My Journey to Catholicism

by Lindsey on May 5, 2014

in Just Us

Justin grew up in a pretty devout Catholic family. They attended church regularly, his mom and sister taught CCD, he and his brother were altar servers for as long as you can be, and for a long time I truly believed that his Grandma did not approve of me, because I’m not Catholic.

I grew up in a Methodist church, but in high school and college I was very active in some non-denominational churches. I dove head first into youth groups, choirs, and bible studies. At the time, having just lost my Gramma, the single most important person in my life, it was exactly what I needed, though I’m not sure that would be the case now. I also grew up what can only be described as “Anti-Catholic”, believing that Catholics are judgmental, hypocritical, and unwelcoming. When Justin and I first started dating, I made it very clear that I would never be Catholic, and if that was what he wanted, he could find someone else. Thankfully, he didn’t go that route!

While we were dating, we didn’t go to church very often. When we did go, it was to his church on holidays and for events, like our nieces’ baptisms, or to my parents Presbyterian Church, when we happened to be in Erie. I felt “left out” of a lot of the Catholic Mass, and when I took him to a non-denominational church he was very uncomfortable, being that it was so opposite of the spectrum from what he was used to.

When we started planning our wedding, we both wanted to get married in a church, but I thought I’d have to convert for his, so that was out of the question. We started attending a Methodist Church, thinking it would be a good middle ground for us. We attended semi-regularly leading up to the wedding, and did get married there, but we realized that neither of us really felt like we were getting anything out of it, and we eventually just stopped going altogether.

It wasn’t until our niece was baptized a few months after our wedding, that I found out Justin was no longer recognized in the Catholic Church. I hated myself, feeling that I had taken away some major piece of his life unknowingly. He continuously assured me that it wasn’t something I did, but I still felt horrible. I started researching what he would have to do to be recognized in the Church again, and that’s when I found out about the Marriage Validation Ceremony. I was shocked to find that we could do this without me having to convert! I knew it was important to Justin, and therefore it was important to me, so I took him to his church one evening to complete the necessary paperwork. He was so surprised! He thought for sure that I would have to convert, or at least that we’d have to go through weeks of classes. Instead, we just had to prove that neither of us were previously married, prove that we were both baptized, and he had to commit to doing everything in his power to raise our children Catholic. We had our ceremony in January, surrounded by our siblings, my best friend, and his Grandma. It was perfectly intimate, and so, so meaningful.

It was at this point that I wanted to learn everything I could, in an effort to better understand my husband. While standing on that altar, I suddenly realized just how much this all means to him and his family. I had a lot of questions, so I started with a 3-hour tea session with Laura, who helped things make so much sense to me. I still have questions, but I’m digging in and finding the answers. For lent I asked Justin if we could Church-Hop, and we went to 8 different Masses, each one leaving me grasping for more. I’m reading books, blogs, and news articles, and I’m finding out that much of what I thought I knew, is not how things really are. I’ve been unfairly judging this religion my whole life, and there’s a chance it might actually be what I’ve been searching for, for a very, very long time.

I am seriously considering converting, though I haven’t officially decided yet. Laura made a good point when she told me that it’s not really up to me, that I’ll just know when I know. There are days when I think I do know, but other days I’m left wondering. What I can say, is that I’ve been praying more in the last year than ever in my life, and it has felt very different, in a good way, since learning all of this in the last few months. Sometimes I want to completely wrap myself up in the belief that He knows what he’s doing, and someday I’ll understand it too. Other days, though, I’m telling Him how angry I am, and asking “why us”, but I’ve learned that that’s okay too.

The most important thing to me is that whatever we choose, whether that be Catholic, something else, or nothing at all, that we choose it together. We were both raised as Christians, and we’d like to continue that tradition with our (hopefully someday) children. If we’re going to attend church, I want us to do so as a family.

I’m also being conscious of the fact that I have to make this decision myself. If I do this, it won’t be for Justin, or for his family, and he is being just the right amount of encouraging, without pushing me one way or the other. If I do this, it will be because it’s the right thing for me. And right now, it feels like it might just be exactly that.

Erin May 5, 2014 at 5:10 pm

I went to Catholic school from 6th to 12th grade… and I’m not Catholic. In 8th grade my parents gave me the option of going through Confirmation and converting to Catholicism but I declined. I felt a little left out going through school but I knew I wasn’t the only non-Catholic in my class. I think Catholicism is a beautiful Christian sect but through the years of going to Mass, I memorized the entire service. I knew what I was supposed to say, what the priest was going to say, and I even snuck my way into Communion a couple of times thanks to some tips from my classmates. That sense of tradition is what ultimately deters me from the Catholic teaching. I felt like the words I was saying were just words, they had no meaning. I also feel like a lot of the teachings are horribly outdated, though I might be misguided in this thought because I haven’t studied Catholicism in my adult life. But with all that being said, I feel like whatever brings you closer to God is where you need to be. For me it’s a contemporary Methodist church with rockin’ music, relatable sermons, and the understanding that we’re an imperfect church but we’re trying. :)

Teri May 5, 2014 at 5:20 pm

I was raised Catholic but I wasn’t sure it was for me. I have tried many other types of Christian churches and nothing has ever felt like home. Though I chose not to be confirmed as a teenager I have thought more and more about it in the past few years. I have come to find that there is no such thing as a religion that you will 100% agree with everything but there is one that makes you feel more at home. No matter where I go I end up coming back to Catholicism. Whatever you choose and whenever you choose it has to be in your heart. I am open to having conversations with you anytime about it.

Lisa of Lisa's Yarns May 5, 2014 at 6:53 pm

I was my SIL’s sponsor 3 years ago. She ended up converting to Catholicism about 10 years after they got married. It was a really special experience to be her sponsor as I attended all of the RCIA classes with her. But it was ultimately her decision to convert, I was just there to support her and answer questions. You could go through RCIA because that would teach you so much about the Catholic faith (I even learned a lot going to classes with her). You can go through RCIA and choose not to convert but by going through it, you’d be making a really educated choice about it (and hopefully you would be guided by the power of the holy spirit when making your decision). Anyways, I have been Catholic all my life and am very passionate about my faith so am always happy to chat with you if you have questions or want to talk through anything! I think the Catholic faith is beautiful and it’s been a great source of comfort and strength for me, so if God is calling you to be Catholic, I hope it provides comfort and strength to you as well!

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