Coming out Catholic leads to a lot of different reactions. Certainly, many people have been supportive. Some of our Christian but not Catholic friends have thanked us for sharing and challenging them to think more deeply about their own faith. But we’ve also experienced disbelief, sadness, tears or mild hostility from persons who often also immediately tell us all the bad stories about/experiences with Catholics that they can recall. It’s not a popular choice we’re making, and many will think that it is a huge mistake. ‘And yet my brother, do not be troubled. Christian is my first name; Catholic is my surname.’ (St. Pacian, 4th century)
While not everyone will agree with this decision, it is a decision to follow Jesus Christ. He is our Lord and Saviour; He invites His followers to sell all their possessions and follow Him. (Matthew 19:21) He said that His coming would turn families against each other. (Matthew 10:34-35) Even though this will lead to conflict, Jesus is leading us into the Catholic Church. We recognize this joyfully, even though this has already cost us job opportunities, peace in some of our relationships, and respect in the eyes of others.
Coming from an evangelical background, this may seem to be a steep price to pay to move into a new ‘denomination.’ This is not what we believe that we are doing. We believe that Jesus Christ founded a single, institutional, visibly unified Church. (Matthew 16:18, cf. John 17) His chosen representatives publicly chose new leaders to continue after them. (II Timothy 2:2) This Church is ‘the pillar and foundation of the truth.’ (I Timothy 3:15)
The Church began to be called the ‘Catholic’ Church as early as the first century. Early Christians confessed that they believed in a ‘holy, Catholic Church.’ (The Apostle’s Creed) ‘Wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.’ (St. Ignatius, first century bishop) All Christians belonged to this Church, believing that ‘He can no longer have God for his Father, who has not the Church for his mother.’ (St. Cyprian, 3rd century) My wife and I grew up in Protestant groups whose ancestors had, about 500 years ago, left this Church.
Now, Jesus is calling us to reconciliation with the Church. We are not officially Catholics yet. Lord willing, we will be officially welcomed into the Catholic church alongside other new members as of Easter 2016. This will lead us to deeper unity with Jesus Christ and half of the world’s Christians.
We are not ‘becoming’ or ‘unbecoming’ Christians. We have always been Christians; we dearly love our Protestant brothers and sisters. We are not rejecting the essential things that we held to as Protestants; the Bible is God’s infallible and sacred revelation, Jesus is Lord of all and the only way to the Father, and we receive all things as gifts of God’s abundant grace and not as earned rewards. We were Christians then and are Christians now.
I welcome discussion. Sadly, my wife is burned out by the negative experiences we’ve had already, so please confine this discussion to me. Unfortunately, we have already met a few people who have very skewed ideas about what Catholics believe or who believe all Catholics are like the “bad Catholics” they know personally. I am not speaking from a high horse – I used to think and say many of the same things about Catholics for much the same reasons. Be that as it may, please be charitable.
God bless, and seek Him in sincerity and in truth. Ad maiorem Dei gloriam!