and sacraments
- it seems to be more acceptable for members to have inward doubts as long as they continue to lead devout outwardly lives
- that salvation and conversion into the Church is based on more than just a singular emotional experience of ‘accepting Jesus as lord and savior’
I think I’d really like to be a Catholic. HOWEVER, I have a very analytical mind and I have a hard time 100% believing some of the following Catholic teachings. This is not to say that I don’t understand why the Church teaches these things and I do and can respect these teachings, however, I seem unable to bring myself to accept them as absolutely true.
- I don’t get why the Eucharist is believed to be the PHYSICAL blood/body of Christ instead of just a sacred representation. The chemical composition of the bread and wine do not change.
- I know it’s a very core belief that Mary was a virgin, but I’ve always secretly wondered if the whole thing was just a ruse to cover an out-of-wedlock conception. I feel like we have no way to really know what happened. I go along with the Christian view and of Mary’s virginity, but I’ve never 100% believed it, nor fully understood why Jesus, a human afterall, could not have been conceived through sexual relations.
- This is kind of the big one, but I don’t believe in the utmost importance of Jesus. I very much accept the notion of the Judeo-Christian God, and do believe that a man named Jesus lived and most likely came to fulfill God’s prophecy. I understand and accept the notion of the Trinity, but am I much more interested in and feel connected to the all-encompassing God as a whole, rather than to the individual Father, Son, Holy Spirit components.
Whew. Ok, with all that said, what I’m wondering is if it is even possible for me to become a Catholic? I’m a person who is on an honest journey to find where I religiously and spiritually belong and what I’d like to raise my family in, but I’m a person who doubts many things. However, in my doubts, I’m also able to outwardly accept and abide by things that I inwardly question. I have a great respect for Catholicism. But - should I even continue down this path of RCIA classes when I know that there are some things that I will never 100% believe?
I am exhausted from searching different religions and really just want a place to land. I have also considered Judaism, however, considering my Christian upbringing, it would probably be hard on my friends/family to accept that conversion and I’d rather not put them through that. Catholicism, while still strange to them, would at least be more tolerated. Also, we live in L.A. and my husband works in the film industry and we have many non-practicing Jewish friends, and I almost feel like perusing Judaism would look as though we are just trying to be cool and fit in…as strange as that sounds to consider when looking into religions, I know, but it is still a large consideration.
Any advice or help or anyone been in this same place of not knowing what religion to land in? (and thanks so much CAF for allowing discussion of this sort to be discussed here) I appreciate any responses and thank you in advance!