what brought you to faith?
or back to faith for those who simply stopped practicing?
let me hear your stories, in hopes of inspiring others and myself.
what brought you to faith?
or back to faith for those who simply stopped practicing?
let me hear your stories, in hopes of inspiring others and myself.
I was raised as a protestant. I also went to a public high school. In high school, everyone has an opinion, and everyone wants to convince everyone that their opinion is right.
We had a teacher (several in fact) who loved to have us debate on the existence of God, on abortion, on Gay “marriage”, on organized religion vs. ‘spirituality’. Etc. These debates continued out of class, as I’m sure you can imagine.
Several things came to a head. One, my best friends included a Jehovah’s Witness, a Buddhist, one Neo-Pagan, a few Catholics of varying devout-ness, and many atheists. Our agruments swayed me all the time; Ok, abortion was ok after rape. Maybe gays should be allowed to marry. I’m not sure if Jesus is God. No, abortion is completely wrong, The Bible is the only true Holy book. Do we need church? Hell doesn’t exist. Does it? Maybe other books are Inspired too. Jesus is not God. Yes He is.
That was my confusion, and everyone could use the Bible to support their claims. Also, I began to wonder at that time what the difference between all the different denominations were. Why was the Methodist different than the Presbyterian different than Church of God, different than Assembly of God, different from Nazarene? Which was true?
Well, finally I locked myself in my bedroom, decided what I believed on every controversial issue, and the next day at school, I argued my position to my Jehovah Witness friend in front of a Catholic friend. She (the Catholic) didn’t have to argue. She said I was agreeing with The Church on everything. I looked into it, and became Catholic.
Everything made so much sense! I still think it’s crazy how I never though “This is my Body” should be taken literally before.
For me also. I say sometimes that “I read my way into the Church.” But that’s not entirely right.
40 odd years prior to when I began reading, Catholic friends gave me my first book about Jesus when I was about 5 years old.
2 years prior to when I began reading, I visited Prague, and saw the Infant of Prague. I was not Catholic nor religious.
A year prior to beginning reading, a friend took holy orders as a Dominican, and I attended the service.
A month prior to beginning reading, a signal event took place. While my mother lay dying, I saw Mother Angelica and the nuns praying the Rosary on EWTN. I’d never seen anything like that before. I found myself desiring Mary’s intercessions for my mother and myself.
Then I began reading. I read my way into the Church. Nope; that’s not right. God drew me – as you can see by those five events. And, I began reading.
William James’ “Varieties of Religious Experience” made me desire God.
I read in Britannica all I could find about Christianity, it’s history, and monasticism.
St. Augustine’s “Confessions” won me over.
I read the Catechism with a pencil in hand.
I attended Mass and heard the truth proclaimed. I saw the miracle: bread and wine turned into the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
I wanted to become Catholic. Wow. The amazing love of God!
My story is kinda long but it is such a great example of Gods great faithfulness, mercy, and providence. Also I think a great testament to the power of the sacrament of baptism and its far reaching effect on our souls.
I was baptised Catholic as an infant, but taken out of the church when I was around 2 and was raised in the Methodist church. When I was 10 or 11 I lost interest and became one of those no it all pre-teens that decided there was no God. Then when I was 16 I started listening to hare krishna hardcore bands like 108, shelter, and prema. May sound funny to some but they’re out there. Very spiritual messages, with a real counter cultural outlook. Focused on serving God not this world, anti-materialism, social justice, the reality of God and absolute truth. It really clicked I began to pray, though now I realize in a very misguided way, and I developed a love for God. I really identified with the asceticism, devotion, rejection of wordly desires, clean living etc. By 17 I reasoned that if God is real I should serve him and nothing else in my life should come before that so… I decided to move into the hare krishna temple in Philly and learn how to be a monk.
Sleeping on a floor, waking up at 3:00 to take an ice cold shower, prayer, breakfast, prayer, study, classes, work, prayer, dinner, bed. I lasted 2-3 weeks. It wasnt the routine as much as I began to focus on all the details I hadnt before. Gods living on the moon, Gods with 3 heads, being reincarnated as a rabbit if you loved your children too much. The people I met were so sincere, so in love with who they believed God to be, but something wasnt right. Thank you Lord Holy Spirit. So I went back to an average young adult life. But something always nagging at me, missing the joy of praising God, of long predawn walks chanting prayers, rejecting all the stuff my friends were doing to go and pray and study. I was truly happy. Fast forward a few years, disillusioned, confused, feeling empty, unsatisfied, slipping deeper into darkness. I had pretty much given up on God, felt like He was out there somewhere but definately not involved in this mess of a world, not in an active way.
Then at 21 I became a father and husband. Really into social justice and left leaning politics. Started reading about Marxism. Really made sense to me. The problems of the world werent because we are spirits that associate ourselves as bodies it was because of the alienation of labor. We could solve all the injustice and oppresion and poverty by the people taking control of the means of production. I joined the Communist Party U.S.A. Met some really hardcore atheists that explained to me how religion was a tool of oppresion and the working class would never be free till they abandoned their supersticious ways. Marx called it “taking the flowers off the chain.” While I thought I was fighting for others, my wife, (a godly woman raised Baptist with a deep love for Jesus) saw that I was becoming a very angry person and worse a convicted atheist. We began to have serious problems mostly over her fear that I would teach our daughter that God didnt exist. We were on the verge of divorce…
Then about 6 years ago I began to feel this terrible weight. Like an actual weight! It was so odd. I felt desperate, miserable, and something in me wanted to just break down in tears, and pray. You can imagine the confusion I felt, the newly elected “education director” for the CPUSA in Indiana, an atheist who made it his mission to destroy peoples faith so they could save themselves, God forgive me, I know it worked atleast once, wanted to pray. Well my wife and I decided to seperate, I was at work and I paniced. I called her and said I would try to find faith just give me a chance. So I bought a book caled God the Evidence. It’s logical arguments made enough of a crack in my beliefs for a little grace to come through. I started checking out Catholicism on the internet. I’ve always loved history so it seemed a good place to start, plus I had this constant picture of my now deceased grandmother stuck in my head, she was a very devout woman. Then I became fascinated with the rosary. I finally tried it. There on my knees reading the prayers I downloaded off the internet my heart was opened.
I started going to mass and met with a priest about being recieved into the church. He was an amazing man, an ex Benedictine now diocesin priest from Jamaica. He said I just needed some instruction before I could recieve the sacraments. So we met once a week and went over the catechism chapter by chapter. I fell head over heels in love with the Church, and through her my Lord. I remember the first time I went to the adoration chapel, as soon as I walked in I just knew I was standing before Jesus. I desired to recieve Him in holy communion so much that mass became bitter sweet. I loved the liturgy but not being able to recieve our Lord killed me. This whole time my wife was less than thrilled about my choice of church. As I mentioned she was raised Baptist, amongst very anticatholic baptists. She came to mass occasionally but hated it the whole time. Right when I was about to be able to recieve my first communion I was told that the pastor of the parish hadnt been aware that I was baptised catholic but married in a methodist church. Even though I had been taken out of the church and never given any kind of catholic education or upbringing my marriage was considered invalid and until my wife would agree to get it convalidated I could not recieve the sacraments. My wife was furious and refused. In my panic and distress I left for another parish that I thought would see it differently. There after explaining my situation, my over a year of study, and deep love for the church and all her doctrines the DRE said to me, " It’s a difficult situation, but when I ask myself are you catholic…I have to say no." I was crushed, she offered me some books and said she didnt know what to do for me. I felt like I was in highschool and just got dumped by the girl I loved.
So hurt and confused I decided to let my wife choose our spiritual direction. I spent the next 10 months trying to convince myself to be an Anglican then Lutheran then Evangelical. We went to church a few times a few different places but nothing ever felt right. So one Easter evening I decided to talk with my wifes family, theyre all baptist or evangelical very devout people, I wanted them to convince me to get me past a few bible verses I just couldnt get past. Especially the sixth chapter of St. John. During the night we all sat there hashing over our views and I began to notice that my wife was actually sticking up for the catholic positions on things. Defending devotion to Mary, the validity of priestly orders, the churchs claim to be the one true church…It was nuts, I had argued these points to her a million times and here she was defending them. Then her cousin started telling us how her father in law had been recieved into the church the night before at Easter vigil. We left with promises to pick the conversation back up some other night over a dinner. We didnt say a word the whole way home.
Then almost at the same time we both looked at eachother and said “thats what I want” to be recieved into the Catholic church like her in laws. It was amazing. All this time, all these struggles, and here we were finally in agreement and filled with joy over it. Our Lord works things in His time, so amazing. We both went into the RCIA program together and on Easter Vigil 2007 my wife was recieved into the Church and we both recieved confirmation and holy communion. And the best part, it was our anniversary that night so after the vigil we had our marriage convalidated. We are both still so happy and endlessly grateful for our beautiful catholic faith, I’m in the process of discerning a vocation in the SFO I feel so at home finally.
" the Lord has done great things for me and holy is His name"
It’s easy to misunderstand Scripture when you don’t have the analogy of faith. Pray, than, that our separate brethern may have faith.
I’ll give you the abridged version, because Life on the Rock is on.
Though baptized, I had little religious instruction growing up. As an adult, I got interested in just about every religion under the sun, gravitating toward the ones that said it was okay to do whatevever I wanted, and that’s what I did… indulging in everything, but ending up incredibly miserable.
Then, what brought me back, and eventually to the RCC (some of this will sound ridiculous, maybe childish, but bear with me)
– ended up at a friend’s house (he was a Satanist of all things), watching a Jim Henson movie, and I was struck suddenly with an incredible feeling of sadness, emptiness, and out-of-placeness (just made that last word up
– saw the PBS special comparing CS Lewis and Freud, and noticed that the “born again” Anglo-Catholic was immensely happy post-conversion, while the atheist doctor was miserable. That was food for thought, especially since I read some Lewis as a kid and his opinion carried weight with me.
– I had a horrible nightmare in which I was trapped forever in a dark, suffocating place. Woke up and the first thought that came into my head was “I think that was hell. And I think that’s where I’m going… Maybe I should change a few things”.
– Finally said, “Ok God, I give up. You exist, I’m acknowledging it, I hope you’re happy with yourself. I’ve done nothing but ruin my life, so now I give to you. You can’t screw it up any worse than I did.”
– Still couldn’t grasp Jesus as Son of God. But I thought I’d let CS Lewis explain, and he led me to Chesterton, and no one makes more sense than Chesterton. The logic was there. It was reasonable. So my head was set, but my heart still had a ways to go.
– I started to use my imagination (very Ignatian, huh?). Started to say, “Ok… what if it’s true? What if God really did walk the earth. Truly God AND truly man, i.e. Jesus Christ. What if it’s true? Let’s say it is, then what?” Well, that’s when the implications of that idea really kicked in… And they were too great to dismiss. Impossible to dismiss, really.
– Then it was Easter and I went for a walk. (Pause here to say that the thing that always bugged me about Lewis was when he said he went out one day for a ride into town, and when he left he didn’t believe Jesus is God, but by the time he arrived in town, he suddenly believed. Something just clicked on the ride. I never understood that… BUT…
Something similar happened to me. Went for a walk on Easter morning, and got to a neighborhood that’s small a small, enclosed circle, canopy of big old trees, sunlight pouring through like something in a movie, and bunny tracks on the ground…
Someone’s parents decided to make Easter Bunny paw-prints in front of a bunch of houses with stencils and some flour. And when I saw them, even though I knew exactly what they were and why they were there, for some strange reason, for a split second, my heart leaped like it was still 6 years old and I thought, “Holy cow, the Easter Bunny has been here!” (I warned you this would get weird).
The point is, that for a split second, my heart was young again… For a brief moment, the only thought in my head was a completely innocent one… And my heart hadn’t felt like that since I was a little kid, and what could renew me like that? Only one person ever promised that kind of renewal AND delivered on it: Jesus.
These thoughts weren’t really conscious thoughts, they just started to sink in and by the time I was around the block, I was like CS Lewis… I went out not understanding Jesus, came back realizing there was nothing but Jesus. God did walk the earth. He did die, he was resurrected, he will come again… and how good it is.
After that, I got back to Church, but various Protestant churches, all of them with their own set of problems. I realized I kept taking refuge in Catholic literature, that the Pope made sense when no one else did, and there was something about those saints… I fell in love with them pretty early on… And of course, Our Lady, with the Rosary, snuck into my life – she’s the greatest treasure of our faith, I think, after the Lord Himself, of course.
Then Mother Angelica (yeah I got hooked on her alright) said one night something like, “If all that is true, then the Eucharist, the core of the Church, has to be true. Because truth has to be built on truth, and everything in the Church is built on the Body and Blood of Christ.” With that, I got myself down to a local Catholic church, went to Mass, and thought, “Yep… This is where I have to be. It’s the only place I can be. Nothing else will do now.”
And that’s that.
Avery77, I love your story! The bunny tracks! Little did that mom or dad know what they were doing! LoL.