Ever have an old website you wanted to look up? I found my old web page through the Way Back Machine the other day. After the ex and I converted to Catholicism, I set up a page that shared our conversion story and offered a reading list for people wondering why anyone would ever do such a thing. I copied the text and pasted it below.
The journey to this point has been an interesting one. It has been a difficult decision for some of our Protestant friends to accept, which is understandable given the attitude towards Catholicism found in many Protestant churches today. It has also been a lonely journey since we have had no one here to join us in our discovery of this beautiful and ancient Church. Nonetheless, we have arrived and we have no desire to turn back.
I was not raised in a Christian home. My grandparents were fairly religious, but my Papa stopped attending church after my Grammie passed away. He had been “all churched out.” I was baptized in the Episcopal Church when I was one month old. After my mom got married, we moved to a tiny town in Virginia where I attended Vacation Bible School at the local Baptist church. We really only went to church to meet people because our neighbors were so far apart in the country.
We moved back to California in 1986. In my sophomore year of high school I spent a semester at a Christian high school. At this time, I was learning about Wicca, but rarely practicing it. No one at the school told me how to become a Christian or even why I should, but during chapel I felt that I wanted what they had. Through a few Christian friends, I began to learn more about Christianity. After graduation in 1995, my husband (then boyfriend) and I began to read the Bible and became Christian that summer. We were baptized at the Evangelical Free Church. Had I known then what I know now, I would not have decided to get re-baptized.
X was raised in a Jehovah’s Witness home. His family was actively involved in this religion until he reached his teens.
After we became Christian, we were fairly involved in our church for a while before we fell away. We returned to Christianity within a year and soon after decided to attend a Bible college in Oregon. During our year at Bible college, we learned a lot about what it means to be a Christian. We were overwhelmed with the tremendous amount of information we took in. We also made some wonderful friends that we still keep in touch with today.
By this point, X had two main interests within Christianity–uniting the Church and the study of Church History. It wasn’t until the year before we were married that he really began to pursue these interests.
Two months before the wedding, X moved up to Oregon to set up house for us. He found an apartment near his friend, whom he had met at the Bible college. His friend had a roommate who was part of the Eastern Orthodox Church. The three of them attended an Orthodox Easter service together. X asked the roommate about his interest in the Orthodox Church and he replied that if it weren’t for them (the Catholics and Orthodox), we (Protestants) wouldn’t even have the Bible. This seems a bit trite, but it opened a door. Soon after, X read The Orthodox Church by Timothy Ware and began to gain an understanding of the ancient churches.
After the wedding, I joined X in Oregon. I was uncomfortable with his newfound interest in Orthodoxy. We argued about it and tried to compromise by looking for a more traditional Protestant church. Lutheran was as far as I was willing to go. We stayed in Oregon for four months before moving back to California due to homesickness and the fact that my sister was going to have a baby.
X toned down his interest in Orthodoxy for a while, but soon became interested in Catholicism and purchased a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This resulted in more arguments about idolatry and false doctrine. As time went on, X’s interest in Catholicism increased. He asked me to read the books that he was reading, so that I would at least be informed from both sides of the argument. Although I didn’t agree with Catholicism at the time, my curiosity was piqued, so I began to read some of the books he had found.
The main reason why I had been so resistant to Catholicism up to this point was that the idea that Catholicism was wrong was all I knew. After becoming Christian in 1995, X and I began working at a local Christian bookstore. I worked there off and on over the next five years. We had a number of employees and regular customers who had left the Catholic Church. I learned from them as well as reading books, debating, and listening to apologetics radio programs that felt Catholicism was in error. Members of our church were vocal former Catholics. Also, X and I took a workshop on Catholicism at Bible college taught by a former priest. We didn’t agree with everything he said, though, because he had a tendency to be extreme in his views on images and idolatry.
As a Protestant, I didn’t question my thoughts on Catholicism until I began to read what they actually wrote, taught, and believed. Slowly my perspective began to change. In the summer of 2000, after much debate, we decided that we both wanted to become Catholic. We announced our decision to our friends and family. In the fall we joined a Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults class (RCIA). X spent endless hours in e-mail debates with our friends who vehemently disagreed with our decision. We received a range of reactions from the idea that it’s “spiritual suicide” to, “I don’t agree, but I know you’re saved” to, “as long as you’re happy.” Now most people just don’t bring up the topic.
Unfortunately, the RCIA class leaders occasionally had a tendency to teach things contrary to the teachings of the Church, so we decided to meet privately with a priest at a more orthodox parish. They claimed that Catholics were allowed to use contraception if they wanted to, that the Eucharist was more of a symbol, and that morality was relative. They were exceedingly proud of all the changes they had made since Vatican II. At the other parish, the priest helped us understand more about the Sacraments, grace, and sin, as well as answering the questions that we had.
The day after we were received into the Church, we went to confession and had our first communion. It is all a very different experience. I don’t know if it’s possible to be fully prepared for the living out of Catholicism after being a Protestant. It’s a gradual adjustment, but we are enjoying it. We have found a beauty and richness that wasn’t there in our previous experience of Christianity.
Some wonderful news: X’s friend was received into the Church at the Easter Vigil on Saturday, April 14, 2001. He had been interested in Orthodoxy for a few years now, but decided to become a Catholic after studying the teachings on the Pope and Church authority. Also, we are training to become natural family planning teachers!
We still have a lot to learn, but it is a wonderful journey of discovery. I hope that one day, our family and friends will be able to see why we have chosen this path, and maybe some will even choose to join us.