Atheist to Catholic in 3493 Simple Steps

Well, I never expected to be here. Writing a Catholic-centric blog? No. Volunteering as a Catechist within my church? Ridiculous.

 

But Christ and the Holy Spirit have a crazy way of entering our lives.

 

A little bit about me: I was born and raised in Northeastern Pennsylvania. In this area carved from coal throwing a stone gives you about a 50/50 chance of hitting a Catholic. The youngest son in a Catholic household, I received a religious education and the sacraments in due time. Yet, a practicing Catholic, I was not.

 

Various storms in life and a contrarian streak led me astray by my teenage years. My parents did their best to guide me in the direction towards the Church, but I found my ways to wiggle out. At the time, I could tell you a variety of reasons and they were pretty stock in nature: pedophilia scandal, political corruption, etc.

 

Yet, looking back, I realize that was dishonest justification concealing a larger truth. I was angry at the world and unhappy with myself.

 

Disabilities hit both my parents when I was 10 years old.  Soon, the middle class lifestyle I had enjoyed was gone. Such a tumultuous change in a pre-teen’s life was bound to bring confusion, anger and sorrow. I hit the trifecta of all three, but never understood how to deal with it. I felt broken and that it was my fault. Attempts by both clergy and psychiatrists to tell me otherwise were unsuccessful.

 

Thus, I made a resolution. Rather than accepting such brokenness and I attempted to cut my own path in life. I would avoid the mistakes of my parents and those around me.

 

That quest led to a few nice professional and material things over the course of the next 20 years. But emptiness persisted and nothing could satiate the growing hole within me.

 

It wasn’t as much depression as a general feeling of nothingness.

 

Accepting Atheism as a philosophy and belief allowed me to convince myself that I had a modicum of control. Anger at the seeming peace and happiness that exuded from my Christian-friends caused me to lash out at their “foolish” beliefs. It might come as a shocker, but, I was not the first choice for party invites at this time-frame of my life.

 

But the emptiness did not subside…

 

By 25, I realized I wasn’t feeling real sympathy when faced with tragedies in the world or friend’s own troubles. Rather, I was displaying a fraudulent veneer of sympathy, but the genuineness of these actions was minimal. Such forced empathy allowed me to realize something larger was wrong. I felt the gnawing feeling to return to church. Yet, I scolded myself for seeking relief from a source I did not feel existed. That would make me a phony.

 

Eventually, at 27, this came to a head during a Notre Dame football game – hey, still raised Irish Catholic! An advert for the Catholics Come Home ministry piqued my interest in a way I couldn’t comprehend or rationalize. It just did.

At their site, the videos I viewed clarified that feeling I had about a persistent push to return to the Church. It also offered me a clear conclusion: that was the Holy Spirit was calling me home.

 

At that moment, 27 years of anxieties melted away in an instant. In college, I had dabbled in various substances and also took a few meditation lessons. I understood how certain feelings of euphoria or calmness can get evoked. This was different. It was instant and all-encompassing peace. Essentially, I felt God’s presence, existence and love in my bones and questions of faith subsided.

 

What followed next has been two years of studying, prayer and life developments. This journey has led me closer to the Lord in ways I never dreamed possible. It has been a true transformation which I can only view as a miracle.

 

Along the way I’ve lost my father, became a Catechist and experienced profound personal victories and defeats. Those victories and tragedies were possible and endurable by my relationship with Christ and his Church.

 

It is a confusing, lonely and wicked world out there. I am far from perfect, but, with the Church, I strive and improve every day to learn and accept God’s Grace in my life and build upon it towards the life God wants.

 

This blog and mission is meant to help those who feel lost and need something to bring them back to stability. To educate those interested in topics surrounding the Church and its people. And, finally, as a gathering point for those who know and have experienced its awe-inspiring power.

 

I look forward to you joining me on this journey.

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