Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Lord, I Want More of You!

There is a common accusation that the Catholic Church adds extra “stuff“ to the pure gospel way of living a Christian life. But, the approach to spirituality of just prayer and praise, fellowship and bible study wasn’t enough for my wife, Prodigal Daughter. In the following post, PD explains how she came to get more of Jesus through the Catholic Church. This was recently posted on a Coming Home Forum but I wanted to share it here.

As an evangelical, I always prayed "Lord I want more of you!" My battle cry was that “He might increase and I might decrease.” The way I was told to go about getting more of Jesus was through prayer, Bible reading, and fellowship.

Now as a Catholic, I find that my prayer for "more of Jesus" is answered in a complete and fulfilling way!!

As an evangelical all I had were MY OWN spontaneous prayers and petitions to God. Many times I didn't have the words to pray and so I would get discouraged and pray less. Or if I was in a group, the prayers of others would be filled with "loving" agendas as to what they thought the answer to my particular conundrum was. The praises I would sing to God were usually not my own but some modern “interpretation” of scripture and often times theologically loose at best.
As a Catholic, I have a treasury of 2000 years of prayers written by men and women who have been through so much more than I could imagine, men and women who clearly walked with God on this earth as evidenced by their holy lives and miracles that followed. I also have the Mass, the prayer of the Church. During the Mass, I don't have to wonder if I am "touching God" or if I am praying "according to his will," I am assured by scripture and Jesus Himself that heaven opens up and the bread and wine are transformed into His precious body and blood.

Bible Reading:
As an evangelical I would spend hours reading and re-reading the Bible. Often I would become confused about the meaning of some text and would consult a commentary or ask my pastor or other learned person. Rarely would two sources have the same interpretation especially when it came to doctrines such as eschatology, baptism of the Holy Spirit, or eternal security. Oh I guess I could have gone to seminary and obtained my own theology degree, but then which one? The one that said “the gifts of the Holy Spirit are for today,” the one proclaiming a dispensational view of the end times, or the one that said you cannot lose your salvation? Reading the Bible became very confusing to me. After a while I just stuck with the Psalms.
As a Catholic I am no longer intimidated by the Bible. I am neither left on my own to decide on the meaning of complicated Scripture passages nor expected to decide for myself on which doctrines are true. I am however encouraged “to learn ‘the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ’ by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures.” (CCC 133) One treasure I discovered while still an evangelical was the tradition of Lectio Devina, an ancient Catholic practice for reading and meditating on Scripture. Like a mother who cares for her children, the CC assures that I will hear/read the entire Bible every three years as I faithfully attend daily Mass.

Fellowship as an evangelical was always readily available and when I first re-verted I truly felt a void. However, I do remember that when going through a very difficult emotional struggle as an evangelical, it was hard to find and maintain friendships which were genuine. In general the well meaning evangelicals I knew would “lovingly” blame my struggles on a lack of faith, prayer, Bible reading, or church involvement. It was all very works oriented and required effort which at the time was hard to muster up. When we left our non-denominational church for a denominational one, many of our friends assumed we were “backsliding” and our phone tended to ring a lot less. For the friends who did stick with us after that move, we have been almost completely rejected since becoming Catholic. So fellowship as an evangelical was helpful in getting “more of Jesus,” but in a limited way.
Now after being Catholic for three years I am finding earthly fellowship so much more satisfying and genuine. I no longer choose friends based on our common ecclesial background, but on whoever God brings into our lives. The friendships are developing slowly and naturally over time. We have met some wonderful orthodox priests and lay people who have welcomed us into their lives and homes. I no longer view people as saved or unsaved but somewhere on the journey so I enjoy a variety of friendships with people from other faiths. Of course I cannot go without mentioning our virtual family here on the Coming Home Network as well as in the blogosphere. Finally, I am ever grateful for the Church Triumphant whose constant prayers sustain us and cheer us on toward the goal of gaining Christ more fully here and in eternity.


Blogger tara said...

tiber jumper:
Our Church has such a treasury of gifts--why reinvent the wheel? Using beautiful written prayers helps bring me closer to God. One of my favorite treasures is Lectio Devina scripture reading--I almost feel guilty meditating this way--because I derive such pleasure.

I am so glad you came home to Holy Mother Church! You write such great posts.

August 17, 2007 9:48 PM  
Blogger MMajor Fan said...

"As a Catholic, I have a treasury of 2000 years of prayers written by men and women who have been through so much more than I could imagine, men and women who clearly walked with God on this earth as evidenced by their holy lives and miracles that followed. I also have the Mass, the prayer of the Church." Beautifully said PD!

I often use the analogy that the writings of the Church fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters are all our family album and their letters and devotions to be treasured and enjoyed, as you would of a dear great, great, great (repeat through the centuries) grandparent who has left as a treasure their devotion to God.

August 18, 2007 12:27 AM  

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