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Monday, January 29, 2007

My story: Part 3

Read Part 1
Read Part 2

I can’t remember why but Chris didn’t make it to Mass at St. Thomas. So as per my custom I took a seat near the back. As this was a university parish most of the people there were closer to my own age. This immediately made me feel more comfortable. The music was also more upbeat and “younger”. I liked this at the time. However, I have now grown to not be so fond of it. But I remember something just felt right…I finally felt like I was some place where I could start to grow. The next week I was out of town and didn’t go to Mass. However, upon getting back from my trip I started going to Mass every Sunday at St. Thomas Aquinas. I didn’t miss a Sunday for well over a year. During this time I continued talking with Chris almost daily. He answered several of my questions and raised new ones. It was about this time that he gave me a copy of Patrick Madrid’s Surprised by Truth. I absorbed the conversion stories it contained, reading nearly cover to cover without stopping. I also started doing a lot of online research and came across the Defenders of the Catholic Faith Forum. The message board gave me a wonderful resource. Many of the poster’s are very knowledgeable and serious about their faith. I also emailed the priest at St. Thomas and asked him to recommend some reading material. Thus my collection of Catholic books began. I also discovered EWTN on my cable box. I spent hours watching Mother Angelica, Life on the Rock, the daily Masses, and just about anything else the aired.

Over the next year I became a sponge. Yet, I still had serious reservations. I wasn’t so sure about Mary and the saints, the True Presence in the Eucharist, papal infallibility, and a whole list of other things. The more I learned about Church history the more I started to feel that I would not be able to deny these things much longer. One night I was watching a show on EWTN when one of the guest priests mentioned the Road to Emmaus story in Luke 24. I pulled out my Bible and read the story of how Jesus appeared to the disciples who did not recognize them and how He was made known to them through the breaking of the bread. At that moment I knew in my heart that Christ was truly present, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, in the Eucharist. From there all of my objections to the teachings of the Catholic Church began to crumble.

At some point during this time I was home for a weekend visit when my mom told me that she had noticed that I had brought my Bible home with me and asked if I was going to church again. I told her yes, I was going to a Catholic church. This caught her a bit by surprise. I had a brief conversation with my parents about this. I expected much more. They asked little more than, “You still believe in Jesus right?” You have to remember that Catholics are few and far between where I grew up so few people know anything about the Catholic Faith. My mother also wanted to be assured that Catholic didn’t worship Mary.

As the Easter season approached I found myself questioning the option of converting. Even though I had come to accept the Church’s teachings and authority I wasn’t quite ready to make that commitment. On Holy Thursday I went to Mass at St. Joseph’s. While everyone was receiving communion I knelt and prayed to God that he direct me. I gave myself over, telling God that if the Catholic Church was where he wanted me then that was where I would go. Before the end of the communion procession I had my answer. I knew in my heart that I could no longer fight it and must become Catholic.

That spring, Chris talked me into taking a mission trip to Southeast Arkansas. St. Thomas usually sends missions to Honduras during spring break and Southeast Arkansas the week after spring classes ended. However, that particular year spring break coincided with Holy Week so both missions were planned for the week after classes ended. There ended up only being four of us who made the trip to Southeast Arkansas while the rest went to Honduras. We spent the week living in an old Franciscan Friary on the grounds of St. Mary’s church in McGehee, Arkansas. We spent the week helping out with several projects and spending time with Father Eric and Sister Sarah. We attended Mass each day and had Evening Prayer together each night. We also got into several conversations many of which concerned my conversion. For some reason I had still not shared my decision to join RCIA the following fall with anyone. Near the end of the trip, I did tell the others that I was planning to convert.

An interesting tangent to this story, the running joke the entire week was that I was destined to go to the seminary to become a priest. As per tradition of the mission trip we made up a song to describe all the people involved in the trip. The verse that was written for me was, “Then there's Chris / our Baptist missionary / next to become Catholic / then to the seminary.” This half-joking suggestion went on for the entire week and largely stemmed from Chris’ long insistence that he was convinced that I would convert and one day become a priest. I of course denied these charges. I will confess now that I was not entirely honest. This possibility had been on my mind for several months. I still remember vividly the first time a few months before Chris said to me, “You know what? I think you will be priest someday.” I was shaken by his comment. I had considered the possibility several times already and the fact that someone else would suggest it was unsettling. Until now this is something that I have kept mostly to myself. So, Chris if you read this I hope you are happy now! For the most part I have come to believe that this is not the path that God has laid out before me. However, I will not say that the possibility is not there. I’m still searching for that path and pray that I will have the strength and wisdom to answer God’s will whatever it turns out to be.

Okay, back to the story. I continued to go to Mass at St. Thomas during the summer and told my parents that I had decided to enroll in RCIA classes to prepare for reception into the Catholic Church. In September of 2005 I joined RCIA. I enjoyed the classes and continued to read as much about the Faith as I could get my hands on. As all humans are apt to do I had my ups and down, my moment’s of doubt, and sense of confusion. However, God had called me home to His one true holy, catholic, and apostolic church and I trusted him to lead me. I was confirmed in the Catholic Church at the 2006 Easter Vigil at St. Bernard’s in Bella Vista, Arkansas. Since then I have moved to Kansas where I have been blessed with a wonderful parish. I continue to have my ups and downs but I put my trust in God to lead me in all things.


Do you have a conversion story you would like to share on this blog? If so, please email me at catholicconverts@gmail.com and please consider adding your blog to the Catholic Converts blogroll.

8 comments:

bobswife said...

This is a wonderful conversion story. I used to hang out on the DCF board and now just pop in when time allows. I can't wait to spend some time reading the converstion stories on your spot; I love testimonials!

I grew up Catholic but left the church in the late 1970's over some feminist issues; then I came back to the sacraments and after a few years *poof!* suddenly quit believing in the Real Presence and priestly authority. Horrible time of my life. The good Lord brought me back in my early thirties and now I'm a fairly rabid Catholic.

In my experience, that adorable Eucharist will get ya every time. He is almost irresistable (to an open heart).

ruacte said...

Very good, funny that I'm going through kinda the same thing. I recently got married to a baptist woman of my dreams, Now i'm catholic and havent been a very good catholic at that. Matter of fact it was after listening to my wifes preacher that I started going back to the church for mass. I was so offended at my wifes church that it caused a change in me for the better. The baptist preacher went on a rage about catholics and praying to mary and statues and the pope. I lefted and didnt get the rest but it opened my eyes.
My problem now is my wife thinks I need to be saved and my whole life of being in the church was a lie!! She even went on to say what I'm feeling is conviction!!
Now I know I dont need to be saved, what i do need is to get back to the church and fully understand the catholic church and its teachings.
I started yesterday and now have a prayer group with three sister nuns helping me and guiding my faith.
Its amazing what god can do when you really need it.

Anonymous said...

I have the same problem, I was born and raised in a Catholic home I never had an issue with other Christian faiths until I met my husband, he was "Baptist" thing that all his family is Catholic but he was a very "miss behave " guy and in one of those times he met a Baptist Pastor and broght him to Christ... At the beginning I started to go to his church without problems but then he requested more from me and I tried to follow him because of my love for him going to church and I said inside myself "we are all Christians" then I noticed how bad they speak about another religions specially "Catholics" and I started to have a big missing of the Body of Christ" they only have a "hi" in church shaking hands no the "Peace with you" I started to feel apart from the women because I do not wear skirt all the time and I have to be a follower of church man made doctrines... I felt more the missing of the sacraments... I decided to go back HOME, my husband called me betraitor because I want to go back he says I am going backwords that my faith is wrong ...Etc, etc.. I am praying every day for his conversion to the real church of Christ and I won't give up even when my prayers don't seem to be answered ... Yet...

ruacte said...

You Know what anonymous, I've been doing some research since that is what I do a lot. When I go into a debate with someone, I have to know enough to protect what I believe but more importantly understand what my Wife believes.(shes Baptist) what I've found out is that baptist is not mention anywhere in the Bible!! founded in 1607 by a guy named John smith in England. I also found out that most baptist twist what they say in the bible, especially when it comes to being SAVED!!! Im sure you heard this a lot in baptist churches. The problem is baptist tell everyone that the only way to go to heaven is to allow christ in your heart and to be saved. well in that same verse in John, it says a couple lines down that you must repent for your sins, be baptizied and you will be saved. the very next line after that Peter says to his people, you must also walk with Jesus. So basically its not enough to just be saved but also do as I do... I also found out that baptist preach "Faith only" Well ask a preacher where you can find faith only in the Bible and he or she will say "Imply faith only" because in the bible theres nothing, Nothing that says faith only!! the only line that has faith only in it says NOT Faith only can save you from hell... I read some really good comments from past preachers of the baptist church who confirms this. You can google it under "why i left the baptist church" It has some really good insight. One preacher even said baptist isnt even christian. you ask a baptist what religion they are and they reply baptist.. I think the reason baptist have this grudge with all other religions because there the smallest other then scientology, plus they are not even 500 years old. Dont let them tell you it was started by John the baptist too!!! ask them where in the bible Jesus tells john to go start a church for him??? Also, dont get confused with apostle John and John the baptist. Everyone thinks that it was started by John the baptist when in fact he was beheaded before christ died!!!
I myself question about the Catholic faith as well. I have a lot of questions and concerns with my catholic faiths. I dont know if i want to stay catholic, i feel like im being pulled into a different Christain faith but I do know its not baptist. I think any man or woman preaching to people about the horrible sins that awaits them because they are not baptist is Not a person of GOD. I always use the line, "if the only way to heaven according to you (baptist believers) is to be saved, then Heaven is a Small small place, being only about 400 years old in all" The catholic church is over 2000 years old, started by Peter a Apostle!!! But then again, thats where I have problems. i believe the true church was started by Peter but if Peter came back and seen how the catholic church has turned out to be, I think he might disagree with how the church teachings have gone from what he teached.. My cousin is a priest and we have debated a lot about the catholic faith. The one thing that really hit home for me is when he said, "There are a lot of people in heaven from different faiths, its just not Catholics.." A nun told me that think of religion as a road map or a GPS to heaven. If you were going to have a party at your house, you wouldnt send everyone the same road map on how to get there would you?

Anonymous said...

All that happened to me was more a calling back than anything in my life I did start to study a lot of Catholic Apoligetics and read books from authors "Scott Hann and Patrick Madrid" you may need to read some of those they have great testimonies same as Fernando Casanova (who is a Puerto Rican) I do speak spanish as my main language but you can try to find some translation he is just great and also Deacon Alex Jones.. All of them were Pastors with different backgrounds and my understanding is that all those who do not understand the Catholic Faith are easier to fall in those false doctrines because they don't know the bible being totally ignorants of the their own faith and are easily tricked. Instead all these people were Pastors or ministers and they did understand the Catholic doctrine after reading about first fathers of the church and History of the Christianity like St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Agustin... You need to be really prepared to have a debate thing that I had quite few times with my husband and now that I know more scriptures I am able to defend my faith, I ask you before you leave the Catholic Church to inquire first and read apologetics and then decide, my convictions about the church are growing more I know, my concern is where my marriage will go?

Anonymous said...

I was raised in Roman Catholic family, but I now choose to be a member of the Baptist church. While I choose to be baptized, I do refer to myself as a Christian unless someone asks me what specific church I go to. In fact, my Baptist pastor tells us that baptism isn't a key to salvation, but rather it is declaring that one already believes in Jesus as Lord and Saviour. Nobody is twisting my arm to be baptized. Also my pastor mentioned something I personally believe in ~ that it is not religion, going to church, or performing some ritual that can save a person. It is Jesus' death on the cross which has paid the debt of our sins.

You don't have to be Baptist to go to heaven but a believer of Christ. I decided to go to the Baptist church because the people I met there did not put a strong emphasis on being baptist but being a Bible believing Christian.

My decision to get baptized is a formal message to my family that I am no longer part of the Roman Catholic church. I have thought it over seven years.

Anonymous said...

I have several problems with the catholic church, But I would never convert to baptist.. The two religions are like Night and Day!! I've gone to several baptist Faith Only churches to do some research and they twist words from the bible to fit there agenda. Plus it seems like a catholic bashing party. Im sorry, there are several things that I dont agree with the catholic religion but I wont ever see my priest bashing another religion on a sunday morning. I also have big problems when people start quoting from the bible but leave out key words or change them in order. For example, "He that believeth and is not baptized shall be saved" (Baptist doctrine)
now the bible, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mk. 16:16)
Why change it? what are you trying to do?
I studied the baptist church a little longer then what I planned. The reason being, I just found too many flaws and seen too many holes that are covered up. One preacher told me that this church is god church!! I'm thinking how is that possible when baptist is not mention at all in the King james bible or Holy bible, or koran. Come to find out, it was started in 1607 by John smyth in London England. Also why do you have to be voted in the baptist church in order to be baptist?
I've talked to several X baptist members and they all have different reasons for why they left to different religions, but most of them would tell you that reading the bible and then listening to there preacher caused a conflict of interest. If you want to read something i found from an ex baptist preacher, go to http://www.roysecitycoc.org/leavebapt

Anonymous said...

Interesting story. I am an Evangelical but have enjoyed listening to John Michael Talbot cds. My few visits to a Catholic church I have felt a peace that I do not feel elsewhere. It is in the back of my mind. To be honest one big drawback for me is if I were to convert, it seems my ministry would be over. I have a ministry with internationals living in my city and have met many people who have never heard the name Jesus before and after coming to my bible study for a while some come to know Jesus as their Savior. If I were to convert it seems everything is done by the priest. I am a missionary/evangelist/teacher, so a conversion seems to mean the end of everything for me.

When I was a baby a nun was my nanny. I often wonder if that influence was the reason I was the first in my family to come to real personal faith in Christ. When I was in my twenties I lived near a Catholic church and my roommate was visited a few times by the Priest. I enjoyed our conversations. It is in my mind but as I said it seems my life's work would be over.