THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PROTESTANT AND CATHOLIC CONVERSIONS TO THE OTHER FAITH


Built on the Rock

Built on the Rock

 

I just read this post on another blog. I found it very interesting. Of course she liked my conversion story. It starts out:

Recently, in the debate about whether or not Catholics worship the Pope with Pastor Meadows, he took the occasion to remind me of an ex-priest by the name of Richard Bennett. Mr. Bennett has since made it his life’s work to try to bring others out of the Catholic Church. I have read his story before. It was either recommended to me by my parents or my pastor when I was considering becoming Catholic. I decided to read through his testimony again, and remembered why I had written him off the first time around.

I had read his testimony before, and I remember being surprised that an ex-priest used the same lies about Catholicism as his reason for leaving the Church that most protestants (who I often just assume to be ignorant) use…..To read more click the link—>EX-PRIEST, RICHARD BENNETT – A MAN IN SEARCH OF TRUTH?

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Passion for Truth: Discount for Ash Wednesday


A Priest friend of mine has a book coming out soon on the life of Cardinal John Henry Newman. A convert to the Catholic Faith from Anglicanism. I read Newman’s very scholarly book, The Development of Doctrine in my own journey to the Catholic Faith.

You can preorder it from Tan books. or St. Benedict’s Press

Articles on Newman by Fr. Juan R. Velez

Fr. Velez defended a doctoral dissertation at the University of Navarre titled:
    • Death, Immortality and Resurrection in John Henry Newman, in Excerpta e Dissertationibus in Sacra Theologia, XXXVI (1999) Only this listed publication is not available online.
He has published the following articles on Newman:

Mary Appears to Man On Death Row


The remarkable true story of the miraculous intercession of the Virgin Mary in 1944 to prisoner Claude Newman of Mississippi

-The Virgin Mary appears in a series of visions through the intercession of the Miraculous Medal and converts two men on death row.

By: Glenn Dallaire

Claude Newman was an African American man who was born on December 1, 1923 to Willie and Floretta (Young) Newman in Stuttgart, Arkansas. In 1928, Claude’s father Willie takes Claude and his older brother away from their mother for unknown reasons, and they are brought to their grandmother, Ellen Newman, of Bovina, Warren County, Mississippi.

In 1939, Claude’s beloved grandmother, Ellen Newman, marries a man named Sid Cook. Soon Sid becomes sexually abusive toward Ellen, which deeply angers Claude. In 1940, Claude works as a farmhand on Ceres Plantation in Bovina, Mississippi. The plantation is owned by a wealthy landowner named U.G. Flowers, and Sid Cook was born and raised on this plantation. One biographer also has Claude getting married also in 1940 at age 17 to a young woman of the same age.

On Dec.19, 1942, Claude is apparently still very angered by Sid’s abusive treatment towards his grandmother Ellen, and egged on by dominant friend named Elbert Harris, Claude lies in waiting at Sid Cook’s house (Sid Cook and Ellen Newman have since seperated). Claude shoots Sid as he enters, killing him, and takes his money, then flees to his mothers house in Little Rock, AR., arriving on Dec 20th.

Claude is arrested and sent to prison on death row
In January 1943, Claude is apprehended in Arizona and is returned to Vicksburg, Mississippi and makes a coerced confession on Jan. 13. Despite protests of Claude’s lawyer Harry K. Murray, his confession is admitted as evidence, and he is found guilty by jury, and is initially sentenced to die in the electric chair on May 14, 1943. Later an appeal to retry the case is rejected by State Attorney General and he is rescheduled to be executed on January 20, 1944.

Claude receives the Miraculous Medal of the Blessed Virgin Mary
While he was in jail awaiting execution, he shared a cell-block with four other prisoners. One night, the five men were sitting around talking and eventually the conversation ran out. During this time, Claude noticed a medal on a string around one of the other prisoner’s neck. Curious, he asked the other prisoner what the medal was. The young prisoner was a Catholic, but he apparently did not know (or did not want to talk) about the medal, and seemingly embarrassed, he appeared angry and suddenly took the medal off from around his own neck and threw it on the floor at Claude’s feet with a curse and a cuss, telling him to “take the thing”. Claude picked up the medal, and after looking it over, he placed it around his own neck, although he had no idea who’s image it was on the medal; to him it was simply a trinket, but for some reason he felt attracted to it, and wanted to wear it.

The Blessed Virgin Mary appears to Claude in a vision Click here to read the rest of this amazing story of grace and love–>Mystics of the Catholic Church

Tom Leopold’s Conversion Story


Thursday, April 21, 2011

“I Just Can’t Make It Alone!”

A Jewish Converstion Story

My name is Tom Leopold and I’m a comedy writer (Seinfeld, Cheers, Will and Grace…). I am a Jewish comedy writer, although I always felt saying that was kind of redundant. So much of my humor — practically all of it I suppose—
The Conversion of St. Paul

comes from who my people are, what they’ve been through and how they were able to turn it all on its head and find the funny side, even and especially if there was none to find.

I know it sounds odd, but I always liked Jesus. I was never “deep” enough to wrestle with the concept of his being the son of God. For me he had this James Dean-Bob Dylan-daring rebel-hero “thing” about him. Once in a while, I did wonder, had I been nearby when Jesus walked among us, would I have had seen him for who he said he was? And, if so, would I have had the courage to say “Hey, everybody says we’re waiting on the Messiah. Well, the ‘wait’ is over!” Fast forward two thousand years later and I’d follow Jesus anywhere if he’d have me.

Come Easter I’ll still be a comedy writer, but a Catholic one. I consider my upcoming baptism a blessing. One that ranks right up there with the day I met my wife or the birth of our two daughters, to say nothing of having the good fortune to have made a living in a business that I love.

So here is a flashback of how I became Catholic.

We’re a couple of years into my youngest daughter’s life-threatening eating disorder. It also happens to be Christmas Eve and our girl is under doctors’ care at still another rehab center. This one is in the Arizona desert. By the time we had come to this point our ravaged little fourteen-year-old had been too ill to attend any but three weeks of her 9th grade school year, she had spent days locked in a psych ward, and both she and I were nearly run over by a cab as I tried to catch up to her after she’d bolted from a doctor’s office.

So, we’re in the desert, it’s Christmas Eve and my wife, our oldest girl (17) and I are decorating our hotel room with Christmas stuff from the only store still open in the little desert town, the Dollar Store. We are all Jewish, but for some reason we’ve always celebrated Christmas too. There was something kind of sacred about the silly little tree we bought…It reminded me of the tree Charlie Brown dragged back to his gang.

The doctors would only let us have our daughter for Christmas Day, so the three of us went to bed early, each trying not to let the others know how sad we were that one of us was missing. Lying there in the dark that night was the closest I have ever come to breaking — not breaking down, breaking! It’s a whole lot easier to hold your heart together when it’s you who does the suffering, but when it’s your child and nobody can fix her…Well, it would take more than a comedy writer to say it how it feels.

I was praying before the thought dawned on me that I was praying. Maybe begging is the better word… “Please God, give me even the smallest sign you’re up there, I just can’t make it alone!”

The next morning we’d arranged for our girls to go horseback riding, and my wife and I took a walk in the desert. Out of nowhere this cool old guy drives up in a motorcycle he made himself…It had antlers for handlebars and the guy looked like the old Marine that he turned out to be. He skidded up next to us, practically popping a wheelie, and started talking. I’m a New Yorker, so I just figured he was just one more weirdo…But the guy had this great intensity and a mysterious charisma.

He started a long monologue about how he was once married to a woman named “Shepard” and how his present wife brought him to Christ at the age of 33, and all the while he keeps nodding his head towards me and saying to my wife “This one knows what I’m talking about!”

Here we were, on Christmas morning in the desert, and this odd old character is throwing the word “Shepard” around along with the number 33. “Wasn’t Jesus a ‘Shepard’ to his flock and wasn’t he 33 when he was crucified and isn’t this day, his birthday?!” As I’m thinking of this, the old guy keeps telling my wife that I know what he means! And the weird thing is I do, kind of, know what he means! Not what he’s saying but what he means…

My cell phone rings. It’s our kids. They’re through with their ride. Without even knowing who’s on the other end of the phone our desert prophet says “Hang up, they’re fine!” I hung up. After the exhaustion of all we’d been through, it felt nice to be, well, led!

He finally stops talking, guns his engine and peels off only to stop a few yards away, turn back to me and say in a voice somewhere below a whisper and above mental telepathy that “God is watching you!” It wasn’t a threat, it was a reassurance.

There were more things like that. Coincidences? I no longer think so. But the biggest and most rewarding was the day I ran into Father Jonathan Morris.

Thirty-eight years ago I went to a psychic down in Nolita (North Of Little Italy) who pretty much predicted my entire career path…I wasn’t even a writer at the time. Out of the blue I had this idea to reconnect with him and, to my amazement, he remembered me right away. Our daughter had gotten a little better after her last treatment but was falling back again even though she was now strong enough to attend school. I thought I’d go visit Frank (my old psychic) just to check in and tell him how right he had been about all that’s happened to me and to ask if he saw a recovery for our daughter. Frank told me to bring her to him. A few days later we did. Walking up the steps to Frank’s townhouse, a car pulls up right in front of us and out steps Father Jonathan Morris. I recognized him from a picture in his book, “The Promise.” The book dealt with grief and I was getting a great deal of comfort from it. Suddenly the very same, kind, face was right before me.

“Are you Father Morris?”
He nodded.
“Your book is on my bed stand.”
He had already started towards me. He had his hand out.
Why I said what I said next I will never know.
“ Father, do you think you might have a few minutes to talk to me sometime?”

I had seen and admired Father Morris many times on television but thought he lived in Rome. He smiled, holding on to my hand and said: “You can find me right here.” He turned and pointed to Old Saint Patrick’s Church. It was as if I hadn’t even seen the church until he pointed to it. He had just started as parochial vicar there…True to his word he found time for me and room for my family in his prayers. He even met with our daughter.

I don’t think there’s room now to describe all I found “right here” at Old Saint Pat’s. The minute Father Morris took my hand I knew I’d be a follower of Christ. Does my daughter still suffer? She does, we all still do, but now I feel the Lord’s grace. We are not alone.

Happy Easter!

-Tom Leopold

Tom Leopold is one of the elect in the Archdiocese of New York. He has participated in the RCIA program there and will be baptized during the Easter Vigil. Special thanks to Kate Monaghan.

Another Conversion Story



“How I Solved the Catholic Problem”
by Kristine L. Franklin

Guatemala is at a turning point. Historically it’s been a 100% Catholic country – but that’s changing – rapidly. Demographers predict that early in the next century Guatemala will become the first mostly-Protestant Latin American country.

The jet made a careful descent between the three volcanoes that ring the sprawl of Guatemala City. It was April 19th, 1992. My husband, Marty, and I had reached the end of eight years of preparation to be Evangelical Protestant missionaries.

We were finally here, excited and eager to settle in Guatemala. We knew our faith would be challenged and stretched, but we were more than ready for it because above all else, we desired to serve God with everything we could offer. Our new life as missionaries had just begun.

I didn’t feel even a twinge of regret over what we’d left behind in the States: family, friends, a familiar language and culture, and amenities like clean water and good roads we Americans so often take for granted. In spite of the unknowns ahead, I knew we were being obedient, regardless of the cost. We were living smack in the middle of God’s will, and it gave us a great feeling of security. We had given ourselves fully to bringing Christ’s light to the darkness of this impoverished, Catholic country.

As the jet touched down onto the bumpy runway, tears welled in my eyes. “Thank you, Jesus,” I whispered as I reached over to squeeze my husband’s hand. Marty and I had come to the end of a long journey, but we were also beginning a new one. “Some day, Lord,” I prayed silently, “I hope this foreign place will feel like home.”

I was elated as we walked down the exit ramp from the plane and began the long-awaited adventure of being Protestant missionaries – missionaries sent to “rescue” Catholics from the darkness of their religion’s superstition and man-made traditions and bring them into the light of Protestantism.

There’s no way I could have known that three years later, almost to the day, my husband and my two children and I would stand holding hands again, elated again, waiting to be received into the Catholic Church. Let me explain what happened that led me, a staunch Evangelical, to become Catholic.

In the Beginning

I was raised in a devout Fundamentalist home. When I was 5 years old I asked Jesus to be my Savior. I was watching cartoons and it was time for a commercial. I figured that was as good a time as any to get saved. I’d been told many times by my folks that all I had to do was “open up a little door in my heart and let Jesus come in, and I would be a true Christian.”

That was it. Once Jesus was in, He would never go away. And when I died, I would go to heaven. It was a sure thing, the best deal in life, the free gift of eternal life. I couldn’t earn it, I could only ask for it, and as soon as I asked (if I really meant it), then it was a done deal! One minute I was a little sinner on the way to hell, the next minute I was a Christian.

When I told my mom I’d become a Christian, she wept for joy. I didn’t feel any different, but I knew my black heart was now as white as snow. No matter how bad I was, no matter what naughty things I did, when God looked at my heart from now on, all He would see was white, because Jesus was my personal Savior. As I grew up and found myself involved in sins of one kind or another, I doubted the sincerity of my “conversion” at age 5 and, just in case, I got “born-again” at least on two other occasions (just to be sure).

This is the Catch-22 of the typical “born-again” theology taught by many Evangelical and Fundamentalist denominations: Although we were taught that “faith alone” saved a person, the assumption was that right away the convert would exhibit a changed life and would continue growing in holiness out of sheer gratefulness to God for the gift of salvation. Under this system, the whole conversion event was completely subjective and valid only with the right measure of sincerity and true repentance – what Evangelicals call “saving faith.”

On the other hand, if a person known to be “born again” falls away from Christ, it’s said that he had “never really been born again.” In other words, the possibility always exists that you might not actually be a Christian, though you might be completely convinced that you are. (Evangelical and Fundamentalist Protestants would never say it that way, nor do they even like to think about it, but they do recognize that this is so.)

The “Catholic Problem”…

Just as I knew for certain I was a Christian at 5 years old, I knew with equal certainty that there were others who were not Christians. I had been taught that some of these non-Christian people lived in places like Africa and Asia. Missionaries were frequent visitors at our little church and we listened with awe to their stories. Once some missionaries came from Mexico, where, tragically enough, the people thought they were Christians, even though they weren’t. The Mexicans, we were reminded, were a lot worse off than the heathens in Africa. At least the heathens knew they worshipped demons and false gods. But the poor Mexicans were Catholics. They had been deceived into thinking they were real Christians, and this made them a lot harder to convert.

But it wasn’t just the Mexicans we worried about and prayed for.

Most of our neighbors weren’t Christian either. Most were Roman Catholics. Their kids went to Sacred Heart school, where nuns and priests taught them to worship statues and pray to Mary whom – we were repeatedly warned – Catholics thought was more powerful than God Himself. I was taught to feel sorry for Catholics, because they were members of a cult, and they didn’t even know it. They were like Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses, who had been deceived into thinking that their good works would get them to heaven.

All of my father’s relatives were Catholic. I remember when one of them died, my mother cried bitterly because he was in hell, not because he was a great sinner, but because he was Catholic. And there was no way a Catholic could be a “born again” Christian. In fact, as far as we were concerned, being Catholic was far worse than being simply unchurched. Being Catholic was to live a lie, a lie which would only be exposed at death, when the unsuspecting person ended up in hell for believing he could work himself to heaven by good deeds. This was the way Catholics and their theology was explained to me.

I was not allowed to go to the funerals of any of my Catholic relatives. It was too sad, my Mom told me. Funerals were supposed to be happy because the person who had died (if he had been “born again”) was with Jesus, free from suffering and pain. Catholic funerals weren’t happy at all. A lot of people cried because they didn’t know for sure if their loved one was in heaven. But we would know, Mom assured us. That was the great thing about being real Christians.

These prejudices and misconceptions about Catholicism were reinforced continually throughout my childhood. Not only did I hear strong opinions against Catholicism, but also against most other Protestants, those in other denominations.

We were taught that only in our church, or a church which shared our Dispensational interpretive system,1 could a person find the complete truth about the Bible. The big denominations, the “mainline churches,” were all apostate we were warned. Those churches were best avoided, for in them, a person would hear error taught and might be deceived into believing it. Errors included things such as infant baptism, amillennialism, speaking in tongues, faith healing or, worst of all, that a Christian could lose his salvation through serious sin.

We had the truth at our church, period. Anyone who wanted the whole story about God would have to come to our church and study the Bible the way we did. When meeting someone from another denomination for the first time, we were taught to view with suspicion that person’s claim to being a Christian. If they didn’t believe pretty much what we did, there was a good chance they weren’t really “born again.” We were constantly reminded by our pastor that we were obligated to share the real truth with them, especially if they were Catholics. We had Jesus, they didn’t. It was that simple.

Over the years I came to know many “true Christians” from these other “erroneous” churches. This had an effect on me. I gradually loosened my Fundamentalist views on truth and adopted the typical, somewhat vague belief of contemporary evangelicalism that as long as one has a “personal relationship with Christ,” that’s all that matters. To my shock, I even met a few Catholics whom I judged to be “born again,” (though I could only wonder how they could possibly grow spiritually within the Catholic Church, and I had no idea why they remained in it). As their friend, I saw it as my duty to urge those “Christian” Catholics to find a better church, a Bible-believing church. And some of them took my advice and left the Catholic Church. Some however, stuck with Catholicism, which only made me question the validity of their commitment to Christ.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ To continue…..
I read Kristen’s story during my journey to the Catholic Church. It was one of the best. The Protestant view of Catholicism was so accurate. For the rest of Kristen’s Conversion Story click —>Kristen Franklin

Why is Cardinal Newman Important Today?


Why is Newman Important Today?

Statue of Venerable Cardinal John Henry Newman by Donny MacManus Young John Henry Newman (painting at Keble College, Oxford)

Reblogged from John Henry Newman with permission from Fr. Velez. Also, Fr. Velez and Mike Aquilina have a new devotional using the writings of Cardinal Newman: Take Five: Meditations with John Henry Newman

Newman’s efforts for renewal in the Anglican Church led him to become Roman Catholic. His conversion contributed to the conversion of many Anglicans who read his works and admired his example. Today, Newman also serves as a guide for many, not only those who will eventually convert to the Roman Catholic Church, but to all who are seeking the Truth. Newman’s influence extends from the 19th century to the 20th and 21st. He continues to offer contemporary men important ideas in apologetics (the defense and explanation of the Faith), fundamental theology (the study of revelation) and ecclesiology (the study of the nature of the Church). In particular, Newman offers insightful and convincing explanations of the healthy relationship between faith and reason. In his Idea of a University, Newman explains how learning in the University should be an end in itself, learning which leads to soul formation, with the end result being a person who is well rounded, and closer to God. Newman believed that university learning which was merely a means to an end (for the sake of gaining work) would result in incomplete formation of a student, who would not understand his place in a world created by God. In his Letter to the Duke of Norfolk, Newman defended the supreme role of the moral conscience, rightly ordered to revealed truth. This spirited defense has become ever more necessary in our current debates about conscience rights. Newman also contributes today to an understanding of the history and growth of Catholic doctrine through his Essay on Development of Christian Doctrine. In this work Newman explains the differences between true and false developments in Christian doctrine. Although Newman’s notion of development is superficially invoked to promote liberal changes in Catholic doctrine, Newman actually identified various tests that serve to distinguish true development from corruption. From his youth to his death, Newman fought the spirit of Liberalism in religion. Through his Parochial and Plain Sermons and other sermons, Newman urges men and women to a life of piety and the exercise of Christian virtues. He invites all to practice the virtues, aspiring to the Christian standard of holiness in daily life. Although there are more things that Newman teaches us in these sermons and his other works, few are as compelling as the awareness that lay men and women must improve their knowledge of the Faith and play an active role in the Christian shaping of our society.

Why Did John Henry Newman Convert to Catholicism?


Reasons for Newman’s Conversion to Rome

Statue of Venerable Cardinal John Henry Newman by Donny MacManus

Young John Henry Newman (painting at Keble College, Oxford)

Reblogged from John Henry Newman with permission from Fr. Velez

Also, Fr. Velez and Mike Aquilina have a new devotional using the writings of Cardinal Newman:

Take Five: Meditations with John Henry Newman

May 4, 1843 … At present I fear, as far as I can analyze my own convictions, I consider the Roman Catholic Communion to be the Church of the Apostles, and that what grace is among us (which, through God’s mercy, is not little) is extraordinary, and from the overflowings of His dispensation. I am very far more sure that England is in schism, than that the Roman additions to the Primitive Creed may not be developments, arising out of a keen and vivid realizing of the Divine Depositum of Faith.” Apologia Pro Vita Sua, 300-301

Newman sought truth in religion at all cost. From an early age he made it a point to examine the truth claims of his religious beliefs and leave behind beliefs that he did not think were true. As he became a college Tutor at Oxford, he studied religious truths with particular attention to the content of Biblical revelation, study of the Church Fathers and logical reasoning.

From his youth, Newman adopted a doctrinal principle in religion. This principle holds that religion has set truths and rules inspired by God or derived from the former. These beliefs do not admit of subjective changes. Newman resisted changes in religion for any reason such as personal comfort, an easy agreement with other religious groups or political expediency.

Newman dedicated his life to discern which Christian beliefs were orthodox and which were not.  As an Anglican Newman believed that the Catholic Church had three Branches: Anglicanism, the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholicism. He thought that each of the branches are true members of the Catholic Church. Initially he thought that Antiquity in religious beliefs was the proof of the orthodoxy of beliefs and evidence that a given Church was the one established by Jesus Christ. He later came to realize that Antiquity was not sufficient proof; it required additional proofs.

Newman accepted the teaching that Apostolic Succession or the direct connection with the Apostles was a requirement for doctrinal orthodoxy. Studying the early Church history, Newman realized that the doctrinal disputes of the 4th-6th centuries were eventually settled by the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of the Apostle Peter. The Anglican Church was lacking in this important source of doctrinal and spiritual unity provided by the Bishop of Rome.

The Oxford Tutor also came to realize that the Anglican Church had removed itself, like other Christian bodies in the first centuries, from the communion with the Church. The Anglican Church lacked in Catholicity, the sacramental and ecclesial unity with Christians throughout the world. Furthermore, the Anglican Church failed to act as a divinely instituted body independent of civil government. Newman was appalled by the usurpation of episcopal authority by the English government.

The voice of the Church Fathers, whom Newman had studied extensively urged him to follow the Church of Rome which possessed all the notes of the Church established by Christ: Antiquity, Apostolic Succession, Catholicity and Holiness. For some time, due to the errors and abuses of Catholics, Newman thought that the Roman Catholic Church lacked the note of Holiness, but he finally overcame this prejudice by which he had unjustly looked at the Church.

After six years of prayerful consideration, Newman decided to be received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. On October 9, 1845, Fr. Dominic Barberi heard Newman’s confession at Littlemore and received him in the Church. Newman was 43 years old.