Seeking Divine Mercy
The journey returning home is not always easy when there are loved ones not of the same beliefs or mindset as the person who has committed to their return home. The following is a testimony of one who has unselfishly offered to share her personal experiences so that others may know they are not alone should conflicts with loved ones arise on that path leading back to that one Church Jesus Founded with His Blood; the Catholic Church
The intent of this article will be to hopefully help those who may be struggling with their return to the Catholic Church due to either conflict within family members or friends who are not supportive of a denominational change or personal conflicts in making a decision to leave belief systems that one has been a part of for many years. I was a part of both of these conflicts and I hope to offer some hope to those desiring to return to a Church, 2,000 years old; rich in both history and beliefs that I had discovered to be full of wonderful grace and solace to a very weary traveler.
I traveled across West Texas recently on a trip to the
all this while driving down the long stretch of highway, I was reminded of how
I felt a year ago when I began searching for fulfillment in a faith that was
that had become for me, unsatisfying. I
was parched, dry and thirsty. I was
unable to grow spiritually much like the crops of
When I began contemplation of returning to the Church of my childhood, I knew it would conflict with those closest to me. Having been married 41 years and part of the Methodist Church during that time, I realized this would take me on a journey requiring much prayer, knowledge of the Catholic faith and most importantly spiritual guidance. For one contemplating this return, these three essential elements are needed in order to complete the journey, remaining somewhat intact and able to weather those developing storm clouds on the horizon that may occur.
most important beginning of any journey is prayer. One must develop a deep relationship with the
Holy Spirit in order to be able to recognize the call to return to the
Church. It is a “spark” that may lie
dormant for many years but once rekindled will burn out of control requiring
immediate attention and the realization that God is at work in you. I actually “wrestled” with the call and found
myself in a state of some deep depression for a while because I resisted the
“call”. I fought it with every fiber of
my being even though I knew this was what I had been searching for over a
period of many years. During this time,
I shared my feelings with no one, not ever those closest to me. I knew that the decision to return to the
Church had to be made by me alone without any outside influences either
Catholic or Protestant. I begin to pray
unceasingly for guidance during this time.
It was this constant prayer that would eventually give me strength to
overcome questions from family and friends, skepticism from well-meaning
Protestant friends, seeing the looks in their eyes whenever I came into a room
and just the overall feeling that I had abandoned everyone by choosing to
return to the Catholic Faith. I was
especially concerned about my marriage and if it would survive at all. Knowing I was following the call of Christ
made me realize I might lose all those that were dear to me. This caused me many a sleepless night and the
shedding of many tears that would have easily filled a water trough for cattle
on the King Ranch in south
Once I was able to overcome the insecurity of the decision I had made through prayer, I began the laborious task of delving into Church history in order to understand my faith better. It is one thing to tell others of your return to the church but quite another to be able to defend it especially around my many Protestant family and friends of whom I knew would be more than willing to point out what they believed to be the flaws of the Catholic Church whenever prompted. For years I was quite content to take the easy road in accepting a belief that really did not require much effort other than following scripture, regular attendance at church with the understanding I was assured of salvation by merely following these principals and by basically leading an exemplary life through volunteer work within the church.
I began reading many books by many other “reverts” and converts to the faith to gain a greater appreciation of what it was that was drawing me home as well as Church History, the Catechism of the Church and writings by many mystic Church fathers. Two books in particular were Scott and Kimberley Hahn’s “Rome Sweet Home” and Marcus Grodi’s “Thoughts for the Journey Home”. The authors of these books are former Protestant ministers who became converts to the Catholic Church and their stories tell of the struggles they encountered leaving behind their Protestant belief systems, life-long friends and the challenges of starting over in a completely new belief that led them to embrace a faith that profoundly changed their lives forever. There are references to some other recommended books on the resource page of this website that I would encourage one to read before taking the final step
Being married to a Protestant, I found myself called upon
to defend the sacraments especially the Eucharist and the sacrament of
Reconciliation. For a Protestant, these
are fundamentally two of the most talked about and argued over sacraments as
well as the role of the Blessed Virgin in Catholic life. Knowing I would no longer be able to take
communion in the
finally, seek out a spiritual guide. I
found help through this website as well as with a priest at the church I
eventually became a member of. It was
extremely difficult to walk in the door of the parish office the first time and
sit and talk with a future “confessor” about why I had left the church in the
first place. But he was of extreme
comfort to me and I have continued to make regular visits to him for confession
and to just discuss issues of concern.
It is critical for one’s spiritual health to have someone in whom you
can trust in order to share and discuss any questions that may arise causing
you discomfort, anger, depression, loss of faith or even the tendency to want
to quit pursuing a return to the Church due to the extreme outside resistance
and discomfort it can cause. I have been extremely blessed to have had access
to both a priest and a website mentor that have provided me with the tools
necessary to complete the Journey Home.
Even though I have completed the mechanics of this journey, I am still
faced with the fact that as a part of a Protestant family there are many
challenges to overcome. One cannot do
this alone. These challenges can be very
personal. I for instance, do not have that spiritual connection with my husband
I once had and even though I attend church with him on Sunday morning at the
As a side note to all of the struggles that occur during this time of transition, I found that sometimes when communicating with my husband or loved ones, it is helpful to write a letter explaining my feelings and discoveries of my faith, as it allows the person to better understand than if done in verbal discussions which can tend to turn in an argumentative atmosphere.
These three elements mentioned above, I believe, will give one that hope needed to consider what it takes to return home. I do not for one minute regret the time I spent as a Protestant. I think it was all part of God’s plan for me to come back; a better Catholic, stronger in my faith and with a commitment to work at guiding others back to the church as well. It is with all its difficulties, an exciting journey. Once you are back in the Church and able to share in all the sacraments especially the Eucharist, you will look back and realize what you have missed over the years. All the painful and difficult steps of the journey will eventually become but a distant memory.
As I began the assent into the cooler mountain air of New Mexico some 9,000 feet closer to heaven, leaving behind the dry, parched, sun-soaked soil of Texas and watching the car thermometer go from the low 100s to the upper 60s, I realized how thankful I was of God’s abundant grace and His blessings He has bestowed on one who was spiritually dead. My prayer is that others like me will find comfort also through websites such as this one in order to complete the journey of faith and to ultimately be reunited with Christ and His Holy Church. And as the rest of that particular passage in Psalm 23 reads: “You guide me along the right path, for the sake of your name. Even when I walk through a dark valley, I fear no harm, for you are at my side, your rod and staff gives me courage”. (Passage from Psalm 23 taken from The New American Bible.)
Written by a follower of SDM website