My Conversion Story
For the sake of the blog and the internet, I am going to keep this as the short version. My conversion story is incredibly long (I’ve told the whole story in about an hour and a half), so I will not bore you with all of the details.
Growing up, I didn’t really practice a faith. My parents were of two different faiths (mom grew up Methodist, dad grew up Jewish), and so they never really raised me anything. Luckily for me though, they did teach me morals while I was growing up. They did teach me to basically follow the Ten Commandments.
When you are a little kid and you celebrate both Christmas and Chanukkah and then Easter and Passover, it is super cool. You are unique because you get to see two sides. Now, I never went to church growing up, in fact, I think the only time I ever stepped in one was when I went to an aunt’s wedding, but, I was about 3 or 4, so I don’t really remember it.
Through most of my life as a kid and teen, I didn’t really think I needed to be in worship of God. I believed in Him of course, but I had to fill in some of my beliefs with what I saw on movies and TV. I got a lot of my beliefs from the Simpsons (I know, great catechesis there) and then a whole slew of different things.
As I got older and into middle school, I started listening to society and how society tells us we are to live within the world. Having no proper moral catechesis, I fell deeply into the trap.
When I got into high school, I really didn’t care much about religion. Though, I was a freshman when 9/11 occurred, and I became really intrigued about religion. In my social studies class, we began learning about various religions around the globe. I recall spending much time on Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam, though I recall very little on Christianity and Judaism. For a little while, I thought Buddhism was the way to go. The idea of meditation really appealed to me. I told my mom one day while we were driving that I wanted to become a Buddhist. She laughed at me and told me that, no, I really didn’t, and then that was it, I no longer wanted to become one.
The following year as a sophomore, I had decided that I was going to start my own religion. It was going to include what I liked from Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism. I still really liked the whole meditation aspect of Buddhism, so I was going to incorporate meditation in my Christian/Jewish religion. Ironically, looking back now, it is obvious that I was looking for Catholicism as we are fully Christian, with our roots in Judaism, and we meditate when we pray. Needless to say, I did not start my own religion (and thank God I didn’t).
As a Junior, we took a quiz in our government class to find out where on the political spectrum we fell. I scored 100% conservative. I realized that because I now stood out from my peers at school, that I needed to start having solid talking points in defending my beliefs. I started reading more, watching the news and just started getting good at debating. It was something I really enjoyed and was successful with it. I had many liberal friends that thought I would make a good president.
During this time I became more hostile towards Christianity and began publicly denouncing Jesus Christ as the Son of God. My logic was what I thought simple. God created Adam and Eve. We are all descendants of Adam and Eve. Thus, we are *all* sons and daughters of God. To some extent this is true. However, I now know that Jesus is THE Son of God, a direct line of God.
When I entered in my last year of high school, I met a girl in my class who I really liked, and began questioning what she would think of me. This led to deep reflection of what I personally believed and such. I wanted her to like me and I actually cared more about my actions.
I began talking with my friend Stephen on a very deep level about faith and religion. I knew he was Catholic and teased him all the time about it. Whoa, you’re Catholic? That must suck, you can’t do anything without it being a mortal sin! (How little did I really know). He took the teasing in stride, truly very humble and charitable. How many times do I get over somebody’s case when they tease me about being a Catholic?
One thing I used to do was go on websites that talked about haunted houses and ghost stories. It was very addictive and also very demonic. Looking into stories like this, you are inviting Satan and his minions to come and torment your life. Needless to say, this would be the turning point of my conversion process.
Stephen and I were talking on AOL Instant Messenger one day and he told me he was reading about Marian Apparitions.
“What’s a Marian Apparition?”
Stephen came up with a reply that really surprises me to how open he was to letting the Holy Spirit sink me in. “Its when the ghost of Jesus’ Mother comes and talks to people.” Hook, line and sinker. Yes, we both know that this is not truly correct of what a Marian Apparition is, however, Stephen took me where I was at, and gave me what I could understand. Conversion is after all, a step by step process.
We talked a lot about Mary and Stephen lent me a book on Our Lady of Fatima. He said it was a short read and it would take only a few hours to read it. I said okay. I also asked him some questions that I was personally struggling with. He pulled out the Catechism of the Catholic Church and read out exactly what the Church taught. I was floored. The answer I heard was the answer that I knew was right deep down into my heart. It rung of Truth. The Catholic Church was right about something. My thirst kept growing and I wanted to know more, but, I of course fought it, after all, who wants to be Catholic?
A few days went by and Stephen asked me if I had read the book. I told him no, I hadn’t had time. Another few days went by and again Stephen asked if I had read the book. Again, I told him no, but was planning on it. Finally a few days came by and sure enough, Stephen was wondering if I had read it. Again, the answer was no. He then asked me if I was going to read it and if I wasn’t then he would like it back because he wanted to read it again. I told him I’d read it and felt like a jerk for taking so long (since it was such a short book). That night would change everything I previously thought.
I was just coming down with a cold, and when I was growing up, my colds lasted at least 2-3 weeks. I read the book in about 4 hours and was absolutely amazed by what I read. Never before had I heard that we could offer up our suffering for those in need and not only that, but we could pray for others. The common theme was, if we pray for others, we can prevent them from going to Hell. I found this very admirable. I can save others from Hell, just by praying for them.
The next morning, I awoke, and realized I had just had a miracle occur to me. My cold, which was only 2 or 3 days in, was completely gone. I gave Stephen a call and he agreed, that sounded like a miracle.
Over the next few months, Stephen and I talked more about the Catholic faith. Stephen was incredibly patient with me and slowly allowed me to realize how much Jesus and I shared in common. He would more or less show me a Bible verse here or there on what Jesus actually said. The twist though, was that I would always agree. Stephen knew me well enough that He pointed out what Jesus and I had in common, so that Jesus and I became close and had similarities. I even began praying at night before going to bed, something I had never done before.
Stephen took me to a Mass one Sunday. On the way to Mass, Stephen gave me a Rosary, informed me that it had been blessed by Pope John Paul II and gave me a card that taught me how to pray. The Mass was very interesting to say the least. I had absolutely zero clue as to what was going on, so I watched Stephen the entire time. I felt holier just by being there, like I was a part of something sacred.
At this parish, the priest was from Sri Lanka, and I couldn’t understand anything that he said. However, during the consecration at communion, I noticed his voice changed. Every single word became distinct and clear, and his voice to me had changed. It was like someone had taken over. Stephen informed me that I couldn’t receive communion because I wasn’t Catholic and that I could either approach Father for a blessing with my arms folded, or I could stay in the pew. I asked if he could stay with me, but, yeah, that wasn’t happening. I went up for a blessing and felt weight come off my shoulders.
For me, it was incredibly difficult to accept Jesus as my savior. I had absolutely no problem with Mary as she is my mother and loves me deeply. I had no problem saying the Our Father, the Hail Mary or the Glory Be. Even the Fatima prayer (O my Jesus…) was of no problem for me to say. What was difficult for me was saying the Creed. When I got to the part though, when we say “And I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord”, I immediately panicked. I didn’t know what to do.
The next day I talked to Stephen, and he basically told me that he couldn’t understand how after everything we had talked about thus far, that I couldn’t make this claim. I felt bad. I had no problem accepting God the Father or even God the Holy Spirit, but accepting Jesus as the 2nd part of the Trinity was difficult.
That night, I really wanted to pray the Rosary for Mary. But, perfectionist me wasn’t going to skip the Creed. It was either all or nothing. Before I prayed the Rosary, I knelt alongside my bed and said the following to the Father.
“God, I’m not sure if you are going to accept this or not, but, I’m going to say the following words. If you are not approving, I am really sorry and I will stop. However, if you want me to say the words, allow me to know.” I said the creed, specifically “I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son…….Our……..Lord…….” and immediately, felt a peace come over me. So, I continued.
Stephen and I kept talking more and more about the faith. We went to another Mass where Father must have been in his late 20s or early 30s. He seemed pretty cool and made it feel that being Catholic was actually really cool. This inspired me more. I watched Stephen like a hawk to make sure I didn’t stick out like a sore thumb. Again, at the consecration, Father’s voice changed. Every word was distinct and clear and his voice was not his own. I knew something was happening when these words were spoken, but didn’t understand what.
After Mass, Stephen went to confession with Father and asked if I wanted to go. We had talked about confession before, and yes, I wanted to go! My sins get forgiven??? Heck yes! As a disclaimer, Stephen didn’t know that you had to be baptized in order to go, and I didn’t tell Father that I wasn’t a Catholic and I thought Stephen had told him. Needless to say, I made an unsacramental confession and Father went through all of the steps. I felt all of the weight come off of my shoulders. Even though my sins weren’t absolved due to the confession (because I wasn’t Catholic) I felt as if I had and knew that confession was real.
I went home and told my parents (remember, neither of them are Catholic) and needless to say, they flipped out. They couldn’t figure out why I would tell some strange man my sins. I was feeling such a high, that I just told them that he has the ability to forgive them, and I want that.
About a few weeks later, the travelling Fatima statue of Our Lady was in town. This is the statue that is said to have been seen crying during times. Stephen and I went and I was blown away. Her eyes were so life-like and I had never seen anything like this. How can a statue’s eyes look so real, that is, how does it look like she has tears in her eyes? It was incredible. Afterwards, Stephen introduced me to a family friend of his, his friend David’s mom. She welcomed me with such love and tenderness that I was amazed that a stranger could feel this way towards another stranger. I told her a bit of my story, up until that point, knowing that she wouldn’t judge me, but rather encourage me to seek deeper.
That summer, I met Stephen’s friend David and his parents (though I had already met his mom). We started a weekly catechetical class where we learned more about Catholicism. Each week I desired more and more to be Catholic. Eventually, my younger brother joined in and was learning more as well. David’s parents taught RCIA at the parish that I first went to Mass at, and since I was learning so much from them and they were able to answer all of my questions, I knew that that was where I wanted to go. I was concerned that some of my beliefs (though many were changing over to Catholic) would prevent me from being a Catholic in good-standing. They told me I should go through anyways and that I would learn more and my desire to want to be in accordance with the Church, would help me get there.
That Fall, I started up at Michigan State University studying Computer Science. Stephen had started up college out of state and David went back to college out of state. I was alone. Luckily, David’s older brother Jonathan was wrapping up his final year at Michigan State also studying Computer Science. We clicked really well as Jonathan was learning more about his faith and was able to teach me more.
I started up in RCIA and was learning a lot. I had several spiritual warfare episodes throughout my conversion, that I will tell only in person. Describing them would take too much time and this is a long story for a blog.
Jonathan and I became increasingly close as friends. He got me to pray the Rosary daily. He helped me grow so much spiritually that I still remember some of the fun conversations we had at his apartment, not to mention how I learned much about the faith and the issues that I was struggling with were aided by really good answers. He got me introduced to a Young Adult group from the area and they also assisted with good answers and great fellowship. I know it was Jonathan and another friend Julie who helped me to realize why contraception was not part of God’s plan.
I was finally received into the Roman Catholic Church on April 15, 2006 (tax day in America, yuck). This was truly the best day of my life. Yes, I am married, but I can honestly say that choosing to follow Jesus Christ was the smartest thing I have ever done (I wouldn’t have my wife if I hadn’t). I was baptized, received confirmation and first communion at the Easter Vigil. It was powerful.
Every step of the way, my friends who all aided me (Stephen, David, Jonathan, their parents, Julie, and a few others) were incredibly patient with me. They were never judgmental, condescending or impatient. They constantly took me where I was at, and guided me to where the Truth was. For this I am eternally grateful. If you enjoy this blog, you can thank them with prayers.
In closing, I really do enjoy telling my conversion story. If you would like me to tell my conversion story (there is much more detail I left out for the sake of the internet), please don’t hesitate to contact me. This story isn’t just about me, but rather, how God, in His infinite love and mercy, can rescue the most unworthy of sinners, and bring them home to His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.