It would seem I got a bit of a buzz over my Clarity article, for all the wrong reasons, but you must roll with what comes. So here’s the question that I don’t think I could even begin to answer with any real experience, so perhaps those who are reverts could shed some light. My salvation Journey was far from sacramental. It was an ask-Jesus-in-my-heart sort of deal at the ripe age of 5 or 6. I had an affection for Him, but by the time I hit my teens I was knee deep in a flood of depravity. At twenty, the prodigal returned to the loving Father, and ten years later I made my way to Rome.
I fail to understand the nature of being in the fullness of the faith–receiving sacramental Baptism, First Communion, Confirmation–are these sacraments effectual or not? Was not even a mustard seed of faith present during all the graces received? Many consumed the Lamb countless times before making the break.
You were born again in baptism, and I hardly believe that mortal sin was present at first communion, for most baptized. Some are sharing in the life of grace, and have already been grafted into the body of Christ; others may have made it all the way to confirmation. I even know people that had a deep encounter with the Holy Spirit while at the Catholic Church only to leave for these same Christian churches I described in my prior post.
God didn’t start talking to me about the Catholic Church and its claims until I came to a place of humility about my own ideas. I think the great blindness in our American culture speaks volumes about this, as we are born and bred to rebellion. To be Catholic is to be counter-cultural. It removes the ‘me’ and replaces it with the ‘we’; it takes ‘I believe’ to ‘we believe’. Individualism and private self-direction is trumped by ‘Peter has spoken.’
I had a prejudice in me toward Rome before I even gave my heart back to the Lord at twenty. I assumed their doctrines were of human origin, because I couldn’t quote it chapter and verse, all the while wielding my own private magisterium in my little head. Arrogance of spiritual knowledge and an over-inflated intellect contributed to this dilemma. Humility of my own abilities brought me to my senses, and that came with a little age and experience.
This is not too complicated; faith, hope, and love sees the perfect, even the Church in her fullness. Where these are lacking, spiritual blindness grows. Self-love, even under the guise of me and Jesus with bible in hand, has more to do with all of this than we care to admit.
Now I will give a defense to these souls, whether still wandering or not. The current state of things in the western Catholic Church is anything but EWTN. Selfless love takes a measure of personal sanctity that can take awhile; my motive for joining the Catholic Church had more to do with God’s calling than my private desire. There is no way I would have even looked in this direction in my younger years. My wife and I stopped at the first church that we were loved by. At twenty all I knew was I needed Jesus, and that meant going to Church. I have endured more silliness being a Catholic than I could have even stomached all my years as a protestant evangelical.
The Church is more than Sacraments and the Communion of the Saints; it is made up of you and me. Many of these new Christian communities have a vibrant faith life amongst the people themselves that is contagious because it is real. Sadly many lapsed Catholics have been drawn to this, and it is the failure of our communities to live a life fully alive in Christ.
I wish EWTN would have prepared me for what I was going to encounter. A church-little-c within the Church, a reformation without leaving the household of faith. This leant a great deal of confusion and hurt for me personally. What am I trying to say? Well if an authentic Catholic faith full of hope, love, and Christ’s life were lived out as it should be, this problem would all but go away. The reverts bring a zeal that is rare amongst the faithful, so in God’s name why is this lacking in His Bride at all?
I have found throughout the years many of our separated brethren have left the Church. Prior to my conversion to the Catholic Church, they would say things akin to, “I didn’t know the Lord, they didn’t preach the gospel, they didn’t teach the Bible.”
Why would this be communicated at all if there were not some grain of truth in it? Where is the breakdown?
” I have endured more silliness being a Catholic than I could have even stomached all my years as a protestant evangelical.”
Really? That surprises me . I guess my experience has been somewhat different. I spent years as an evangelical charismatic protestant. I saw much more silliness than I have experienced in Catholicism. As a protestant evangelical, I saw altar calls where the visiting preacher prophesied that God would make people rich. I saw visiting “prophets” call people out of the audience and tell them they would be healed of cancer. I saw the broken hearts of young couples who were told in a public prophecy that they would be with child (but it never happened) I saw people pushed to the ground as they were “slain in the spirit.” I saw church members dressed as clowns distribute crackers and grape juice calling it communion. I saw grown men barking like dogs and laughing uncontrollably rolling on the floor. I heard pastors scream at the congregants, dance all over the stage like Chuck Berry and ask for large sums of money telling them God told them to take up a “faith” collection. I heard a “worship” band that was so loud small children clasped their ears and older people had to turn their hearing aids off. I watched young nubile women in inappropriately tight dance outfits from our “liturgical dance team” do “worship dances” while I struggled to keep my eyes glued to the floor for fear of sinning during worship. I watched parishioners give 10 minute spontaneous prophecies in tongues followed by another congregant giving a two minute interpretation of the prophecy of something that never came true. I heard pastors preach on a single verse from scripture for over an hour giving new and never before-heard interpretations. I once sang a chorus over and over again for over a half hour holding my arms outstretched clasping the hands of someone next to me until the sweat was rolling off me because of the muscle strain and spasm of holding that same position for an extended period of time. I once was told to turn to the person (stranger next to me) and confess my most private sin to them.
I have been in Catholic churches where the music was crappy, the priest couldn’t preach his way out of a paper bag, and the congregation appeared disinterested. I have seen a priest play “fast and loose” with the liturgy. I have seen collections for the catholic social services that gave money to Acorn. But despite that silliness, Jesus came anyway. Through the hands of that liberal padre who may not even believed in transubstantiation, Jesus once again allowed us to offer our sacrifices in union with his to the Father. Despite the terrible songs and hymns I could walk to the front of the Church and receive the God of the universe on my tongue including his soul, body blood and divinity. I would never trade one second of the Mass for my many years participating in protestant worship.
I did not say I have seen more silliness, I said I have endured it. Point well taken you will get no arguments from me except a good laugh.
Ex-Catholic says: “I didn’t know the Lord, they didn’t preach the gospel, they didn’t teach the Bible.”
Steve says: “Why would this be communicated at all if there were not some grain of truth in it? ”
Are you hinting that the Catholic Church doesn’t preach the gospel or teach the bible? Whose side are you on anyway? LOL!
In my parish, over 25 percent of the Mass is spent in reading Holy Scripture! The priest kisses the gospel book and holds it up in his hands to be reverenced by all. We are then required to stand at the reading of the gospel. That never happened in my protestant church.
Also, I would like to add, can you define the “gospel” here? The version of the “gospel” I heard in my evangelical churches wasn’t necessarily the gospel. Yet in every single Mass, I hear the gospel woven beautifully and preached throughout the Eucharistic liturgy.
“Father, it is our duty and salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks through your beloved Son, Jesus Christ.
He is the Word through whom you made the universe, the Savior you sent to redeem us. By the power of the Holy Spirit he took flesh and was born of the Virgin Mary.
For our sake he opened his arms on the cross; he put an end to death and revealed the resurrection. In this he fulfilled your will and won for you a holy people.”
If a nominal Catholic doesn’t get that, why blame the Church? Why suggest that there is a “grain of truth” to it? He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
truefaith2 your thoughts were worth my next post. Thanx
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