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Why I Became Catholic (and Not Buddhist)

One of the questions I get most often when people hear I’m a convert is, “Why did you choose to become Catholic?” I’ve been asked this question by Jews, Baptists, Mormons, atheists, and even Jehovah’s Witnesses. The person who asks the question never says the rest of it, which is, “Why did you choose to become a Catholic INSTEAD of what I am?” These are people of genuine faith, who believe they have found and are living by The Truth. So naturally they want to understand how someone educated and sane could believe so differently.

It’s always a hard question to answer, because I’m sensitive to that unspoken part. I don’t want to insinuate–even accidentally–that they are less intelligent, less holy, or inferior to me as a Catholic. I usually give the “safe” answer, and talk about how my husband and I were drawn continuously to Jesus in the Eucharist. But part of me always yearns to say what G.K. Chesterton said so beautifully:

The difficulty of explaining “why I am Catholic” is that there are 10,000

reasons all amounting to one reason: that Catholicism is true.

I never wanted to be a Catholic. I never even wanted to be a Christian. When my husband convinced me to join him on a quest through major and minor religions nearly 15 years ago, I did it mostly to humor him. I had lived as an avowed atheist for more than a decade and couldn’t imagine that The Truth even existed, much less it could be found. Especially when I couldn’t even accept that God was real.

Fortunately, God literally changed my mind about Him with a thunderbolt. One day, I was reading an article about the human genome project (I was a technical writer), when I was drawn to look at my own hand. What had before been a clever machine of flesh and bone was suddenly revealed to me as a pure miracle of creation. It was truly that instant; one second I was an atheist, and the next I was a believer. I knew with absolute certainty that only an intelligent designer–God–could have created something as incredible as me!

But accepting God’s existence didn’t solve anything; in fact, it created new problems. I’ve had friends who are Deists, who believe God created the universe (including humanity) and then left it alone…much like a clockmaker might create a masterful clock he sets into motion and then ignores. To me, it was simply unthinkable that God would create the glorious universe–including all the amazing people such as my husband–and then just walk away. I realized that the beauty that had brought tears to my eyes even as an atheist could only be interpreted as the uniquely personal stamp of a loving God who delighted in His creation. If God created the majestic earth, gave us the joy of music, and gave me the mind to appreciate it, then it made no sense that he’d create all that just to turn His back on it.

So my agnostic husband and I started questioning the people who claimed to know something about God: the believers. All believers. Every time we encountered someone of faith, we invited them to dinner and then respectfully grilled them on their beliefs. We visited their churches and temples, went to services with them, and read ad nauseum about what and why they believed and how they lived out their beliefs.

I wanted to be cool, but God made me Catholic instead. Le sigh.

We were initially most attracted to Buddhism, no doubt because its adoption by prominent Hollywood celebrities made it a “cool” religion. But despite our best efforts, we just couldn’t accept that Buddhism was true. For one, we found it too morally fuzzy. We had both come around to the pro-life position a few years earlier; even as an atheist I could see it was a human rights issue. So we were disturbed to hear a Buddhist woman who claimed to respect all life describe assisting in an abortion.

When we talked to Buddhists about morality, their answers were relativistic: “It’s only wrong if it’s wrong for YOU.” This never set well with us; either abortion is wrong in all cases because it takes a human life or it’s never wrong. The idea of basing the morality of an action on whether I want it to be right or wrong just seemed ridiculously self-serving. We shuddered to imagine a world where people get to decide for themselves whether lying, stealing, or killing are right or wrong.

There also was the problem of access. When the local Buddhist temple brought in a Buddhist master for a few days, the temple charged several hundred dollars for a guided retreat. While the temple likely would not have turned away a person who couldn’t afford to pay, the wisdom of their living saints ordinarily came with a hefty price tag. My husband simply couldn’t accept this. “So the poor get Truth at the charity of the wealthy?” he asked. This became an insurmountable barrier to him.

For me, it was what Buddhism said was our ultimate destiny that proved the real stumbling block. The end goal of Buddhism is extermination of the self, to annihilate your consciousness by entering “Nirvana.” You’re reincarnated again and again until you learn to eliminate all desire from your soul, at which point your “consciousness” diffuses and becomes one with the universe. Unlike in Christianity, where the goal is union with God (but you are still, in essence, an individual named Susan or Richard), Buddhism’s goal is to destroy the self.

When I considered the people I loved, I found it terrifying to think that what makes them who they truly are–the soul–would just disappear. As atheist convert Jeff Miller (the Curt Jester) said in his conversion story, “Facing death, I found that I did not really believe that if I had been killed that my existence would have winked out of the universe. The soul is not just some metaphysical idea.” Even for myself, I could never understand how spiritual extermination was a palatable goal.

My coffee addiction would have caused serious problems for me as a Mormon.

So we stopped going to Buddhist temples and asking Buddhists to dinner. And it was nice, because I could now serve meat to our guests again. But it was actually a Mormon who made us realize Jesus of Nazareth was the key. One night we had dinner with a faithful Mormon family. The father spoke about Jesus so tenderly that his love for Him was almost palpable.

I can only describe what happened to both my husband and I at that dinner as “Love testified to The Truth.” We knew that Jesus was not just real, but that He was–inexplicably–ALIVE and that this man had a relationship with Him. It was like reading about Abraham Lincoln your whole life and finding out he was actually still alive. And that there were people among you who were friends with him!

While we were strongly attracted to the Church of Latter Day Saints because of its emphasis on family values and strong sense of community, we’d done enough research to know we did not accept Joseph Smith’s claim to divine authority. So we went looking for Jesus in the only other place we’d seen His friends congregate: Protestant churches.

Why not the Catholic churches? Because most Catholics we knew believed more in Luke Skywalker than Jesus. Even those who participated externally in the faith, such as the coworker who went to Mass each week and never failed to show up with her annual ashen cross, told me she didn’t need to believe “all that stuff about Jesus” to be Catholic. “I just like the idea that God came down to live with us,” she said. “But I don’t care whether it actually happened.”

We knew just two young Catholics who practiced their faith, but their quiet reverence was eclipsed by the Protestants we knew, who unabashedly talked about their love for Jesus and whose churches were vibrant and welcoming. When you showed up at their services, they were on you like white on rice and never failed to invite you to their spiritual family. We’d attended several Catholic Masses to learn more about Catholicism, but we’d never once been approached by a welcoming Catholic. In fact, when we’d asked one priest if he’d meet with us to answer questions about the faith, he gruffly told us, “Call the diocese.” Catholics seemed to worship more as individuals, even in Mass.

I’ll never forget our first Easter in a Christian church. We attended Truro Church in Fairfax, Virginia, an on-fire congregation that has since left the Episcopal Church. The line to get in wrapped around the block, with so many children you’d swear there was an orphanage on grounds. In front of us, a little boy played with action figures. Not of wrestlers or superheros, but of Jesus and the apostles. When the priest entered the church and processed down the aisle shouting, “Christ is risen!” the place erupted with so much excitement you felt like you were at a rock concert. These were people truly joyful to be Christian.

But for us, it wasn’t just about which group of believers impressed us. After all, we had been most impressed by the Mormons, but the teachings of Mormonism were a showstopper. The same thing happened with Protestantism. We’d call up churches and ask the pastor to meet for lunch. We’d meet, interview him about the church’s beliefs, then attend services the following Sunday. And we just could not accept that everyone gets to discern for himself what the truth is in the Bible. Everyone claimed their church was “Biblically-based,” yet every one taught something different. Even within the same traditions: Episcopalian Pastor A told us that abortion was always wrong while Episcopalian Pastor B told us it was sometimes acceptable. So remarriage is wrong in this church but not in that church? Women can be priests here but not there?

How can the Holy Spirit be leading so many people to different and even conflicting truths?

The more we read about Christian history, the more we realized that Protestant churches had changed “The Truth” to whatever was culturally acceptable at the time. Far from being immutable, Protestantism teachings were only true for as long as the congregants said they were. And if Truth really existed, we intuitively knew it wasn’t decided by committee.

That’s when we began seriously researching the teachings of the Catholic Church and discovered that the teachings of Catholicism today are the same as taught by the earliest Christians. We read that early Catholics—people who lived just a century or two after Jesus—believed in the Eucharist as the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus. They believed in infant baptism. They believed in Confession. Purgatory. Hell. They were against abortion and yes, even contraception. That the Bible canon was compiled because the books supported the oral traditions of the Church and not the other way around.

For us, it was the historical consistency of the Catholic Church—that the teachings are the same today as they were in the first centuries after Christ—that led us to it despite the poor experiences we’d had with individual Catholics. We believed firmly in objective truth: that was what morally true thousands of years ago for humanity is still true today. If the nature of marriage and sex made contraception wrong 2,000 years ago, then it’s still wrong, because the essential nature of sex and marriage is the same.

So Catholicism is true after all. Crap.

It’s one thing to intellectually accept a religious institution has divine authority. It’s another thing to live that out. We’d decided at the beginning of our quest, though, that if we ever found Truth, we intended to live by it. Integrity, for some strange reason, was critically important to us both. If Buddhism was true, then we’d shave our heads and wear robes to work. If Mormonism was true, we’d give up coffee and Coke and wear sacred underwear. Probably even move to Utah.

But then there was Catholicism…and we realized that being faithful to Catholic teachings was the hardest path to follow as far as religions go. The bar is set very, very high for a person who wants to be a genuine Catholic—it’s not that there are so many rules about what you can’t do, but the call to holiness in Catholicism demands more of you spiritually than any other faith. C.S. Lewis called this the “weight of glory.” Were we ready to never tell a lie again? To avoid gossiping? To attend Mass every weekend after years of sleeping in? To eschew contraception for NFP even when we didn’t want to abstain?

By the time we were done RCIA, we were beating down the doors to become members of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

We realized that if we believed the Church spoke with the voice of Christ—and we did—then we had to submit to all her teachings, not just the ones we found convenient or easy. We realized that if we decided, for example, the Church was wrong about remarriage, then we were undermining the Real Presence. If the Church is wrong about contraception, then how can we have faith it’s right about baptism taking away sin or about God or even heaven? We had rejected, over and over, faiths that taught we could define morality on our own. But with that Truth facing us, it was a frightening prospect to submit our whole lives to it.

In the end, we did. We became Catholic together, surrendering our wills to the Church because we knew it was the same as surrendering them to Christ. That alone made it possible for us to accept all the teachings of Catholicism. And all along this hard road to sanctification, we’ve relied on our love for Him–and more importantly, His love for us–to live out the gift of faith He gave us.

Some people are amazed we were so resolute in our search for truth. But really, we did not choose Him–He chose us. Like Aslan in The Horse and His Boy, Jesus was there the entire time, nudging us this way and that, ensuring we had the grace to find the truth, accept it, and live by it.

Thank you, Jesus, for loving me even in my sin and for calling me home to You. What a gift it is to be Catholic!

About Misty

Misty converted to Catholicism from atheism 10 years ago, just a week after becoming a mother to her first child. Prior to becoming a stay-at-home mom, she worked full-time as a magazine writer and editor. She has been married to her best friend for nearly 15 years and looks forward to many more decades by his side. Her days are now spent cooking, doing laundry, freelance writing, and homeschooling her four children. After spending so much of her life in spiritual darkness, she revels in the joy of being Catholic. Without a doubt, the Lord’s greatest gift to her has been saving her from a life without Him.

May 17, 2012 - 3:56 am

Susan Parker - Misty, I relate to this post and like it more than any other one posted by Catholic Sisters. I went around the block to get to here also. I am so glad you got home, and for me too.

May 17, 2012 - 6:39 am

Adrienne - Thanks for the post, Misty! Although I’m a cradle Catholic, much of your journey resonates with me because I too went through many of the same thought processes as I figured out the answer to, “Why I am Catholic”. I love that amongst all of the thousands of Catholic conversion stories out there, the answers for “Why I am Catholic” always boil down to the same answers, summed up as you said, “Catholicism is true after all.” My Saturday post “Statements of Faith vs I’m Catholic” dovetails with a section of your article, the question of whether truth is individually discerned or universally taught? It is a critical question to ask and answer in the search for truth!

I love your journey and how committed to truth you two were! Few people would have been committed enough to invite so many guests into their homes or to have done so much research into all of those different faiths. I don’t think anyone can rightly accuse you of making an uninformed commitment! Thanks again for sharing!
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May 17, 2012 - 7:07 am

Gina Nakagawa - This is a truly beautiful story of a journey initiated by Jesus Himself and traveled by two determined searchers for the Truth that is Christ. I have been Catholic all my life, at times fallen, but He has picked me up and dusted me off and sent me back in the right direction. This journey should be undertaken by everyone just to remind themselves what a beautiful and valuable *Treasure* we have in the Catholic Faith, and that God is a Person who truly loves His wayward children. Many, many thanks.

May 17, 2012 - 12:01 pm

AnnMarie - Misty, you are so right! It’s not about the people…it’s about the TRUTH! Glad you and your husband made your way home :)

May 17, 2012 - 12:11 pm

Tiffany - Beautiful!

May 17, 2012 - 1:12 pm

Megan - Amazing conversion story! While it isn’t easy I’ve never felt more sure about my faith in my entire life! Thank you for sharing!!!

May 17, 2012 - 9:04 pm

Courtney - Loved this post! Catholicism is really not cool or trendy compared to the church down the street with its multimillion dollar facility, billboards, bands, etc etc etc. But it is a deep and reverent faith. It isn’t about an awesome worship band, a convicting preacher, study groups or how many fun activities a church can plan. Most of my friends are Evangelical Protestants, because that’s what I was for 20 years of my life (although I was baptized Catholic and received First Communion). A lot of those friends don’t know that I went back to the Church (for the same reasons as you), and in the coming weeks, I’m gonna have a lot of explaining to do. The truth is just overwhelmingly obvious for anybody who cares to find it, but it is also the hardest to accept for many!

May 18, 2012 - 5:01 am

Harry - It is so nice to read about your spiritual journey. I am also a Catholic, and I also had the same experiences as yours.
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May 18, 2012 - 7:52 pm

Laura - Misty, I’m new to this site, but I find that I consistently appreciate your writing and your thinking, whether it’s about your intellectual and spiritual journey to the church or your thoughts on the origins (and mistakes) of feminism. I’m in the academy (well, on the fringes right now while I have small kids) and recently recommitted to the church, so I appreciate the intellectual weight you bring to these issues. I look forward to following your writing. Blessings!

May 19, 2012 - 7:59 am

SATURDAY EDITION | The Pulpit - [...] Why I Became Catholic (and Not Buddhist) – Misty, Catholic Sistas [...]

May 19, 2012 - 10:22 am

Richard Collins - Thank you for this post, it is beautifully written and sets out the route to Catholicism, the only way, brilliantly.
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May 19, 2012 - 2:18 pm

stefanie - As a ‘re-vert’ to Catholicism and currently, as the RCIA director at our parish, I really appreciate your story because it ‘lines up’ with my own experience and those of the people who come to the Church.
You write of that experience much better than I could.
I tell everyone (who ask me how in the world could I believe all that Catholic stuff) that I am in the process of being ‘constantly converted to the truth’ of the one,holy,catholic, and apostolic Church. Always walking with my ancestors’ search for THE One to acknowledge and adore — while with one foot, stepping gingerly into the frontier.

May 19, 2012 - 2:35 pm

Wendell Clanton - “The difficulty of explaining “why I am Catholic” is that there are 10,000 reasons all amounting to one reason: that Catholicism is true.”

Amen!

Thank you for a Truth-full and uplifting post.
- from a fellow convert.
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May 19, 2012 - 3:04 pm

A Personal Testimony to Read « creationscience4kids - [...] to be thinking about the big issues in life, like Eric Hovind mentioned in his email letter, here’s a testimony to read.  It is interesting to see Misty go through the thought process of searching out truth.  [...]

May 19, 2012 - 3:19 pm

Why I Became Catholic (and Not Buddhist) | - [...] I never even wanted to be a Christian.  When my husband convinced me to join him on a quest through major and minor religions nearly 15 years ago, I did it mostly to humor him.  I had lived as an avowed atheist for more than a decade and couldn’t imagine that The Truth even existed, much less it could be found.  Especially when I couldn’t even accept that God was real. Source [...]

May 19, 2012 - 5:39 pm

Rachel - Wonderful post! Thank you so much for writing!

“The difficulty of explaining “why I am Catholic” is that there are 10,000 reasons all amounting to one reason: that Catholicism is true.”

Thank God for the Catholic Church and Jesus Christ! I just entered the Church this Easter Vigil, and the (fill-in-the-blank) questions:

“If God really is ____________, what should I do?”
There
Jesus Christ
In the Eucharist
Right in front of you
The author of the 10 Commandments, written with the finger of God
My best friend
My Father
Love
Lord

really shaped my journey! I believe a true commitment to finding the Fullness of Truth will lead you to the front door of the Catholic Church! Getting “in” requires some perseverance and patience, but it is WELL worth it!

Let us pray for Unity, that all churches may be one!
Peace,
Rachel

May 19, 2012 - 7:00 pm

Megan - I am almost speechless after reading this. Your story is amazing and your dedication to the truth inspiring. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your testimony.

May 20, 2012 - 7:20 am

MPQ - Wonderful post, just wonderful.

May 20, 2012 - 1:09 pm

Allison - Hear, hear. From a fellow Alaskan and a fellow convert who studied and came in with her husband, also!

May 20, 2012 - 1:39 pm

Zuzana - +JMJ
Thank you Misty for your honest and most enlightening telling of your journey to the Catholic Church and the Faith in which we Baptize. I was baptized in the Methodist Church, earned a degree in Religious Studies, married a man who became an ELCA Lutheran pastor, raised our six children to adulthood… and then, because I could not deny the ever-growing, inner spiritual longing to become Catholic, was Confirmed into the Catholic Church in 2002. The chain reaction set into motion against me, because of my conversion, is too involved for this ‘Comment’. Simply let it be said that my husband, children and other family members and friends would never allow me to speak to why I became Catholic. It is only because of my ultimate belief that I have found TRUTH… and that this THRUTH, which I receive every Mass in the very Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ in the Holy Eucharist… is what sustains me in my isolation. BUT I am hopeful that your writing, because my children are interested in Buddhism, might be something which they might actually read… and, by the working of the Holy Spirit which was theirs at their baptism, they might come to understand me to the point of having conversation together. THANK YOU

May 20, 2012 - 3:29 pm

Gesucht, gefunden. « Aus dem Hollerbusch - [...] bin ich über die Bekehrungsgeschichte einer amerikanischen Katholikin gestolpert, die ausgehend von ihrem langjährigen Atheismus sich für den Buddhismus interessierte, [...]

May 20, 2012 - 4:43 pm

Daniel B - Beautiful!

May 20, 2012 - 9:15 pm

Imelda - Dear Misty,

u know, ur writings is one of the most writings I love about catholics. Ur writings give me new strength to face the reality.
And then that I should glad that my mam introduce me to catholic since I was 5 yrs old.

And though so many people are questioning my own faith, I will still be a catholic hopefully until my time to the Father. And let me say : Welcome home to u and ur husband. Hope that with ur testymony, many people would come home as well.

Best regards,

Imelda

May 21, 2012 - 1:21 am

RX - Truly inspiring. As a cradle Catholic, this post gives me material to defend my faith.
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May 21, 2012 - 3:50 am

Dex - Welcome to the true Holy, Apostolic Church Misty. Although I am a Cradle Catholic, it is stories such as yours which give me all the more inspiration and affirmation that I am at the right place. I don’t condemn others but I pray for them to see the light.

May 21, 2012 - 9:46 am

David - So Catholicism is true after all. Crap.

Wonderful quote! That should be on a t-shirt, or one of those motivational posters! Great article, and thank you for sharing it.

May 21, 2012 - 10:55 am

Therese Z - David beat me to it. “So Catholicism is true after all. Crap.” – great way to describe that moment in the heart and mind!

May 21, 2012 - 11:53 am

Michael - I enjoyed reading this post, as I’ve enjoyed your other posts!

I can relate to this experience as well, although for me it was different. It was Mortimer J. Adler’s wording of the cosmological argument that got me to realizing that God existed–it’s still one of the best arguments for God’s existence that I know of, and I couldn’t find any counterarguments that refuted it successfully (most failed to understand what it was actually saying at all).

Then I found Peter Kreeft’s argument for the Resurrection, which took into account all other possible explanations for how Christianity exists, and that combined with C. S. Lewis’s “trilemma” about the identity of Jesus given His claims to divinity convinced me that Christianity was true.

As for why the Catholic Church, that was harder because I didn’t have enough information–I had enough to narrow it down to either the Catholic Church or the Eastern Orthodox Church but found it harder to choose between them. Indeed, I was often tempted to go with the Eastern Orthodox Church, but I never took steps towards conversion. But if I’d known then what I know now it would have been no contest at all.

In fact, I wasn’t even sure of which Church was the true Church when I went back to regular Sunday Mass a year and a half ago. And when I took confirmation classes I was determined to learn as much as I could about the faith, to make sure that I wasn’t making a mistake–and at one point I almost had a crisis of faith because I didn’t understand what Papal succession was. But I’m more convinced than ever before of the truth of Catholic Christianity and am grateful that Christ found me and that I responded to His call!

And bless you and your husband for doing the same!

May 21, 2012 - 1:31 pm

Jane Hartman - As a convert to Catholicism from Baptist/Anglicanism, this explains so beautifully the reasons why I am a Catholic. It’s all about “What is truth?” And the church, not just the Bible, has it. Thank you for this inspirational conversion story.

May 25, 2012 - 1:21 pm

Joseph Márquez - Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

May 25, 2012 - 6:06 pm

Mauro Miqueias - Amazing! i love our church.

June 6, 2012 - 10:29 am

Elli - Your testimony is one of the most inspiring testimonies I have had the pleasure of reading. I enjoy the humor that you bring along with it and hope that you seek to have your testimony written as a book, so that it might be a light to non-believers of the Catholic Faith and in Jesus Christ. I am so glad to have more sisters and brothers in faith and will keep you in my prayers.

God Bless and thank you.

June 11, 2012 - 1:00 pm

Jennifer Lade - Beautiful post and a great reminder to me why I have stayed Catholic after being raised in the faith. The only thing that made me sad was your experience with Catholics before your conversion. Now I’m thinking of how I never stop to introduce myself to newcomers after Mass, nor have I been especially open about my faith to my non-practicing friends. Of course, your diligent search for the truth and God’s grace led you to Catholicism just the same. But I’m sure God would be pleased if we Catholics helped nudge people along with a welcoming attitude and willingness to share our faith.

June 23, 2012 - 1:13 pm

julie - Misty,
I too am a convert. You have so beautifully put into words what I have never quite been able to. Thank you!

I am, however very sorry your early experiences with the Church were so negative. I have been extremely lucky to have found Church Families that have been welcoming to me.

July 3, 2012 - 9:43 pm

Ann - I am married to a sincere Buddhist. I cannot fathom how he could ever believe in trying to achieve “nothingness” and accepting that life is “suffering”. Very pessimistic view of life.

There is joy and happiness in life too. I am Catholic and believe in moderation in every sphere of life.

Nirvana is “nothingness”. I wouldn’t want to meditate and try to achieve this aim. Sounds irrational.

Isn’t the joy of Heaven and seeing Jesus and the Saints more attractive?

Ann

July 16, 2012 - 10:20 am

Agnikan - Just to clarify Ann’s 3 July 2012 comment, I would say that “nirvana” is not “nothingness”. The Buddha Himself criticized those who believed that the state after death was a state of “nothingness”; in short, the Buddha rejected what today we would call the “atheistic” or “materialistic” (not that the two ideas are necessarily the same, though) viewpoint. “Nirvana” is described in many ways, including “the Deathless” and “the Highest Happiness”.

The Buddha never said that “life is suffering”. The Buddha said that there is nothing that we can possess, that will give us total satisfaction. If one’s life is a life of grasping for impermanent things, hoping that they will satisfy you, then yes, you will find that your search for satisfaction in things that are impermanent, will not be a successful search. In that sense, one’s life will lead to an increase of dissatisfaction, frustration, and confusion. But life itself is not “suffering”: it is your approach to life that produces dissatisfaction. Change your approach, the Buddha says, and you will encounter the Highest Happiness.

January 7, 2013 - 11:03 pm

Nhi Pham - Thank you, Misty. Thank you so much for writing such a beautiful and profound article. Over the years, my faith had been challenged by the times, by people, and even by love. But reading this has made me realize that everything you’ve realized and written is true. So I cannot put into words how thankful I am to have been able to read this.

February 5, 2013 - 7:31 pm

Why I Became Catholic (and Not Buddhist) - Christian Forums - [...] that there are 10,000 reasons all amounting to one reason: that Catholicism is true. Continued- http://www.catholicsistas.com/2012/05/17/why-i-became-catholic-and-not-buddhist/ __________________ Your socks stink. To view links or images in signatures your post count [...]

February 5, 2013 - 11:42 pm

Hansol - Explaining your position always feels like an unintended insult to the other’s belief. It also doesn’t help by the fact that explanations never feels adequate nor completely justified…

March 6, 2013 - 11:21 pm

JD Fajardo - I am blessed by your words. Thanks Misty!

March 20, 2013 - 4:35 pm

Michael Kent - Great post! I traversed a similar path. Raised Southern Baptist. Agnostic phase after going off to college. Majored in the study of eastern religions. Got into Buddhism. Even studied Tibetan with Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns at the graduate level. Then converted to Roman Catholicism. Ultimately, I came to view — and to experience — Buddhism as a hall of mirrors.* No “there there”. And by “there” I mean no love. No heart.

Cheers!

*Of course, that’s the Buddhist view of reality itself, isn’t it?

May 26, 2013 - 11:41 pm

CG - Simply beautiful :) Thanks for opening your heart and sharing your story. I was born Catholic and I have always been a strong believer, but I became an even stronger believer last summer after some amazing dreams I had. Jesus is love <3 Let us pray for our Pope Francis and Pope Benedict, two amazing men.

June 11, 2014 - 8:03 pm

X Contra - This is what I tell friends — you come into the Church because you are convinced that it is true. No other reason…. or perhaps, as Chesterton says, that one reason IS all the other reasons.

June 11, 2014 - 9:10 pm

Matthew - What a great read, thanks for posting! I really liked the emphasis on studying history and seeing that the early Church taught just what the Catholic Church teaches. Yes, of course, there are developments but the essence is there. 2000 years, I would HOPE the Church would look different than it did then! :)

June 11, 2014 - 9:26 pm
June 12, 2014 - 7:10 am

Br. Bob - A wonderful; conversion story. But I wouldn’t be so sure that those who ask you why you became Catholic,necessarily think “instead of what I am”. I am a Catholic and I always ask converts why they chose the Catholic faith. I ask because it fascinates me how God draws people to the Faith. Usually it is one of the Transcendentals: Truth, Unity, Goodness, or Beauty that leads people to it. In your case it seems that in your search for truth you were struck by the beauty of creation and then to the unity of the truth of the Catholic faith. :-)
God bless you. PS: Where do you go to Mass?

June 12, 2014 - 7:26 am

Anselm - This column should be sent to the U. S. Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) – and to Pope Francis. This is an outstanding testimonial to our Roman Catholic Faith.

June 12, 2014 - 9:20 am

Wesley Vincent - Welcome home. I traveled from fundamentalism (childhood) to evangelicalism (teen & young adult) to Episcopal liturgical (twenties – thirties), only to finally realize that my own interpretation of scripture cannot result in acquiring truth. This experience led along the same path as yours. Truth is truth regardless of era. The Catholic Church was responsible for compiling the Bible and affirming all orthodox doctrine, all of which were accepted by all the original Protestant denominations but now rejected by many. Can only lead to the awareness that the Catholic Church embodies the whole Gospel and was the repository of the truth promised by Christ. Again, welcome.

June 12, 2014 - 9:33 am

annaohmaahpa - Misty’s “Why I Became Catholic” is as inspirational as Marguerite Henry’s “Misty of Chincoteague.”

June 12, 2014 - 10:55 am

Erica - What a great story to share with others. It is sometimes frustrating the lack of hospitality we find in the Catholic churches but I also appreciate that true faith is not based on our emotionality.

June 12, 2014 - 1:38 pm

Brother Kevin M. Finnegan, SC - I enjoyed your story! For additional information, you may want to read “Catholicism And Fundamentalism : The Attack On “Romanism” by “Bible Christians”.
On a separate note, I’d like to say that it’s long past time for Catholics, Protestants and Jews to stand shoulder-to-shoulder rather than toe-to-toe. We are living in perilous times, and there are many who seek to marginalize and even destroy us.

June 12, 2014 - 2:06 pm

Sygurd Jonfski - One area in which Buddhist completely trumps Christianity is compassion toward all sentient beings. Christianity is called “the religion of love” but this love is largely absent when it comes to the killing of animals. Thus Christians are not really “pro-life”, they are rather “pro-human”. Buddhism does not suffer from such lack of mercy.

June 12, 2014 - 2:40 pm

mamakelly - What a great Throwback Thursday post. Misty, thank you for sharing your story and I look forward to reading more of your posts. I also appreciate the quote from Chesterton. I have been struggling with writing my conversion story, but I just couldn’t figure out how to list everything. Then, I read that quote and finally had a “Ah ha!” moment. I can’t single out one reason because there are 10,000 reasons that make Catholicism true. :-D Thanks, again, for sharing!!!

June 12, 2014 - 4:59 pm

Two quotes for the day | Uncommon Descent - […] first quote comes from an account by Misty of her personal pilgrimage from unbelief to […]

June 12, 2014 - 8:47 pm

RedBanker77 - Thank you soooo much for sharing this testimonial. We are blessed to have you as part of our church. As a cradle Catholic you totally summed up a perspective that’s so hard for some of us to articulate, but we just know it’s true….Although, I will admit, it was these two quotes that really killed me…”I wanted to be cool, but God made me Catholic instead.” …. “So Catholicism is true after all. Crap.” Definitely worthy of a T-Shirt!

June 12, 2014 - 10:18 pm

David - Your article is amazing. It gives me insight to the truth about Catholism. However, with due respect, your perception about Buddhism is mainly wrong, if not 100%. Just as other religions, Buddhism theory has been modified by some small practitioners and they misguided their believers. A real Buddhist never support abortion. A real Buddhist monk never collects money for personal use, and morality is not relativity in Buddhism. Please do more researches before making judgment.

June 13, 2014 - 1:41 am

Misty - David, the problem with Buddhism is the same as with Protestantism and even Hinduism (but admittedly,not with Mormonism!)–there is no central authority. And because there isn’t, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with different groups of Buddhists interpreting the basic tenets differently. I’m curious how one determines which Buddhists are, as you put it, “real Buddhists” and which aren’t?

We found the same diversity of belief and practice among Buddhism that we did among Protestantism. The difference is that a Catholic who supports abortion, uses contraception, or avoids Mass is dissenting from the teachings of Catholicism. The teachings are not subject to individual interpretation; there is one set of legitimate Catholic teachings, regardless of whether our members choose to follow those teachings. In Buddhism, however, there are many different traditions and those traditions interpret the basic tenets differently, which naturally leads to differing practice among Buddhists.

But for clarification, I didn’t say the Buddhist master pocketed the money for the retreat. I honestly don’t know who profited from the fees. But it was off-putting to my husband (not necessarily to me) for the temple to make the master’s wisdom available at a price that only the elite could pay. I don’t claim that this is the policy of all Buddhists, just that it was a stumbling block for my husband. Personally, I just thought that fewer Buddhist members meant they had to charge more to cover the expense of the visiting master. With a billion Catholics, the cost is usually spread out over a far greater number of people and thus, tends to be lower.

June 13, 2014 - 1:47 am

Misty - Until I see Buddhists working with Christians to end abortion and providing more than lip service about the”sanctity of life,” I’ll have to disagree that Buddhism is inherently more compassionate and life-affirming than Catholicism.

June 13, 2014 - 4:46 am

Caroline Edwina - Welcome home my dear brother and sister in Christ. Glad you have turn back to Our Lord Christ brides…

June 13, 2014 - 7:40 am

Sygurd - @Misty,
And until I see Christians paying much more attention to the tremendous suffering of non-human sentient beings, I’ll have to disagree that Christianity is compassionate and life-affirming.

June 13, 2014 - 9:34 am

Jason Poole - Hi Misty,

I am grateful that you abandoned the futility and foolishness of atheism. I feel a sense of pity for those who flounder and thrash about in darkness, and it saddens me to know that they are headed toward damnation because of their angry rejection of the Living God.

I am not a Roman Catholic Christian, but I respect your beliefs and desire to commune with God through Christ Jesus and His saints. May the Lord bless and keep you.

June 13, 2014 - 2:49 pm

melissa - @sygurd –
Animals don’t have a moral conscious therefore they don’t have a rational soul.
The sanctity of human life is far more important.

Misty
I enjoyed reading your conversion story. I am curious about what church you now attend. I happen to live close to Fairfax

June 13, 2014 - 3:21 pm

Bonnie - So I’m curious: Did you finally invite some Catholics over for dinner and found them to be joyfully living their faith?
(I’m really hoping you’re going to say yes!)

June 13, 2014 - 3:43 pm

orthros - Misty: What did you discern about Orthodoxy? Why was Catholicism such an easy decision between the two?

June 13, 2014 - 6:07 pm

Sygurd - @melissa,
“Animals don’t have a moral conscious therefore they don’t have a rational soul.The sanctity of human life is far more important.”
That’s exactly what I mean – sophistry instead of simple compassion for all life. Thank you for proving me right.

June 13, 2014 - 7:42 pm

Sailor Ace - @Misty: What a beautifully written testimony. Your quest was so clear and logical and to share it with us is a great gift. Thank you.

@Sygurd: My observation has been that faithful followers of Christ have tender hearts, not just for people, God’s highest creation, but for all other creation. Methinks you are creating a straw man or should I say straw dog. Peace be with you and all your critters.

June 13, 2014 - 10:30 pm

Andrew Leong - Thank you for your sharing Misty, it is beautiful and sound. Though Catholics are called to evangelize, we fail miserably compared to our Protestant bretheren. Perhaps there is this sense of complacency within Catholics.

You may want to read the conversion of Robert Hugh Benson (Benson was the youngest son of E. W. Benson, Archbishop of Canterbury, who, as head of the Anglican Church, was the upholder of the Protestant establishment in England. As such, his son’s conversion to Roman Catholicism in 1903, and his subsequent ordination, caused a sensation.)

In the final chapter of the attached book, the Exchange where the Church is offering grace that is not tangible.
http://archives.nd.edu/episodes/visitors/rhb/bensonm.htm

June 14, 2014 - 12:54 am

Misty - There were two main problems I had with Orthodoxy. The first was that it seemed to be more of a national church rather than a catholic (universal) one, and Christ had told his followers to go and baptize all nations. The second was the same problem I witnessed in Protestantism: the doctrinal diversity and the erosion of moral principles (albeit more slowly) because of the modern secular influence on the Orthodox Church.

I had actually become convicted about the truth of contraception very early in my Christian walk, and that was really the final deciding factor. I had read about “sorcery” both in Scripture and in the Didache, and knew the original Greek was “pharmakeia,” which means “medicine/drugs.” (It’s the root of our English words for pharmacy/pharmaceuticals, etc.) In Roman times, sorcerers were often consulted by young pagan women seeking predictions about their love interests. And in case the sorcerer’s prediction came true, the women would purchase some “sorcerer’s stuff” or “pharmakeia,” to ensure pregnancy didn’t result. These modern purveyors of ancient contraception were almost certain well-known by the early Christians, who were expressly told to avoid these anti-life peddlers or “forfeit the kingdom of heaven.” After reading about this, it was clear that openness to life was included in the doctrinal teachings of the Christian faith. It was also clear that the Orthodox faith has abandoned this traditional teaching over the past 50 years, just as all mainline Protestant denominations have (along with Mormonism, which also previously opposed contraception, but now says it’s licit). I suspect that 100 years ago, I would have had a much more difficult time deciding between Orthodoxy and Catholicism. But Orthodoxy’s embrace of modern morality on the issue of contraception in particular made it easy for me, because I believed that if Truth existed, it was immutable and would not “evolve” from being a sin to not being a sin. The only Christian institution that was (and is) historically consistent in its doctrine, from the beginning until now, was the Catholic Church.

June 14, 2014 - 12:57 am

Misty - Melissa, I actually live in Alaska now, in a small town named North Pole. Seriously! It’s a Christmas-themed town (surprise!) and our parish is named St. Nicholas, of course. ;) It’s on St. Nicholas Drive, down the street from the 50-foot Santa that our priest called the “monstrosity down the road” because he hates the commercialization of the holy day is represents. :)

I did live in northern Virginia and became Catholic at St. Veronica’s Catholic Church when it was under Fr. Marcus Pollard.

June 14, 2014 - 1:01 am

Misty - Jason, I was not an angry atheist, which is why I was probably more open to Christianity. I genuinely envied the peace-filled Christians I knew, but simply couldn’t make myself believe. It was all the usual obstacles–the world is rotten so how can God be good, why didn’t he save me when I was suffering, etc. But I never possessed the rancor toward God that I saw so many atheists express. I remember thinking how ironic it was that they spent so much time and emotional energy trying to disprove the existence of someone they claimed didn’t exist. I do remember telling my Christian friends that the biggest difference between us was that they hoped they were right when they died, while I hoped I was wrong.

June 14, 2014 - 1:06 am

Misty - Of course! ;)

June 14, 2014 - 1:24 am

Misty - Plants are living things. So are animals. Even Buddhists have a moral hierarchy, whereby it’s moral to destroy plant life but immoral to destroy animal life. Catholics simply have a hierarchy too, based on our belief that while animal life has the spark of Divine Life (hence the root of “anima(ted)), we believe only human beings have immortal souls. I don’t think you’d find any Catholic who would agree it’s moral to gratuitously kill animals. We’re called to respect all life, because all life is a creation of God. But just as we saw with many native American tribes, you can respect animal life and still believe it’s moral to use it to sustain human life.

June 14, 2014 - 2:11 am

Anonymous - You do realize that all the Major and Minor Religions don’t mean Buddhism and Mormon
How much do you know about Hinduism, Jainism, Egyptian Mythology, Jewish Culture
Besides all of those are way older than Catholic beliefs, I respect your views. But as an Agnostic I suggest you actually continue on your search instead of limiting yourself to Christianity plainly because you are surrounded by it!!

June 14, 2014 - 3:03 am

Misty - I have extensively studied Judaism, Mormonism, New Age philosophies, Wicca, Swedenborgianism, Islam, Buddhism, deism, atheism, agnosticism, and most ancient philosophies and mythologies, in addition to Christianity. My Hindu friends shared enough about their religion that I didn’t pursue it further. But I do have a working knowledge of the different traditions of Hinduism. I think that’s a fairly broad sampling of the religious beliefs of humanity. I doubt most people of faith (or no faith) would have investigated half the belief systems my husband and I have. We’ve concluded that Catholicism possesses the fullness of truth, even if many other faiths contain some truth and goodness.

June 14, 2014 - 3:31 am

Anonymous - Well what about Jainism
It is a precursor of Buddhism
It predates most other religions
I have also done a small amount of research into religions
I have found none to be consistent
Unless you believe an all powerful god needs us to worship him all the time
And to test our ‘faith’ in him and not ourselves
As if gods would be sadistic beings that would have nothing better to do then preening.

June 14, 2014 - 3:49 am

an wah - the world is full of people like you. the story you wrote can be true for other religions as well, just change the names and the comparisons. if you truly are a seeker as you mentioned in the early part of your article, you would find that fundamentally, all religions preach love… and deep in our hearts, we all know that that is the true religion… what is different however is that the human mind is good at twisting the story to suit each person’s needs of the moment… what’s more important is that if each person truly practices religion per se, there would be more love to go around and less hate… there will be a greater understanding that we are all one… yet, even as we debate these points here, people are magnifying their differences and counting only those whose beliefs are the same as brothers (or sisters, whatever)… till the day we leave this world, the debate will still rage on… why? because that’s the mind pretending to be looking for an answer, when the heart already know the answer without even voicing it out…

June 14, 2014 - 8:08 am

Ruth - Dear Anonymous–regarding ‘an all-powerful god needs us to worship him all the time’

What the Catholic Church has proclaimed from the very early days is the remarkable and radical thought that God does not need anything from us-including Worship. God does not need us to worship Him in any way. We worship God because WE need to worship Him.

Look up the writings of Iraeneus of Lyon who died about 202 AD. He has some great writings on this subject.

June 14, 2014 - 9:50 am

Danny - Hi Misty. I’m a catholic myself. Nevertheless, I still think there are things that should be placed in a better and clearer perspective. Further, and in conclusion, my question to you is this: are you sure you picked catholicism for the right/correct reasons?

First of, it’s not right to say that Buddhism is a concept filled with relativity. In your own words, you mentioned that:

“… their answers were relativistic: “It’s only wrong if it’s wrong for YOU.” This never set well with us; either abortion is wrong in all cases because it takes a human life or it’s never wrong. The idea of basing the morality of an action on whether I want it to be right or wrong just seemed ridiculously self-serving. We shuddered to imagine a world where people get to decide for themselves whether lying, stealing, or killing are right or wrong.”

Isn’t this the case for catholics too? If I am wrong, then why do we have a Pope, the Vatican, the Vatican Counsels, different dogmas of the catholic church, etc – all of which help to DETERMINE what is RIGHT and WRONG from a catholic perspective? For example, the dogmas in the catholic church were written after intense faithful prayer and discernment by the Vatican Counsel.

Now, you may rebut me by saying “wait a minute, because you are comparing what is perceived as right by an ORGANISATION (all catholics) versus what is perceived as right by any individual (relativity in Buddhist individuals). Hence, there is only a single relativity in the catholic church, whereas for Buddhists, there are NUMEROUS different possible right outcomes. However, I completely disagree. Let’s take abortions for example: under our catholic faith, abortions are wrong and a sin. however, an exception to this blanket rule, hence making an abortion “right”, is Ectopic Pregnancy, or any other condition which puts the mother’s life at risk, amongst others.

Therefore, a statement as absolute as ‘relativism’ could also apply to our catholic faith. In our day and age, we are beginning to see that our catholic faith may need some ‘exception’ or ‘relativism’ – especially in areas such as gay-marriages, or abortions. certainly you would not expect the pope to ex-communicate a lady who had to undergo an abortion just to save her life, or if she was a victim of rape crime and has no means whatsoever to raise the kid, i.e. old age, lack of proper resources.

I am going to anticipate your rebuttal – that just because an exception exists does not make it RIGHT. Unfortunately, i beg to differ because both elements of the “offence” and “defence” go towards determining whether a person has committed a “crime” in the eyes of the catholic church. Hence, because a defence exists in such circumstances, surely, the act of abortion cannot be labelled as “wrong”. Thus, I see no difference between the relativism in Buddhism and in our catholic faith.

Second, you mentioned that the Buddhist temple charged a few hundred dollars for a guided retreat. Have you ever been to a catholic retreat before? I have been to at least 7 catholic retreats in my entire life – either at my parish or at a different one. the ONLY similarity between all the guided retreats is this: that i had to pay money to participate. But when you think about the living expenses, food, water, shelter, and to minimally upkeep a catholic church, i would gladly pay the money!

Lastly, I fail to see the crucial difference between buddhism and catholicism in your article. You did mention that “Unlike in Christianity, where the goal is union with God … Buddhism’s goal is to destroy the self.” But don’t we catholics have to ‘destroy our selves’ first before we can have a union with God? We have to rid ourselves of greed, envy, lust, gluttony, etc, before we can have a complete union with God. In the Holy Communion and the Eucharist, we have to be in union with one another before we can be in union with God. How can we celebrate the Eucharist and receive Jesus through the Holy Communion if we have a grudge against our brother/sister/husband/wife/kid/etc? how can we TRULY be in union with God if we live lives that are filled with the sins of the world?

As a pastor from my parish said many times, “may we ourselves decrease, so that God may increase in us.” Hence, I disagree with you. This is because, at the end of the day, to be in union with God, we catholics must first destroy our inner selfish and sinful selves, so that God’s grace may increase in us. Isn’t this concept the same? Try this out: swap out the words ‘universe’ for ‘God’. For Buddhist, they want to destroy themselves so that they can be in nirvana with the universe. For catholics, we want the same, but with God. Is there a REAL difference? surely there is, but i think you are missing what the real difference is (hint: the real difference is that Buddhists do not exactly believe in an eternal higher being).

What I am trying to question you is this: are you sure you picked catholicism for the RIGHT reasons? First of all, the catholic church is rilled with its own relativism as well – there’s no difference with Buddhists! Second, if your husband can’t deal with such an “insurmountable barrier” as paying money for a retreat, then why can he overcome this barrier with the catholic church? Because at the end of the day, both buddhists and catholics are going to charge you for a guided retreat. Lastly, Buddhists and catholics share the same concept – that we may decrease, and God increase in us.

Please do not get me wrong, I am not trying to shoot down your faith or your belief in it. However, I struggle to comprehend the real reasons why you chose the catholic faith over others – and i’m in that dilemma too.

June 14, 2014 - 10:51 am

Dolorosa - Welcome to the one true church of Our Lord and God, Jesus Christ. Certainly there is much to learn about the traditions of the Catholic Church. I grew up with the Latin Tridentine Mass.
Visit my blog at Roman Catholic Heroes.

June 14, 2014 - 11:06 am

Misty - Danny, I honestly don’t even know where to begin to answer your post. The first being that treating an ectopic pregnancy is NOT an abortion, any more than ending the life of a person attacking you to protect yourself is murder. Abortion is the deliberate ending of a human life; removing a section of the fallopian tube in which a child is developing in an effort to save the mother’s life is the same as defending yourself against an intruder: the death of the child is an unfortunate but unintended consequence of saving the mother’s life. Certainly if there was a way to preserve the child’s life, the Church would say we have a duty to do so when treating ectopic pregnancies. But again, this is NOT an abortion.

The Catholic Church claims divine authority–that it was commissioned by God (through Jesus and the Holy Spirit) to reveal God’s truths to mankind. The teachings of Catholicism are based on revelation and in the end, you either accept that the revelation comes from God or you don’t. What I learned about Catholicism–pertaining to the miracles from saints’ intercession, incorruptibles, Eucharistic miracles, etc.–led me to believe that the Church has divine authority. This was in addition to the fact that the teachings resonated with my experience of human nature and experience. The first step in my conversion was realizing that Jesus Christ was the TRUTH; the secondary question was to identify his Church. Christian faith and morals were singular up until the Great Schism, but even then the rift was mostly a matter of differing claims of authority. It wasn’t until the Protestant Reformation that Christian faith and practice became endlessly splintered. The problems inherent to sola scriptura were fairly easy to dispute, especially once you considered the long-standing history of Christianity and realized that the only institution that had maintained the beliefs of the early Christians regarding morality, the Eucharist, and the other sacraments was the Catholic Church. And this despite some shamefully immoral leaders. The Church’s ability to maintain a single set of teachings about morality up and through the modern age–regardless of the personal sinfulness of its leaders–was powerful evidence to me that the Church’s teachings were protected by the Holy Spirit and was the one God had given his authority to on earth.

Your comments about our eternal destiny could not be more wrong. To Catholics, God is a person. And though we may be filled with his divine life in heaven, we will still remain in essence a distinct individual. The Eastern Catholic churches (of which I am one–a Maronite) have a better word for what happens in heaven: we call it becoming “divinized.” We basically become God-like ourselves, because we possess so much of God’s holiness. But again, the essence that is Misty will not be fully absorbed into God, because we are two distinct persons. This is wholly different from what Buddhists propose; in their end, the person will cease to exist and the universe is not a person, but impersonal. The main difference is that Catholics are called to a relationship with a divine person; Buddhists are not. You can’t substitute the word “universe” for God, because the Buddhist concept of universe isn’t based on a person.

See my previous comment about the retreat. The money really didn’t bother me. I saw the money merely as a result of the Buddhist temple having fewer members to absorb the expenses of bringing in a Buddhist master. Whether or not he was right, my husband found this off-putting. I ended up researching more about Buddhism than he did, but during much of our journey, we shared our information with one another and trusted the other’s judgment. Particularly with Mormonism, I was the one who read most of the history and shared my concerns with him about the validity of Joseph Smith’s revelation. We were on the journey together, so we split the work of investigating the faiths. We did attend services and talk to believers and church/temple leaders together, but we read separate books and just shared our findings (and concerns) with one another.

For the purposes of the article, I couldn’t go into every single thought process about each faith we rejected. But for the Buddhist woman who assisted in an abortion despite claiming to respect all life, we recognized that she was not living by the tenets of her faith. Of greater concern, however, was the fact that Buddhists only seemed to pay lip service to the sanctity of life. The religion teaches that life is sacred, yet there is not effort among Buddhists to recognize the unjust destruction of life and try to end it. There was more of a “Ideally, everyone ought to respect all life, but I’m not going to do anything to ensure that life (especially human life) is respected and protected.” Buddhism is selective about the life it is willing to act to protect: monks in Tibet who are being persecuted and killed are worthy of the protection of the law, but not unborn children in the womb. Again, either all human life is sacred or none of it is. And it wasn’t the Buddhists that we witnessed standing up for ALL human life–it was the Christians.

June 14, 2014 - 12:31 pm

Misty - Fundamentally, all religions may teach “love” but that doesn’t mean all religions understand what love truly is and how we are to go about loving ourselves and others. Greek actually has four words for love, distinguishing between erotic love, affection, brotherly love, and self-sacrificial love (the highest form). It’s too simplistic to propose that all religions offer the same understanding of love and how to love, because that’s not true. Catholics believe that eros (erotic love) requires a total gift of self, including fertility, to find its fullest, proper expression. Certainly, few other belief systems propose that the proper way to express sexual love is to respect its purposes of fostering intimacy between the spouses and creating new life. (Especially today, when fertility is considered incidental to sexual “love.”)

It was my discovery that only Catholicism called men and women to agape–that total, self-sacrificial, PERFECT love–that set it above the nebulous different kinds of love proposed by other faiths. Sanctification is what makes Catholicism’s understanding of love different–that we’re called to actually have our souls transformed into perfection by total self-giving for the good of the other person. Yes, all religions possess some truth, but we found the fullness of truth in Catholicism. The Church’s call to agape–so that we might one day be a perfectly loving person who is capable of being in loving communion with another perfectly loving person (God)–is what makes the Catholic faith different from everyone else’s “love.” I’ve found far too many people thinking that love is nothing more than a warm feeling toward another person, but few are willing to examine exactly what it means to love another person.

June 14, 2014 - 12:38 pm

Misty - I think you misunderstand worship. You seem to have this idea that God needs us to worship him, as in he wants us to tell him just how awesome he is and how insignificant we are. God doesn’t need anything from us; he created us as a pure act of love for OUR benefit, not his. And being omnipotent, why would God need to “test” our faith? Wouldn’t he already know how faithful we are? As a parent, I know my children’s strengths and weaknesses. I allow them to go through difficulties not to prove to me how loyal they are to me, but to help them grow in love and become less selfish. The problem is, we so often have an immature understanding of sanctification and we resist the means by which we can become more loving people. Rather than submit ourselves to the loving providence of a God who would do anything to be with us–even allow us to suffer and have the freedom to choose against him–we blame God for the bad things that happen to us and assume he’s a “cosmic sadist” who enjoys hurting his creations as a sick amusement. But I’m sure my children sometimes feel the same way about the discipline and penances I impose on them in my attempt to help them reach their fullest human potential.

And no, I didn’t research Jainism. Mainly because I have never encountered a Jainist in my life, so it didn’t exactly strike me as a “livable” religion. ;)

June 14, 2014 - 3:23 pm

Mary Lou - You got me, Misty, when you said the Catholic Church sets the bar very high. So true. As a life-long Catholic, I dealt with fasting and abstinence during Lent, monthly confessions, no eating meat on Fridays, and abiding with the strict laws of the church. Being a good Catholic is not easy, but the joy of receiving Jesus every time in communion has never left me. I consider it a gift. The “hounds of heaven” pursued you and your husband. It, too, was a gift. God does choose us and calls us by name. Thank you so much for your insightful article. God bless you.

June 15, 2014 - 6:13 am

Mary - Misty,
That was the most precise, beautiful conversion story I have yet read. God is indeed great. I was baptized but had never been confirmed. I knew nothing of my faith and God led both my then Protestant husband and me to Him. It was a miracle. But the miracle didn’t stop there. A few years ago we discovered the joy, the reverence, the glimpse of heaven on Earth that is the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. Of course both Masses are completely valid and we attend both. After studying the the hows and whys of the rubrics of the EF of the Mass we knew that is where our hearts felt at rest. It is timeless and never changes according to the personality of the priest. I hope you get to see that sometime. Many blessings for all our journeys. Deo Gratias!
Mary

June 15, 2014 - 3:34 pm

Tom - I’m very happy you found Catholicism as your calling. I find myself stuck in a situation similar to yours. I’m a Methodist and my wife is a very devout Catholic. Since Catholicism plays such a major role in her life I go to church with her but I’m struggling to fully embrace it. Catholicism and Methodism are similar in many respects but I strongly disagree with some of the beliefs held by the Catholic church. I’ve been trying to get answers to but have been unsuccessful thus far. When I first attended a Catholic mass, I received communion and afterwards my wife told me that I’m technically not allowed to receive communion because I’m not Catholic. I was really taken aback because as a Methodist, anyone may partake in communion regardless of denomination. To me, denying someone communion seems to go against the teachings of Jesus. I can’t imagine Jesus denying anyone from breaking bread with him. Another issue I’m struggling to get past is the role of women in the church. Methodism allows female pastors and some of the best sermons I’ve heard were from women but Catholicism does not allow this. Again, I can’t imagine Jesus denying anyone from preaching the word of God based on sex. There are a few more issues I can’t get passed but for the sake of time I’ll just stick with those two since they’re the most important to me. I want to embrace Catholicism so we can truly worship as a family but so far I have not found anyone who can give me a real explanation. I decided to post this comment in the hopes that someone on this page can help me.

June 15, 2014 - 3:45 pm

Martina Kreitzer - Tom, Methodists and Catholicism may be similar, but when it comes to the True Presence in the Eucharist, Catholics in good standing may receive Jesus, Body, Blood, Soul & Divinity. When you received Jesus in the Eucharist at the Catholic Church, your “amen” affirmed that you believe what the Catholic Church teaches. It’s not a matter of who is “worthy enough” to receive Jesus, although that is *some* part of it for Catholics, but it is our “yes” that we believe fully in what our Church believes. That is primarily the reason why non-Catholics are not to receive the Eucharist. I think you and I could both agree that you do not believe what the Church teaches, so there would be no reason to receive Jesus in the Eucharist.

As for women and ordination, Jesus instituted the priesthood, and even though He could have chosen the most exalted woman to be one of his Apostles, His own mother, He chose men only. It is for this reason that men are ordained to the priesthood. The Catholic Church simply follows the model that Christ left for us.

June 16, 2014 - 5:37 pm

This Week's Best in Catholic Apologetics | DavidLGray.INFO - […] and False Absolutes – Teófilo de Jesús Are Gay Friends Ok? – Msgr. Charles Pope Why I Became a Catholic (And not a Buddhist) – Misty Greg Griffith Converts from Episcopal to Catholic – Greg Griffith REWIND: […]

June 16, 2014 - 11:51 pm

Serena - Wonderful article! I myself went through a similar journey. In my teenage years I was an Atheist. I slowly progressed to becoming an Agnostic, then Deist, then explored the 3 Abrahamic religious (Dharmic ones never made sense to me, although I have nothing but respect for them). I considered Unitarianism, Methodists, and Episcopalians before joining the one true Catholic Church of God.
Bless you and your family!

June 17, 2014 - 1:59 am

Bala - I congratulate Misty for making a choice and on her discovery that Catholicism is true. For all the reasons of her discovery, she has missed one pertinent point of religious harmony. Never deride another faith or a sub group of the faith, especially so when you do not understand the underpinning knowledge of the other faiths, as demonstrated by her understanding of Nirvana and suffering, just to quote examples.
Nirvana is the deathlessness of the soul, the highest form of Spiritual Happiness. Life by itself is not suffering. If you hold on to your ego, pride, anger, greed and worldliness, it is your perceived suffering. Once you shift that stance and surrender at HIS lotus feet, nothing is suffering but bliss.
Explaining your position always feels like an unintended insult to the other’s belief, especially so when you have absolutely no knowledge of the dharma of the other religions. Your choice may have differed had you known. God Bless.

June 17, 2014 - 6:58 am

MamaKelly - Hello Tom! Thank you for sharing your dilemma. I was in a similar place to you a few years ago. The biggest difference was that I was a feminist (in worldly terms).

Three things (besides prayer and God’s grace) have assisted me with overcoming my objections to The Catholic Church. I participated in a study on Pope Saint John Paul II’s letter on the dignity of women. It is titled “Mulieris Dignitatem”. It is a long read, but he does a beautiful job in explaining the uniqueness of women. We are called to a higher vocation than the priesthood.

http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_letters/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_15081988_mulieris-dignitatem_en.html

Another resource was the Catechism of the Catholic Church–seeing first hand our beliefs, instead of what my former Protestant church and society have taught as Catholic beliefs.

A third resource has been Catholic Answers. The radio shows and quick question sections are helpful.
http://www.catholic.com/browse/priesthood/all/all/all?page=1

June 21, 2014 - 10:41 am

Some Musings on Traditionalism | Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea - […] a way of summarizing this, I recently read a powerful article of a conversion story that while quite different from my own still resonated with me.  I was driven to Catholicism in […]

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