While I could cite numerous other objections that I (and many Protestants) had about the Church, it would take an entire book to record them all. These were the primary objections that I had, and all of my objections (including the ones not listed here) could be answered using the Bible, logic, and a cursory knowledge of history. After months of reading and studying and agonizing over the facts that lay before me, I decided that I had been wrong. Not only I had been wrong, but also millions upon millions of non-Catholic Christians of all persuasions were wrong! Not to say that one could not be Protestant or Orthodox or some other religion and love God; obviously I had been a Baptist all of my life and wanted very much to do God’s will. However, I did feel that I could not know what I now knew and remain a Baptist, if I truly loved God. I chose to begin attending Mass at the local Catholic church near where I was attending college. Soon, I was enrolled in RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) classes, so that I could become a member of the Catholic Church the following Easter. At this point, many of my college friends with whom I had also gone to high school began doubting my faith, some of whom apparently said that I was converting to Catholicism only because my girlfriend was Catholic. After we had dated for about six months, she and I parted ways, but I chose to remain on course towards Rome.
Several months later, I met a young Catholic woman who lived in my dormitory. She and I spent many nights talking about various subjects. One subject that we always came back to was the Church. Our conversations on the Church were very interesting (or, at least they were to us) because she had been raised Catholic and I was just learning the tenets of the Faith. She had never spoken at length with someone who had grown up hating the Church, and yet was planning on becoming a member. I, too, had not had the benefit of someone my age who knew their faith well, and could defend it. She supported me well in my endeavor to become Catholic. We became such good friends that we got married on March 4, 2000.
My parents, especially my mother, were aghast at the idea that their son was becoming Catholic. It was a Baptist’s worst nightmare. (I guess the only thing that could have been worse to them is if I were homosexual.) Smittie did not yet know about my plans to convert to Catholicism. I’m sure he did not like the fact that I had been dating a Catholic and had attended several Masses, but the idea that I would actually become Catholic was probably nowhere in his mind. My mother decided to tell him about my plans to convert, and he was absolutely heartbroken. I thought he might disown me, but I knew that the condition of my soul was much more important than what my family thought of me, so I did not relent. While I did not let my family’s feelings sway my decision, I must say at this point that Smittie had always been very good to my parents and me, and that he has always been a generous and caring person towards those he loves. I hoped that God would show him and my parents that I was only doing that which I felt I must do, according to my conscience. I constantly reminded myself of Christ’s words, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26, KJV)” As Easter approached, I knew that he prayed and prayed that I would change my mind. He never talked much to me about it, but my mother always told me what he said. Two or three days before the Easter Vigil Mass when I would receive Confirmation, he called me. That was probably the strangest and most wonderful phone call that I had ever received. Smittie told me that while he did not agree with the Catholic Church and Her teachings, he knew that I must do what I felt was right. Also, he gave me his blessing. Truly, this was Divine Providence at work. Until this time I was still somewhat apprehensive about joining the Church, but through the grace of God I was strengthened. On Holy Saturday, 1996, I made my first Profession of Faith, received the Sacrament of Confirmation, and received my first real Holy Eucharist. I joined the Catholic Church that day, and I shall never regret it!
Since I became Catholic, I have looked at the world very differently than I did before. I obviously no longer see Catholics as being inimical to the Gospel and to Christianity; I see Catholicism as being the embodiment of Christianity. The Catholic Church is the Body of Christ; it is that Church which Christ Himself founded. All who are saved and enter the Kingdom of God do so by the grace God gives us through the Catholic Church. That is not to say that those who are not explicitly members of the Catholic Church cannot be saved; it means that those who truly wish to follow Christ are in some way related to, or “oriented towards” the Church. Even those who, through no fault of their own, believe false things about the Church may be related to Her. All Christians who are baptized validly, even those baptized in some other sects, are related to the Church through the Sacrament of Baptism. I believe that the grace I received through my baptism certainly helped me to search for God in the Catholic Church. Were I not raised a Christian, I believe that I would still be wandering in search of the truth. Now, I thank God that I have found it!
“Gloria in excelsis Deo, et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis!”*
Disclaimer: The article presented here has not yet received episcopal approval as being free from all doctrinal error (Nihil Obstat) and therefore does not necessarily represent the official doctrine of the Catholic Church, but represents solely the opinions of the author.
*Glory to God in the highest, and peace on Earth to men of good will!