Testimony of an Ex-Catholic - 09/17/2003
I stumbled across your website while I was at work and I thought I would drop you a line. I was raised Catholic and grew up in the church for 25 years. I was an altar boy, and had toyed with the idea of even becoming a priest. I taught sunday school to 3rd graders too. All in all I was pretty comfortable with where I was. I trusted the priest in my church, trusted confession to forgive my sins, trusted the rosary to make sure I got into heaven. All in all though, I don't think I ever put much trust in Jesus. Sure I recited all the prayers, went to mass and got my aerobic workout. Stand, kneel, sit. Thought I was a good person, I did good things and that I would most likely get into heaven after a brief uncomfortable stint in purgatory. I wore my miraculous metal and scapular, and my benedictian cross (I was told if I wore that and died while it was touching my skin I would go right to heaven. Nothing in there about believing or anything.) My mom dragged me to places where I saw statues of Mary weeping oil, or places where she was appearing to her visionaries. I believed the story that Jesus suffered the crucifixion any time a mass was said, etc....needless to say I bought into all of it. As a child I read Genesis and enjoyed it but never really stopped to know what it meant.
When I moved to DC, feeling like God led me here, I moved in with a friend who convinced me (after bugging me about it for a week) to go to church with him once. All in all though, I was dead spiritually. The Catholic church was a stagnant institution built on tradition and ritual. I remember reciting the mass with the priest as he said it every sunday without change. I never really learned much except that it was okay to leave church after communion. : ) My friend dragged me to his church and after feeling a little uncomfortable with the praise and worship part, I was blown away by the sermon. I felt like it pertained directly to my life and that the pastor had made that sermon just for me. And unlike a Catholic mass I actually learned something useful beyond the 5 minute, usually joking homily that the priest gave after reading an excerpt from the gospel.
Needless to say I came back a week later and a week after that. I felt fear because I was doing something that went against everything I had learned as a child growing up. After all the Catholic church was the true church. I kept my miraculous metal on that I had been wearing for years, and proceeded to check out my new church. They broke me down and eventually got me to actually read the bible. That in itself was mind blowing. The truths I discovered in there were incredible and unlike what I had learned in the Catholic church, these things actually made sense to me.
I had a hard time letting go of the idea that my salvation was a free gift. After all, I had grown up thinking the things I did here on earth actually would get me into heaven. My family still tries to pull the "Faith without works is dead" or something along those lines. I don't have my bible with me at work. But I see that as if you believe in Jesus and do nothing to change your life from the way you used to live that faith will die. I found that with the faith that I had I actually wanted to do things that God and Jesus would find pleasing, but I never once thought that would be enough to secure my place in heaven.
Fear is a hard thing to let go of. It took me months before I was able to take off my miraculous metal and put my trust fully in Jesus. The metal was something I could hold in my hand, but once I realized Jesus was something I could hold in my heart, I was able to let go. I can understand why Catholics would respond so angrily to a site like this. I have noticed in my walk with Jesus that as I am belittled for my strong faith, that it really doesn't mean that much to me or bother me at all. After all, I know in my heart that Jesus is the only way, and the words I am hearing are from people who are very afraid and lost trying to make themselves feel better about the choices they have made in life.
Anyway I appreciate the site and the truth that you are spreading. I believe God has convicted me to spread his word on the net as well and I can only imagine at some of the responses you have gotten. From your replies though, I can see that you are in good spirits and for that I praise God!!!
Your brother in Christ,
CONTENDER MINISTRIES RESPONSE:
Praise God, Tom! What a wonderful testimony, and what an uplifting email to receive! We thank God that He led you out of darkness and into the light! Thank you for blessing us with your story. I hope others will be uplifted, encouraged, and challenged as they read your story. May the Lord richly bless you as you contend for the faith.
Your brother and sister in Christ,
Ben and Jennifer Rast