Thoughts on becoming Catholic

So, as I mentioned in my last post, going to see Joel Osteen and experiencing his Evangelical-style church service live had a big impact on me. First, it was just inspiring to see so many positive, happy people so excited about Christianity. It was so touching to look around and feel like I was surrounded by thousands of people who were honestly trying to make their lives better and become better people.

The other big thing was that it completely clarified for my husband and me that we are Catholic. I really enjoyed the service and plan to go back next time I’m in Houston, but it wasn’t a fit for my personality. And I realized as I was dancing around with the crowd to some Christian rock song that the strong cultural disconnect I felt to Christianity when I was younger was really more a disconnect with this style church service.

As we drove back home from Houston last Sunday I thought about this a lot, and was able to condense my feelings into four main reasons that sermon-based worship services (e.g. Joel Osteen and most Protestant church services) don’t really work for me. I list these out not as an attack or even objective criticism of these types of services, just to lay out why the route I’ve chosen is a good one for me. (I have other, more purely theological reasons for my decision, but that’s the subject of a different post.)

1. I don’t trust individuals’ interpretations of the Bible (including my own)

Because I am a jerk, when I went to church services with friends I would always second-guess everything the local preacher told the congregation about how to live their lives based on his interpretation of the Bible. I would often hear a pastor quote one verse from the Bible and harp on it endlessly without putting it in any sort of context. I didn’t know much about scripture but I knew enough to know that not every word of it was to be taken as a How-To manual, so I had an aversion to the constant referencing of isolated passages to back up the preachers’ points.

But the big thing was that I had a hard time trusting any one person’s (including my own) interpretation of the English translation of texts that were written thousands of years ago in completely different languages in cultures that could hardly be more different than that of suburban America. Even before I was aware of the Catholic church’s claim of sacred tradition, I just thought it made more sense to go to that institution for advice on what the Bible means, seeing as how they’ve had 2,000 years to think about it and it goes back to the first church fathers and they’ve never gone back and forth on matters of doctrine. As Jennifer once wrote, “Two thousand years of faith, and a fine tradition of scholarly theology grounded in scripture has made the body of knowledge within Catholicism terrifyingly broad and almost unfathomably deep.” That beats my interpretation of Genesis any day.

And I often think about that when I watch Osteen’s service on Sunday mornings. Sometimes he’ll quote a Bible verse and get to riffing about how it means that if you’re nice to your bitchy coworkers you’ll have a good life or something, and I always fantasize that someone will sneak up and politely tap him on the shoulder and whisper, “Umm, you’re making that up.”

2. It seems like God would have a brightline test for what constitutes going to church

Another thing that never quite set well with me was the wide variety in what constitutes a church service. That thought was especially present at Lakewood on Sunday. We were in a stadium, there was a lot of rock music, there were no crosses anywhere, Osteen said a few words about how to have a better life here on earth, and then we all went home. I definitely experienced something, but I kept wondering if God would count that as “going to church”.

And seeing as how God has made it pretty clear that he does want people to attend church on Sundays, it seems like he’d give us a brightline test for what constitutes fulfilling that obligation. I mean, if I walk into a building with a cross on the roof and hear someone read a Bible verse and we bow our heads and say “Praise the Lord. Amen.” and then turn around and leave, does that count? My gut tells me it doesn’t, but it technically has all the elements of many Sunday services.

Eucharist-centered church service appealed to my checklist-loving, anal-retentive nature even before I was bought into the concept that it’s the Real Presence: it’s what the early church fathers did, and it’s a very clear test as to whether or not what you just went to was something that God would consider a church service.

3. I suck at praying

This one is particular to Osteen’s type of service, but the emphasis on “feeling the spirit” strikes me as dangerous. First of all, when a large crowd of people is really emotional about something I always feel like the situation is a bit precarious. Luckily I think Osteen and others of his ilk only have the best intentions. But if, hypothetically, he wanted to gradually work in some bad messages into his Sunday sermons it probably wouldn’t be too hard to get the crowd to go along with it. When a crowd has the emotional momentum of a freight train and everyone is happy and crying and feelin’ the spirit and shouting “yes!” and “amen!” to everything the speaker is saying, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment and just start agreeing with everything you hear. That emotional high can be like a drug, for better and for worse.

But also, even at the less emotional types of services, I find that I’m not very good at freeform prayer. I love the Church’s use of memorized prayers such as the Hail Mary and those little prayer cards for various situations. When I saw all the people holding hands and praying with the Prayer Partners last Sunday I thought of how embarrassing it would have been for them to see my weak attempt at coming up with my own prayers. (“Hello? Is this thing on? Kidding. Anyway, God, or should I say ‘Lord’? Anyway, this is a prayer, in case you didn’t know. But you probably did. You know, because you’re all-knowing God. WHAT is she wearing? Wait, sorry, got sidetracked there. I guess now I’m going to have to pray about being judgmental during prayer. Where was I?…”) I know that it’s important to have a more personal relationship with Jesus and not just stick to memorized prayers, but for those of us who are spiritually incompetent and not there yet, being able to turn to time-tested rituals and verses that express what we cannot is very helpful.

4. Good Protestant preachers have too much to lose

As I watched Osteen up on stage I kept thinking of a deacon I heard on Relevant Radio last week who was a popular Evangelical preacher before he converted to Catholicism. I thought of how hard it must have been for him to make that leap since sermon-based services inherently revolve around the one preaching the sermon, and his or her ego undoubtedly becomes wrapped up in it. I tried to picture Joel Osteen converting to Catholicism and realized that it would be virtually impossible. Even if he came to think that this is the true way God wants us to worship (I’m not saying it is or isn’t, just a hypothetical), it would take an almost inhuman amount of moral strength to walk away from a situation that’s so closely intertwined with his ego and his ability to feed his family. The more you have to lose, the less open you are to seeking truth wherever it may lead you and the more likely you are to want to maintain the status quo.

I like the fact that my priest has very little to lose. Granted, he’s sacrificed a lot in his life to become a priest and he’s well-respected in the diocese, but giving up being poor and celibate has some pretty big upsides too. And it fits well with my crotchety personality that he’s required to stick to time-tested Church teachings when interpreting scripture and doling out advice from the pulpit. If I take issue with these teachings I have a dizzying amount of resources at my disposal to understand why the Church believes what they do. Plus, even if my priest were to say crazy stuff in his homilies, they’re not the center of the Mass anyway. People aren’t there to see him.

So, this is what I thought about as we drove home on Sunday. This experience came at a good time as I’ve finally made some headway into getting into RCIA and am currently making plans to have my children baptized and have my marriage confirmed by the Church. After thinking about all this I feel more confident than ever that I’m finally where I need to be.

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Enter the Conversation...

31 Responses to “Thoughts on becoming Catholic”
  1. majellamom says:

    Great post! I too, rebelled against what I thought of as Christianity, but in actuality, it was protestantism. The cult of personality is so strong when the focus of a service is a sermon. I have always had difficulty with the whole “church shopping” thing that goes on so frequently with protestants. I didn’t notice it as much growing up, as in the suburbs, if you didn’t like the pastor at one presbyterian church, there was another presbyterian church down the road. Now, living in small towns, I notice far more frequently church shopping between denominations, as there is only one of each church around!

    When I first started searching (shortly before college) I attended services with a friend at an e-free church (which was not as stadium-like as your recent experience, but was probably very similar on a smaller scale.) I appreciated how the people were trying to live Christian lives, but it just wasn’t for me. I think I must like rules and checklists too much, too!

    I just can see much of what I went through in my short time in protestant churches in your experience (though you crammed it all into one visit…I’m very impressed!) Those experiences made me appreciate Catholicism even more when I did finally find it.

  2. Melora says:

    A very interesting post! We are reading about the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation now in our homeschool, so I’ve been thinking this week about the reasons Protestantism began. Your post is a good reminder for me about the drawbacks of “every man his own priest” (Martin Luther). As Episcopalians, we are somewhere in the middle, with the Eucharist and traditional prayers as the central part of the service.
    Cordially,
    Melora

  3. Jennifer says:

    Jennifer F writes:

    “(Common atheist mistake: basing your beliefs on what’s comfortable rather than a search for objective truth).”

    Such a cogent insight.

    But, ahem, don’t exclude Catholics from this mistake either. LOL.

    There is a lot of room within any “ism” to interpret towards ones comfort zone.

    I also get a lot from Christian services where there is an unabashed enthusiasm for Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I participate in a lot of eccumenical Christian fellowship and I get a lot from my Protestant brothers and sisters in Christ.

    But I am, of course, thrilled that you see the advantages of a 2000 year old faith and tradition that builds itself upon the Eucharist.

    That goes without saying. ;)

  4. rach says:

    I don’t see Joel Osteen as a protestant pastor. I see him as a feel-good guru trying to sell books.

    You said you “love the Church’s use of memorized prayers such as the Hail Mary and those little prayer cards for various situations.” I’m just the opposite. I prefer to pray in my own way, what I feel is from my heart, and not someone else’s prayer.

    Neither way is wrong, but it is interesting to see it from your perspective! Love the blog!

  5. Anonymous says:

    You brought back many memories of my journey to the Church. I would listen to 45 minutes of preaching and leave so unsatisfied, knowing that God had so much more in store, if I only kept looking. I love the truth and richness of the Church.

    By the way, afer 16 years in the Church I still don’t pray well, and much prefer the wonderfully composed prayers of the Church, and those wonderful holy cards.

    Blessings to you and your family.

    Cheryl

  6. LYL says:

    Great post!

    I loved your description of your freeform prayer – that’s the kind of thing that goes on in my mind, too!!

    Louise (via Happy Catholic)

  7. Darren says:

    Howdy.

    I saw Joel in Houston last year, and I can relate to your description of the experience and your thoughts afterward. Thanks. Very well-written post. I wrote about my experience, too, but not nearly with the same graciousness.

    Also, I thought I was about the only one who was plagued with goofy, humorous, awkward thoughts while praying freeform. I’m glad there are others.

    Finally, I like the apt terms you used: sermon-based and Eucharistic-centered worship services. I often try to explain that concept to others.

    Peace be with you.

  8. mayalibre says:

    Hi — I loved this post, it’s very much what I’m experiencing. I was raised a kind-of half-hearted Lutheran, which was mostly a cultural-heritage thing. Since high school spiritually I have travelled far… so no one was more surprised than I when a little fire broke out in my heart for Jesus about a year and a half ago. I looked into Protestant churches again (obvious), and only dimly considered Catholicism — because of my background, because of all the dissaffected Catholics I know, and because of the church’s dark history, which frankly it has yet to address much.

    But you are so right. In the Protestant churches I tried, and there were several, from big auditoriums surrounded by a kind of complex of buildings, including childcare facilities, indoor gym/basketball court, etc, to little storefront churches with only 15 attendees, I still rarely felt like there was a “there” there. I mean, everybody is nice, and it’s not like the people in those churches don’t offer a “wayfarer” coffee, cookies, Bible study groups, and fellowship — they do. And the emotional tone…. truthfully it varies from what I call “dead” churches, preaching Pharisee-ically and droning Christian soldier music — to “candy coated” churches where everything is nicey-nicey and collections are taken to give affluent local sick children stuffed animals — to Pentecostals who are so on fire for celebration and worship that you can’t understand what they are saying or going on about. That “does” feel like the Holy Spirit, and I’m not going to say He doesn’t show up to those kinds of gatherings.

    But there is something indescribable in the Eucharist. And yes, it’s not about the priest’s homily (sermon). It’s all about surrender, which, in the Protestant denominations is spoken about, but not demonstratated, modeled, and celebrated weekly, or in fact daily.

    So I got claimed by the Catholics as well. As a Catholic I feel privileged to witness an ongoing mystery, up close and personal. I ‘belong’ to God when the Host dissolves in my mouth and the wine goes past my lips. “Something happens”, and it’s in a community in time and space. It’s not just about me today alone and what I hope for or imagine. It’s about history and roots and heart — in the soul, in the blood.

    Thank you so much for putting your story online!

  9. Jennifer F. says:

    Thanks, mayalibre!

  10. Phillip says:

    Wow! I may have just found a new blog read! =)

    I really appreciate what this post has to offer, and find it extremely relevant to the situations I’m facing even right now.

    I was raised Catholic (cradle Catholics, FTW!) and it took me quite a while to make the 15″ move from my head to my heart. In other words, it took me a very long time to come to the realization of what the Good News actually meant for me, rather than just knowing what happened and how it was supposedly significant.

    I know that most of that is because of maturing – it takes a while before anyone can truly understand any one thing. And I’m okay with that.

    Heading to college this past fall, I joined an on-campus interdenominational group called CRU (Campus Crusade for Christ). They preach a very protestant message.

    What I found was that being involved in CRU helped me to learn a little more about how my relationship with Christ is so important to my living. But that’s kind of where the buck $$ stopped.

    What I found I was truly missing was pretty much what you found here – that tradition, that connection and worship not found at sermon-based worship.

    It took me quite a while to stumble upon this fact, because I had simultaneously been attending whichever Sunday Catholic masses I could, therefore receiving help in the more personal/spiritual/make-myself-a-better-person type area (with CRU) and everything else the way I had been used to receiving it through Mass.

    I don’t have that much to say right now on this topic, but I just really appreciate your love for the Church!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Wonderful blog. My boyfriend is becoming Catholic and we’re taking catechism together (I’m going for my confirmation finally). My father grew up baptist and his grandfather was a methodist preacher. He was known to be a great speaker I’m told. Anyways, my dad didn’t care for the baptist religion. I like listening to various Christian speakers but as far as religion and service goes… definitely Catholic. : )

  12. Anonymous says:

    An old post, but I’ll comment anyway. I recently started looking into Catholicism for some reason, and was wondering why one would become catholic. It’s like I know I should go to church, but one thing that’s a big turn-off for me, is how church seems to be personality-based. I don’t remember it being that way when I was younger, maybe kids just don’t see it… but anyway, I don’t want to go to church as a form of entertainment or necessarily to feel good, but to experience Christ, worship, etc.

    I’m not sure what the distinction is between sermon-based and Eucharist-based, because I’ve only known sermon-based. But, I’m glad I’ve come across this blog to know that maybe there really is a church for me.

  13. Lisa@SoundMindandSpirit says:

    You captured beautifully my feelings as a cradle Catholic while attending my brother's Southern Baptist church a few weeks ago. I left wondering where God was during the service. Lots of rocking music, big video screens, preaching and even cheat sheets for you to take notes during the sermon. But very little presence of our lord. Living in Houston, I'm also very familiar with Osteen and Lakewood. You hit the nail on the head with your comments. Thank you for your wonderful blog! I'm new to finding it and still reading through all your old posts.

  14. Daniel says:

    OH MY GOSH you are so right. I am a cradle Catholic, and you just completely captured what I felt all summer long while working with a multi-denomenational (mostly Protestant) mission organization. Thank you so much; I'm so glad I'm not the only one who has ever felt unfulfilled by Protestant services!

  15. The Culbertsons says:

    I just found your blog and was reading through some of your older posts. I am Southern Baptist (married to a pastor) and our desire is to have a church that is God-centered and not man-centered. Too many protestant churches just want to be like the culture, instead of standing up to the culture. Our God is holy and He cares deeply about how we worship Him.

    I think Joel Osteen is a bad example of a pastor; he seems like a motivational speaker to me and I question whether he is a believer when he makes statements like, "I don't know who is going to heaven, that's up to God," when the bible clearly states that "Jesus is the way, the truth, the life." John 14:6

    I don't think Catholicism is the answer, because they don't believe in sola scriptura, but scripture and the church (or sacred traditions). From what I have read and learned about Catholicism (and I am not an expert by any means), it is very much a works based salvation.

    With all that said, I have enjoyed browsing your blog and learning more about what you believe, as I don't know many Catholics (a few nominal ones). God Bless!

    • Joel says:

      “From what I have read and learned about Catholicism (and I am not an expert by any means), it is very much a works based salvation.”

      Actually, it’s not works-based salvation.

      God wants everyone, without exception, to be saved. To be saved, one needs to “love the Lord your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind . . . and to love your neighbor as yourself.” Both of those are tricky.

      Consider loving the Lord. The Church says we should feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and those in prison, etc. If “good works” are all that’s necessary for salvation, the atheist social worker who daily denies God’s existence is guaranteed admission to heaven. While God’s ways aren’t man’s ways, I find it really hard to believe that God will welcome into heaven someone who denies his existence–even if that person performed millions of “good works.”

      Likewise, the “loving one’s neighbor as one’s self” is tricky. One’s actions can prevent one’s salvation–especially if one doesn’t love one’s neighbor as yourself. See, for instance, the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Luke 16:19-31). The rich man didn’t end up in Hell because he was rich, but because he had the means to relieve Lazarus and didn’t. He didn’t “love his neighbor as himself.”

      If you want to know what the Catholic Church believes and teaches, start with the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

  16. mayyoufindstrength says:

    I loved this post a lot!

    As a Catholic convert I just want to answer to the Southern Baptists wife:

    1. Catholicism doesn't believe in sola scriptura because sola scriptura isn't in scripture, which means it defies its own definition.

    2. Also, we are not works based, but we agree with St. James that neither faith nor works can fly solo in salvation. Works without faith are just nice things. Faith without works is dead. We are saved neither by faith (which is itself a work) or works, but by the grace of God.

    Catholicism is the answer. It is the only Church that continues to remain faithful to the truth, that does not change doctrine. For 2,000 years we have believed the same doctrine about the Eucharist, Baptism, Mary, Salvation, Morals, and the like. It was Luther who reformed Christianity, NOT restoring it.

    If anyone here really wants to take faith in Christ seriously, they should read the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It explains the faith of Christianity Scripturally, historically, and theologically. It is very convincing, I know, because after reading it, I was left with no excuse to not become Catholic. That's how powerful the faith is when we truly know what it is.

    Pax Christi

  17. Jim H. says:

    "……For 2,000 years we have believed the same doctrine….."

    Sounds great, but it's not quite as tidy as you say! Truth is, it took 500 years before you got around to having a Pope, and celibacy wasn't required of priests for 1000 years after the beginning of the church.

    The earliest church fathers also had very little to say about Mary, and certainly nothing like the kind of prominence she has today. And btw….Mary's immaculate conception and assumption did not become official church teaching until the mid 19 century.

    • Tyler says:

      Jim H,

      I also appreciate that you want to clear up misinformation when you find it. In the same spirit, I’d like to quickly clear up a few things (not just on the off chance that you are going to read this some 7 months after initially posting, but for future commentators as well).

      It is not true that there were no Popes for the first 500 years of the Church. In fact, there were no less than 51 popes (i.e. Bishops over Rome) after the death of St. Peter to about 515 AD. This fact is easily verified online and in print.

      Second, celibacy is a spiritual discipline the Church leadership has imposed on itself in the spirit of St. Paul’s words in 1 Cor. 7:7. It is not a doctrine (matter of faith) and thus can be enforced or relaxed according to the prudential judgment of the church without incurring sin upon her.

      Third, if the words of Church Fathers like Augustine, Ambrose, Origin, and others regarding Mary really strike you as having “little” import, I kindly suggest that you do not take any words very seriously. They say things about Mary that only really hardcore Catholics even dream of saying today.

      Finally, it’s not true that the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption were not official teachings prior to 1854 when Pius IX “defined and declared” them infallibly. Any ordained person who exercises his teaching office and does so without contradicting a dogma of the faith or his superiors is giving “official” Church teaching. A Papal declaration of infallibility is not a requisite for a Catholic teaching to be official.

  18. Fabiola Garza says:

    Hi Jim! Thank you for commenting so respectfully.
    You are right that is an oversimplification.
    The Catholic Church teaches that the deposit of faith that we were given ended with the death of the last apostle, but this faith is continually deepened, renewed and defined through time. A common analogy is that of the acorn and an oak tree. They do not look the same but as the acorn blooms it becomes an oak tree.
    Although several teachings took time to be defined, this was usually done officially when there was dissension on an important matter, and the church had to step up, discuss and give an authoritative answer based on Sacred Tradition and Scripture. If you are a Bible-believer you can see the similarity in this when there was a decision to be made about whether people had to follow the Mosaic Law to be saved, and there was such disagreement that the matter had to be taken to the apostles and the elders.
    Now, not everything ends in an authoritative teaching, things can continue to be under discussion.
    In terms of priest celibacy, that is not part of Sacred Tradition, it is a discipline that can change if the church decided to. This is a 'tradition' with a small 't'.
    You see Sacred Tradition and Scripture might seem limiting, but the source is so great that truth builds on truth. The Trinity, Christ's true nature and the canon of the Bible were defined officially many years after the death of the last apostles, however we can see the seeds of this truth in Scripture, and Catholics argue Sacred Tradition. For we were told to hold fast to the traditions given by word of mouth or by letter.

    Thank you writing, let me know if you want to continue this discussion!

    (If I've made a mistake somewhere please feel free to correct me)

  19. Gabrielle LeBlanc says:

    As a devout Catholic who recently lived in a close-knit Protestant community in a foreign country, I found their custom of exclusively extemporaneous prayers to be very stressful & taxing. I would come back from our weekly prayer meetings completely drained. I was always thinking about what I should say & how I should say it. I felt like I was performing- and I'm not a performer by nature. I assumed that it came easier to them, maybe even naturally, because they were born & raised to it. I also felt like we weren't really praying TOGETHER, we were praying IN TURN. Catholics can pray TOGETHER, that is, not just in the same room but IN UNISON, for hours on end, without getting exhausted. I love being able to slip into a Catholic church at any odd hour and joining the men & women there in prayer (the rosary, that old & trusty standby!).
    But I'll never knock Protestant prayer; we had some pretty powerful sessions, & God spoke to me loud & clear on more than one occassion. It's clear that God blesses Protestant prayer forms, but that shouldn't lead them to conclude that Catholic prayer forms are worthless & not pleasing to God.
    By insisting that we have to pray in just the RIGHT way -their way- they are actually stressing the importance of WORK, precisely what they believe does NOT matter! Catholics are more true to the Protestant belief that it doesn't matter HOW we pray, what matters is what's in our heart! I'm sure it's possible for a Protestant to pray extemporaneously without engaging his heart, while a Catholic can pour his whole heart and soul into rote prayer. And vice versa. Only God knows our hearts; we shouldn't judge based on visuals like performance & form.

  20. Allison says:

    Just came across your blog – am soaking it all in :) I loved this post, and it’s funny because I was just having a discussion about Joel Osteen and Lakewood this past week with a non-Catholic friend.

    He was defending Joel, I was not :) It’s annoying to me that there isn’t a single cross to be found on Lakewood Church, but sure enough there is Joel Osteen’s name plastered across the building for everyone driving down 59 to see…

    Anyhow…love your blog – looking forward to reading more!
    Allison recently posted..Its a small world- after all

  21. Crucifix says:

    Totally agree with your point 1 above since most of what is written in the Bible is not that easy to understand due to underlying interpretations and meaning which are both subjective. I prefer to read it and let my mind wonder on what it says could possibly mean as I try to apply it in my day to day struggles. =)

  22. Alisha says:

    This is almost exactly like my list would look like (if I had one) for converting. And.. you are not a jerk! I used to think maybe I was, or the devil was making me question a good, old christian woman’s authority if I questioned my Sunday school teacher about a passage of scripture (not to mention the eye-rolls from my fellow pupils who weren’t really listening anyway and just wanted to get to the kool aid and vanilla wafers after class) My Sunday school teacher always tried to explain what she could and always admitted when something was beyond her knowledge-which I admired and still do. I am done being guilty, though. The Catholic church has given me the real answers I need so I can be a better Christian and stand firm in my beliefs.

  23. Lisa Maria says:

    Hi Jennifer

    I found this post to be quite thought-provoking. When I joined the blogging world I did so through a Christian woman who I found to be inspiring, I have since made many friends of other Christian religions. I don’t always agree with some of the things they believe and of course they would not believe in the Eucharist or even the Saints I may write on occasionally, but we respect each other.

    I totally enjoy some aspects of their worship..I love the joyful praise and it particularly moves me to see a stadium full of young people worshipping God, like the Hillsong concerts. I love the Christian Rock music.. its bridged a gap between me and my teens in the past (it also gives me something to worship God by while cleaning the house!) I even love listening to some of their pastors talk. It is, however, NOT for me a church service… more like encouragement – as you said – motivational speaking.

    I’ve had many experiences with Catholic Charismatic services.. its almost like a Pentecostal service.. a lot of praise and worship and people jumping about. I don’t feel entirely comfortable doing this.. I’m a bit more restrained. I usually just lift my arms and maybe wave them a bit or clap my hands. I do, however, believe in spontaneous prayer.. it didn’t come easily to me for a long time.

    I love the structured prayers.. spiritual warfare prayer, the rosary etc. and they certainly make it easier to teach my children about prayer at a young age (my four year old is learning to say the rosary) but I have found meditative prayer to be the most beneficial to me (of course this is private prayer and not praying aloud for others).

    I have a copy of the Cathechism of the Catholic Church and I use it as back up when my children (or myself for that matter) have any questions I cant answer. I love knowing that I have the rich history of our church to support my faith and my belief in the Eucharist is unshakeable!

    I love being a Catholic and I love sharing my faith with others. If I have one complaint about my church it would be that it could be a bit cold sometimes, compared to the other denominations. Its common to enter a church and not be greeted or see any smiling faces. Sometimes I believe that community spirit is not there, but as my husband would say, we can’t complain, we need to act. His reply is always “So what are you doing about it?”

    We have some ideas to shake things up in our parish and we’re praying about it. I think its possible to take some of the ideas of my other Christian friends regarding fellowship and community and apply it to my own church. We’ll see what happens there. Thanks for this interesting post.. I know it may be weird reading a reply a whole 5 years later! I only just discovered your blog and I am loving it!

    God bless!

  24. Megan says:

    I’m so glad I came across your blog. I cannot tell you how much I feel like you are saying the exact things I am unable to put into words for myself. I am about to start RCIA classes. I was raised in a Baptist family that didn’t really practice their faith, but I went to church enough to have all those sermons and ideas ingrained in my head. Now I am finding that I don’t believe exactly what they taught. I am so happy to finally be able to begin my journey and become a part of the Catholic Church. The richness, tradition and well…just everything about it makes me feel so much better. I’ve even gotten back to praying. Mass makes me feel rejuvenated. I’ve even realized the physical and moral harm caused by my taking birth control and have already discontinued it. I just want you to know how much everything I have read and listened to on your blog so far has inspired me and again…the things you say are exactly what I’m feeling right now. Thank you again!

  25. As someone who has grown up in the Catholic Church including attending Catholic grammer school, high school and some college, I am very apprehensive with emotionality of evangelical services. I have never trusted the big mega churches after hearing reports of rock bands, images being projected on screens, arm waving and crying. It all seems shallow although I doubt those who attend feel that way. I find some of this creeping into Catholic Ordinary Masses and don’t like it. Joel Osteen seems like the epitome of what is crass and commercial about Protestantism and I fail to understand what attracts people to it. I don’t mean this as a put-down to those who like that kind of service but I just can’t personally find anything spiritually fullfilling.

  26. Ameralda says:

    Found this blog through remnantofremnant.blogspot.com–so excited to read through! I was thinking that if I stole this blog entry and changed the title to “Why I’m Orthodox” 99% would still ring true for me :)! Thanks for the thoughtful entry.

  27. Jen Z says:

    Jennifer,

    I am a Protestant, I converted from Catholicism 4 years ago. Since being Protestant I have enjoyed a more personal relationship with Jesus and this relationship has enriched my life in every aspect. I don’t consider myself part of any specific denomination and attend a non-denomination church, I believe the Bible and by reading it and praying, I have and will continue to grow in knowledge and wisdom through the Holy Spirit that dwells within me; a harmony I have been so blessed to experience, since leaving Catholicism.

    While growing up Catholic, I was never given a Bible to learn more about the character of my Savior and God. Also I was never encouraged to know Him on a more personal level. I just repeated my rote prayers, which over time, become unemotional, impersonal and eventually meaningless to me, leading me to become even more disconnected from Him and lost.

    So your comment “I love the Church’s use of memorized prayers such as the Hail Mary and those little prayer cards for various situations. … I thought of how embarrassing it would have been for them to see my weak attempt at coming up with my own prayers” If your embarrassed about expressing what’s in your heart in front of other people, that’s understandable. When one prays from the heart, there is a level of vulnerability between you and your group, so you should be surrounded by people you love and trust. But when it’s you and God, it is that very vulnerability He wants from you, it’s an expression of your trust in Him, and how more vulnerable can you be with Him if not through expressing what is in the depths of your heart through your own words, not some predetermined words that could never fully express your exact emotions and desires as accurately as if it came from your own mouth through the content of you heart. This, I believe, strengthens relationships. If you’re vulnerable with a friend and this friend honors that vulnerability and also reciprocates, then a bond is being formed. The same is true with God.

    The bottom line for me is my Savior want’s my heart, (my vulnerability, my trust, my judgmental, my self-righteousness, the good and the bad) and finally after leaving Catholicism, He has it and He is working in my heart for His glory. I mean no disrespect to you or your religion, this is my personal experience with Catholicism. I wish I had known about my Jesus wanting me sooner, I wish someone would have told me. But alas, I am grateful I’m here now, and I’m sure to raise my children with the knowledge that Jesus wants them, every part them.

    BTW, Even though I disagree with much of what you say, and our style of worship very different. (I prefer expressing joy in song and dance, for my Savior), I’ll still read you blog. : )

    May God Bless you,

    Jen Z

  28. Mel says:

    Hi,

    I’m enjoying your site! I am sad to see so many divisions in the Church today. I’m not saying ‘differences’ but rather ‘divisions’ due to differences in worship style etc. as is evident in some posts.

    I was raised (baptized, confirmed) Anglican but consider myself Christian above the denomination I am a part of. I have visited Baptist and Church of Christ, Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Uniting as well as pentecostal churches. Currently our daughter attends a Catholic school. I feel more at home with liturgy and sacraments than large screens and rock bands BUT that is not to say that God’s presence was not honored in other places. Some of the most godly and truly loving men and women I have ever met are baptists. Large mega churches have tended to have more topical preaching (and if not part of a larger body like the Anglican, Baptist or Catholic church can go off on false teaching due to lack of accountability to authority) and more sacramental / traditional churches have more exploratory scriptural teaching.

    However, the protestant churches were always more hospitable and welcoming of the stranger while I find being excluded from Eucharist painful in Catholic and Orthodox churches. I therefore am comfortable where I am (even though I probably would be more so in the Catholic church) because we have liturgy, sacraments, expository teaching AND welcome Christians of other traditions to the Lord’s table. I know the Catholic answer is to convert to Catholicism but I am ALREADY a Christian who believes in the real presence! Albeit an excluded one at times…

    Also, I don’t think of Joel Olsteen as an example of protestantism. His teaching is popular with masses but fringe to mainstream protestant churches (here in Oz anyway)and more common with mega church culture. Let’s not forget that there has been some off beat teaching in the Catholic Church too at times (re paying popes for forgiveness long long ago) so terrible leadership and teaching is found anywhere and so is very godly teaching. But, yes I do love the sacramental services because they minister to whole body, soul and mind while liturgy is the Church praying together so not as individualistic therefore reminding us that we are the Church body.

    Anyway, I’ve enjoyed reading / watching.

    Cheers.