Tag: Catholic converts

The Desire For Holy Communion Leads Mennonite To The Catholic Church. 

The Desire For Holy Communion Leads Mennonite To The Catholic Church. 


I was bemoaning my lack of access to the Eucharist when I first learned what Donatism was. In a discussion with friends online, I lamented how I could not, in good conscience, participate in communion with anyone I knew was persisting in sin (or at least what I thought was sin) without repentance.

Someone said that sounded like the ancient heresy of Donatism. Intrigued, I searched the term online and decided the Donatists were at least partially correct. In short, the Donatist heresy arose in the fourth century, proclaiming the sacraments facilitated by ministers who were in a state of mortal sin were invalid, and that Christians must be rebaptized into the “true” (Donatist) church where sin was better disciplined.

This made excellent sense to me at the time. After all, the Apostle Paul had written an instruction to not associate or eat with those who claimed to be Christians but refused to repent of their sins (1 Corinthians 5:9-13). If a church was full of such unrepentant people, and the leaders did not discipline them, the only thing a faithful Christian could do was to leave the church and join a better one (or start his own). To remain in a corrupt church would be to disobey the apostle’s instructions and therefore risk the loss of one’s own salvation.

And that was how I essentially excommunicated myself. I followed my conscience into neo-Donatism, and I wished I were dead.

Being Faithful to Scripture

I grew up as a “Bible Christian.” Unlike theologically liberal mainline Protestants, prosperity-gospel charismatics, and superstitious semi-pagan Catholics, we were the real Christians because we took the Bible seriously. But when I was twelve years old, I discovered there were Christians out there who seemed to take the Bible even more seriously than I had been taught to.

I began reading about conservative Mennonites, who seemed intent on taking New Testament instruction very literally. Jesus said remarriage after divorce was the same as adultery (Matthew 5:32), so that wasn’t allowed. Jesus said to not resist an evil person (Matthew 5:39) and to love and pray for enemies (Matthew 5:44), so participating in war wasn’t allowed. The Apostle Paul said women should cover their heads when praying or prophesying (1 Corinthians 11:2-16), so that was a requirement. And, of course, there was the aforementioned instruction from 1 Corinthians 5 to not associate with unrepentant sinners, so starting a new church was expected if there was no other good option. I was impressed at their willingness to respond with simple, literal obedience to even the most difficult teachings that, despite thinking of myself as a Bible Christian, I had never considered.

I mulled this over in the summer of 2001. The day after I turned thirteen was Sept11. I watched with dismay as it seemed Christians everywhere were reacting with anger and calls for retaliation. Did we or did we not really take the Bible seriously? If we were going to respond like unbelievers when times were hard, was our faith real? I tried to talk about what Jesus had said about praying for enemies and what the Apostle Paul had written about leaving vengeance to God (Romans 12:1721), but no one seemed to listen. I didn’t stop believing in Jesus, but I had the jarring epiphany that many, perhaps most who claimed to be Bible Christians might not be as faithful to Scripture as they purported to be.

Anything but the Catholic Church.

From then on, I dreamed of finding something closer to “true Christianity.” Checking out the Mennonites seemed like a good start, but they weren’t nearby (and I was too young to drive). So I waited as the years passed, feeling frustrated and hungry for this radical Christian discipleship that was noticeably different from the ways of the world.

After Barack Obama was elected president of the U.S. in 2008, I was just about fed up with conservative evangelicalism. Christians were comparing Obama to Rome’s Emperor Nero and “the antichrist.” I was bewildered. Even if these hyperbolic comparisons had merit, weren’t we supposed to be unafraid of death? Didn’t we claim a unity with Christ’s resurrection that made us invincible? Hadn’t the church outlasted past powers of darkness, and would we not again? For all their talk about being “biblical,” it seemed most of conservative evangelicalism was more interested in winning culture wars than in looking forward to the resurrection of the dead and life of the world to come. Where were the real Christians??? I wondered in exasperation.

The Catholic Church wasn’t on my radar. From early childhood I had heard about how Catholic state-churches tortured and burned religious dissenters who raised concerns about praying to statues and paying money to get into heaven and the inaccessibility of Scripture. All the Catholics I knew seemed biblically illiterate and treated their faith as an obligation to check off their to-do list. I figured it was an old, worn-out, hopelessly corrupt version of Christianity that had strayed from the Bible.

Trouble Getting on the Same Page

I did get a bit curious during a Christian college student retreat, when a staff member from a Catholic university facilitated a mealtime discussion on Catholic beliefs. I realized I had never actually talked to a Catholic person who knew what he was talking about, so I listened to what he had to say. The only thing I remember was that he clarified that Catholics don’t pray to saints in the same way we think of prayer to God, but rather ask for the saints’ intercession. “That’s weird,” I thought to myself, “but it’s not as weird as I thought.” I got the idea that there might be other “Catholic ideas” that weren’t as weird as I thought, but I didn’t think too hard about it at the time.

I spent the next decade exploring the contours of more socially-conscious evangelicalism and, later, the Mennonite world. I found a lot of inspiring ideas about how to live the Christian life, but also a lot of conflict and division over how to put biblical teaching into practice. The earliest Reformation-era confessions at the root of the Mennonite tradition strongly emphasized the necessity of a church of genuine believers (who made their own choice to be baptized into the church) and followers of Christ’s teaching, calling for separation from (and excommunication of) anyone who was not of like faith and practice.

From here I was inspired to strongly hold the position that I couldn’t participate in communion with anyone who was committing — with no intent to repent — an act I thought (based on my understanding of Scripture) was sin. It wasn’t exactly the same as Donatism, which focused on the righteousness of the officiating clergy. In some ways my thinking went far beyond that, extending the responsibility to each participating layperson (after all, there was very little distinction between clergy and laity in the Mennonite tradition) to be assured that all his or her participating brothers and sisters were united and on the same page.

A Glimmer of Hope

While all this seemed like the biblical ideal, in reality it led to endless schisms, as each person had slightly different ideas of what actions might constitute immorality. Churches would split over such tiny things as variations in clothing styles, or whether or not to make use of certain technological advances such as automobiles, radios, TV, or the internet. The emphasis on having a visibly unified and recognizable expression of shared faith led to a vast spectrum of congregations and associations of congregations with varying rules and requirements — somewhat like a multitude of religious orders, but most not sharing communion with each other!

I was overjoyed to discover the little church I eventually became a part of — definitely on the modern liberal side of the Mennonite tradition (we didn’t have a dress code or rules micromanaging details of our lives),—was seeking to live out Christian ideals such as sharing our possessions (we jointly owned our property), refusing to participate in war or other violence, and renewing our little corner of the earth by using natural farming methods. We took inspiration from the New Testament, Mennonite values, Benedictine and Franciscan spirituality, and the Catholic Worker Movement, and the result was a scrappy little intentional community with early-church vibes that I really liked. Though we weren’t perfect, I thought we were a lot more balanced and ideal than anything else I had ever seen.

However, my church ended up dissolving shortly after I joined it. I was devastated, wondering how I could ever find anything like that again. That’s when a former coworker invited me to join him and his wife at the Easter Vigil service in 2017. I figured I might as well see what it was all about.

According to My Interpretation

Of course, what I heard was the exact same gospel I already believed — from the Bible! In fact, I was impressed by how much Scripture I heard. After that, I deemed the Catholic Church as orthodox, according to me! Sure, it had some weird unbiblical stuff, I thought, but so did most other churches, in my opinion. I laugh so much now at how I thought back then. I had no concept of an authoritative church that determined orthodoxy; rather, it was my interpretation of Scripture that granted (or withheld) my personal seal of orthodox approval to any creed, confession, or catechism. It was my job to continually be improving my knowledge of Scripture so I could effectively use citations thereof to evaluate all statements of faith. I would shop for churches by reading their statements of faith on their websites, and if I saw anything I deemed erroneous according to my interpretation of the Bible, I’d cross it off my list of places to visit.

It’s crazy to me now how I was able to function like this (honestly, I wasn’t functioning very well at all), but at the time it was the only way I knew how to operate.

Take Me to Heaven

Throughout 2017, I became more and more ill as a chronic digestive condition I’d put off dealing with was finally overtaking me. When my church dissolved, my house was put up for sale. I made the decision to move back home with my parents that July.

By this time, I had developed an affinity for the Early Church, and I had a vague belief in some form of Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist. I felt desperate to have a church home so I could access that. I visited a few churches, but by August, I realized I was slowly dying of starvation. Eating food became more and more traumatic, and my appetite shut down. I lost so much weight that I could hardly function. I could feel my mind becoming duller and slower, so I stopped driving, making it impossible to go anywhere.

I despaired of ever finding a church my conscience felt right about fully participating in, even if I wasn’t sick. And if I couldn’t have the Eucharist, life wasn’t worth living. My only hope was that God would recognize I had done the very best I could and take me to heaven.

Steps Toward the Ancient Church

In late September, I went into the hospital at 84 pounds to have surgery. I hoped I would enter the operating room and go right to heaven from there. Instead, I awoke on the afternoon of September 27, 2017 in the same place, with a giant wound in my belly, a racing heart rate, and a discouraged spirit. Now what?

I would spend more than a week there. As the days passed, I was able to move, to sit, to walk, to drink, and finally to eat again. I somehow started looking at Catholic posts on Instagram during that time, and they encouraged me. It was my first ongoing exposure to Catholics who took their faith seriously and presented it winsomely online. Now that I was on the journey toward health, I started thinking about the future, and how I needed to get my church-homelessness remedied in order for anything else to be worthwhile.

I came home on October 7, but I spent the next several weeks regaining my weight and getting my full health back. I bounced around a few different churches and often found myself driving to a nearby Poor Clares monastery during the week. I hardly knew what I was doing sometimes. I was looking for something real, something that connected me to the ancient Church.

A Consistent Ethic and Celibacy

It seemed that everywhere around me, others who grew up evangelical post-9/11 were all looking to the Church’s first three centuries for inspiration for evangelism, witness, service, and even liturgy. More and more of us were tired of the semi-Christian narratives pushed by the socio-political right and left; we wanted premium Christianity that transcended culture wars and spread the fragrant aroma of Christ. As I kept observing this encouraging phenomenon, I also kept investigating the Catholic Faith. I slowly realized that many non-Catholic Christians were trying to reinvent a lot of Christian practice while sidestepping the traditions preserved for us by the Catholic Church.

For example, there were endless debates about how best to articulate a socially conscious consistent ethic of life, what issues to prioritize, how best to engage politically and to what extent we should even do so. I remember thinking, “Wouldn’t it be great if the entire global Church had a unified social conscience with a consistent ethic of life that transcends these political divides?” I sheepishly remembered the Catholic Church had something like that, but I also knew a lot of Catholics didn’t hold to that and ended up taking one or the other side of the political aisle like most evangelicals.

Another issue that concerned me was the utter lack of tangible support in evangelical circles for celibate life. Getting married and having children was seen as the only way to be worthy of celebration. Celibacy was expected for the unmarried, but it was seen as this undesirable situation to be remedied as soon as possible rather than a good and beautiful and frequent call worthy of voluntarily considering and celebrating. Single Christians commonly talked of feeling marginalized, invisible, second-class. More and more discussions popped up about what alternatives to traditional family life could be explored to provide Christian community for unmarried Christians. “Can’t we have some kind of religious communities like Catholics have?” I wondered. I tried to get various friends interested in the idea, but almost no one wanted to entertain the idea of committed celibacy for life.

Lingering Concerns

The more I looked at the Catholic Church, the more I saw the synthesis of things I couldn’t find synthesized in the wide realm of evangelicalism: orthodoxy, morality, a consistent ethic of life, an esteem for celibacy, reverent liturgy, and a connection to our ancient brothers and sisters. I had thought I would have to start my own church to have all of these things at once!

Of course, I had my concerns. Chief among them was (and still is) an apparent lack of emphasis (compared to what I’m used to) on the necessity of personal holiness as normative for the Christian life, and a corollary focus on meeting sacramental obligations. In other words, it seemed like as long as one followed the Church’s minimum requirements, striving for sainthood was optional. To me, it’s scandalous to call oneself a Christian if one isn’t trying to live out the teachings of Jesus and the apostles on a daily basis. In my former neo-Donatist way of thinking, “Christians in name only” would be removed from the Church as phonies!

A related and equally grave concern was (and still is) the history of the Church’s relationship to the state and the abuses of power that have spawned from it. From the beginning to the end of the fourth century, the Church underwent a dramatic shift from persecuted to persecutor due to its rapid growth that overtook the office of the emperor. This new social dominance was often egregiously misused throughout subsequent centuries in ways antithetical to the Christian gospel, marring the Church’s collective witness to this day.

A Much-Needed Shift in Perspective

I wanted a church with all the good things about the Catholic Faith and none of the things I thought were bad. I thought if I could just articulate the right vision and find the right people, I could make it happen. My concerns didn’t disappear. But this past spring and summer, my ecclesiology changed for three reasons:

First, I realized that numerous people before me had wanted the same thing — a better Church. Yet as noble and pure as their intentions might have been, none of their movements have, in fact, produced an overall better Church. I looked and looked for it until I was alone and miserable, and I finally had to acknowledge I couldn’t do a better job than the Holy Spirit did at Pentecost.

Second, I began to see the Church as a family rather than merely a voluntary association (although I believe it has elements of both). Many people are born into the family, but not all will live up to the name “Christian,” and several will, in fact, tarnish the name horribly. While this phenomenon is scandalous and should be continually opposed, it does not give us permission to abandon the Church and start another that is not in communion. This was a huge shift from my former neo-Donatist mindset, in which the pursuit of Christian perfection must be normative in order to be the true Church.

Why Donatism Doesn’t Work

A truer example of reform is modeled by many religious orders that seek greater Christian perfection while maintaining communion with the Church family and a posture of invitation to everyone to consider such holy lives for themselves. Where would the Church be if faithful religious orders decided to break communion in pursuit of purity? Those who seek righteousness and holiness are the witnesses the Church needs most! By remaining in communion with the “less perfect” members of the family, the “more perfect” members strengthen the faith of the Church as a whole.

Third, I began to question where else I could get the real Eucharist. Whatever that was, I wanted it more than anything. While I was wrestling with all the above thoughts, I had a conversation in May with a neo-Donatist-minded friend over the phone that was a turning point for me. He attended services at his church (not Catholic) but did not participate in the communion ritual due to St. Paul’s instruction to separate from those calling themselves Christians and continuing in sin, which I highlighted at the beginning of this story (1 Corinthians 5:913). I asked him how he was able to carry on emotionally and spiritually without access to communion. (I certainly wasn’t carrying on well, and I wanted to know how he managed it!) He said he served himself communion at home, and that I could, too!

What If I’m Not in the Right Church?

“No,” I said. “I can’t do that. I don’t think that’s right.”

“Why?” he asked. “Where in the Bible does it say we have to be assembled in a group to receive communion?”

I was momentarily stumped. I couldn’t produce a proof-text. I had to think deeper. And then I came right back to the same passage of Scripture.

“What is the point of excommunication if we can all go home and serve ourselves?” I asked.

Hmm, that’s a good point,” my friend replied.

I could hardly believe the next words were cascading out of my mouth: “What if there’s a Church out there that actually has the authority to excommunicate and has guardianship over the Eucharist — and we’re not in it?

“If that’s the case, that’s really scary!” he said.

Well, yes. That is scary. The point of St. Paul’s instruction in 1 Corinthians 5 is not for each person to excommunicate himself (which was the application I had previously drawn from this teaching) — excommunication is a mechanism given to the Church precisely because the Church has guardianship over who receives the Eucharist.

Ongoing Conversion

While it’s by no means ideal, in theory I could receive communion alongside a hundred unrepentant sinners, but all their faults will not separate me from intimacy with Christ. My job is to live the holiest life I can, pray for continued spiritual growth throughout the Church, and let God sort out his people in the end.

I well understand the desire to flee and to form a “better” Church that roots out sin. But I also know that while sin clings to our humanity — which still awaits its full liberation (Romans 8) — we can’t have a completely pure Church no matter what we try. We can follow our Donatist impulses and believe we’ll find (or build) the true Church that will “get it right this time.” But I speak from experience: If you do this, you will be even more crushed than you might feel right now when there you find many of the same sins and faults you sought to avoid: abuse of power, sexual abuse, theft, immorality, manipulation, etc.

I started RCIA in September. I still have my concerns, but I’m here because schism is futile. 

Source:

*This post first appeared on the blog media.ancensionpress.com

44 Reasons I Left Protestanism For The Catholic Church. 

44 Reasons I Left Protestanism For The Catholic Church. 

44 REASONS I  LEFT PROTESTANTISM FOR THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.

Catholic convert confesses…

1. I left Protestantism because it was seriously deficient in its interpretation of the Bible (e.g., “faith alone” and many other “Catholic” doctrines – see evidence bellow..

2. I am a Catholic because I sincerely believe, by virtue of much cumulative evidence, that Catholicism is true, and that the Catholic Church is the visible Church divinely-established by our Lord Jesus, against which the gates of hell cannot and will not prevail (Mt. 16:18), thereby possessing an authority to which I feel bound in Christian duty to submit.

3. Catholicism isn’t formally divided and sectarian (Jn 17:20-23; Rom 16:17; 1 Cor 1:10-13).

4. Catholic unity makes Christianity and Jesus more believable to the world (Jn 17:23).

5. Catholicism avoids an unbiblical individualism which undermines Christian community (e.g., 1 Cor 12:25-26).

6. Protestant individualism led to the privatization of Christianity.

7. Protestantism leans too much on mere traditions of men (every denomination stems from one Founder’s vision. As soon as two or more of these contradict each other, error is necessarily present).

8. Catholicism retains apostolic succession, necessary to know what is true Christian apostolic Tradition. It was the criterion of Christian truth used by the early Christians.

9. Protestantism from its inception was anti-Catholic, and remains so to this day (esp. evangelicalism). This is obviously wrong and unbiblical if Catholicism is indeed Christian (if it isn’t, then – logically – neither is Protestantism, which inherited the bulk of its theology from Catholicism). The Catholic Church, on the other hand, is not anti-Protestant.

10. The Catholic Church accepts the authority of the great Ecumenical Councils (see, e.g., Acts 15) which defined and developed Christian doctrine (much of which Protestantism also accepts).

11. Most Protestants do not have bishops, a Christian office which is biblical (1 Tim 3:1-2) and which has existed from the earliest Christian history and Tradition.

12. Protestantism arose in 1517, and is a “Johnny-come-lately” in the history of Christianity. Therefore it cannot possibly be the “restoration” of “pure”, “primitive” Christianity, since this is ruled out by the fact of its absurdly late appearance. Christianity must have historic continuity or it is not Christianity.

13. Protestantism is necessarily a “parasite” of Catholicism, historically and doctrinally speaking.

14. The Protestant notion of the “invisible church” is also novel in the history of Christianity and foreign to the Bible (Mt 5:14; Mt 16:18), therefore untrue.

15. When Protestant theologians speak of the teaching of early Christianity (e.g., when refuting “cults”), they say “the Church taught . . .” (as it was then unified), but when they refer to the present they instinctively and inconsistently refrain from such terminology, since universal teaching authority now clearly resides only in the Catholic Church.

16. Catholicism retains the sense of the sacred, the sublime, the holy, and the beautiful in spirituality. The ideas of altar, and “sacred space” are preserved. Many Protestant churches are no more than “meeting halls” or “gymnasiums” or “barn”-type structures.

17. Protestantism has largely neglected the place of liturgy in worship (with notable exceptions such as Anglicanism and Lutheranism). This is the way Christians had always worshiped down through the centuries, and thus can’t be so lightly dismissed.

18. Many Protestants tend to separate life into categories of “spiritual” and “carnal,” as if God is not Lord of all of life. It forgets that all non-sinful endeavors are ultimately spiritual.

19. Protestantism has removed the Eucharist from the center and focus of Christian worship services. Some Protestants observe it only monthly, or even quarterly. This is against the Tradition of the early Church and the Bible. (Malachi 1:11, Act.2:46, 1Cor.10:16-17).

20. Most Protestants regard the Eucharist symbolically, which is contrary to universal Christian Tradition up to 1517, and the Bible (Mt 26:26-28; Jn 6:47-63; 1 Cor 10:14-22; 1 Cor 11:23-30), which hold to the Real Presence.

21. Protestantism has abolished the priesthood (Mt. 18:18) and the sacrament of ordination, contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (Acts 6:5-7; 1 Tim 4:14; 2 Tim 1:6).

22. Catholicism retains the Pauline notion of the spiritual practicality of a celibate clergy (not everyone will marry) (e.g., Mt 19:12, 1 Cor 7:8, 1 Cor 7:27, 1 Cor 7:32-33). which does not exist in any protestant churche.

23. Protestantism has largely rejected the sacrament of confirmation (Acts 8:18, Heb 6:2-4), contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible.

24. Many Protestants have denied infant baptism, contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (Acts 2:38-39; Acts 16:15; Acts 16:33; Acts 18:8; 1 Cor 1:16; Col 2:11-12). Christ also told his apostles not to stop children from coming to him.

25. Protestants have rejected the sacrament of anointing of the sick (Formerly known as Extreme Unction / “Last Rites”), contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (Mk 6:13; 1 Cor 12:9, 1 Cor 12:30; Jas 5:14-15).

26. Protestantism pits the veneration of saints against the worship of God. Catholic theology doesn’t permit worship of saints in the same fashion as that directed towards God. Saints are revered and honored, not adored, as only God the Creator can be.

27. The anti-historical outlook of many Protestants leads to individuals thinking that the Holy Spirit is speaking to them, but has not, in effect, spoken to the multitudes of Christians for 1500 years before Protestantism began!

28. The Bible doesn’t contain the whole of Jesus’ teaching, or Christianity, as many Protestants believe (Mk 4:33; Mk 6:34; Lk 24:15-16; Lk 24:25-27; Jn 16:12; Jn 20:30; Jn 21:25; Acts 1:2-3).

29. The New Testament was neither written nor received as the Bible at first, but only gradually so (i.e., early Christianity couldn’t have believed in sola Scriptura like current Protestants, unless it referred to the Old Testament alone).

30. Christian Tradition, according to the Bible, can be oral as well as written (2 Thess 2:15; 2 Tim 1:13-14; 2 Tim 2:2). St. Paul makes no qualitative distinction between the two forms.

31. St. Paul, in 1 Tim 3:15, puts the Church above Bible as the grounds for truth, as in Catholicism.

32. Protestantism claims that the Catholic Church has “added to the Bible.” The Catholic Church replies that it has merely drawn out the implications of the Bible (development of doctrine), and followed the understanding of the early Church, and that Protestants have “subtracted” from the Bible by ignoring large portions of it which suggest Catholic positions. Each side thinks the other is “unbiblical,” but in different ways.

33. Contrary to Protestant myth and anti-Catholicism, the Catholic Church doesn’t teach that one is saved by works apart from preceding and enabling grace, but that faith and works are inseparable, as in James 1 and 2.

34. Protestantism has virtually eliminated the practice of confession to a priest (or at least a pastor), contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible ( Jn 20:23, James 5:16, Acts 19:18, Matt. 3:6; Mark 1:5, 1 John 1:9).

35. Protestantism disbelieves in penance, or temporal punishment for (forgiven) sin, over against Christian Tradition and the Bible (e.g. 2 Sam 12:13-14; Heb 12:6-8).

36. Protestantism has rejected the Tradition and biblical doctrine of purgatory, as a consequence of its false view of justification and penance, despite sufficient evidence in Scripture: ( Is 4:4; 6:5-7; Micah 7:8-9; Mal 3:1-4; Mt 5:25-6; 12:32; (cf 1 Pet 3:19-20); 1 Cor 3:11-15)

37. Protestantism has thrown out prayers for the dead, in opposition to Christian Tradition and the Bible (2 Samuel 1:11-12, 1 Samuel 31:11-13 Tobit 12:12; 2 Maccabees 12:39-45; 1 Cor 15:29; 2 Tim 1:16-18).

38. Some Protestants disbelieve in Guardian Angels, despite Christian Tradition and the Bible (Ps 34:7; 91:11; Mt 18:10; Acts 12:15; Heb 1:14).
39. Most Protestants deny that angels can intercede for us, contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (Rev 1:4; 5:8; 8:3-4).

40. Protestantism rejects Mary’s Immaculate Conception, despite developed Christian Tradition and indications in the Bible: Gen 3:15; Lk 1:28 (“full of grace” Catholics interpret, on linguistic grounds, to mean “without sin”); Mary as a type of the Ark of the Covenant (Lk 1:35 w/ Ex 40:34-8; Lk 1:44 w/ 2 Sam 6:14-16; Lk 1:43 w/ 2 Sam 6:9: God’s Presence requires extraordinary holiness).

41. Protestantism denies Mary’s Spiritual Motherhood of Christians, contrary to Christian Tradition and the Bible (Jn 19:26-7: “Behold thy mother”; Rev 12:1,5,17: Christians described as “her seed.”)

42. Catholics believe that Mary is incomparably more alive and holy than we are, hence, her prayers for us are of great effect (Jas 5:16; Rev 5:8; 6:9-10). But she is our sister with regard to our position of creatures vis-à-vis the Creator, God. Mary never operates apart from the necessary graces from her Son, and always glorifies Him, not herself, as Catholic theology stresses.

43. Catholics are that generation that was spoken of by the Holy Spirit through the blessed virgin Mary in Luke 1:48.

44. Last but not the least, Catholic Church is the fulfillment of the prophecy in (Malachi1:11) through the Holy Mass celebrated all over the world everyday; from the rising to the setting of the sun…

*The source of this article has Chosen To Stay Anonymous.

The Inspiring Story Of How 12 Anglican Nuns Became Catholics

The Inspiring Story Of How 12 Anglican Nuns Became Catholics

Here is the miraculous and inspiring story of how 12 fully habited nuns left their convent forever. 
They walked or were helped to a waiting coach. On board there were some suitcases and bedding. They left with all they possessed. 

As the coach drew away from their former home, other nuns similarly dressed waved “goodbye” to those leaving. One group of nuns had settled for what they had always known; another had set out on an unknown path. Both groups knew they would never see each other again. 

The coach was heading to a monastery on an island off the south coast of England. It was only a temporary halt, though. The departing nuns’ final destination was as yet unclear. As they drove further from the familiar, both physically and spiritually, the sisters began silently to pray the Rosary.

While so doing, the coach’s occupants experienced a strange combination of emotions. The sisters had had to leave their former home that day. For all these vowed religious, but especially for the elderly, this was a wrench that few in the outside world can imagine. 

Of course, there was the pain and the poignancy of having to say farewell to those left behind who had shared their former community life. But there was also present a great joy, for just the previous day, 10 of these 12 nuns (two having been received earlier) had been received into the Catholic Church and, for the first time, had received the Body and Blood of Christ. 

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The Anglican religious sisters were received into full communion with the Catholic Church on the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, Jan. 1, 2013.

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“In recent times, the Holy Spirit has moved groups of Anglicans to petition repeatedly and insistently to be received into full Catholic communion individually as well as corporately.”

So opened the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, given in Rome, at St. Peter’s, Nov. 4, 2009, the memorial of St. Charles Borromeo. It provided for the establishment of personal ordinariates, through which Anglican faithful might enter, including in a corporate manner, into full communion with the Catholic Church. This declaration was to change forever the lives of a group of Anglican nuns living in a convent in rural England, near Oxford. It was also to set in motion several years of debate, discernment and turmoil for the women concerned before some were able to come to their decision to enter the Church.

As the news of Pope Benedict’s generous and unexpected initiative filtered into the convent, no one there was under any illusion: This had changed everything. 

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The Community of St. Mary the Virgin, based in Wantage, Oxfordshire, is one of the oldest Anglican religious communities in the world. It was founded in 1848 as part of the Oxford Movement — a movement of “High-Church Anglicans,” with John Henry Newman as one of its leaders. These Anglicans sought to reinstate Catholic traditions within the liturgy and theology of the Church of England. The nuns wore a traditional habit, sang Gregorian plainchant, reserved what they said was “the Blessed Sacrament,” took vows for life of poverty, chastity and obedience, and, by so doing, sought to replicate the practices of a traditional Catholic religious community. There was one notable difference though: They were Anglicans, not Catholics. 

Within the Anglican Communion, there is no Vicar of Christ, no magisterium. From the time of its inception in the 16th century, decision-making within the Church of England occurred through an elected synod, some members of whom may not have had any theological training. In the decades before Anglicanorum Coetibus, those synods had begun to take positions, especially on matters of morals and ecclesiology, which left many traditionally minded Anglicans uneasy. As a more socially liberal wing of the Anglican Communion gained the ascendant, many Anglicans began to “swim the Tiber” — entering into full communion with the Catholic Church. 

In times past, individual Anglican conversions were one thing. A member of an Anglican religious order going over to Rome was a wholly other matter. They would have been effectively ending their religious vocation, as there would have been no ability of accommodating them within the canon law of the Catholic Church. The only option was to return that soul to the lay state. Not only that, but many would also have been rendered destitute by such a move, and for a cloistered religious, initially homeless, as well. This was also to say nothing of the anguish of abandoning everything and everyone who had supported one’s spiritual life. The call to follow one’s conscience, as Newman and others had done many years previously, was not a path for the fainthearted. 

Nevertheless, from the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the words of Anglicanorum Coetibus began to reverberate within the Community of St. Mary the Virgin at Wantage. One sister of the community described that moment as follows: 

“This community has always meant everything to me. … My call at the age of 20 was hugely strong: I was absolutely clear that I was meant to be here. … [But] there are two points here. Firstly, the Holy Spirit has spoken to my heart at several moments in my life about union with the Catholic Church. Secondly, yet it was also the Holy Spirit who placed in me a strong sense of call to this particular community. These two aspects of my vocation have governed my choices at moments when it was possible to become a Catholic and I have not done so. But the ordinariate basically opened a possibility I never imagined could be there for me as a religious.”

As it turned out, she was not alone in how she felt. 

Mother Winsome was the superior of the community at Wantage. Her overriding wish was to care for the souls of the religious sisters under her authority and to preserve the unity and harmony of the community. It was not long, however, before she began to feel the first tremors caused by Anglicanorum Coetibus. Privately, a not inconsiderable number of the sisters were each coming to Mother Winsome and confiding the same thing, namely, a desire to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. For some, it was, at last, the way in which their religious vocation and their Catholic longings could be reconciled without losing their identity as religious. 

There were others within the community who were not willing to make such a move, however, and these, equally, made their feelings known. Mother Winsome had what any superior of a religious community most fears: the very real possibility of a divided community. On one side, there were those attracted to the ordinariate and, on the other, those who wished to remain within the Anglican Communion. The ideal solution for some had always been a united community choosing to remain and — on one level, at least — for things to continue as before. That possibility began to look increasingly unlikely. 

There were further complications. The convent’s buildings and grounds were owned by the Anglican community, so to go on living there as a Catholic community was not a viable long-term option. Some of the community might be united in their desire to become part of the ordinariate, but acting on this impulse, it became clear, would also render them homeless. 

For the next years, the Community of St. Mary the Virgin prayed and lived as one. They worked alongside each other and sang together the Office. They hoped for a solution. As time went on, however, it became clear that the sisters who wished to become Catholic would have to leave Wantage. 

Despite the private and sensitive nature of this period of discernment, word seeped out beyond the convent walls of what the nuns were considering doing. Soon hate mail started arriving at the convent from those furious that some of the sisters were contemplating entering the Catholic Church. All sorts of false accusations began to be leveled at individual sisters. Pressure began to be applied to Mother Winsome to discourage any sisters from making such a move. 

Finally, Mother Winsome, herself now intent on becoming Catholic, called the whole community together. She told them that any sister wishing to be received into the Catholic Church “had to be prepared to walk down the drive with just what she could carry in a bag in her hand, leaving everything else behind, without any guarantees for the future, just going forward in blind faith in accordance with her conscience.”

In the end, 11 sisters and a recently joined religious sister from another community elected to make that walk. Three of the sisters were in their 80s, three were in their 70s, and two of the sisters were prepared to leave the monastery’s infirmary and the care they received there to follow the call of conscience. One of the more elderly members of the community said what many of them now felt: “I want to die a Catholic.”

What one of the community who wanted to become Catholic described as “the years of trauma, pain, bitterness and persecution” finally came to an end when, on the feast of Mary, the Mother of God, Jan. 1, 2013, the Anglican religious sisters were received into full communion with the Catholic Church. 

On the morning after their reception, as they prepared to leave their home forever, the beaming sisters met each other with the words, “I’m a Catholic!” The inevitable joyous reply was, “So am I!” They then collected their few personal belongings and walked, were helped or were carried to the waiting coach. 

The future of the 12 was as uncertain as their way of life in the past had been fixed and stable. 

Unexpectedly, an offer came for a temporary refuge from the Benedictine Abbey of St. Cecilia’s on the Isle of Wight. That abbey, part of the Solesmes Congregation, had been expecting 12 sisters from a South American convent for a prolonged visit. At the last minute, the visiting sisters were unable to come. But the abbey had made all the preparations: 12 cells had been prepared and were now empty. When St. Cecilia’s Abbey became aware of the plight of the Wantage sisters, they immediately offered them abode. At St. Cecilia’s, it was proposed that these new Catholic religious would learn the ways of the Church and they would listen to conferences on the Rule of St. Benedict and monastic life. 

When the long coach journey came to a close, drawing them away from all they had known, a journey that could be measured not just in miles but also emotionally and spiritually, the vehicle pulled up outside the doors of St. Cecilia’s Abbey. And as it did so, through the dark night, the Wantage sisters saw light coming forth as the great doors of the monastery were flung open, and they heard the words: “Welcome home.” 

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Postscript

That was not the end though.

By the time they had arrived on the Isle of Wight, the Wantage Sisters no longer existed canonically. In addition, they were penniless, as well as homeless. Their initial living arrangements at St. Cecilia’s Abbey were only temporary.

The Sisters needed a permanent home – but where? And, how?

They prayed; they hoped; they waited.

Word came to the Sisters that a convent in the Birmingham area was about to be sold. The Sisters arranged to visit it. When they did so, they realized that it would make a perfect home. And, what’s more, the three elderly nuns who were vacating the convent wanted to leave all the furnishings and furniture behind. For the destitute Wantage nuns this was starting to sound too good to be true.

There was only one problem. The Wantage sisters as yet had no means to purchase the convent.

Still, they prayed; they hoped; they waited.

An anonymous benefactor appeared. The convent was purchased, and duly handed to the Wantage sisters. Soon they had arrived at their new home with everything prepared for them: from beds and bedding, to carpets and furniture, to every pot, pan and kitchen utensil required for serving a community of 12 souls.

There was something else though. The nuns vacating the convent had been concerned that the convent chapel where they had worshiped for decades would have to be deconsecrated. As it happened, the Tabernacle was never emptied. The red sanctuary light continued to burn in welcome as a new religious community of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary, took possession of its permanent home.

They live there still.

They live on Providence alone.

They have wanted for nothing.

Shortly after being received into the Catholic Church, in 1845, John Henry Newman was offered a place at Old Oscott house, then in the country about 4 miles from Birmingham. While staying there, he wrote the following: “I am writing in the next room to the chapel. It is such an incomprehensible blessing to have Christ’s bodily presence in one’s house, within one’s walls, as it swallows up all other privileges and destroys, or should destroy, every pain.”

Barely five minutes’ walk from where the now Blessed John Henry wrote those words, today there stands a convent. Within its walls there resides a new religious foundation of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham: the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Entire Pentecostal Congregation In Arizona Including Pastor & Wife Converts To Catholicism

Entire Pentecostal Congregation In Arizona Including Pastor & Wife Converts To Catholicism

St. Melany’s Byzantine Catholic Church welcomes its news catechumens. (Courtesy of Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Phoenix / Patrick Cullen)

The phrase “Swimming the Tiber” has been used to describe Protestants coming into the Catholic Church. But a group of Pentecostals in Arizona are coming “home to Rome” through Constantinople, leaving their Assembly of God church for the Byzantine Catholic Church.

Joshua Mangels, a pastor at a Tucson Assembly of God church, felt in his heart a growing desire to join the Catholic Church, which culminated with his resignation of his position at the church in September and entering the catechumenate a month later at a local Byzantine Catholic parish. Along with him and his family came several in his flock, all taking the plunge together into the Church.
Mangels’ first experience with Catholicism was as a teenager in South Seattle. He was in a crisis of faith at the time, he said, “running with the neighborhood kids,” and while playing basketball, an elderly Catholic woman named Karen asked him to help her with a Bible study she was running at the community center.

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