The Protestant roller coaster ride - Nearly a 50 year journey......
Both of us were raised in Christian homes with both parents ( Father and Mother ) being Christians: David had a Pentecostal upbringing and Brenda had a Church of Christ upbringing. Both of us have a typical 1970's/80's Protestant experience when it comes to church attendance of Sunday School, Sunday Morning Worship, Sunday Night Worship, Wednesday Night Bible Study and Church Youth Camp.
There are similarities in the Catholic Church in each of the denominations we were raised in like baptism being more than a symbol in the Church of Christ and that it's possible to lose salvation in the Pentecostal church. This also provides a better understanding of the fullness of truth being in ONE Church: The Catholic Church.
If you know anything about Pentecostal ( the kind with speaking in tongues, screaming hell fire and brimstone preaching, etc. ) and Church of Christ ( no music, calm service, etc. ), you'll quickly understand from a Protestant perspective why we decided to compromise and raise our two daughters ( now in their 20's with one married ) in the Baptist church.
After a church split ( happens too often in Protestant churches ) in the Pentecostal church that David was brought up in and one side got what you might call less Pentecostal ( less yelling fire and brimstone ) and more mainstream, we did return for a while for David to serve as Youth Pastor and in other areas of ministry including preaching a Sunday morning message from the pulpit while the Pastor was out of town. After a brief period in ministry and sometime later settling in Franklin County NC, we eventually returned to the Baptist church only a few miles from us and finally settled on another Baptist church closer to Raleigh with a very large congregation where David was involved in Drama, a weekly 6 a.m. Men's Bible Study, parking attendant and also served as an Upwards Basketball Coach.
For many Protestants, the journey is not unlike the one above. We all have our stories and some are more of a roller coaster ride than others. Some people have been in the Baptist church all their life and some others are cradle Catholics ( in the Catholic Church all their life ). Our church journey has not been that simple.
We either know or know of many Protestants who are not settled at one church for longer than a few years. We also know Protestants who do not attend church anywhere but are "Stay at Home Christians." We've personally been there as well which can become a habit that is so easy to get into. But "Stay at Home Christianity" is not how Christ set it up. Jesus also didn't set up "cherry picking" a church based on ones personal interpretation of scripture. It's interesting looking back on our Protestant life, but it did teach us to LOVE Jesus and LOVE the Bible. However, we are happy to be AT HOME IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.
Now, For The "At Home" Catholic Us...
The bouncing around in the Protestant churches was partially because something was missing in our lives that neither of us could put a finger on. What we have been seeking most of our lives, without even knowing it, is the truth we've discovered in the Catholic Church.
We ( Catholics, Protestants, Everyone ) are all saved by God's Grace through faith in Jesus Christ. So if you are not a Catholic ( or a confused Catholic - no offense intended ), don't think that we now "worship Mary." Although some anti-Catholics or those that just don't know any better twist Catholic beliefs, "Worshipping Mary" is not a teaching of the Catholic Church. The "worship of Mary" is actually contrary to Catholic teachings. Mary is not the only area that non-Catholics get hung up on: People just need to study the truth of Catholicism with an open mind from a Catholic perspective instead of basing understanding on anti-Catholic rhetoric and/or things they may have heard over the years.
Neither one of us really ever thought much about Catholicism one way or the other until we began this journey. We didn't know where it would led us, but we were willing to accept where God led us. God's will not ours - no matter what.
No one coerced us into becoming Catholic. We didn't even know any practicing Catholics personally as close friends prior to beginning our journey except for one colleague hundreds of miles away and a business connection locally that have both become friends over time. David simply had a burning desire to seek the truth, learn the truth and discover the truth which led both of us into the Catholic Church.
David began to see things differently in January 2017, but it took countless hours of research and listening to Catholic radio, CD's, MP3's, YouTube Videos, etc. in 2017 to really realize that becoming Catholic was the right decision.
All of this really hit home with Brenda in January 2018 after being in RCIA for several months. However, the biggest impact for Brenda was from the Holy Spirit which David also attributes to us becoming Catholic. Brenda has never felt more at home in any other Church in all her life. Brenda has never felt God's presence in her life more in any other Church. Brenda feels, as David does, that we are now at home in the Catholic Church. This reality can be hard to grasp until you experience for yourself.
There are two sides to everything and we've discovered the other side of the Catholic story that is not based on misconceptions, misinformation and misrepresentation of Catholic teachings.
Cardinal John Henry Newman lived from 1801 to 1890. He converted to Catholicism in 1845. He once said, "To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant."
Fulton Sheen said "There are not over a hundred people in the United States who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions, however, who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church-which is, of course, quite a different thing. These millions can hardly be blamed for hating Catholics because Catholics “adore statues”; because they “put the Blessed Mother on the same level with God”; because they say “indulgences is permission to commit sin”; because the Pope is a Fascist”; because the “Church is the defender of Capitalism.” If the Church taught or believed any one of these things it should be hated, but the fact is that the Church does not believe nor teach any one of them. It follows then that the hatred of the millions is directed against error and not against the truth. As a matter of fact, if we as Catholics believed all of the untruths and lies which were said against the Church, we probably would hate the Church a thousand times more than they do."
Below you'll find 3 images from the March 31st, 2018 Easter Vigil taken at Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral in Raleigh NC.