Should I become a Catholic even though I still doubt?

#1

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! :slight_smile:

#2

Possible? Yes. It is possible for anyone to become Catholic. But you will have to discard much of what you believe and come to accept what the Church teaches. Either the Catholic Church is the authentic Church built by Christ or it is not. If it is, it received Christ’s own authority and is guided by the Holy Spirit into “all truth”. That is what should draw you; the truth. Seek it, find it, conform your life to it and put the rest by the side of the road.

Peace.

Steve

#3

The Catholic Church as you have noticed is ok with doubts.

We as Catholics don’t have to believe EVERYTHING…but there is much we must at least accept.

If you had an issue here and there but were willing to accept it would be ok.

I am concerned for you because the things you are having a problem with …the REAL presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the divinity and importance of Christ etc etc…these are HUGE, main teachings on the church. I don’t think it would be possible for you to be confirmed catholic and you certainly could not receive the eucharist since you do not believe in the real presence.

The church is here to help you (and if you want to talk through some things…please don’t hesitate here). You do not have to leave RCIA…you can still stay for study purposes in the hopes you can one day accept these truths. I’ve known many who have entered RCIA and did not become confirmed catholics for several years.

Lastly, I can appreciate your spiritual search and I wish you a wonderful journey that will bring you to peace and truth. I noticed in your post that you were dependant on what others thought for what you chose as your religion. This has nothing to do with them…it’s you and God and you have the obligation to follow truth wherever you find it to the best of your ability…not what makes you comfortable, not what is easiest, not what others want or what fits your lifestyle. We need to follow truth and our conscience.

If you need any help in understanding… I’m here with all I’ve got to help.

God bless

#4

I became a Catholic a few years ago from a Pentecostal background.

Before I made my decision, I asked myself a few important questions which helped me make my decision. They are:

[LIST=1]
*]Why am I considering this route? It is because people are encouraging me and I want to become part of “the club” so to speak? Or is this the right path for me?
*]Am I changing denominations because I was hurt by the people inside the denomination, I belonged to? If yes, why am I hurting? What is the anger or frustration that I am feeling?
*]Am I choosing this route because I believe the Eucharist is the real body and blood of Christ? If not do I believe in it?
*]What do I not like about the Protestant church I belonged to?
*]What do I not like about the Catholic church?
*]What do I like about the Protestant Church? Catholic church?
*]Where do I find peace and I feel like I can communicate best with my God?
*]What do I understand and what do I not understand?
*]What do I believe?
*]What is calling me to this church?
[/LIST]
There were just a small selection of questions, I asked myself. But I think they are worth while investigating and asking yourself.

Furthermore, I am wondering if also it might be helpful if you and your husband got into some spiritual direction? Before I made the decision to become Catholic, I was in spiritual direction for about a year and then a year heading into my decision. It has been a few years now and I still attend spiritual direction very now and then. I found that spiritual direction gave me a safe place to explore the questions I was asking, address my concerns and it helped me figure out what I believed.

The decision to become Catholic is a big step and you don’t have to make it right away. Plus it is uncommon but it does happen, but if you do decide to join, sometimes you can even join the church on a day that isn’t Easter Vigil which means you don’t have to let that important date dictate when you have to make a decision or when you will join the church. Sometimes people will join the church on a special occasion or a feast.

If you have questions, please send me a line.

Good luck,

SG

#5

The Holy Trinity does indeed represent an all-encompassing deity.

God the Father is the creator, Jesus Christ, is the savior, and the Holy Spirit is the giver.

Creator ----- Universe and angels
Christ ----- Human beings
Holy Spirit ----- mysterious essence which governs the ways of life

:hmmm: We human beings help fulfill God’s omnipresence. Since we are made in God’s image and likeness, then we ourselves have a divine nature. Since we have a divine nature. We are direct children of God himself, and therefore, we are God’s love and God is in all of us, especially when we unite ourselves with him via the Eucharist: the full extent of this unification.

Heaven, according to the Church, is not an actual place, but a state of mind in which one beholds the beatific vision of God. That being said, when one person enters Heaven, the entire universe lights up, and God’s all-encompassing existence and love is vastly multiplied.

:thumbsup: If one focuses his or her thoughts on Heaven and its eternal things, then that person, in a certain sense, is already in Heaven.

Source: catholic.com/quickquestions/is-heaven-a-place-or-only-a-state-of-mind

#6

You need to read John Chapter 6. Jesus lays it all out right there and many followers deserted him when he said it. It is a mystery.

  • 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.

If it did not happen then there would be no telling of the event in the bible. Why go to such an elaborate story when it wasn’t necessary? The dove and the voice of God after his baptism would have been enough to establish Jesus as son of God.

  • 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.

This shouldn’t be a problem since you believe in the Trinity.

Mother Teresa struggled with her own beliefs in God and the teaching of the Church. I have never known any one that doesn’t struggle with their faith and all the issues of Catholic faith. All I am concerned about is the teaching authority of the Church and the Nicene Creed.

#7

rjg99. Yes you may come into His church anytime. Remember, you’r comming for Him and what He has offerd to ALL (Yes, it’s still here). Don’t bother to listen to any negative post! I would recommend RICA for sure, It will help you understand a few things that “they” (Protestants) rejected. Come and taste. Fell free to send person reply ok. I do see your honesty and dedication and wanting to seek something more. I KNOW you will find a home, and learn/discover Someone that came and offered to the “world” a Way to Him. I hope you come and will taste, follow it though with Faith in His Offering He gave us…Take your time, and don’t rush into the Church ok…

About your doubt, don’t worry about it…per say, It shall be removed in time…
Just come and taste! Worship/acknowledgement/Humble Heart…watch what He can do for YOU! Once you have sensed His Presence, follow the Churches teachings, and seek all the “Sacrements”…Keep your ears open to His voice…

Peace Be With You!

#8

rjg99…The Eucharist… I understand your “understaning” and it’s ok…Come and taste His way…Not all will be allowed into His Kingdom…Understanding sometimes means pictures…Come…LIsten to your Heart ok…You can always leave on your own…I do understand doubt, do not think I do not! for I know “who” cast into hearts…You have tasted “them”…and now you have an “oppertunity” to come “tatse” Something meaningful!
Come Here Sister!

Peace

#9

rjg99a;12443400

I think I’d really like to be a Catholic…

  • 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.

We accept it by faith.

When Christ said at the original last supper “This is my body” and “This is my blood”, he was speaking as God in the flesh. So when He said “Eat my flesh” and “Drink my blood”, there was a divine, transcendent quality to His command. He wasn’t merely human. If He had been merely human, then indeed it would have been no more than a purely symbolic gesture. But He was God the Son, and as such His statement had a spiritual input, like cursing the fig tree - it withered to the roots in a few hours. When fig trees die naturally, they wither, but nowhere near as fast as that. His curse had a transcendent quality.

It’s a bit like “My words will never die away” (which is a pretty bold assertion for someone to make who is later going to be crucified as a criminal in a backwoods village in a huge Roman Empire). And they haven’t died away, and never will. Because He was and is God.

The bread and wine don’t taste any different, don’t look any different, and would not test one bit different from their unblessed counterparts if examined in a lab, but we believe the Holy Spirit comes upon them and makes them holy.

  • 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.

Mary’s virginity has been a core belief in the Church since the earliest days, when the memory of events was much fresher. The reference to Christ’s brothers can easily be explained by the extant practice of including cousins and the like as brothers.

If God can make a universe from nothing, He’s not going to have any trouble fertilising an ova. **And for Christ to be fully Human and fully God, He had to have an input from both sides in His “genetic makeup”. **

  • 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.

Without Christ, there is no salvation. However if you find it easier to relate to the Trinity, then so be it. I have trouble relating to God the Father, as my own father was, in his own words, an absolute mongrel to me, and the pastor I regarded as my spiritual father discouraged me (although I learnt a great deal from him). Frankly I don’t like Him much sometimes. But you can bet your bottom dollar God exists, in the form of the Trinitarian Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t accept God’s sovereignty.

Whew. Ok, with all that said, what I’m wondering is if it is even possible for me to become a Catholic?

What’s stopping you? I don’t accept the Church’s ruling on the Contraceptive Pill, and I look somewhat askance at the Papal Infallibilty ruling (the Church got along fine without it for 1870 years, but in an age of revolutions, war between the Papal States and other nearby states, and an Ultramontanist clique in the Vatican, they brought it in. I suppose this is my residual Protestant cynicism in action, but I have my arguments.

But I still believe the Catholic Church is CLOSEST to the TRUTH.

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! :slight_smile:

You’re going to have to bite the bullet sooner or later. You can’t keep procrastinating for ever. And you can’t be both Jewish and Christian. Mind you, I think we can learn a great deal about the Old Testament (Jewish Scriptures) from the Jewish Rabbis (after all they’re their Scriptures), and Christ was a Jew, as were all the Apostles, including St. Paul.

But you don’t take up a religion to “fit in”. You take up a religion because you believe it is the TRUTH, or as close to the truth as you’re going to get.

John 14:5-7 NIV

"Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” 6Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. 7"If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.”…

#10

You are obviously on a long journey and giving it much good and deep consideration. You take it seriously. This is good. May God guide you as you advance.

I was on a similar road as you for a number of years. Though I was raised Catholic I can’t say I ever fully embraced it…As you suggest, it was more of a convenience than a conviction. I came to doubt many things and spent 35 years sojourning away from the Church before returning.

With that said, I will share some thoughts on your post and hopefully these will be of some help to you.

Yup - the analytical mind can be a real pain sometimes…:smiley: But then - this is why we call it “faith” isn’t it?

  • 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.

My solution to this conundrum is this…Why is God limited to our concepts of physics and materials? When Jesus instituted the Eucharist at the last supper - when he said “take and eat (drink) for this is my body (blood)”, did he change their chemical substance or did they eat and drink that which tasted like bread and wine?
Yet we see in Scripture and in other early Church writings a firm and profound belief in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. So much so that one of the charges leveled against Christians by the Romans was cannibalism.
Jesus said that God could raise up decedents of Abraham from the very stones - - Why should we think He cannot fully and truly exist under the appearance of bread and wine?

  • 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 after all, could not have been conceived through sexual relations.

There are a couple of very good reasons for this…

  1. If Jesus was born of sexual relations - He would have been the son of a human father - not the son of God.
  2. Scripture foretold of the child being born of a virgin.
  3. As far as this being some sort of cover-up - it would have been quite easy for the women of the village to ascertain if Mary was still a virgin or not.
  • This is kind of the big one, but I don’t believe in the utmost importance of Jesus.

Yes - this is a biggie…

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.

Actually I don’t see where your issue is here…You might need to clarify this one…I don’t see anything particularly contradictory here…

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?

First of all, let me suggest that we should never assume that we will “never 100% believe”.
Secondly - and this is a tough one - we all need to doubt our own doubts. It is a tough one because it really requires one to consider that the “others” (in this case the magisterium) are right and that I am wrong. It requires a humble submission on our part to His will.

To answer your most fundamental question - - - I really don’t know enough about you to say whether you are ready to enter the Church. At present you have some pretty serious issues that, if it were me, I could not proceed until I had them resolved. With that said though, I would still suggest you continue with RCIA - it can’t hurt…

As a final thought / question…
When you have some premise placed before you for consideration is your view one of:
a) Rejection until proven true or
b) Acceptance until proven false

Hope this is of some small help…

Peace
James

#11

One of the most pious and devout Catholics I know attended RCIA classes for three years before she felt ready. The Church would welcome you now, but God works on his own timeline, so don’t feel the need to hurry…do what’s right, not what’s comfortable!

#12

Everybody has doubts, if not initially, then later on.

ICXC NIKA

#13

Perhaps the best approach would be if you give us a specific doubt that’s troubling you and well see if we can examine it in the light of Reason.

In this way we can address each of your most serious concerns, one at a time.

May God give you great Peace and Joy on your faith journey.

#14

My shortest answer considering the sheer depth of the things you doubt about our beliefs is this: you should continue with RCIA and come to Church each Sunday and open your heart to God in prayer and ask Him to heal your doubts. You should refrain from Communion and make and Act of Spiritual Communion while the rest of us are partaking. Here is one good one: An Act of Spiritual Communion

My Jesus, I believe that Thou art present in the Blessed Sacrament. I love Thee above all
things and I desire Thee in my soul. Since I cannot now receive Thee sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart. As though thou wert already there, I embrace
Thee and unite myself wholly to Thee; permit not that I should ever be separated from
Thee (St. Alphonsus Maria de’ Liguori).

That is the one they play on EWTN in the background while Mass is being shown. And BTW, that is a really good option for you: Watch EWTN and listen to the shows archived in their Libraries. Mother Angelica had a knack for hitting the nail on the head for those who had doubts and fears. She helped more than one person cross the threshold of faith. Have you utilized the resources at EWTN yet? That is a really good place to search for healing for your unbelief.

Never give up! You’re worth the effort you need to put into this. It may seem like work now, but consider you are digging for the pearl of great price. Your wanderings buried it pretty deep but it is there somewhere. It is worth every spade full of dirt you remove in the effort. Keep digging.

Hope this helps and God bless you

Glenda

#15

What you call “doubts” concerning the Catholic faith appear to be beliefs that you find unpalatable to your personal tastes.

“If you accept only that which you like in the Gospel, and reject that which you dislike, all you’ve done is accept yourself.”

–St. Augustine of Hippo

#16

Hi rjg,

You are ready to become a Catholic if you can say the following prayer :

Act of Faith

O my God, I firmly believe that you are one God in three Divine Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; I believe that your Divine Son became man, and died for our sins, and that He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths the Holy Catholic Church teaches because You have revealed them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived.

I doubt very much whether any Catholic fully understands ALL the truths taught by the Catholic Church. However, we accept all of them in the spirit of the Act of Faith . This is not an intellectual act. It is an act of the will; it is the willingness to accept a truth because it comes from God.

What do you think ?

#17

Those qualities do make it unique from every other religion, because the Catholic Church is the only Church Jesus established. #[FONT=Arial]34[/FONT]

that depends on what you have doubts about

true

Thinking forward, based on what you’ve said
[LIST]
*]If you can’t say the creed and believe it, every word of it, then obviously you can’t say Amen at the end of it.
*]If you don’t believe in Jesus the way the Church teaches, then when receiving the Eucharist, you couldn’t say Amen when receiving the body and blood of Christ and mean it.
[/LIST]Those issues need to be answered in the affirmative. One can only truly say Amen to those, if they have Supernatural faith which is a gift from God and only from God. It doesn’t come from the individual.

BTW, Have you been validly baptised?

I hear you :wink:

Maybe reading a few conversion stories of people who specifically wrasseled with the same issues you’re going through and how they overcame them. Have you tried searching through the “coming home network” for stories that might fit your situation? chnetwork.org/converts/ .Know that you’re far from being alone when it comes to sorting out all the opposing ideas you’re dealing with.

#18

Greetings friend and may the Holy Spirit be with you as you continue to seek the Truth. My whole thing as a burgeoning apologist is to not look for the answers in scripture - but to look for them in history. Read the beliefs of the early Christians and witnessed how they worshipped Christ. They left behind numerous letters that show us just how Catholic these early Christians were.

St. Ignatius of Antioch (1st-2nd Century) and St. Irenaeus (2nd Century) will tell you about the Real Presence in the Eucharist as well as the primacy and ultimate authority the Bishop of Rome possessed. Justin Martyr (2nd Century) will explain to you the rituals involved with the Catholic Mass. There are so many other writings but I look to those three to confirm the biggest tenants of Catholicism. Tenants we still practice faithfully 2,000 years later.

Scripture can only take you so far. You need the teachings of the early Church to go all the way.

#19

I don’t really understand the Catholic stance on Eucharist either even though I’ve been a Catholic all my life.

Whenever I ask about it, I always hear, “It stays the same but it also changes into the body and blood of Christ.” or “The accidents of the bread and wine stay the same, but it changes to the body and blood of Christ.” But this, to me, sounds EXACTLY like consubstantiation when the Church says that transubstantiation is correct. I accept it because I think the Church is right on everything else but it still confuses me.

The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are all part of an all-encompassing God.

#20

If you were to stand in front of Jesus in the 1st century, shook His hand, listened to Him speak, have dinner with Him, would He look like God to you or simply a man? He’s BOTH God and man, right? But He has all the appearances of a man yet He is also 100% God. As a man, He gets cut He bleeds. Yet this is the one, who in the beginning spoke and all came into being.

If Jesus can speak and all that is comes into existence, how difficult then is it for Him to become a human… a man. How difficult then is it for Him to make bread and wine into His body and blood, sacramentally speaking through the actions of His priests?

Especially when He says, that’s what happens, and that has been faithfully passed on for 2000 years.

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