December 14, 2017

The Crossroads

Last month, at Easter, my family and I joined the Catholic Church.  Each of us would phrase our reasons for doing so somewhat differently, but here are a few of mine.  I offer them not to preach or gloat, just to share a decision faced by quite a few of us in the post-evangelical wilderness.

When my husband and I told Chaplain Mike, who is an old friend, that we had begun going to the Catholic Church, Mike said, “Well, I’m glad you’ve found a place that feels like home.”  My husband immediately responded, “No, we’ve found a place that feels like church!”  Our parish gathers in silence and prayer, focuses on the Bible and the Eucharist, and conducts itself with joyful solemnity through the liturgy.

I like the liturgy of the Catholic Church.  Liturgy means “the work of the people.”  Liturgical worship is not the work of the leader; it is not a spectator sport, or a concert, or a pep rally.  Liturgy reminds us of our place in the scheme of things.  I am not in charge.  I am a servant and an heir to the faith that has been handed down to me.  The priest himself is the servant of the liturgy, not its boss.

So my family and I feel security in knowing that a new pastor is not going to change entirely what we had known as good.  There will be changes, but the essential things will remain the same.  We did not experience this security in the shifting world of evangelicalism.

I like the universality of the Catholic Church.  Universality doesn’t just mean that the mass will be the same anywhere on the planet, although that is true.  It also means that we joined the Church, not a church.  Our parish of several hundred people is the Catholic Church.  It’s not a part or fraction of it; it’s not a local franchise of it.  Each parish is fully the whole Church. The best analogy I can think of is that the Church is like the ocean.  Each community knows a particular bay or beach or bank, but the ocean is still the ocean in its entirety wherever we experience it.  Certain other understandings of church, the Baptist one, for example, suggest that congregations are more like discrete islands.  In some cases they are even different countries where people require visas and change of citizenship to move among them.

I like the incarnational theology of the Catholic Church.  I can’t say I fathom the depths of what happens in the Eucharist or in any of the sacraments, but they match what I know of God.  The astounding, central fact of God’s relationship with us is the Incarnation.  God became man.  He took on human flesh and dwelled with us.  He was fully human and fully divine.  Evidently matter can be imbued with divinity, not changing the substance of either the matter or the divinity.  As a Christian, I believe that that happened once, in the person of Jesus.  As a Catholic Christian, I also accept that that is God’s regular mode of revealing himself to us.  If Christ can be both matter and God, then through him so can bread and wine.  Water can be both water and new birth.  Oil can be both oil and blessing.

What a rich world incarnational theology opens up for us!  Matter reveals the Immaterial.  The beauty of creation around us, properly seen, is not a distraction or temptation — it is “charged with the grandeur of God,” as Hopkins put it.  When our desires are rightly ordered, we are not faced with “either/or” but always “both/and.”  God gives us both himself and his creation, his saving grace and his common grace.  Everything has meaning, and everything points us to God.

I like the balance of Catholic theology.  Some Christians hold that all the work — and therefore responsibility of salvation rests with God alone.  I can’t entirely reconcile that view with the commands and exhortations of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Gospels.  Others claim that man has the power to commend himself to God in his own strength.  I cant reconcile that view with St. Pauls epistles.  The best summary of the dual nature of our salvation is in Philippians 2:12 and 13: continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purposes. I trust the Catholic understanding of the ongoing nature of salvation and the necessity for both grace and work.

I don’t think that the Catholic Church is perfect, either in its parochial or universal aspects.  Not all of its doctrines commend themselves to my understanding, at this point at least, nor do all of its practices commend themselves to my taste or even my conscience.  And I wish that, in addition to the crucifix displayed in every church, there was also an icon of the Resurrection.

But it feels like Church.  It smells like Church.  It has been Church for so long.

This is what the Lord says:  Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.

• Jeremiah 6:16

Comments

  1. Steve Newell says:

    Did you explore the Lutheran Church in you journey?

  2. Ah, the honeymoon period 🙂

    Welcome aboard, my new sister. Glad to have you!

    • Maybe a slip of the pen… but wasn’t she your sister in Christ before?

      Reminds me of when we became members of our current church and one misguided soul said “Welcome to God’s family!”

      • Actually, the Roman Church believes that they are the ONLY true church on earth. So …the rest of us are just chopped liver.

        • But the Pope refers to protestants as “separated brothers”. I am sure Martha believes the same!

        • Jonathan says:

          Steve, please do what so few do – read the Vatican II documents and the Catholic Cathecism if you really want to inform yourself about the Church teaches. I say this as an ex-Lutheran. You can only depend on Luther’s “Pope = AntiChrist” rant for so long.

  3. Wonderful, Demaris! Welcome home.

    Tom !

  4. Keep us informed, I would love to keep up with you after the honeymoon 🙂

    • Damaris says:

      Are you implying that fatal disillusionment will set in when the honeymoon is done, Allen? I’m still married almost 26 years after the honeymoon period of my wedding — not that we had a honeymoon. There have been ups and downs during the years, but a commitment’s a commitment, and I’m not more willing to badmouth my husband now than I was the day we were married. I expect I’ll feel the same way about the Catholic Church. But sure, I’ll keep you informed!

      • It’s more that the first time you encounter a “Hello, call me Father Tim, and here’s Daphne our liturgist, now let’s all hold hands for the ‘Our Creator’ (since Father is much too patriarchal” type, then it’s the gritting of teeth and ‘at least he can’t muck the liturgy up *too* much’ mindset has to kick in.

        For me, anyway. Some people are actually nice and friendly and *like* it when people take their hand in church. 🙂

        • Damaris says:

          Yeah, I’m not a hand-holding type. It’s nice to have a large family and get them positioned around me as a buffer zone, especially since several of mine are willing to be on the hand-holding ends!

        • No. No. Martha, it’s impossible that the Catholic church has gone down this path. Without the “Our Father” why would you bother to be Catholic? What’s next? Gender-neutralize the Hail Mary?

          I shuddered the first time I heard the Trinity referred to as “God, our creator, redeemer and sanctifier” in the Congregational church that I grew up in. On a recent visit there even the Doxology has been updated. Here’s the current UCC version:

          Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
          Praise God, all creatures here below;
          Praise God for all that love has done;
          Creator, Christ, and Spirit, One.

          Aaarrrrgghhh!!!

          • To be fair, I haven’t actually heard anyone use that term yet (which is not to say that some earnest type somewhere hasn’t tried it), nor – thank God – have I ever, in all my life, seen anyone holding hands during Mass for the “Our Father”.

            But I have been in churches that looked more like warehouses or open-plan offices, and I have encountered some of the earnest, ‘call me Joe’ types. However, as Damaris says, you can’t get too creative with the Sunday liturgy (unless you totally lose the plot) so there is reassurance there.

            I’m sure there are plenty of people who grumble about why there can’t be more spontaneity and friendliness and creativity on the other side of the spectrum, so we all just have to put up with one another 🙂

          • Damaris says:

            In a Quaker hymnal (There’s an oxymoron!) the end of “Holy, Holy, Holy” was rendered “God in all persons, blessed unity.” Ouch.

          • the aaarrrgghhh was my insertion. you may use an “amen”.

          • Cross-posting again.

            A Quaker hymnal must be on the same level as the luddite website.

            So the Quakers are not trinitarian? That would be less of a problem than the “God in ‘all’ persons.” It sounds like polytheism in order not to be trinitarian. A bridge too far.

          • JoanieD says:

            Martha writes, “nor – thank God – have I ever, in all my life, seen anyone holding hands during Mass for the ‘Our Father.’ ”

            Well, you will have to visit my little Catholic church in Farmington, Maine, Martha. We hold hands every time we say the Our Father at Mass. Folks even move into the aisle so that they can hold hands with the folks across the aisle! 🙂

          • Richard Hershberger says:

            I think the point is that citing the Catholic liturgy as a selling point suggests idealism, or perhaps limited exposure. You can find Catholic liturgies that are superb, but they are the exception. Unless you actively seek out the church that has made a specific decision to do liturgy well, you are likely to run into something between mediocre and dreadful.

            The closest thing to reliable for liturgy are the Episcopalians, and even they are far from a sure thing. On the other hand, I rarely get bad communion wine at an Episcopal church. We Lutherans tend to select communion wine based on a combination of price and indestructability, with predictably grim results.

          • Richard, we baptists use grape juice, and it ain’t always Welch’s.

        • Radagast says:

          The whole inclusive language thing – had a couple of nuns a few years back who were way too consumed by it – happily they have moved on and took their modified scripture (withall th references to males scratched out) with them.

          I have a big family and we do hold hands during the Our Father – though I know it is the Eucharist that binds us. I have kind of gotten desensitized to the touchy-feely aspects of faith, I can actually hug another guy and not feel funny about it (OK – not too funny – but my wife has been working on me for years). I think the Irish -german in me is just so formal – and my wife’s italian – well they’re kissing each other every chance they get.

      • Thank you for your comments, Demaris! There are ups and downs but it’s still “home”.

  5. Out of curiosity – Why not the Eastern Orthodox Church which may arguably have an even deeper incarnational theology, as well as all the other things you desire, including icons of the resurrection?

    • Damaris says:

      The ideal, of course, Eric, would be that the two would reunite. I love much about the Orthodox Church, but two things the Catholic does better, in my opinion, are one, keep the balance between what to keep and what to change; and two, adapt without compromising to the local culture.

    • We spent some time in Orthodox services and we have some close Orthodox friends.

      For my part I found Orthodoxy too foreign. There was just too much Greek culture and Russian culture in it for me to accept it as my church. The gospel truth doesn’t change, but how it gets explained and observed must fit every culture. I spent a great deal of effort when I was a missionary encouraging the Kyrgyz to adapt their worship practices to their own culture instead of playing German or playing Russian during church. And I think I ought to do the same thing when I’m in my own church. So Orthodoxy just didn’t work for me.

      The Nicene Creed includes the phrase “born of the virgin Mary,” and that is a fundamental belief of Christianity. We said those words in the Methodist church I grew up in, so there is nothing strange about reciting them every week in the Catholic liturgy. What was too strange for me was the Orthodox “Theotokos” and other similar Greek phrases.

      Plus, I didn’t trust the priest.

      • Domingo says:

        For me it was the ethnic cleansing. I fought against those…people during the Balkan War, and saw the bodies when they started digging them up. The Orthodox priests were right there egging their people on, always siding with the worst elements of society. So when they claim to be the True Church, perfect like Jesus, I have to roll my eyes–they should all be in prison with Mladic.

        The Catholic Church is similar. I’m not just talking about medieval history here, I’m talking about right now. Support for Catholicism means support for fascist governments in Latin America (and for that matter, in World War II Europe). I’m not just talking about som abstract political thing here–I’m talking about real people who are getting tortured and murdered right now, by this organization whom you have chosen to celebrate this week for some reason. Come on, let’s have some articles about the victims.

        • James Blofeld says:

          Well no church is perfect, and I like the liturgy.

        • Domingo, there’s plenty of blame to go around. But the Catholic church has also been on the side against the fascist governments, and paid the price. Remember the murder of Bishop Oscar Romero in El Salvador.

        • Dana Ames says:

          Domingo,
          I’m sorry for what must have been a terrible experience in your life. Whichever Serbian priests were egging people on were acting in contradiction to their bishops, and to the love of Christ.

          http://www.incommunion.org/2006/03/18/several-statements-prayers-and-appeals-of-patriarch-pavle/

          Dana

        • “Support for Catholicism means support for fascist governments in Latin America.” Well, no. The temporal machinery of the Church has sometimes, to its discredit, gotten too enamoured of worldly power–of many different political stripes. At the heart of the Church, though, you will find deep grief for those who have been hurt by the failings of her members.

          As for Latin America, you might consider the case of Paraguay, where the 34-year-long right-wing dictatorship of General Stroessner fell just nine months after Pope John Paul II visited the country.
          http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1141/is_28_41/ai_n13784074/

        • RyanEdward says:

          Nobody has to be a victim if they choose not to be, not matter the wrong – there are plenty of stories like that. And, Christ will one day separate the goats from the sheep…and He will judge according to our works. I would not hope too much in the frailties and depths of human darkness. No matter the depth of evil, the Light of Christ always reveals and has restorative power.

        • “Support for Catholicism means support for fascist governments in Latin America.”

          It is a good point. Lots of flawed and evil people out there. And there is, no doubt , some past and present basis for this statement, but there is no lack of biblical mandate to obey, pay taxes, pray for and work with the existing government be it “fascist” or the roman emperor.

          Lumping groups into tidy categories can simplify the world, but really now, is it truthful?
          How about, “support for Christians means support for those who carry posters saying ‘God hates fags'”

          Gee, the usual criticism in the USA about Catholics is that they aren’t fascist enough, but rather too liberal. They want to make it easy for illegals to stay, or the poor to get welfare.

        • cermak_rd says:

          I think this problem goes to the heart of problems with religions in general. That is, the people who are part of the Church, for the most part, continue to be the same evil awful people they would’ve been without the Church. So you see it with the Orthodox in Serbia; with the Catholics in Rwanda (Religious either have been or should be indicted there); with the Catholic church in Spain (Franco), many parts of Central America, pre-Revolutionary France, etc etc.

          Maybe Calvin was right and wrong. Maybe there is a total depravity of man. But maybe religion doesn’t fix it.

    • Radagast says:

      Eastern Orthodoxy intriques me – having spent time with the Christian Mystics it seems the Church itself is setup to present the three-fold process of Purgation/Illumination/Union. I’ve had some great conversations with Eastern Orthodox priests as well and if Catholicism were to go away tomorrow that is the direction I would go. That being said I agree with Damaris about universality -from my observation there are strict cultural boundaries within the eastern church and I would not know where to fit in. Also – from my limited exposure with the actual church I found the Greek to be the most welcoming and the Serbian to be the most closed and guarded (yes – I admit I have very limited personal data to draw from).

  6. Margaret Catherine says:

    Welcome aboard ship!!!

  7. beautifully written! I really enjoy your posts.
    have you ever shared the Church background you & your husband came from?

    • Damaris says:

      Thank you, Brian. I always appreciate your comments. I haven’t written much about my background. I mention a bit below, but for the most part the journey’s been long and a bit dull, not the stuff of exhilarating iMonk posts!

      • Radagast says:

        It would be interesting to hear your story – I thought you had mentioned once about being a missionary in Kyrgistan but maybe I have that mixed up.

        And you may never go through a honeymoon period since you seem to have cut your teeth on higher lturgy. When I re-upped in Catholcisim (from being agnostic), I did so with open eyes – having researched Cathoicism, Protestantism and Orthodoxy. I belong to an aging church where the church itself would seem unattractive to others, the priests homilies are long, and yet my interest, enthusiasm and sense of holiness when in Church has not waned in the last 15 years.

  8. Thank you for encapsulating a lot of the thoughts that I have had about leaving Protestantism for the RCC. I like the liturgy and the universality, but theologically it is the balance of grace and works that makes sense to me. I also am reacting a bit against the anarchy of protestantism: If there are 1000 different denominations, then either 1) 999 of them by definition must be wrong or 2) it doesn’t matter.

  9. Welcome to the fold, you’ll have that ‘New Catholic’ smell for a while.

    My wife and I confirmed this Easter as well, and for us we can finally breathe after years in the wilderness. In fact the Father who very first greeted us on our first nervous sojourn to the local parish over a year ago, just got reassigned, and new ‘very’ young Vicar will be here July 1st. But it’s all good, the only thing he can really mess with is the Homily, so unlike our protestant background where a pastor leaving left the congregation in a tailspin. For us it’s business as usual, and that kind of stability warms my little tin heart 🙂

    I don’t what Martha means by honeymoon, at least for us there hasn’t been one. We knew what we where getting into, we did our homework. I know about the warts and other problems, but they pale in comparison to the core Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy and stability of the Church as a whole.

    Blessings to you and your whole family…

    -Paul-

    • Some people (and I’m not saying you or Damaris fall into this category) want a Perfect Church. They’re running *from* something, rather than *to* something – and the first time they hit a bump in the road (be it that the priest is too young/too lax/too busy/too lazy/whatever), then they give up on the whole thing and go looking for a new Perfect Church. Now, it may be a real and great scandal that drove them away, I’m not diminishing the reasons people leave, just that if you left Denomination X for any reason other than “I think Catholicism is right overall, not just on this one specifice issue”, then you are going to get burned.

      I actually have someone in mind for that, but in all charity it wouldn’t be fair to name him, because who am I to be a judge of hearts? But it does happen – someone converts, then hits the one thing (or a culmination of things) that are deal-breakers, and they’re off searching again.

      • It’s funny, but I definitely had that “Aw man, I found something I don’t like this about the church” moment the first time I ever went to my parish church. One of the things that really drew me to Catholicism, and just older, higher church traditions in general, was the liturgy. I had this idea in my head of some uber-High service–incense, Gregorian chant, with a cruciform building and a set up for the tabernacle that looks like a miniature Gothic cathedral. So naturally, my parish church is the more modern, rounded style sanctuary, with the tabernacle off to the side, and a very modern, trendy-looking altar. And it’s run by Capuchin Franciscans–who, being the hippies of the priesthood (I mean, St. Francis preached to birds), are about as liturgically loose as the Church will allow. And the hymns were all written in the 1970s, and are mostly about how the world is waiting for love, with analogies about birds flying to Jesus and Jesus is a flower and we’re all butterflies looking for nectar and I don’t know what else. Sigh…I guess God knows where to put me; if not to humble me, then at least to laugh at me when the well-meaning, rhythm-less lady in the choir up front breaks out the tambourine.

      • Radagast says:

        That can be the positive of Church here in the states – We don’t go to Church for the priest’s oratory, although its a bonus, and there’s always a possibility he could move on in six years (although we had one priest that got us out of over 600,000 in debt and the next priest after him had us back in up to 300,000 after having only been there six months – he didn’t make one year, not alone six).

  10. “Everything has meaning, and everything points us to God.”

    This is one of the things that I love most about Catholic theology!

  11. Damaris, welcome and thanks so much for writing this.
    My wife and I returned to the Catholic Church at Christmas 2009, for precisely the reasons you mention.

  12. Martha’s done three posts now regarding Catholic-specific issues, now Damaris and her family are Catholic, and several commenters (myself included!) have crossed the Tiber as well. Internet Monk will soon be within our Romish clutches! Mwahahaha…

    • Dintcha just wonder why Michael Spencer named this blog internetMONK?

    • I’m still holding out. Have been to many liturgical churches, and quite frankly liturgical services bore me to death. The exception being a charismatic Anglican service where the the charismatic aspects of the service breathed life into the liturgy. That being said, I do have a strong appreciation of the church year and I appreciate that the evangelical church we attend follows at least the high points of the church year.

      • In all honesty, I have to say, I really hope that Internet Monk doesn’t get too Catholic. One of the things I really appreciate about this site is the diversity of perspectives. It always challenges me and helps me to avoid the wisdom-is-exclusive-to-my-way-of-doing-church mentality that (I confess) I often fall into. And it’s a great reminder of the little c catholic church.

        • Radagast says:

          Agreed…. I get a lot of incite from all the intelligent deep thinkers on this site and lots of different perspectives. The narrow mindedness and unwillingness to just talk on other sites without getting out the 2×4 boggles my mind.

        • David Cornwell says:

          “One of the things I really appreciate about this site is the diversity of perspectives. ”

          Michael, this is one of the first things that attracted me to this site. So I really doubt that it will become too Lutheran, Catholic, Evangelical or Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (or whatever that church sign said). We have much to learn from each other. Our unity can come from the catholicity of creed if we will but let it.

          • Amen, David. I’ve occupied both sides of the aisle, and after all the wandering, I love Jesus no matter what pew I’m sitting in.

  13. Blessings Damaris and as others have said, I hope you’ll perhaps share in the future your experience in the process of settling in. That would be helpful to those of us who have pondered joining.

  14. I had a similar experience a few years ago when I was contemplating leaving the Baptist church. I went through the RCIA process and attended Mass for some time. I really wanted to join the Roman Church, however, after a long discussion with some friends and family, it became apparent to me that if I did join the Roman Church that I would lose most of my friends and family. I decided to attend the local Anglican parish instead and see if I could find a home there. I’m still there today. It’s taken nearly three years for God to weed out the Roman theology from my life and show me where the true catholic Church is.

    Pick up a Book of Common Prayer and follow the Daily Office and attend your local Anglican parish. Allow the words of the biblical Liturgy to remind you of Christ’s once for all sacrifice for sin.

    • Damaris says:

      I went the other way, Jordan. I was baptized and confirmed Anglican, but I haven’t attended in decades. The Book of Common Prayer is one of the great works of the Christian faith, and I still love it, read it, and use it. But the Anglican church, while it has the liturgy, lacked the universality and was less robust about incarnational theology and the balance of faith and works.

      I’ve wondered how many friends and relatives we would alienate by becoming Catholic, but so far no one has done more than looked shocked and trot out a few mistaken cliches. (Don’t you know they oppress women? Isn’t celibacy unnatural? and so on.) It hasn’t been bad.

      • “Don’t you know they oppress women?”

        Did warn you all in my Pope post: gets up in the morning, puts on his big hat, and goes out oppressing women (amongst others).

        😉

      • I lost but one friend when I crossed the Tiber. All of my other protestant friends care for me as before, as I do for them. Most actually were, and are, intrigued with my move.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          I lost but one friend when I crossed the Tiber.

          I lost several when I switched from Mac to PC. People will reject you for any reason, no matter how weird or petty.

          • You went from Mac to PC? As someone who has never used anything but PCs, and who worked for a boss who was (a) evangelical for Macs (b) in an office environment where every machine was a PC and (c) often invoked, let us say, less than perfect charity in us peons whenever he tried sending stuff from his Mac to our PCs (and somehow this ended screwing up everything, causing results from freezing, crashing to having to manually re-do all the work anyways because the formatting went funny in transmission), let me say –

            – welcome, welcome, welcome! Never mind the Cult of Jobs or the Apple Zealots!

            🙂

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            I call it the “APPLE AKBAR!” reaction myself.

            The most spectacular “APPLE AKBAR!” reaction I ever witnessed was in the late Nineties, when this one Mackinista I used to know was expounding at length and in great detail about how “Apple Will Completely Drive Microsoft (and all its works) Into Bankruptcy By The Year 2000!”

            This was in 1997 or 1998. Any suggestion that this was not a realistic expectation and his face would purple, the veins and cords on his neck would bulge out, and the cries of “DIE, HERETIC!” would begin. “APPLE AKBAR! APPLE AKBAR! APPLE AKBAR!”

  15. So wonderful to hear this,God bless y’all!

  16. Constantine says:

    This is certainly a counter-cyclical example.

    As it turns out, according to Pew Research, the Catholic church is “hemorrhaging” members. Interestingly enough, because the Catholic church fails to provide “spiritual nourishment” and has neglected the Bible. Things I suspect Damaris will experience soon enough.

    The results can be viewed here: http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=14269

    Of course, the Protestant church stands indicted as far as it lets Damaris display such egregious errors as this:

    “If Christ can be both matter and God, then through him so can bread and wine.”

    The Council of Chalcedon forbade the commingling of Christ’s divine and human attributes such that He was not “matter AND God”. But the Catholic church, through its error of transubstantiation requires that Christ’s attributes be so commingled.

    I’m afraid Damaris will be forced to embrace many more errors in his new denomination.

    We pray that the Holy Spirit will set him aright.

    Peace.

    • Damaris says:

      Acts17:32, please.

    • filioque says:

      Constantine,

      Thanks for bringing up the Pew study. While it does paint a dismal picture of the state of the Catholic Church in America vis-a-vis membership, it fails to portray the true state of affairs.

      And that true state can be seen in people like Damaris and her family. While there has been a river of people from the Church, there simultaneously has been this incredible rivulet of those from the evangelical wilderness who have chosen to embrace Holy Mother Church. And in the last 25 years that flow has included the likes of Denise Spencer, Francis Beckwith, Scott Hahn, Marcus Grodi, Rosalind Moss, Richard John Neuhaus and countless others. It delights and humbles me that we can now count Damaris in this list

      When those Catholics who depart for the greener pastures of evangelical Protestantism find, like Damaris, that they seek a more liturgically rich worship, a deep incarnational focus, theological balance and profound sense of the universal nature of Christ’s Church, Damaris will be there to welcome them back home.

      I apologize if this post sounds a trifle too triumphant (in the Romish sense of the word), but I love Jesus and I love the Church I believe He has left for us. I am one of those who left the RCC for a more meaningful experience in evangelical Christianity only to find that I yearned for the spiritual nourishment that can only come with the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of my Lord in the Eucharist.

      Welcome home, Damaris. My prayers are with you and your husband and your large family (people will assume that your Catholic now anyway)

    • Paul Davis says:

      Constantine,

      I’ve heard all this before while investigating the Church, but I’ve not seen it at all in my experience. In fact during confirmation we had well over 250 joining the Church, so while there may be those that are streaming out. There are many more coming back in, when you consider that along with a number of big name evangelicals who have started to convert over the past 20 years and I question the accuracy of a study like this to show the actual picture.

      As for the other statement, perhaps at some point Chaplain Mike or Martha will cover that particular topic in detail, and then we can have a reasonable discussion on the issue.

      Blessings..

      -Paul-

      • The Guy from Knoxville says:

        You know folks, this is just what I’ve been noticing – there is seems much more interest by and from evangelical protestants (active/inactive) in the more liturgical churches and what is offered in terms of stability. One thing I’ve noted so far in the responses to this post is that so many like, want, need the stability that comes from the Catholic church and churches with a similar approach such as the Anglican, Episcopal and Lutheran traditions. The stability is the one thing that attracts me to this and, unfortunately, I will most likely not experience it to it’s fullest for reasons that I can’t get into here – that’s for another post.

        Coming from the SBC background I can say with assurance that it’s the instability (unstable) that is one of the most difficult things to deal with because with every change in administration (pastor/staff) there is a change that happens and it’s not ever small or slight – no, they have to come in a totally destroy a congregation in order to build their version of the kingdom and when they’re done the next one comes in and does the same – destroy the previous so their version can be implemented and then the same again after that – you’re never at peace with anything because you don’t know what the next admins version of the “vision” is going to be…………. folks this is abject stupidity at it’s best and total insanity at it’s worst and I’ve pretty much washed my hands of it.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          …folks this is abject stupidity at it’s best and total insanity at it’s worst…

          Like you read in Dilbert.

          They say American Evangelicals made Church into a Business and Pastor into CEO; why should we not expect the Pastor to then resemble a Pointy-Haired Boss and his Church to resemble Dilbert?

  17. Damaris, I have a lot of missionary friends in Latin America. I’m aware of many problems with the Roman Catholic Church there, and my friends can tell me still more. One of them, in Ecuador, had his church burned to the ground by an angry mob led by a Catholic priest. Others in the Dominican Republic and Haiti tell of the voodoo mix within the Catholic Church in those countries. And my friend planting churches in Mexico can’t even hold a comfortable discussion about Catholicism. He doesn’t believe it’s any good, in the USA or south of the border.

    But my biggest prayer for Latin America is not that it become evangélico but that the Catholic Church itself go through renewal. They have the infrastructure, the tradition, and they still have 85% of the people, at least in name. Why can’t the Holy Spirit work within it? It’s worth a prayer.

    God bless you and Andy and your family.

    • Damaris says:

      Thank you, Ted. We all of us need renewal all the time.

    • “Others in the Dominican Republic and Haiti tell of the voodoo mix within the Catholic Church in those countries.”

      This is because it provided a disguise for those who wished to practice their native religions, not because Catholicism is inherently pro-vodoun.

      For instance, St. Patrick is used to represent Damballah. As a native of the land which exported St. Patrick world-wide, and who got his feastday included in the calendar of the Universal Church (thank you, Fr. Luke Wadding, from the capital of my own county), let me assure you that in Ireland, we generally don’t go around worshipping West African deities.

      Damballah is also represented under the guise of Moses (the staff which turned into a serpent) so even if you drove out all the false Catholics, you couldn’t be sure but that the people who were ‘good’ Evangelicals honouring Moses weren’t using that as a disguise for their true religion.

      • “This is because it provided a disguise for those who wished to practice their native religions, not because Catholicism is inherently pro-vodoun.”

        That’s true, Catholicism is no more pro-vodoun than are the rest of us. But in Latin America it allowed itself to become syncretized with whatever local deities, renaming them as Catholic saints; and they weren’t too fussy with the theology either as long as the coins in the coffers rang and there was order and control. And the Church was also hand-in-glove with the governments, but that too is changing.

        (Not trying to talk Damaris out of this; we did say that all churches have their problems…)

        I’ve read a now-very-outdated book (1930s I think) called The Other Spanish Christ by John MacKay, in which he describes a Catholicism in Latin America that doesn’t resemble that of Europe or the US. He claimed that in the 16th century a different Christ came across from Spain (which itself had just come out from Muslim rule), from a Catholicism that would not allow any reform by the Protestants but somehow allowed syncretism by indigenous religions. Often a dangerous mix.

        I think there’s a lot to that, but I’m hoping that it’s becoming obsolete and that the Holy Spirit will get busy. I also think the Evangelical missionaries need to pray along these lines.

        • MacKay’s book was 1933. Here is a quote that I saved from it. Could be fighting words, but I think he’s saying that Islam kidnapped Christ during its rule in Spain and an imposter got sent over to Latin America.

          “But however much overshadowed by His Mother, Christ too came to America. Journeying from Bethlehem and Calvary, He passed through Africa and Spain on His long westward journey to the pampas and cordilleras. And yet, was it really He who came, or another religious figure with His name and some of His marks? Methinks the Christ, as He sojourned westward, went to prison in Spain, while another who took His name embarked with the Spanish crusaders for the New World, a Christ who was not born in Bethlehem but in North Africa. This Christ became naturalized in the Iberian colonies of America, while Mary’s Son and Lord has been little else than a stranger and sojourner in these lands from Columbus’s day to this.”

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Actually makes sense. Spanish Christianity spent a long time under the boot of Islamic overlords or fighting wars against them; in either case, there was a LOT of long-term contact and opportunities for crossover. And Spain began colonizing the Americas the same year (1492) Los Reyes Catholicos finally drove out the Muslims and re-unified Spain under their rule. Spanish Catholic rule. After centuries of war and hardened wartime attitudes.

            Islam is known for stressing God’s Omnipotence and Soverignity to the point of downplaying or ignoring his nature. Result (in the words of Christian Monist): “A God who is Omnipotent but not Benevolent.” Add centuries of war-hardened attitudes and a lot of this rubbed off on Spanish Catholicism’s image of Christ.

        • In America our syncretism is Christianity and Materialism. Despite so much effort by most churches we remain 60% Christian and 80% materialistic. And we and we have lots of materialism missionaries out there.

      • Radagast says:

        I chuckle when I hear about evangelicals talk about voodoo in Haiti or Dom. Rep. The Catholic Church for years has tried to eradicate it – but it is so deeply engrained. Evangelicals who have been in those countries over time come to relaize that their initial successes in triumphing over voodoo (where it seemed the Catholic Church failed – or flat out acceped depending on who you are listening to) have fallen short and voodoo is being practiced by their congregants as well. They are seeing the same in Africa. We can’t always take our American mindset and drape it over cultures that have been around for centuries and command them to change or be damned.

        • Damaris says:

          Good point, Radagast. Catholic voodoo is just one form of syncretism, easy for us to see because it’s so distant from us. But every culture faces the challenge of syncretism. I wonder what ours is. Have we confused Christianity with business? Is materialism, with just the trappings of Christianity, our real creed? Maybe the prosperity folks are syncretists just as much as the Santa Muerta people. Should we scrap Protestantism because the prosperity gospel arose from it?

        • I haven’t encountered it much in the DR, just as reported by others, usually Haitian friends there. One of them said that Christianity is his religion but voodoo is his culture. Others say things like, “Haiti is 90% Catholic and 100% voodoo.” It won’t go away soon.

          • The Guy from Knoxville says:

            Me thinks the problem comes when you try to bring the culture into the church and try to mix it up into something that appeals to all but offends none! This sounds much like the american church – especially the evangelical version of it which is, in turn, partly the reason for some of the instability that exists that many have spoken about in the responses to this post. Here in the states it’s christianity (religion) and materialism (voodoo) that is at issue and the two do not mix.

          • Guy from K, I think you and Damaris are right, we’re not immune to syncretism. Materialism is one of the false gods, but I get more concerned with nationalism or super-patriotism, especially during an election year, and God help us we’ve got another one coming up.

  18. Dana Ames says:

    Indeed, Damaris, may you and your family experience every blessing of life in Christ as you walk this road.

    Dana

  19. JoanieD says:

    Welcome, Damaris and Andy, to the Catholic Church! I hope you and your family will be strengthened, enlightened and blessed by your participation in your local parish. Your parish is a fortunate one to have you there with your passion, knowledge and love.

  20. Damaris: when you quoted the Acts 17:34 passage I thought that you would be quoting 17:28 to highlight that the strict division made by Ev Protestants between matter and spirit, sacrament and God (dualism) is unable to be sustained. Of course Acts 17:28 is not the best verse to point to this issue, but nevertheless, your journey highlights the hunger we have for a solidified tradition, nourishment by sacraments and the desire to overcome the dualism which is epidemic in Western socieity. I, like you, decided about 12 years ago that I had had enough of the standard Ev Churches: in my case, the Churches of Christ (who are the Disciples of Christ in the USA). So I became an Anglican and after spending 7 enjoyable years as a lay person, was reordained nearly 4 years ago. The honeymoon has not ended for me yet as there is still much to learn, be immersed in and to grow in. I have contact with the Roman Catholic Church via friends, extended family and their retreat houses, but like some have opined above, prefer the Anglican theology, prayer book etc. In both traditions I like the way that there is much emphasis given to prayer in a variety of ways, the blend of tradition, theology, bible and culture – that they are not ‘disembodied’ expressions of Christian faith. They have to some degree, a more ‘integrated’ faith approach to daily life as well which various expressions of ritual, the liturgical year and practices provide. In particular I felt frustrated by the ‘either/or’ approach of much of Evangelicalism, whereas in the liturgical tradition, there is a ‘both/and’ approach permitted; that which is not explicited prohibited by Scripture is permitted, whereas in the Ev Churches, it was only what was prescribed (by Scripture) that was practiced. (Articles XX and XXXIV of the 39 Articles.)
    All the best and God’s blessing, Rob

    • Dana Ames says:

      Rob, I think she gave that verse in order to let the commenter know she was a woman; seems the commenter assumed otherwise.

      Dana

  21. Welcome about the Barque of Peter, Damaris! May the Lord bless you abundantly.

    I’ve been Catholic for coming up to six years and have never regretted my decision to come into full communion with Rome.

  22. I don’t know what to think about Catholicism. Sometimes I’m attracted to it…but the Catholic church has its own problems, and I can’t ignore those either. If I ever go back to Catholicism I would have done a full circle. My family is Catholic and I spent most of my education in Catholic schools when I was growing up. There are some things about Catholicism that I admire, especially helping the poor and working with the homeless. Fundegelicals will not get that dirty with some people. Yet there are things that deeply concern me about Catholicism. The biggest one was the entire cover-up and hiding of pedophile priests and sexual abuse that happened a few years back that still pops up in the news.

    Recently I watched a PBS documnetary that detailed an Irish Catholic family in Massachusetts that had to deal with a priest sexual molesting one of their children. The story detailed what happened to this alter boy and how the church knew about the priest had molested numerous boys and covered it up. That makes me feel sick. Last Christmas I had a passionate discussion with my family over this topic. My Mom and Dad are faithful Catholics who attend mass each week. I asked them point blank, how could they go to a church that sheltered and protected pedophile priests who sexual molested children? The entire concept of a loving God allowing evil is a stumbling block to me being a Christian. But I could not easily be a member of a church that protected such evil.

    A couple of years ago I read a book by the former Los Angeles Times religion writer William Lobdell, called “Losing My Religion.” It’s a story about a person who converted to Christianity, who went to an evangelical church who decided to convert to Catholcism. While going through the RCIA process he covered the sexual abuse story for the LA Times. The stories, interviewing the survivors, etc… killed his faith.

    In the book I remember reading about a local priest who was stepping down due to abuse allegations. Then the parishners wanted to name a church hall after this pedophile priest. An Orange County Sherrif Deputy exploded at the church and left the meeting. Another riveting part of the book dealt with Jesuit missionaries who sodomized and molested Indians in Alaska. In one village, not a single boy was spared, and yet the Catholic church tried to cover that up also.

    I’m sorry….I don’t find a church who participted in such evil as being “of God” and an instrument for worhsipping God. I hate how evangelicals attack Catholic theology – I do. But how the Catholic church protected pedophile priests turns my stomach also.

    Here’s a NY Times review of the book by William Lobdell. Modertaor please don’t delete this link.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/26/books/review/Oppenheimer-t.html
    http://articles.latimes.com/2007/jul/21/local/me-lostfaith21

    • Had to comment because this is close to my feelings at this point. I work with a very faithful Catholic and I hate it that we have Christians (i.e. John MacArthur camp) who constantly bash Catholics and don’t consider them brothers and sisters. But the child abuse and the way it was handled and the fact that it was not isolated but systemic and institutionally protected is a major factor that rules out Catholicism as a choice for me for the forseeable future. The leadership had an opportunity to model discipline, humility, seeking of forgiveness and more when all this was discovered, but it was far too little and far too late in most cases.

      Stuff like this happens in the Protestant world too, but it hasn’t been as widespread or systemic. I know there was abuse in missionary boarding schools, for instance, including the one I attended, though thankfully before my time there. I received a survey about it from our denomination years later as part of their investigation and recovery efforts, and when I mentioned this to one veteran retired missionary friend of my parents, she dismissed the entire inquiry into the abuse as meddlesome and ridiculous. That shocked me.

      On a broader note, I wish that evangelicals and others would start to realize how much impact their bad behavior has and how many believers like me as well as would-be believers stay away from their churches because of it.

      • The Guy from Knoxville says:

        John, I dare say that the abuse issue is far more widespread in the protestant church than is generally known or accepted – possibily more so in some evangelical settings and it goes far beyond abuse of childern and that’s about as evil as it gets whether in the church or in the secular. In evangelicism you have more of the pastors and other staff having affairs and destroying their families and the church body they serve and to be sure there have been child abuse situations as well – this stuff is rampant and if the truth were known it would be as scandalous as anything seen in the Catholic church.

        Think part of the issue that haunts the Catholic church is its centuries long history that can be attacked in various ways whereas evangelical protestantism is relativily new by comparison and the current version of it is heavily influenced by developed western countries – US, Canada, western Europe (to some degree) and Australia and simlar though the US probably leads the way in this mess. Additionally some of the abuse isn’t of a sexual nature – some of it is more material centered via the prosperity part of evangelicism where people are routinely separated from a good bit of their finances through smooth talking, sharper image “evangelists and pastors.” One might think of Osteen and similar who preach a watered down gospel while raking in the bucks, living on/in multi-million dollar estates, owning personal jets to travel the world on their “church’s” dime, selling their “self help” and “better life” books and on and on it goes and that form of abuse doesn’t get talked about because at this point the line between the sacred and secular is so blurred that they are indistinguishable – can’t tell which is which since much of the business world tends to operate in decpetive ways these days though that has not always been the case in either situation.

    • Radagast says:

      A couple of comments here – being that I see this from multiple sides.

      First – pedophiles will infiltrate any profession that allows them to get closer to children. Teachers, counselors, clergy etc.

      Yes – the Catholic Church was always used to taking care of their own baggage – not any more. We have a very strong system in place now that protects the child. Two deep leadership, manditory training for volunteers, certifications, background checks, its all there. Miles ahead from other organizations I belong to that deal with children.

      Yes Eagle – it has shaken me too – I have seven kids of my own so I know how you feel. But I also know that the news media has focused on the Catholic Church at the exclusion of others. In the Church these days there is no way a fingered priest can move to another diocese and start a new. That can’t be said for other denominations.

      The 60’s and 70’s were a sad time for the Church – especially in America and especially for seminarians – those screening priests I believe (my own opinion let me state) had their own agenda. This has been cleaned out.

      Bottom line – sometimes a big ship is hard to steer – whether that be a large corporation (I work for one) or a big religious institution (work here too). Eagle – understand these issues are in every place that has kids. The Church was very slow to deal with it, and wanted to deal on its own – it has now moved swiftly to deal with it head on – and I am happy what I have seen.

      I would be more concerned with religious institutions that have no means of communication once a desigraced preacher left its fold.

      No easy answer here Eagle… except evil can be found wherever humans gather, be they Christian or not…

      Regards…

    • cermak_rd says:

      I have a relative who was abused as a youngster. When the Diocese released their papers a while back, under a court order as a result of the lawsuits, I was able to see their circumstance in a series of letters from a priest to the Bishop about this family and their circumstances.

      What shocked me is this priest was asking permission to lift the censure that prohibited the couple from receiving the Sacraments because they had “failed to forgive” the abuser, apparently this was how the Church reacted to the father of the victim, who insisted that something be done and who also wrote to the YMCA not to let this priest teach swimming lessons to children.

      I had already left the Church by that time, but this specific circumstance certainly would keep me from returning to it if ever I was so inclined.

      It’s not that the abuse happened in the first place, this happens in schools, temples, parks etc. etc. It’s the fact that a conspiracy to cover it up sprang up around it in a way that further victimized victims, families etc. And in this case, that the Sacraments were used as blackmail to make someone shut up is just nauseating. One hopes that this was just one bad Bishop, but still, given the principle of subsidiarity, one bad Bishop can do a lot of harm.

      • cermak_rd says:

        woops! Looks like the first part of this file got interchanged with a different file. Sigh. Just ignore it…or try to discern what the Spirit is telling you with it.

    • We put our faith in Christ, not Christians. There are a million reasons to reject any church, because of course they’re filled with imperfect human beings. Guess what? We’re human too. Cf. Sermon on the Mount.

    • Cunnudda says:

      I’ve really had this “fundegelical” stuff up to my nostrils, and I’m Lutheran. Eagle, although you’ve been a lot of places, yours is still one man’s experience, and the generalizations are getting old. I have seen many evangelicals involved in all sorts of ministry to the poor, notably Habitat for Humanity.
      You are obviously intelligent and thoughtful. How about more posts telling us what you’re for, rather than what you’re against?

      • Cannudda, they are not generalizations…just experiences I had. Lutheran eh? Good think you weren’t in my Campus Crusade chapter as one of my directors didn’t consider Lutherans to be Chrisians and commented that if they were serious about faith and God they would go to an evangelical church. Doesn’t that leave a nice taste in your mouth? In the circles I moved in being a Christian meant going to a Baptist, non-denom, or evangelical church. Mainstream Protestantism was in error and didn’t “adhere” to the Bible and was too liberal.

        But most of what we did was evangelism. We didn’t do much of inner city work, instead it was all about evangelism. Work with the poor and homeless was too “Catholic” and “mainstream Protestant.” At the time even I thought that, but that was because not only did I drink the Kool Aide but also had an IV pumping that stuff into me regularly. .

        • The Guy from Knoxville says:

          Cannudda, I can relate to alot of what Eagle is saying – most of my posts, lately especially, have been overly if not overtly critical on the SBC, trendy non-denominational and evangelical churches and Eagle is on point on the “what it means to be a christian” statement – that’s about as true as it gets. Anything outside of that and you were, at best, misguided – at worst you were destined for the fires of hell – listen Cannudda, I’ve heard it all and it disgusts me more than words can describe.

  23. ” Some Christians hold that all the work – and therefore responsibility – of salvation rests with God alone. I can’t entirely reconcile that view with the commands and exhortations of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Gospels.”

    While I don’t agree with your sentiments, I do wish more evangelicals who held your views were as honest about it and followed your footsteps ‘home to Rome.’ Much of evangelical theology is ‘Catholic lite,’ a combination of works and faith stripped of Mary, the Saints, the sacrifice of the Mass, the Magisterium and the Papacy. If you are going to embrace a synergistic view of justification, you might as well buy into the deluxe version of it.

    • With all due respect, this kind of thinking is very unhelpful. I say this as someone who considered going Catholic because, according to some of my Reformed friends, if you didn’t accept their views of how salvation occurred, you may as well go to Rome.

      In fact, the Reformation began not because of a debate about the “how” of salvation, but over money, specifically the selling of indulgences. That conflict eventually became one of authority–could the Church, Councils or Popes err, and if they did, what was the reliable authority? The response of Luther and the other Reformers was that, of course, Councils and Popes could err and did err. Ultimately, everything the Church does should be measured by Scripture, especially the Apostolic Scriptures. This position is eminently reasonable and in keeping with common sense. One is asking too much, I think, to expect that the Church must be right because it is the Church.

      I think the Reformation should be viewed as a conflict over authority and money that ultimately resulted in a more fair balance of power between Church and State and people (though this did not develop for a couple of centuries). Had things continued to run as they had, the resulting Christianity and world would have been unacceptable. The Reformation was in many ways tragic, but I think it needed to happen.

  24. Damaris….welcome. Your essay is a joyfull explanation of why I have remained with the Church of my baptism for fifty-something years. The Church has turned the love (ok, and lust) of a pair of twenty year olds into a Sacrament that has protected and guided us for over thirty years. We raised two boys beneath the shadow of her wings….one has become a warrior for God, one a Christmas and Easter cultural Catholic. I have been blessed with her presence through years of untreated depression…so far as to state ,”Dammitall, I’m Catholic so even offing myself to get out of this mess isn’t a option, damitalltohell!” My husband and I were the only ones happy at my mother’s funeral mass, knowing that she was finally free of crippling physical pain, and merely gone on ahead of us (“Save me a seat, Mom!”) We have left parishes, but never the Church. As Fr. Andrew Greely states (love the man, hate his polictics) Catholic just means “here comes everybody!!!”

    So, I hope you continue to find God in this pilgrim church on earth. And to everyone else…..we love you, too. All we Catholics think is that we have found the expression of God on earth that is the closest to what Jesus meant…….but it really is the blind men and the elephant. God speaks to YOU where God speaks to YOU. Shalom.

  25. I am glad you found a church home.

    I would just say that it is less important HOW we worship, as it is MOST important WHO we worship.

    If the how, and the words we use were so important, or meant to be one size felt all, wouldn’t Jesus have left us us complete instructions or at least sent them via the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost?

    • Damaris says:

      Fundamentally I agree, Ninure, but I also think that WHO we worship to some degree dictates HOW we worship.

      • ??? Don’t understand this comment. We worship the same God, yet our worship styles differ. Could you elaborate?

        • Damaris says:

          As an extreme example, Michael, a power-hungry god would be properly worshiped with child sacrifice, while a God of love and order would require appropriately loving and orderly worship. I think there can be a variety of means of worship, but I get suspicious when I hear people say, “Hey, God doesn’t mind if I . . .” Worship in both Old and New Testaments involves a sense of awe and reverence, even fear; if we are so relaxed in God’s presence that we watch South Park on our phones during church, can we really assume God doesn’t mind?

          I know these extreme examples are not what you and Ninure are talking about; I’m just using them to illustrate the principle that the nature of the God we worship will have an effect on what our worship is like.

          • But there is certainly a variety of worship in the Old and New Testaments…

            Being in the direct presence of God seems to invoke one set of responses, like falling prostrate on our faces, while we also get…

            “I will enter his gates with thanksgiving in my heart.
            I will enter his courts with praise.
            I will say this is the day that the Lord has made
            I will rejoice that he has made me glad.”

            Or how about…

            “Wearing a linen ephod (for which he was accused of being half naked), David was dancing before the LORD with all his might, while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the LORD with shouts and the sound of trumpets.”

          • Damaris says:

            All of those sound fine, Michael.

        • The Guy from Knoxville says:

          Michael, the issue, at least in my case, is that, while there are different kinds of worship noted in the old and new testaments, there doesn’t seem to be this “if you don’t do this every Sunday of the year you’re out of step, behind the times, you’re not relevant and a host of other things that could be said. Yes David did dance as the Ark was returned but that was one specific situation and a unique one at that moment and a time for celebration and was accepted by God yet that was not necessarily the case in every single public worship situation/service. There are times for celebration, times for soleminity and times for the ordinary everyday worship public and private which brings me back to the liturgy – it’s something that can be counted on week to week and there are instances through the church year for praise and thanksgiving even for a dance but when you get right down to it the structure is the same and it’s that stable foundation that many desire that I desire from a worship standpoint. Ultimately, as all should know, Christ is the sure foundation and upon him all is set so don’t misunderstand my “stable foundation” statement – Christ is made the sure foundation………… everything falls if not built upon him.

          I think the bottom line here is that I’ve been totally trashed in my last two churches for my stedfast stand for some sort of consistancy and stability in worship week to week and “the powers that be” basically said that if I didn’t worship a certain way (the way they wanted me to) then I was basically unsaved and I needed to get right with God and be free in worship……. what gives???!!! I already felt free and felt I was worshiping – this is almost equating worship with salvation or a means to it…. key word in that is “almost” – it was not said directly be in so-many-words and inference that seemed what was being said.

  26. Damaris, I was carried into a Baptist church here in the UK as a baby and I’m still just about there. However the things you say you like about the Roman Catholic Church (liturgy, universality, incarnational theology and balance) I too love and value and look for in every church. May God bless you on your journey wherever it has taken you and wherever you go.

  27. RyanEdward says:

    Great article!! I came into the Church Easter of 2010 so I know the transitional experience. I loved the paragraph on incarnational theology of the Catholic Church. This is exactly what I’ve come to learn, and love, about becoming Catholic. The points you brought up were all points that I myself came to in my conversion to Catholicism. I will certainly share this article with friends!

  28. I left the Baptist denomination years ago and will never go back. I am not a Catholic but I am closer than I was before. I am United Methodist.

  29. Well, at least you didn’t cite as your reason for joining: “Because the Catholic Church is the sole Church of Christ which Jesus, after his Resurrection, entrusted to Peter’s pastoral care, which, constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him.” I.e., you still allow that other non-Catholic churches which are not in communion with the Bishop of Rome might contain or express an equal or even greater fullness and trueness of the Gospel and the Lord.

    • Damaris says:

      God can be reflected in each part of a broken mirror, Eric. I’m sorry it’s broken, but I don’t deny the ability of each fragment to do what the whole once did.

      • You realize I’m quoting almost verbatim from The Catechism of the Catholic Church, don’t you? Specifically:

        816 “The sole Church of Christ [is that] which our Savior, after his Resurrection, entrusted to Peter’s pastoral care, commissioning him and the other apostles to extend and rule it. . . . This Church, constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in (subsistit in) the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him.”267

        The Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Ecumenism explains: “For it is through Christ’s Catholic Church alone, which is the universal help toward salvation, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained. It was to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, that we believe that our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant, in order to establish on earth the one Body of Christ into which all those should be fully incorporated who belong in any way to the People of God.”268

        I.e., it doesn’t sound to me like the Catholic Church considers itself to be merely a fragment of a broken mirror, but believes that “the sole Church of Christ…subsists” in the Catholic Church.

        Though the succeeding Articles/Sections – i.e., 817822 – address the relationship of the Catholic Church to other churches and brethren in other denominations, it still insists that the “unity” of Christ’s Church “subsists in the Catholic Church,” and that any salvific power in these other churches comes from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church.

        So it seems to me the Catholic Church considers itself to be not only Numero Uno but also Numero Mono.

        And aren’t you thus required to believe that, also?

        • Damaris says:

          I do believe that the Catholic Church represents the fullness of the faith, although even it is imperfect insofar as it is made up of imperfect people. Otherwise I wouldn’t have joined it — I wasn’t just choosing on the basis of comfortable worship style. But sheesh, I didn’t take one step into the Catholic fold and then immediately turn around and start judging all the other sheep. I’m just trotting after the shepherd and still have a long way to go. What all the other sheep are doing is not my story, as Aslan would say.

        • Radagast says:

          Eric,

          I believe Eastern Orthodoxy believes the same thing as well – representing the True church – the one full faith and all others are in error.

          • @Radagast:

            When we were Eastern Orthodox, the popular thing to say was: “We know where the Holy Spirit is, but we can’t say where He isn’t.” I think Timothy/Kallistos Ware first said that in his book on the Orthodox Church. IIRC, the Orthodox Church will not recognize the validity of the Catholic Church’s Eucharist, but I think the RCC recognizes the validity of the EOC’s Eucharist. The EOC believes it is the One True Church that has faithfully preserved, protected and transmitted the Apostolic faith. We had to renounce Protestant distinctives as part of our catechumenate.

        • RyanEdward says:

          Why is it that on InternetMonk, wherever you find Catholicism, you find EricW. You’re so attracted to it.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Probably for the same reason you find Pathological Furry Haters on Furry Fandom boards and chats and attending Furry conventions.

          • Hey!

            Are you stalking me? 🙂

            If I have gone overboard on Catholic threads, I need to pull back.

            But, no, I’m not attracted to it. I thought at one time I might be, but… No. Not at all.

  30. Blessings to you! Yesterday, Ascension Sunday, I was confirmed into the Catholic Church (after 25 years as a floating evangelical/charismatic Proddy). My home parish is Sacred Heart Church in Winchester, VA. My prayers are with you for your Obedience to the Lord’s call upon your life!

  31. Congratulations to all of you who have joined the Catholic Church. Now you are really IN.

    The Catholic Church believes that they ALONE are the true church and all others cannot have any assurance of their salvation.

    So just follow the prescribed track, mind your P’s and Q’s and all should be well.

    In many ways it’s no different than other denomionations in that respect. A lot of God and a little of you.

    I was a Roman Catholic for 40 years.

    And I believe that Roman Catholics ARE Christians (as I believe that Evangelicals ARE Christians).

    I would just love to see a lot of those religious (self-transcendent) barnicles scraped off that hull so that people could actually breathe some of that free air that Jesus died so that we could have.

    I really don’t mean to rain on anyone’s parade, but the truth ought be told at some point here (not that I am the only one). Too much is at stake.

    • David Cornwell says:

      ” Too much is at stake.”

      The end of the Reformation?

    • When my parents have talked to me about Catholicism in the past, it’s from the perspective of “the Catholic church is the one true church” I don’t think any church has God cornered.

    • Steve, it has been a LONG time since the Catholic Church claimed a monopoly on salvation…but it did do just that for quite some time. I pray that you find Jesus wherever He speaks to you. There is not denying, however, that for 1500 years Christian=Catholic. However many gripes one has against RC, it was “the” church for a really extended period…..

    • The Guy from Knoxville says:

      This I agree with – true christians exist everywhere and in all versions both Catholic and Protestant and one of the biggest obstacles to be overcome on both sides is the idea that they are the only truely saved people. Until we get past this there will continue to be problems – just ask any good baptist and they’ll, in some cases, tell you outright that they are the only ones going and if they don’t say so outright then it will be clearly implied and same can be said with other protestant groups as well – COC, some of you non-denoms, pentecostals and on and on it goes. Yet, the Catholic church says the same though at least they will consider that protestant believers are considered to be part of the church but outsie it – that’s more than most evangelical protestants will give coming the other way…….. had a former staff memeber from my last church who had done some missionary work in Guatemala and made the statement that central and south america are all Catholic and were lost and going to hell – there was no hope for them. I didn’t buy that line then and I don’t now!!!!! Utter stupidity if you ask me.

  32. Nah… I think the Reformation needs to be ongoing, and is. The Lutheran witness is as much to the church as anyone else. Trying to keep people away from the waste of time (and even harmful) religious, self-focused spirituality project, and have them focus on Christ and what He HAS DONE for them.

    It’s a never ending battle. People love the religion game.

    • What I meant to say is that what is at stake is people’s freedom, in Christ, FROM all that religious ladder climbing nonsense…and now they are freed to be what God made them to be. Human beings with their feet on the ground. Free to love and help their neighbors. Free to love God without worrying if they have done enough, or if they are serious enough (for God to love them). (for ALL of us the answer is NO, to both of those questions)

      But Christ Jesus has done enough and He is serious enough.

  33. As a Catholic, I think this is all well and good. But I come this to this site looking for the wisdom and riches of our brother and sisters from other Christian communities. If this place gets too Catholic, I’m out of here.

    • Only two of the writers are Catholic. The originator Michael Spencer was not. His replacement Chaplain Mike was not. The publisher, Jeff Dunn is not. Your fears are a little unfounded.

      • “Chaplain Mike was not” should read “Chaplain Mike is not”.

      • Radagast says:

        We could use a good orthodox writer in the mix as well and just to balance it out a real heavy fundimentalist.

        • And an Anabaptist.

          • Cunnudda says:

            Living in an Amish paradise?

          • Who speaks in tongues.

          • Radagast says:

            At one time I joined a group of “intellectuals” (college professors and other assorted “smart” folk) and we read books and discussed them like Thoreau (a bit out of character for me but I am sometimes willing to step out of the box). I discovered that actually it was a group of Unitarian Universalists (including a Bhuddist) -they were actually a lot of fun. – but I think they would be too heavy into relativism – as in “everything is OK in the big cloud of spirituaity”. I was also on the other side of the political spectrum from them – but they forgave me for it….

    • Hahaha! I kind of agree. I don’t think I would leave, necessarily, but I really enjoy the diversity and willingness to dialogue without pronouncing anathemas on each other.

  34. Pam Burns says:

    For others who are finding a desire for liturgy and sacramental worship, I would recommend an orthodox Anglican church. It has long been known as the bridge church between protestants and Catholics. The liturgy, Eucharist, and Oil of blessing are there without some doctrines which protestants have a hard time believing.

  35. The honeymoon period is fine and necessary. I was Sacrementalized in RC but then evangelized in the Baptist understanding of things. I’m currently going to a Baptist church with once a year attendance at the catholic church on Saturdays. The RC church in the US is open and offers a big tent. RC is still viewed very superstitionously in countries like the Philippines and Mexico and probably the rest of South America. The views of RCs among pew sitters is so varied it becomes meaningless. Only 10% believe in Transubstantiation, Very few would practice NFP, most don’t read the bible let alone have a prayer life. Most are missing that personal relationship with Christ. Seems like most of the posters and commenter’s views here are shaped by EWTN which is much more conservative than the Vatican 2 documents. Nothing beats the Incarnational, embodied and the largeness that is RC.

  36. “Some Christians hold that all the work – and therefore responsibility – of salvation rests with God alone. I can’t entirely reconcile that view with the commands and exhortations of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Gospels. ”

    While I wholeheartedly disagree with this statement, I appreciate your honesty and wish that the many evangelicals who embrace the ‘faith + works = salvation’ formula were as honest. Much of evangelical theology is ‘Catholic Lite’ and boils down to faith +works minus the saints, Mary, the Magisterium, and the Pope. (Even if many doctrinal statements deny this, one only has to visit the churches to see that it is the practical reality in a lot of churches.

    If you are going to embrace a synergistic view of justification (Salvation as a cooperative venture between man and God) you might as well go for the deluxe (and more well thought out) version offered by the RCC or the Orthodox.

    • Spot on, Patrick.

      And, at least in the Catholic Church, they would be receiving the body and blood of Christ.

      Luther saw this ‘Christ plus’ theology at work in both the Roman Church AND at work in the Anabaptist, or Enthusiasts. He said thatb they were “two wolves tied at the tail”.

    • David Cornwell says:

      “Much of evangelical theology is ‘Catholic Lite’ and boils down to faith +works minus the saints, Mary, the Magisterium, and the Pope.”

      But Evangelicals DO have popes, just at Martha pointed out a few days ago. And you can get in big trouble when you disagree with them.

    • Damaris says:

      I hear you, Patrick. I agree that it is important to understand and accept definitions and honorable to act according to them. I have a lot of respect for people who do that. They are stimulating, profitable, and humbling to talk to — much easier to deal with than unreflective people. When I was a missionary in Kyrgyzstan, I especially enjoyed talking to the devout Muslims — we had more in common and more to talk about than those who defined themselves vaguely and didn’t trouble to take a stand.

      • Radagast says:

        I once had a leader who was originally from Pakistan, schooled in England and defined herself as a mystical muslim. I was very impressed with her spirituality and saw a level of devotion that parallelled the Christian Mystics. I have never forgotten that portrayal and enjoyed very much our talks on spirituality.

    • Patrick, I don’t where you get your ideas of evangelicals from, but in every evangelical church I have EVER been in, and I have been in a lot, Salvation is by grace, though faith and not works. Most evangelical (non calvinists) believe that it is our response of faith to God’s grace that completes the work of Salvation. And no, we do not believe that faith is a work.

      • Michael Bell, the “formula” fully put should read, “salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone and not works.”

        But I keep hearing about “obedience” as necessary to salvation (or necessary to sanctification, which ends up amounting to the same thing). It’s all works-righteousness. And some insist that one must have “faith” in such things as literal-6-day-creation in order to consider themselves Christian. To me this kind of “faith” seems like works, if it’s not faith in Christ alone.

        Have you ever heard someone say, “I don’t know how anyone can consider himself a Christian if he continues to smoke.” Or drink. Or watch R-rated movies. Or vote Democrat.

        What I’m saying is that a lot of us evangelicals mouth the words to Ephesians 2:8 but…

      • ‘Patrick, I don’t where you get your ideas of evangelicals from,’

        How about ten years spent in various church bodies like the Church of God (Anderson Ind.) Assemblies of God, First Baptist Church, Houston, TX, the flagship congregation of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Anaheim, CA under John Wimber( for the last three years of my sojourn in evangelicalism.) Also worked for Robert Schuller at the Crystal Cathedral for four years. I spent three years in a Bible College in Texas.

        Gee, maybe my experience wasn’t extensive enough to get the gist of it….

        • Point well made.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          …the flagship congregation of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Anaheim, CA under John Wimber…

          Wasn’t that the one in the Big Box-style industrial building on Anaheim Blvd a little south of Ball? The building that used to be the old Federated Stereo Warehouse (“Fred Rated — for Federated!”) and now houses an indoor Spanish-language swap meet? (Local color — I used to work just down the street from that.)

    • Can one reasonably justify separation from the Catholic Church because of differences on the doctrine of justification by faith? The remarkable Lutheran -Catholic “Joint Declaration on Justification” suggests that such separation can’t be justified any longer on this basis.

      • The short answer is “Yes” The RCC never formally adopted the ‘Joint Declaration’ and it was panned by no less than Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (the present Pope) as well.

        A good friend of mine swam the Tiber and joined the RCC. He was very excited when the Joint Declaration was made public and gave me a copy. In typical postmodern fashion, the document contains mutually contradictory statements. I pointed this out to him and asked him if it this document was a business contract, would his lawyers let him sign it. ( He is a relatively wealthy business owner.) He took the papers back after a colorful rant and never talked about it again.

        • I beg to differ. The document is approvingly posted on the Vatican website, so I suspect there’s some support for it in Rome. At what point does the “Reformation” stop “reforming” the Church and merely serve as an excuse to perpetuate the existence of a separate denomination?

          • Johnathan,

            You guys excommunicated us. To my knowledge that has never been rescinded.

            Luther said that if the church allowed us to teach and preach the Gospel, and allow us to maintain that the Papacy was of human origin, created for the good order of the church, there would be no barrier to returning. The Roman answer was ‘NO’

          • Also there is that little matter concerning the Council of Trent, wherein anyone who believes or teaches the Gospel as the Lutherans do is declared Anathema. (Eternally condemned)

            So unless Popes and Councils can err, the Lutherans are completely barred from fellowship.

            To this you may ask why we don’t we just repent and get over it. I reply ‘Unless you can convince me from the Scriptures and clear reason, I cannot.’

            Hence we come full circle.

          • Jonathan says:

            Mr. Kyle to your post at “2:18.’
            I was unaware you were ‘in Luther,’ as it were, and consider his excommunication binding on yourself. Luther does loom large in the pscyhe of his people. But you confirm my suspicion that separation in 2011 over justification is hardly reasonable.

          • Jonathan,

            Going back to Patrick’s point, at what point were the decrees at the Council of Trent rescinded? Secondly, bringing that to touch on your point at 2:52, how can any protestant who believes as Luther did regarding justification and the imputed righteousness of Christ NOT understand that the Canons also apply to them? At what point in the language of the decrees would one be led to believe that they were aimed at an individual instead of anyone who believes as decreed?

            For example:
            CANON XXXII.-If any one saith, that the good works of one that is justified are in such manner the gifts of God, as that they are not also the good merits of him that is justified; or, that the said justified, by the good works which he performs through the grace of God and the merit of Jesus Christ, whose living member he is, does not truly merit increase of grace, eternal life, and the attainment of that eternal life,-if so be, however, that he depart in grace,-and also an increase of glory; let him be anathema.

            OF COURSE we Lutherans consider Luther’s excommunication binding on ourselves. We believe as he does regarding Scripture – that has not changed – and Rome has not rescinded. Thus here we stand.

          • ‘I was unaware you were ‘in Luther,’ as it were, and consider his excommunication binding on yourself.’

            What are you talking about?

            Go read the Council of Trent. Anyone who believes in justification by faith as taught in the Lutheran Confessions is de facto excommunicated and pronounced anathema.

            I believe the Lutheran Confessions are a clear and true explanation of the scriptures, especially in regard to justification by faith alone, and I reject the divine origins of the Papacy, and it’s authority over all believers. Read what your own Councils and Popes have to say about that.

            The gate to fellowship is barred firmly from the RC side.

            You need to check out a bit of history before you start castigating people based on your own imaginings.

          • Jonathan says:

            Mr. Kyle, Lutheranism pays your mortage. I get that.
            But it’s not 1517 any more. Take a hard look at the “Joint Declaration of Justification,” which addresses much of what you mention.

          • Jonathan, you’re coming at this with the assumption that separate denominations are always a bad thing. I remembered an article by church historian Bruce Shelley, who wrote that denominations make unity in the church possible, not the reverse. I just found that article.

            Shelley says, “Many people see the existence of denominations as a blot against the church’s witness to unity. So they are surprised to learn that denominations were created with quite the opposite intent—to make unity in the church possible. To understand this counterintuitive historical reality, one has to look back 400 years to the century following the Protestant Reformation.”

            The article was from Christianity Today in 1998. Here’s the link:
            http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/1998/september7/8ta090.html?start=1

          • flatrocker says:

            Ted,
            After reading the article, kinda makes ya all warm and fuzzy for the Mormons and Joel Osteen. We’re all just going around preachin’ to the faithful. Like they always say – there’s diversity in the Word. They do say that don’t they?

          • Flatrocker, I think Shelley’s point was unity among, not division between, and made possible in part by denominationalism.

            The Mormons aren’t a Christian denomination but a whole ‘nother religion.

            And Joel Osteen? Go to youtube and let him speak for himself. God grant that he only speak for himself, and not for a denomination.

          • ‘Mr. Kyle, Lutheranism pays your mortage. I get that.’

            It does no such thing. NRP is more a labor of love than a profitable business. I have contributed far more to it than it has paid me. Neither am I a Lutheran pastor or church worker.

            As to the Joint Declaration, I read it (again) to see if my memory served me correctly. It has.

            Reads it carefully. It says that the anathemas of Trent are still valid but don’t apply to the agreements reached in the Joint Declaration. Furthermore it is not an invitation or license to begin altar or pulpit fellowship. It only applies to several carefully selected terms and ideas, and by it’s own admission doesn’t encompass the full teaching on the subject by either church body. Furthermore, the concept of ‘grace’, what that is and how it functions, are different in our respective churches, and the joint declaration does not appear at first glance to nail down an agreed upon definition of the term although it is used numerous times in the Declaration. ( I need to study it further, but it seems to give the appearance of agreement, yet because the term is used differently in our traditions it could mean two different things depending on who is reading and interpreting the document.)
            The whole document reads like a progress report on the ecumenical discussions of the last few decades rather than the vaunted ‘agreement on justification’ between our two churches that many would have us believe.

            This is not the place to dissect it, but if you check the NRP blog over the next couple of weeks I’ll do some more reading and write a post on it there.

          • Ted, I agree that Mormons are mostly clean cut nice folks that you’d be happy to have live next door, but Chrisitans they are NOT! (In fact, they are not even monotheist). I can understand how children can be indoctrinated in Mormon “theology”, but anyone with an internet connection can debunk the ideas as an adult. IMHO, Mormons are right there with Scientologists in swallowing the ramblings of con men.

          • flatrocker says:

            Pattie and Ted,
            So who decides? Are they in the family or not?

            And while we’re at it, we might as well throw in the Jehovah Witness, Westboro Baptist and few uber-liberal Episcopalians just to keep it spicey.

            Are they part of the Body or not? And upon what authority are we to pronounce our judgements?
            (and btw don’t simply say Scripture, because that is what each of those groups are using to exclude the rest of us).

          • Flatrocker, I don’t think we need to call it a “judgment” when “statement” will do, but the short answer to the question is “Not.” Not in the family, but certainly made in the image of God nevertheless.

            Mormon religion has a different god, a god evolving into a higher being, and humans too are hoped to evolve into what God is now. Not the eternal, unchanging God of the Bible.

            The name confuses people, but what’s in a name? Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. But it’s less about Jesus Christ and more about the latter day saints.

            That’s about all I know, but it’s quite enough.

            And I’ll agree with Pattie, all the Mormons I’ve met are fine people. And so are a lot of other people from non-Christian religions. Nobody’s judging to say that they are not Christians.

    • Nope, you don’t need to become Catholic or Orthodox to embrace a view of salvation that leaves free will intact and God not a monster.

      The Anabaptists did it during the 16th century. They bore some amazing fruit for Jesus, many very literally offering up their lives. While the magisterial Reformers set up abominable state run churches arguably as bad as the old Roman church and bickered about theology, a lot of good people actually saw some serious Reform get accomplished by seriously committing to obey Christ.

      It can still be done today and is being done. I appreciate Luther and Calvin’s courage but I would rather leave the poor theology of faith and works behind.

  37. “But Evangelicals DO have popes, just at Martha pointed out a few days ago. And you can get in big trouble when you disagree with them.”

    Yes they do.

    They have created a paper pope…’The Bible’. Their monochrome, wooden understanding of Scripture and inability to distinguish God’s Law from His gospel is a huge problem in Evangelicalism.

  38. Demaris and Andy,

    Welcome to the Catholic Church. May you all be blessed and may you and your faith bless others.

    To Eagle and others who think that sexual abuse in evangelicalism is less than in the Catholic church, just google “StopBaptist Predators” and Christa Brown for some scary insights.

    • My post last night never made it here, apparently, but Christa Brown’s book This Little Light should be required reading for Evangelicals and especially Southern Baptists. She has stopped blogging, but her Website is still being updated, I believe:

      http://stopbaptistpredators.org/index.htm

      Christa’s book is one of the few that made me almost physically ill and want to vomit, so beware. Also, if you’ve ever been in an abusive church or cult, reading it could “trigger” some bad memories or emotions.

      But if you want to help pull the lid off the scandal of Baptist sexual predators, buy and read and share her book.

      It’s too bad LifeWay Christian Stores (SBC-owned) don’t carry it.

    • My post last night never made it here, apparently (because of a link?), but Christa Brown’s book This Little Light should be required reading for Evangelicals and especially Southern Baptists. She has stopped blogging, but her Website stopbaptistpredators dot org is still being updated, I believe:

      Christa’s book is one of the few that made me almost physically ill and want to vomit, so beware. Also, if you’ve ever been in an abusive church or cult, reading it could “trigger” some bad memories or emotions.

      But if you want to help pull the lid off the scandal of Baptist sexual predators, buy and read and share her book.

      It’s too bad LifeWay Christian Stores (SBC-owned) don’t carry it.

    • Agree that it happens in many places and is not limited to the Catholic church.

      However, one of the key factors that must be present for it to occur is a lack of acountability and oversight. This can be lacking in any church structure if human failing and sin takes hold. However, In relatively closed hierarchical system such as the Catholic church structure and some protestant/evangelical denominational or organizational structures, the hierarchy is the only source of accountability and oversight, and when that fails, it does so spectacularly, often leading to systemic sin.

      I was reminded of this again reading Maureen Dowd’s latest column in the NY Times. Don’t always agree with her but her account told this story particularly well.

  39. Please remember that the ratio of our individual ages (years of life this side of Glory) to eternity will always be asymptotically approaching zero. If Hebrews 11 is correct, the great cloud of witnesses is cheering us on as we type, Catholics and Protestants alike. I bet that they cannot wait for us to realize that the “last” 99.9999999% of our lives is full of a perfect knowledge of Jesus and the eternal lives that result are marked by goodness that never ends.

    Thanks for your story, Damaris. I am lifetime-Protestant who has been thinking about getting up the courage to join the RCC. Still struggling with the bound conscience thing (or, conversely, who am I to question?) Jesus doesn’t always make sense, so I have a hard time wrapping my head around a authoritative institution (Did the church really figure him out?). However, I also have difficulty understanding how there could even be a coherent church without magisterial authority as defined by Rome (words have multiple meanings… even Scripture words = denominational confusion and contradiction.)

    Bottom line… I’m happy for you and a bit jealous. As others have said, please keep us posted as your faith journey continues.