Testimony of a Young Man: How He Found the Catholic Faith
I grew up Baptist and fondly remember as a child scurrying to the back of the sanctuary for left-over crackers and grape juice after we had communion. As I grew older and started asking various questions, adults in my life told many things about the Catholic Faith. They worshipped idols. They worshipped Mary. They worshipped the Pope. They were a cult. These, and a few others, were the standard explanations when it came to questions about Catholics. As I look back, I realize most of it was due to ignorance and fear. Growing up Protestant, especially in the south, was really the only option of which I was ever aware.
I didn’t go to Church for a long period of time after I turned 17. But even though I drifted away, God chose to touch my heart, open my eyes, and lead me to the Catholic Faith. I had visited various Churches over the years for funerals and weddings, and I did notice the “spirit” that captured some people. It was not until I was touched directly and distinctly by God at a Catholic funeral that I became aware of His presence, His call, His Church. It was not a “feel good” experience. It was a distinctive “wake-up” call that only God can offer you. It is impossible to explain or share this experience on a website, but my heart burns with the desire to share the truth the best I possibly can. I have never known anything so clearly in my life.
One of the most difficult obstacles I have had to overcome in my faith journey is the spirit of independence. This is a wonderful country built on that wonderful spirit. But, unfortunately, it is that very spirit that often separates us from a true relationship with Christ for two simple reasons:
1. We bristle at anyone who expects us to be obedient.
2. We find it very difficult to be humble.
So, most of us find a Church that makes us feel good. Lets us worship God in “our” way. In other words, we don’t want to bear a cross. We don’t want to feel guilty. We want it “our” way, which of course is not necessarily “God’s” way. We want to storm the gates of heaven. Write our own ticket....
Sounds like WE are playing God and setting the standards. Hmm....
No I’m not comfortable with everything about the Catholic Faith. But absolute truth will cause discomfort to any honest person. It means I must accept just how truly short I am of the glory of God and acknowledge how much I depend on the mercy of Christ.
No I don’t believe that people ignorant of the Catholic Faith and the Church founded by Christ are lost, but I am certain I would be lost outside the Catholic Church because it would require me to deny the very body and blood of Christ.
No I don’t believe people hate the Catholic Church. I believe they hate what they mistakenly believe about the Church. There are so many misconceptions and so much misinformation spread for dubious purposes that the ill-informed often speak out against the Church.
No I don’t feel ill will toward those that have left the Church and now speak against it. There were many in the time of Jesus that heard His words, did not believe, left His side, and returned to their former ways.
Yes Yes, it is true what many of my Protestant friends say. The term Catholic Church does translate to “Universal Church”. But it DOES NOT translate to Universal Churches. I believe that Christ founded one Church, on one leader, for all people, for all time. I pray often, just as Jesus did, that we become one. One in the Church founded by Christ, not in any church founded by man. Man cannot found a “church” and consider it part of the Universal Church, especially “churches” that do not submit to the Universal Church founded by Christ. Just because I call myself a millionaire does not make me one. Just because an organization founded by man calls itself a “church” does not make it one. Christ founded ONE Church for ALL mankind.
God has graced me through prayer and the teachings of the Church with a true understanding of what Jesus did for all of us and the truth of the Catholic Christian Faith. And yes, the teachings of the Church are so very critical. We have all been guilty of answering our own prayers the way we want them answered. That is what I like about the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I know I am forgiven instead of ‘forgiving myself’ through selfish prayer. I don’t like to assume anything ……..
The most important thing to me in the Catholic Faith is the Eucharist. We join with Jesus through the blessed sacrament of the Eucharist. We remain in him, and he in us. Jesus speaks of his flesh and blood, but many cannot comprehend what he means. That was true in his time also. We are too caught up in the worldly meaning of “flesh and blood” to understand that his real presence in the Eucharist is glorious. Real food to strengthen us on our journey. So many people today can’t seem to grasp this. Sometimes it is difficult to overcome what we have been taught as a child and find the truth. But the truth is there.
At one time or another, we have all wondered how the Jewish religious leaders in the time of Jesus could have strayed so far from what God had intended. We all feel pretty confident that we know what God thinks and we would never get to the point reached by the holy men of Jerusalem. Yet today, we can look at the many “variations” of Christianity and come to the realization that we have done exactly that. We have all decided that we know best and we can interpret the bible and obtain our own meaning. We, as a Christian society, have decided that we all understand Christ and we all have the answers. We afl have the inside track to salvation. The fragmentation started with the Protestant Reformation and has accelerated ever since.
In the time of Jesus there was only one truth. He founded one Church. For 1600 years there was only one Church. For 1600 years there was only one truth. Paul did not foretell the Protestant Reformation and the thousands of different Christian churches, but he did warn us about the human nature that led to it.
“For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths” (2 Tim 4:3-4).
For about the last 400 years, Protestant churches have multiplied and divided until today there are over 33,000 denominations all professing their own version of the truth. All Protestant faiths disregard Sacred Tradition, which is the literal living history of the Church founded by Jesus. I explain it to my religion classes in this way. Imagine in 20 years you go to a high school reunion. When you begin to reminisce about your time in school, all you are allowed to do is to open your yearbook and look through it, read it. You can’t talk about anything but what is in your yearbook. You can’t talk about any of the activities that pictures bring to mind. You can’t rely on the memory of others to refresh your memory about some of the things you have forgotten. That eliminates a big part of your high school years. This is a very simple analogy with Sacred Tradition. Disregarding Sacred Tradition strips the faith down to only what you can read and leaves much open to interpretation. While we all hold the Sacred Scriptures dear to our heart and read them often, it is important to know from Tradition how things were done, why they were done, and other critical aspects of the Faith not found in the Bible. It is important how the early Church worshipped. It is important how the early Church practiced and understood the Faith. Contact a Catholic Church about RICA classes. Take some time in your life to learn about Jesus and HIS Church. Take time to learn THE COMPLETE TRUTH and experience THE COMPLETE FAITH.
“And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are” (Jn 17:11).
If you take time to learn only one more thing in your life, I pray that you open your heart and learn about the Catholic Faith. I mean that sincerely. The Catholic Faith is the single most consistent representation for the true faith of Jesus and has remained so for the last 2000 years. Do not let your mind be poisoned and turned against the truth. If you are a Christian, you know the truth. Come learn about the Church founded by Jesus and learn the WHOLE truth. Jesus started one Church. Christ warned about the wisdom of man as compared to the wisdom of God. Do not fall to the folly of men who think they can do it better. The Church was founded by and belongs to Jesus. It is not a free enterprise opportunity.
Of the Apostles on the night Jesus was arrested, one betrayed him, one denied him three times, and ten ran away. The Church has, and always will, suffer due to human weakness; but the one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church remains.