What was your religious background?
I was born into a nominally Protestant family.  I think we might have gone to a total of five or six Sunday services during my entire childhood (and I'm counting my teenage years for that number, too).  Not too surprisingly, I ended up an atheist by about the age of 12.  I vehemently rejected God and became very socially liberal.  I was once a member of the Young Communist League.  Then, when I was about 17 years old, I began experiencing doubts about my beliefs.  There were two aspects to this.  The first was an intellectual aspect.  It wasn't immediately a religious one.  Instead, I rejected the arguments of the pro-abortionist crowd and came to firmly believe that human beings have a right to life from the moment of conception.  This had, in hindsight, a profound effect.  I began to question all of my political, social, and moral beliefs.  I came to appreciate traditional social practices, though it had nothing to do with any kind of divine or transcendent origin.  Rather, I saw it as a matter of trial and error, so that what worked is what became traditional (e.g. marriage between one man and one woman is what works and must be defended).

However, it didn't end there.  Naturally, as I became politically and socially conservative, I resigned my YCL membership and became involved in conservative groups for youth.  Mostly, these groups were filled with Christian conservatives.  Being the oddball atheist conservative is an interesting experience, but it didn't lead to an immediate conversion.  That is where the second aspect came in.  Having radically changed my moral, political, and social views, I also lost the vehemence of my atheism and had a mostly positive assessment of religion at this point.  This opened the way for the emotional aspect of my conversion.  I began experiencing personal crises around this time, very, very horrible for me.  I won't go into the details here but it was soul-crushing and nearly led me to end my life.  However, having made some Christian friends, I eventually began exploring Christianity, with an open mind.  I'll never forget what was a pivotal moment for me.  I observed a debate between a Baptist preacher and an atheist scientist.  Despite being more open to religion by this point, I was expecting the preacher to get creamed.  Instead, the Baptist preacher mopped the floor with the atheist scientist, so much so that the atheist ran off like a coward without finishing the full debate.

It was at this point that I read some works like Lee Stobel's "The Case for Christ" and "The Case for a Creator."  Despite being Protestant books, I am still deeply grateful for them.  I realized that both God existed and Christianity was true.  At this point, it was "mere Christianity" that I had embraced.  With more study, especially thanks to Catholic Answers, I came to accept the Catholic Church was the Church founded by Jesus Christ.  I went through RICA at my local parish and became a Catholic at age 20.  But my journey did not end there.  The RCIA program was what you'd expect from a lay-run program at your average NO parish.  It wasn't 100% horrible but you didn't get the real depth of Catholicism.  There were, to be sure, some heretical elements.  I left with the impression that as long as it wasn't a belief defined as infallible by the pope, I didn't have to accept it.  Obviously, not a good foundation for a real Catholic Faith.  After a few years, I began going through a crisis of faith.  I won't go into detail about specifics but I ended up leaving the Church. I didn't become an atheist again but I wandered about the Protestant sects for a few years.

It was at this time that I finally read some of the works of Ed Feser.  This really strengthened my belief in God, which until then had more a probabilistic acceptance of God's existence.  Since reading Feser's works, I see belief in God as a metaphysical necessity, regardless of what scientific discoveries are made in the future.  But more importantly, Feser's works exposed me to the true intellectual depth of Catholicism, most especially St. Thomas Aquinas.  Still, I wasn't sure about the Church at this point.  Instead, what really served as the clincher was a series of dreams that I began having in the months before I returned to the Church.  I began dreaming, on a regular basis, about driving in the countryside around my tiny hometown.  I'd come upon a Catholic parish and instinctively stop.  I'd walk in and the priest would greet me with "are you here to make your confession?"  These dreams would have a profound emotional effect on me.  I eventually found my way to Fisheaters and the resources here on the traditional Catholic Faith, the only real Catholic Faith, helped me take the final step of returning to the Church.  That was a few years ago.
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To add something here, it took me a while after baptism to become orthodox, and we are always striving to become orthodox, anyway.

I studied and dabbled in neo-pagan spirituality and ritual, too, and read about Thelema, but while these practices were enriching in some respects, I never experienced transformation which is my desire.

Of course, Jesus always remained central to my devotions, along with our Blessed Mother. And one day I knew that I must rest in them, and I know them because of the holy Catholic Church.

Along the way I have said traditional prayers to old saints, but when I was on a neo-pagan spectrum, I "fed" the saints, in a symbolic fashion, but still with physical offerings.

One night I had an encounter, and it seemed as though the communion of the saints was present and orchestrated everything, with our Mother and another being in the forefront. And I thought I might die, but I recited the Jesus prayer, and I was kept safe, as this happened in a wooded area!

That is all I will say about such things that I don't understand. But it eventually led me to convert to Catholicism. The Church contains every good thing I ever discovered or engaged with in alternative spiritualities.

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God, but in the Catholic faith I've learned to do just that with trust and love in our blessed Lord Jesus.

Thanks be to God for all his mercies! I ask you to pray for me, a sinner!

I couldn't after my prior spiritual formation and journey bear the modern liturgy except on occasion during a weekday with no music.

You see, to someone of a high Anglo-Catholic background, and to someone who engaged also in private rituals in a neo-pagan setting, rituals and liturgies are holy, sacred, filled with power, if we approach them prayerfully, humbly, and properly disposed.

I see the old Latin mass celebrated with the devotion, prayer, and awe befitting to so sacred a mystery. That is what feeds my soul and strikes me, pardon my Anglican background, as "proper."

Even a "well celebrated" Novus Ordo disturbs my heart because of the prayers that have been eviscerated.

As someone who has previously engaged with theatrical rituals, I remember the care and precision I put into each word and act. And that was private devotion. How the Church could have possibly replaced the Roman Rite with the state of modern liturgy is simply appalling to my sensibilities, and as I continue to educate myself, I think my sensibilities are correct.
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Born and raised in a conservative Lutheran church of the ELCA. Became nominal after age eleven. Stopped attending completely after thirteen. When I was 18, I regained interest after attending a historic German Lutheran church in NYC and became fervent, but a series of setbacks and heartache forced me to return home, and left me becoming an anti-theistic (think Chris Hitchens) agnostic (aka "mad at God").

Strangely I wound up looking into Judaism when I was in college and living in the city, (probably because I sought religion, but still was mad at Jesus) and was on the path to converting to Conservative Judaism. However, I had to move back home and there was no Jewish synagogue nearby, also I was starting to find myself drawn back to Christianity when during Rosh Hasshana and Yom Kippur I realized that Judaism was lacking something that I felt as a Lutheran. I felt 6000 years of history, but I didn't feel God, and so I began to consider Christianity again.

I knew from my time at the historic German Lutheran church that I could not go back to any kind of Christianity, unless it had an emphasis on good Liturgy and Doctrine. ELCA was definitely not the truth because it began to allow homosexual clergy and unions. So it left me with WELS or LMS. I could never go to WELS because I didn't see the pope as the anti-Christ, and there was no LMS nearby, or one that had a good liturgy. My mother who was a lapsed Catholic (I didn't know at the time) suggested either Episcopalianism, or Catholicism. I couldn't be Episcopalian, so that left me with Catholicism. Ironically the liturgy was worse than ELCA Lutheranism that I was used to, but I knew it was the true.

There is far more to this, but I'm too tired to write it all. A lot of it involves little Catholic practices ingraned in my life growing up that was unbeknowst to me such as: St Christopher medals, praying to Saint Anthony, my mother's Rosary in her purse, my grandfather's house that had more statues of the saints and the BVM, and crucifixes than most abbeys.
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(02-07-2020, 06:51 PM)everbecoming2007 Wrote: I studied and dabbled in neo-pagan spirituality and ritual, too, and read about Thelema, but while these practices were enriching in some respects, I never experienced transformation which is my desire.

Ah yes, Thelema. I looked into that a bit thanks to my complete obsession with the band Behemoth. While I found the symbolism of the occult interesting, thanks to my atheism (I guess), I still found the rituals ridiculous and found the concept of magick to be absurd nonsense (thank God). So I never actually practiced Satanism or Occultism, but definitely had some belief in them ideologically and spiritually.

The best way I could explain my belief of Satanism/Luciferianism was similar to a non-practicing Christian. Where there was a, misplaced, faith in the entity but no real outward ritual worship, if that makes sense. So I would essentially do what was akin to mental prayer to Lucifer by contemplating him, but much of that energy was channeled through the kinds of music I listened to as well. For example, I recall having an experience after I was a baptized/confirmed Catholic when I listened to the black metal band Emperor again. I suddenly felt really distant and empty, and my wife noticed a change in me too and asked me what was wrong. It was like a weight or pressure on me. So I ran upstairs and prayed to St. Michael before a crucifix and it immediately lifted. So do not let anyone tell you that music is just music. It honestly can have a heavy spiritual effect as well.
"The Heart of Jesus is closer to you when you suffer, than when you are full of joy." - St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

Put not your trust in princes: In the children of men, in whom there is no salvation. - Ps. 145:2-3

"For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables." - 2 Timothy 4:3-4
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I was born and baptized Catholic, and I always considered myself Catholic. My mom is also a cradle Catholic, and my dad was raised Lutheran but became agnostic in his adulthood. They took us kids to novus ordo mass every Sunday (we rarely missed) and we were catechized the best my mother knew how. We didn't have many family rosaries or distinctly Catholic prayer time at home, but we did read the bible. I guess it's because it was what my parents had in common.

Most of my mom's close friends were protestant, so we went to protestant functions from time to time too. For many years I attended Bible studies organized by Bible Study Fellowship international. We went to protestant services with her friends sometimes too. Not knowing any better, I kept responding to Baptist altar calls, feeling like I needed to come back to God when I'd been sinning.... after a handful of times I realized that my own parish had something much better for that problem :LOL:

Once I was approaching confirmation, I became more concerned with intellectual questions of the faith. I distanced myself from a lot of the Protestant things I'd been involved with. I was hungry for truth and answers to big questions. When I was presented to the bishop for confirmation, I knew to be a Catholic was to fight a spiritual battle, so I asked him to make me a soldier. 

Afterward I dabbled in the Catholic charismatic movement for a while. Our parish youth functions were led by people with charismatic leanings. It felt nice, but I never fully jumped in for a number of reasons. My brother had just apostasized to pentecostalism. From what I witnessed, protestant charismaticism seemed spiritually, emotionally, and theologically unstable. It ruined any kind of charismaticism for me in general. Personally, I felt like it fed into my struggles with vanity as well. I couldn't forget a particular warning my dad once gave me either. He'd been involved in the occult as a young adult, particularly pursuing psychic abilities. He told me to never, ever seek out that kind of stuff, because, "Once you look into the void, the void will look into you." I worried that seeking after "God experiences" was too similar, and remembered the Gospel warnings against seeking signs. 

My last year of high school I was introduced to the extraordinary form of the Latin rite and fisheaters. Latin mass gave me my husband, my childrens' godparents, and a place that finally feels like home. Fisheaters formed my prayer life, kept me sane, and kept me from becoming a toxic trad :LOL:
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I have to give an honorable mention to my grandmother as well. She may not have known everything about the faith, but she was a devout Catholic who loved our Blessed Mother. She was a convert from Methodism in the Pre vatican II days, and my affinity for Acbp Fulton Sheen comes from her. I fondly remember afternoons at her house, where every afternoon at 3pm she'd settle into her recliner to pray the rosary. I didn't often pray with her, but I sat with her, enjoying the peace in her house on those afternoons. She was my godmother, and a deep well of calm in my life during my parents difficult divorce.

Her death was probably the final push toward where I'm at now. When they were wheeling her back to surgery, she said to us all something like, "I hope to see you all in Heaven someday." After that, I knew I couldn't disappoint that sweet woman. Those were her last words to me. After surgery, she suffered a long agony and never recovered. I remember her and pray for her when I wear the mantillas I inherited from her at mass and use my grandfather's old missal.
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(02-07-2020, 02:15 PM)Teresa Agroru Wrote: I am a cradle Catholic--these days, no guar{a}ntee of faith. How my devout parents hung on, I have no idea; they did what they could, in the only way they knew how. We were raised in the N.O., attended Catholic schools where possible, and the proof of this is that of five children, I am the sole remaining Catholic.
Teresa and I seem the only ones out of this sample from consistently Catholic backgrounds on both sides. My old-school, Irish-immigrant upbringing meant that my parents were saddened by the "changes since Vatican II," but there was nowhere else to go, remember, for those of us coming of age in the post-conciliar dawn, and I entered Catholic kindergarten in 1966, as it all began to "change." Very few people I know are still Catholic whom I grew up with; my sister attends her husband's So. Baptist congregation happily. The folk mass failed to wow a lot of us, even if we loved otherwise rock guitars. (I wanted a quiet liturgy.)

I have no memory of a pre-1970 mass except for a vague notion of the gospel after the mass and the St Michael prayer going away. My trad mentor same age as me reasons that we lads could not really have a view of the altar action anyway, being short! The drama around us was the nuns suddenly abandoning first full habits and then partial ones and then the convent and schools of our parishes. We had in L.A. the whole Immaculate Heart fracas with Cardinal McIntyre which symbolized "the V2 spirit."

I drifted and reverted. I never warmed to the N.O., but the rogue "Tridentine" enclave in the next parish town over, which in retrospect must have been one of the first, founded by a renegade Msgr., was forbidden to us when it was erected in what was the early 70s. The one that later Mel Gibson et al attended before they broke off for Malibu. Not Lefebvre then, although it was bequeathed by the priest to the SSPX after his death, decades later. I knew of no other alternative to that "schismatic one" which my best friend's family attended. Their logic was odd. They refused to let their kids go past 8th grade at the parish school, sending them to public school (homeschooling never heard of then) rather than be contaminated by any Catholic high schools!

It's noteworthy to find so many converts. I wish I could find data on this in the wider trad movement. How many of us were raised Catholic, how many in the post-V2 era, and how many have reverted or laterally moved to TLM as well as converted?
The deeds you do may be the only sermon some people may hear today (Francis of Assisi); Win an argument, lose a soul (Fulton Sheen)
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(02-07-2020, 08:38 PM)Catherine Wrote: I fondly remember afternoons at her house, where every afternoon at 3pm she'd settle into her recliner to pray the rosary.

The hour of Our Lord's death, and the hour of Mercy, hence why the demonic like to strike at 3am.

Jesus to St Faustina -
At three o'clock, implore My mercy, especially for sinners; and, if only for a brief moment, immerse yourself in My Passion, particularly in My abandonment at the moment of agony. This is the hour of great mercy for the whole world. I will allow you to enter into My mortal sorrow. In this hour, I will refuse nothing to the soul that makes a request of Me in virtue of My Passion. (Diary, 1320)

God Bless You and your Grandmother, may she rest in peace and pray for us.
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(02-07-2020, 08:48 PM)Fionnchu Wrote: laterally moved to TLM as well as converted?

As older Fishies know, I type by what my mother called the 'religious method', from the Biblical 'see and ye shall find'. I'm one of those who converted and then laterally  moved to the Trad position. I'm working on my story, but with everything else, it may take a day or so.
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"I wish I could find data on this in the wider trad movement. How many of us were raised Catholic, how many in the post-V2 era, and how many have reverted or laterally moved to TLM as well as converted?"

Perhaps someone would draw up a poll.
Qui me amat, amet et Deum meum.
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