Perhaps I should give a little background information about myself. First and foremost, I’ve only been a Catholic for 9 years now (as of Saturday, 16/April/2022). I was received into the church at the Easter Vigil of 2013.
I grew up as a Jehovah’s Witness but got kicked out for foolish teenage reasons. I then spent a few years in what I called the wilderness where I managed to get myself in all kinds of trouble. The disfellowshipment was one thing, but being shunned by my former Jehovah's Witnesses friends was a whole other matter.
Fortunately, my faith journey took a turn for the best when I got saved in an Assembly of God church in my local area. I then went on to change from one non-denominational church to another in search of community but just couldn’t seem to really find it outside of planned events like retreats.
A close family member of mine is Catholic and I noticed they seemed to have a certain confidence, order and strength when it came to matters of faith. I decided to investigate the Catholic church and found out I actually had more things in common with the faith than I did differences.
The first thing I thought I’d have a serious issue with was the transubstantiation thing where the bread and wine were supposedly changed into the real presence of Jesus’ body and blood. But then my RCIA mentor shared a scripture passage with me that I either had never read or just skimmed over and it totally blew my mind. The scripture passage is shown below.
John 6:51-56 - NIV
51. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” 52. Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53. Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 55. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them.
So according to scripture, "unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you." Also, if Jesus has been talking symbolically, then why did so many of Jesus’ followers turn and walk away as demonstrated just a few verses down?
John 6:66 - NIV
66. From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
Anyway, just something to ponder. I don’t mean to get all “preachy” or anything 😉
So back to my story, after making it over that first hurdle, the next big thing was MARY! Yes, as in Mary the Mother of our Savior Mary. I had no problems with Mary as the mother of God, but what about this whole Immaculate Conception thing [in regards to Mary, not Jesus], and then there was the whole Assumption of Mary [assumed bodily into Heaven upon death]. Now those two teachings were a whole other matter, believe me. But over time, I’ve come to embrace the dogmas related to Mary as well. Turns out Mary is actually pretty awesome! Now I say that, but I believe I’ve only barely scratched the surface when it comes to all-things-Mary.
Keep in mind I still had some strong Jehovah’s Witness teachings and background left in me by that point so the whole fact that I was even entertaining the thought of becoming Catholic was almost absurd. Yet, I felt like something inside me was drawing me to the Catholic Church. And I think a lot of it was the strong community of believers and the central authority found in the Vatican that has somehow held on to the central tenets of the Christian faith for more than 2000 years.
This authority is passed down the line through the archbishops, bishops, priests, deacons [I may be leaving some out] and finally the parishioners. And one of those teachings has to do with the subject of a post you will find in the Catholic Mystics' Corner
section of this website ... that being Purgatory
If you happen to read that story
, then believe me, a year ago this time, I thought I’d be the last person in the world talking about such a subject. And not only talking about the subject of Purgatory, but sharing an experience I had in June of 2021 where [I believe] the soul of a dearly departed friend came knocking in a really cray cray way and [again, I believe] I got to have the opportunity to help her out in order for her to be released from Purgatory and received into Heaven. I know! Crazy, right? But [again, I believe] it happened and I still to this day don’t know quite what to make of it all!
Anyway, sorry for rambling on, but for anyone that might stumble across that link in the Catholic Mystics' Corner and think, “Oh, it’s one of those hard-core, fundamentalist Catholic mystic-type people going on about their imaginary Purgatory thing again” well, hopefully you now can see that that’s not quite the case. I certainly never meant for the experience to happen, but when it did, I allowed the whole thing to play out to its conclusion as I discuss in detail at the link to the story above.
Thanks, And all the Best!
Faith. Hope. Love.
While the greatest of these is Love, what the world needs right now is Hope.