Hello Rosary Lovers!
This is a post about my Catholic life.
I LOVE being Catholic. I would rather be a Catholic than anything else in all the world. But I am not a cradle Catholic. I haven’t been Catholic for most of my life.
How I Came to Leave Protestantism
I have been Christian for much of my life, following mainly Reformed Evangelicalism. I was also involved in Pentecostalism.
I was baptised into the Anglican Church when I was very young. I never really took to this.
In my teens, I experienced a crisis of faith and became unofficially Agnostic for about 6 years. These were dark years for me and I sinned much against God.
I came back to Christianity and spent many years in various Protestant denominations. I gave a lot of thought in particular to Calvinism and Arminianism.
In 2016, my life changed. I read a book on the Middle Ages which shook my intellectual and spiritual life. Studying the Middle Ages began to seriously alter my view of Christianity.
I went from here to studying the early Church and reading much on the early Church fathers.
This led me to the Greek Orthodox Church, which I started attending.
Although I found it weird, Orthodox Christianity had a tremendous pull on me. I believed it to be far, far closer to the Christianity of the early Christians than anything I had known in Protestantism.
Eventually I had to renounce sola scriptura on intellectual grounds. I could no longer see how it was possible to uphold this belief.
This was because I came to see that to have an infallible Scripture one needs the Church as another infallible authority besides Scripture to establish precisely what books should be in the Bible and what books shouldn’t be.
Without the Church as another infallible authority besides Scripture to decide upon this issue, one cannot have an infallible Canon, or an infallible Scripture.
It seemed to me that if one rejected the infallible authority of the Church, the door is left open for a fallible Scripture, which would in time result in some sort of agnostic/liberal Christianity.
Such a Christianity could, theoretically, deny the resurrection of Jesus, the entire ground of Christian faith.
None of this is purely hypothetical. There are many liberal Christian scholars who have doubted the physical resurrection of Jesus, along with plenty of other traditional Christian beliefs.
Christianity would become whatever I want it to be.
How very postmodern indeed, but not very Christian!
With my belief in sola scriptura shattered, if I wanted to stay Christian, my options were reduced radically to two:
- Orthodox Christianity
My Next Step
I was immediately sold on the idea of becoming Greek Orthodox. I read everything I could on it, and went to as many Divine Liturgies and Vespers services as I could.
To this day, I miss this tradition a great deal. It holds something that is very personal to me and resonates with my interior being a lot.
However, I came to see that all was not as rosy as I had thought in the Orthodox world. The divisions began to bother me, a lot. Particularly the division between the Oriental Orthodox and the Eastern Orthodox.
Then in 2018, the Russian Orthodox and Greek Orthodox Churches split, in one of the most significant breakups of communion in recent Church history. This wound is still not healed, and with the Russian and Ukrainian war, any repairing of this broken relationship looks like it is going to take a very long time.
I also struggled with getting to Liturgy. There were no local Orthodox churches where I lived, and I had to travel a long way to get to one. Sometimes the Liturgies were cancelled because the priest was ill and there was no replacement sent.
I was also told that my marriage wasn’t valid, which upset me.
But one issue above all bothered me a lot. The more I thought about it and looked into it, the more it bothered me, and the more I thought that it was an issue which must be taken incredibly seriously.
It was the issue of the Pope of Rome.
I had studied Church history, so I knew that the Pope was a major figure. Even to the Orthodox, the Popes before the 11th century were a big deal and were seen as very significant.
To cut a rather long story short, I began to see that there wasn’t a solid/concrete way to argue against the Catholic Church’s claims about the Papacy. There was plenty of evidence from the Church Fathers, even the Eastern Church Fathers, that the Pope was Peter’s unique successor, and that Peter was Head of the Apostles and Head of the Church.
It wasn’t this that convinced me however. What convinced me was being left without a way to tell where exactly the true Church of Jesus Christ actually was without the Pope.
Where is the Church? Is it the Eastern Orthodox? Is it the Russian Orthodox Church and all in communion with her? Is it the Greek Orthodox, and all in communion with them? Or perhaps it’s the Oriental Orthodox communion? Maybe they’ve been right all along…?
How was I to know? It seemed to me that without an OBJECTIVE authority and figure such as the Pope, how can we possibly know for sure where the true Church is?
We can argue theology and Church history and who did what and what the Scriptures say and ‘this is how it really is’ all we want. But to a powerful degree, isn’t all of this largely subjective? Aren’t we often seeing in evidence what we want to be true?
The Catholic Church, I noticed, doesn’t need to do any of this because she has the Pope. He serves as an objective Standard, without the need to argue that the Catholic Church is true because of this or because of that.
This meant that I couldn’t with certainty know that the Catholic Church was a lie. I couldn’t know it was heretical. I couldn’t know it was not the true Church.
If I couldn’t know this, why was I rejecting it? What if it is true?
And so I surrendered. I made my first Confession and then joined a number of months later.
Since Becoming Catholic
Since I joined the Catholic Church, I have found my path rocky. I played hard and fast with certain teachings of the Church, pretending to myself that they weren’t essential to believe in, or that I could skate around them.
This is not a good way to be a Catholic and will likely result in a ship-wrecked faith.
As a result, I was continuing to enjoy certain sins. I was also letting my reason dictate my faith. I had not yet let my reason be converted in its totality to the Catholic Church.
St Thomas Aquinas describes faith as a submission of intellect and will to the Church and her teachings. I wasn’t yet at this point even though I had become a Catholic.
I had barely been Catholic a year when I began to think about leaving. My faith was hardly hanging on, and I got to a point where I said to God and myself, ‘I’ll give it one more chance. I’ll pray the 5-day Novena to St Therese of the Child Jesus.’
I wasn’t holding out much hope, but amazingly it worked. My faith sparked back to life and I went from strength to strength.
I abandoned sins that had held me down for so long. I fully embraced all the Church teaches in everything. I surrendered my reason, my heart and my will to the holy Catholic Church.
For the first time, I truly fell in love with the Church.
You can read more about this period of my life in the About Me section of this website.
Where I am at now
My Catholic faith is the most important thing in my life. Without it, I would be lost. With it, I am a new man.
My daily devotion to God is the recitation of the entire Rosary: all the 20 mysteries. This has transformed my life more than any other spiritual discipline.
My arena of salvation is centred around my home: my wife and my children. God has shown me that if I want to be saved, I must submit to my wife and obey her wishes (within reason, obviously).
I have been fortunate to have been very present in the lives of my children. My wife and I have brought them up together equally.
This has meant that my Mass attendence hasn’t been what I would like it to be. I have family commitments and cannot always go to Mass when I want to.
A priest once told me that this is fine, that fulfilling role to my family is how I will find my salvation.
I would love to give more time to going to Mass. Going to Mass daily is something I would like to aim for.
I also love worshipping the blessed Sacrament in quietness, but I don’t often get to do this outside of Sunday Mass.
I wear the Brown Scapular and have been enrolled into the Association of Mary Queen of All Hearts and the Confraternity of the Rosary.
I am fully conscrated to Mary and to St Joseph. I also wear the cord of St Joseph.
I attend Confession once in a while. Going regularly isn’t something God has called me to, but when I do go often these are special times. I am very sincere in my Confessions, and I go when I really have something to share with God.
I receive the Eucharist usually once or twice a week. Twice on a good week, but that’s pretty rare now, especially since I now have a secular job 3 days a week.
All in all, I thank God so much for where I am. Life is not straightforward, and it is a lot more difficult than I ever thought it would be.
But I have the Rosary, I have Mary, I have my priests, I have the Church, I have the saints, I have the Eucharist. I have my wife and children, and I have my close friends.
In short, I have everything that I need as a human to live a life worthy of the dignity of being human.
And I owe it all to my Catholic life.