I was Protestant for a time. I sang modern Christian music and swayed and held up my hands and loved the other members of the church. I found it difficult when there were divisions in the congregation and when some of my “family” decided to “plant a church” of their own. The trust was broken and there were allegations of “sheep stealing.”
In retrospect, I often wonder why it is “sheep stealing” to invite someone to another protestant church, but luring people away from the Catholic Church is encouraged. I always felt like something was missing there, but I didn’t know what was missing. I had been born and raised Catholic, but I was so poorly catechized that I had no idea that I was missing the Eucharist, the true presence of Christ. I didn’t realize what Catholics believe about the Eucharist, and I was raised IN THE CHURCH.
It wasn’t until I was reading an article in a free copy of Catholic Answers magazine that I came across the fact that the Church teaches that Christ is truly present, body, blood, soul and divinity in the Eucharist. It was an “aha” moment for me. Next I listened to Scott Hahn’s testimony about his conversion to the faith. I read Rome Sweet Home. I listened to more talks by Scott Hahn about reading the New Testament in light of the Old Testament. It was really only through the testimony of this Biblical scholar that I returned to the Church.
I am divorced and remarried. My first marriage was annulled, but my current husband’s first marriage was not. I am outside the fullness of Grace. This tears at my heart. I long for Christ in the Eucharist and for the graces of the Sacraments in which I cannot participate. I pray for my husband’s heart to change and I wait. Everything in God’s time, though.
My heart breaks for friends who have left the church because they, like I, were poorly catechized. They do not have the understanding of the truths the Church teaches to return. They have been changed by the time they have spent listening to protestant friends and protestant preachers who twist what the church is and does. Perhaps they have read a few too many Jack Chick tracts.
I try to direct them back to the Church, but I am not a very good apologist, despite knowing which scripture verses support what the Church teaches. I am afraid I am even less of an evangelist, so I pray. I pray that they will turn their hearts towards Christ’s words in the gospels and that they will listen with their hearts to His call. I know when I turned my heart toward Him, I came home. I try to live the Corporal Works of Mercy in my life.
I have been in both Catholic and protestant churches when there was no one there. The protestant churches were empty and FELT empty. While no other human person was in the Catholic Church with me, it never felt empty. I always felt and feel His presence there. I came home despite my exclusion from the sacraments because He is there. I offer to Him my imperfection and brokenness and pray that He will use me despite my flaws. I thank Him for His love and mercy. I continue to teach my children and attend Mass and to be an imperfect party of the Body of Christ.