converts/reverts to the Faith
#11
I'll cut-and-paste my story from off of my Facebook.  Here it is:

Over the years many people have asked me how I went from being a Baptist to a Catholic. So I thought I would share a little bit about my journey of faith.

I was raised in an active Southern Baptist home. Growing up, we seemed to be in church about every time the church doors were open. At the age of eight I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior, and was baptized on April 19, 1979 at the First Baptist Church of Windsor, Missouri. As I grew up, I continued to grow in my knowledge of God, and was excited about being a Christian.

Then during my junior year in high school, I began a time of rebellion that lasted through my freshman year in college. I got into the partying lifestyle. But during my freshman year in college I finally hit rock bottom. I would come home from a night of partying, and simply lay in my bed crying over how lonely and sad I was. The lifestyle that I once thought was so fun was no longer fun. One night I remember simply crying out to God and begging Him to help me. It was then that my life began to change.

I found myself all of a sudden wanting to read the Bible again, and watch Christian television. The partying lifestyle that I was once attracted to no longer was appealing, and I didn't want to be a part of it anymore. I recommitted my life to Christ, and dedicated myself to following Him. I moved back home with my parents to get away from the environment that I was in, and got involved in church again. I began working with our church's youth group, which was where I first began to sense a call on my life from God.

One summer I was a counselor at a youth church camp called Super Summer. It was here that I knew that God was calling me to the teaching ministry, and I accepted that call. I went back to my home congregation in Windsor, shared my decision with the church, and a year later was licensed as a Baptist minister by that congregation. Several years later I was ordained a minister, and became an associate pastor of a small congregation. Besides my duties as associate pastor, my wife and I also worked in the youth ministry of that congregation, and helped out with the youth ministries of other congregations.

Although I was excited about the ministry that I was doing, there was still something more that I felt that God had for me. I began to be interested in the early Church, and being a part of restoring the Church to how it was in the beginning. So I began an in-depth study on early Church history, and the historical and cultural contexts of the writings of the New Testament books. But it was during this time that I started to discover things in the Scriptures that didn't line up with my beliefs as a Baptist. It finally got to the point where I didn't feel as if I could go on being a Baptist minister, so I resigned my position as associate pastor.

My wife and I then began attending a non-denominational congregation, and I continued in my studies in early Church history and the historical and cultural contexts of the Bible. I began reading the historical writings of Clement, Ignatius, and Polycarp, who knew and ministered with the apostles personally. As I read the writings of these men who were taught by the apostles themselves, I was amazed to discover that they adhered to Catholic beliefs, such as apostolic succession, the authority of Tradition, the Real Presence of the Eucharist, baptismal regeneration, etc. This surprised me because I would have never thought that those who were students of the apostles would be Catholic. In fact, this was farthest from my mind.

This discovery led me to look into what the Catholic Church taught, and the reasons why it taught it. I would look at pro-Catholic websites and research every claim that they made. I would then look at anti-Catholic websites, and do the same. I compared the teachings of the Catholic Church with the Scriptures, and with the historical and cultural evidence of the time period in which the Bible was written, and after much prayer and studying, embraced the Catholic Faith as being the truth.

I shared my findings with my wife, shared with her that I felt that God was calling us to the Catholic Church, and she flipped out. She was a very anti-Catholic person, and didn't want anything to do with the Catholic faith. She even threatened to leave me if I went through with my plans to join the Catholic Church. I simply told her that if she chose to leave me, then that was her choice. But I had to follow God's will and what I knew to be the truth. After several months of not being willing to even talk about the Catholic Faith, she finally relented, and said that she would at least look into the reasons of why the Catholic Church believes what it does. Several months later both Penni and I joined the Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil service in 2000.

It has been a long, hard road, but very well worth. In finally coming home to the Catholic Church, I have found a peace and joy that I never thought possible.
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#12
When I was 12 I started to take my religion seriously. I began attending Mass on weekends (without my family, they're all lapsed Catholics) and then gradually after school on weekdays too. This lasted for around a year but when I entered high school it all stopped. I always had this desire to be a part of the Church but was unwilling to make the effort required or live my life by someone Else's (God's) standards. When I was 14 I could feel that I was slipping away from the Faith so I waited till after Mass and then knelt in the lady chapel, lit a candle and poured my heart out. I told the BVM I knew I was going to fall from the faith and asked her to always watch over me and one day bring me back, to never let me stray too far. I can still remember that day, I was crying a lot and made one final plea before calming myself down and going home. That would be the last time I prayed honestly and from the heart for a long time. The next two years of high school I remained a nominal Catholic, my faith was confined to my school life and I joined my non-Catholic friends in drinking and partying on the weekends. One night I decided to leave the Church altogether and put all my books, rosaries and saint cards into the trash. It seemed the further I strayed from the Church the louder that little voice in my head became. I continued to study the Faith, read Catholic blogs and would occasionally go to Mass but my heart was not in it. It was more out of nostalgia and interest than love of God. One day I got home from school and emptied my homework from its plastic pocket onto my desk. Five torn up pieces of paper fell out. I looked at them trying to piece them together and then realized it was a Holy Card I'd received back in primary school from the first time I served Mass. I almost freaked out, I'd thrown the card out over a year ago and there was absolutely no way that it could have gotten into the plastic pocket that I'd purchased a few weeks earlier. From then on I started taking my faith seriously and tried to amend my life. I lost a lot of friends and was told I'd "changed" a lot but it didn't bother me. I'd become disenchanted with the passing attractions of the world already and was longing for something that was eternal. I finally made my confession at the Cathedral and walked out of that confessional the happiest I'd been in a long, long time.
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#13
Well, here's mine.

As a kid I was pretty religious.  I went to Catholic school, and in kindergarten I drew a picture of people burning in hell (I should scan and post it - I still have it - proof I was trad from the beginning, har).  I wanted to serve Mass, but my dad would have had to drive me and he didn't want to do it for the 5:30 AM Masses, so I ended up not serving.

I went to Catholic high school where I was educated by Jesuits.  Completely heterodox, except they taught me a great love for Christ and how to respect and see Christ in others, for which I am eternally grateful.  Also, the fact that they gave me a good education is a blessing, too.

By junior year in high school, I started to get in arguments with the theology teachers, calling them on nonsense.  I mean, it wasn't deep theology I was calling them on - it was basic stuff that I learned from the Benedictine nuns in grade school.  This got me the nickname "the Bishop" in the theology department.  But, it was a good-natured jab because I was always respectful of the teachers.  About this time, I started taking my faith more seriously.  I went to Mass at lunchtime every day, and drove myself to Mass on Sunday.  But, at Mass I stayed in the lobby where the speakers were because I didn't "fit in".  See, I was wearing leather jackets and metal t-shirts and stuff and didn't want to be the sore thumb sticking out.  So, I didn't go to Communion on Sunday usually.  I went during the week and the Jesuits heard confessions at school, so I went there.

Also in my junior year I wrote a paper about how the Church messed up by doing away with Latin.  See, I still wasn't a traditionalist, I just had common sense.  I talked it over with my advisor who was a Jesuit, and he was nice and all, but pretty dismissive of it.  I also talked to a novice and asked him why they removed the minor office of Exorcist; he gave me an explanation that made no sense to me.  Finally,  I also had an interest in becoming a priest, and my career aptitude testing suggest a priest or a soldier (the soldier thing is a whole other store), and the closest to that is, of course, a Jesuit.  But, I didn't get much support from the Jesuits for obvious reasons, and without going into an even longer story, I didn't pursue it.

I graduated, went away to college, and was absolutely appalled at how people behaved and treated each other.  I guess I was sheltered in Catholic schools.  I also hated my major and wasn't doing well, so I came back home and went to a Jesuit (Yay!) university, and finally graduate there.

Then I kind of lapsed and stuff.  Fast forward to after my son was born, and for some reason I saw something on the news about the Church and the Freemasons.  I started wondering why the Church would excommunicate people for joining the equivalent of the Moose Lodge Fred Flintstone belonged to.  So, I started reading about it.  While I was reading about it, something made me want to read about the Rosary.  So, I did.  Then I started praying the Rosary nightly.  Then I started talking to the BVM.  Then I went to Mass - a Novus Ordo Mass.  I almost fainted.  I couldn't believe what I saw; I grew up in the NO, but this was beyond anything I saw since where I grew up it was very EWTN-ish.  So I tried another parish, and another, and another.  It was bad.

So I remembered hearing about the Tridentine Mass, so I called the Chancery and asked if there were any Tridentine Masses.  She said the SSPX had one nearby, but "the SSPX isn't in Communion with Rome".  I said, oh, well, can I go to the Mass, and she asked the Canonist and the Canonist said I could go (I'm pretty sure she was thinking I just wanted to see a TLM not go to Mass there all the time).  So I went to Mass there and never looked back.

Well, I did look back once.  I realized that the day I started reading about the Rosary and praying it was May 1st, the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker in the month of Mary (May).  Joseph is my baptismal name.  I think Momma hung her slipper out my behind and got me back on track.
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#14
First of all, ServusMaria, it did me good to read your story - sorry for being a jerk on another thread. And Quis, wow, you really were a born traddie, hey?

I'm still in the process of conversion I reckon  (especially in so far as affiliation to any "group" within the Church these days!) but I'm definitely on the side of whatever Church the Saints testified to. That's the best I can put it.

I was raised Catholic by a devout mum and convert dad in a very "ideal" environment, a bit like St Therese's childhood in lots of ways. I always loved Jesus and Mary and my bedroom was like a shrine right up until about 12 years old, when I suddenly realized that I was meant to be embarrassed by all the holy pictures etc when friends came round. I went to a Jesuit school that was meant to be great but had nothing to do with Catholicism and everything to do with status, right at the worst time for Jezzies in Australia. I didn't lose my faith so much as almost forget about it, like all the holy pictures down in my bottom drawers. Through adolescence I grew to feel there was something very wrong about the values I was being force-fed at school, and then one day when I was about 16 I went on a cheesy "Antioch" youth group retreat just because I liked a girl who I heard was going. For some mysterious reason God used this event to break through to me in a pretty heavy way one night. For a whole day I felt a literal weight growing on my shoulders which in some mysterious way I knew was a good thing, then at night during a "prayer time" (?!) this "weight" burst like a big water balloon and I was flooded with God basically, a bit like "born again" people talk about only real. I began a covert love affair with Jesus that was as simple as a Beachboys song - I just couldn't get enough. I started being drawn into a kind of love where I could just sit and "feel" Jesus with me.

Since then there's been all sorts of stuff, but I guess that would go down as my official "conversion experience". Or "reversion", because it was basically some kind of restoration of what had been lost. To be honest, I've never related to Conversion stories (and used to hate hearing them and being asked for my own at the pentecostalish catholic groups I used to try out for so called "retreats" when I was still trying to find "catholics" who I could share my love of Christ with) because that moment didn't radically alter my life in any dramatic way, nor did later "experiences", apart from dropping any worldly ambition and trying to serve God above all else, which is just plain obvious when you experience what's really going on.  Experiencing God's mercy or providence or justice, or Christ's love in intimate moments or whatever has only ever been for me a consolation, correction or encouragement during this life down here. It doesn't make me go out and live in a desert eating locusts or anything - for me it's always been a matter of "well God's the real deal, the Church is pretty weird when you look at it but is still the Mystical Body, just as full of hypocrites, Joe Blows and saints as it always was, and every life comes from and is owed to God."  For me it's just a matter of bumbling along, doing your best, learning more, trying, falling, trying again, shedding things, gaining things... to be corny, conversion is neverending while we're on earth, I reckon. I half envy people with radical conversion "moments" and half distrust them, because "conversion" is simply waking up to reality. You still have reality to live with after it.
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#15
No problem and thanks :)

I didn't know you lived in Australia too. Which "group" offers the Mass you attend? There doesn't seem to be a big traditionalist movement in our country. I'm in the Archdiocese of Melbourne and we have less than five approved TLM's for a diocese of one million Catholics.
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#16
Different groups offer the different Masses I attend!  :) I like to remain anonymous because I hate catholic "clubbiness"! I've yet to meet a "group" that doesn't have a "group mentality". It causes more trouble than it's worth.
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