7/05/2007

My Testimony

Hi,

I would like to offer you my own personal testimony so you can see where I’m comin’ from and WHY I returned to Catholicism.

I am a cradle Catholic and a “revert” to the faith after being gone for about 34 years. I had left the Church at about age 17 because I was on drugs and then “got saved” at a Campus Life Bible study that was run by a very cool minister. I had always gone to church but never really taken it seriously or read the Bible, even though it was in the house and other members of my family read it. The lack was not in the church (I see that now) but within me. I began to read the Bible for the first time in my life…(the epistle of St. James) and it really hit home. I have always believed in God, but I saw that that was not enough. I did alright for a couple of years, got married and we moved here to Florida, where I stayed out of establishment churches because I figured they were all messed up and did my thing as a “Jesus freak”, witnessing on the streets and handing out Christian underground papers and tracts, and “witnessing” to anyone who would listen.

Eventually I and my little family joined a Baptist church because the preacher convinced me that we believed the same things and he liked my no fear witnessing. That was fine until I admitted that I figured that the gifts of the Holy Spirit did not end with the death of the last apostle. That ended my path to being a Baptist minister so we joined a local Assembly of God where we stayed for many years in spite of some really unscriptural and uncharitable things they did. I became a deacon there, but finally we left after they pulled some really lame stuff and blew me off when I pointed out that what they were doing was unscriptural. My letter telling them why we were leaving was 10 pages long.

I intended to find another church, but we never did and so we remained out of any church for many years.

About 7 years ago I hit a real crisis and decided to turn back to the Lord. I found that Jesus meant every word of the parable of the prodigal son. I began to read the Bible again and got a New American Bible which is about like the NIV except this one has all the books (which I liked even though at the time I was still a Protestant). This particular edition was fairly big, with a bright green paperback cover that said “The Catholic Bible” in big orange letters. I went diddy-bopping into a meeting one day with that in hand and wasn’t in there a hot minute when some guy jumped my case.

“Are you Catholic?’ he asked me. “Well…yeah”, says I, (since technically I was). “You Catholics worship Mary.” “Say what?” I responded. “You Catholics worship Mary. You pray to her.” “Look, I know I been outta the church for a long time, and we do pray to her but we DON'T worship her and no Catholic that knows his ear from his elbow would ever even SAY such a crazy thing. We worship God alone. End of story, Dude.”

He persisted so severely that I finally told him that I’d get some books, check it out and get back to him with what I found out, and that if he was right then I would never enter a Catholic Church ever again.

I found a great book by a priest named Father Oscar Lukefahr of Catholic Home Study Service (The Catholic Home Study Service ) and read it carefully and prayerfully. I was happy to find that not only were the Catholics right and that they do not worship anyone but Almighty God, but that their doctrines about Mary are soundly based upon the Bible and that the early Christians believed the very same things. Even the three pillars of the Reformation ( Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli) believed the same things about Mary that Catholics do today. In the end I went back to church and met another Catholic guy, who like myself was returning to the faith as well. We studied and talked and found ourselves having to dig up real answers for people we knew who didn’t like the Catholic Church.

I continued to study Catholic teaching and discovered that a great deal of what I had been taught about the Bible and Christianity was wrong. I found that non-Catholics ignore and “read around” Bible passages that support Catholic teaching and that they completely ignore the history of Christianity prior to the 1500s. Now I know what I believe and why and I will never change, though I promise every non-Catholic that I dialog with that if they can prove that the Catholics are wrong that I’ll be in their church with them every Sunday from now on. No one even comes close…

Now I participate at Mass as often as I can, pray the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet almost every day, abstain from meat on most Fridays (just out of devotion to God), and of course read and study my Bible, as well as other Catholic writings. I am Catholic because I know and believe with all my heart and soul that the Catholic Church IS the New Testament church and I believe that the Eucharist is everything that the church teaches it is, the same as the early church did…all the way back to the last supper and the 6th chapter of the Gospel of St. John. I believe it’s really the body and blood of our risen Lord because St. Paul said that if you take communion while living in sin that you become guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, and that wouldn’t be possible if His body and blood weren’t really present in the form of bread and wine…just like the last supper. It is the most powerful miracle in all of Christianity, and I love it.

My Christian life is stronger than ever before, my prayer life is powerful, and I have great answers to my prayers like never before. I have always been a soul winner and that has not changed at all. God has used me to win some people that I sure couldn’t have won on my own. Some were very anti-Catholic and now are very MUCH Catholic and very happy and forthright about their faith. It’s really very humbling…I feel like a raggedy (unworthy) Styrofoam cup at a feast, filled with the very finest wine.

So… God Love ya, That’s it. I’m nothing special. There are thousands of people like me who are returning to the faith each week and many more who are finding their way into it as well. It’s been here for over 2,000 years…it won’t die off or go away, and the very gates of hell have not prevailed (and will not prevail) against it. Jesus promised and He has kept that promise in spite of the human failings of individual members of His one true church.

This is the real thing. The fullness of truth, and the most beautiful Christianity you can possibly imagine. Nothing outside the Catholic Church even comes close. I cry tears of humble joy during the consecration at Mass because I am so wrapped up in worship of my risen Lord and Savior. I don’t care who notices or what they might think. I’m more concerned with making sure that Jesus hears me when I say, “My Lord and my God.”

Someone asked me recently, “How did you realize the RCC was the true church?” My answer is what follows:

Study man study. I challenged everything I heard about the Catholic faith and all that turned out to be rubbish. I went looking into Catholic teaching to see if what I was hearing was true and found it all to be untrue and not only that but I found that there is more than ample reason to follow the Catholic faith than any of the other churches.

I didn't go out to prove or disprove anything, I just went in search of the facts and the facts led me to realize that the Catholic faith is the original, New Testament, "full Gospel" church that Christ founded. Every other church has a man as it's founder, no matter what they may claim, and every single one of them has at least one doctrinal divergence from what the New Testament teaches as well as what the early church believed and practiced.

I feel that I was misled and deceived by well intentioned people with Bibles.

I was one of the most no fear "witnesses" you could ever encounter. I was never rude, but I ain't scared of the devil himself nor any of his minions.

Now I apply all those "witnessing" skills and the other gifts that God has blessed me with to share my Catholic faith with anyone who will listen, and to counter the propaganda of anti-Catholics who seek to deceive my Catholic brothers and sisters into leaving the faith for their "Christianity Lite".

If you've debated or discussed with me for any length of time around here you already know that I won't insult you, but I'll rip rhetoric and propaganda apart without mercy.
Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum.

Blackie

11 comments:

gnma8 said...

Hi CM,
Just want to tell you that your testimony brings tears to my eyes. I was away from the Church for 20+ years.

I never joined another church, or stopped knowing that the Catholic Church was where I belonged. I had gone through a horrible divorce, my children stopped practicing their faith, I worked most weekends, just one excuse after another.

Then about 2 years ago, I was faced with a potentially life threatening illness(turned out not to be too serious), but I knew I HAD to get back to the sacraments.

Now, my only prayer (except for reparation) is that my children will someday return to the Church.

Your testimony gives me hope. Thank You.

Blackie said...

Thanks gnma8!
Please know that from now on your intentions will be remembered in all my prayers.

May the Lord hear and answer your heartfelt prayers, through Jesus Christ Our Lord and Savior.
Amen

RedWings said...

Wow! God bless you, Blackie. Thank you for the most beautiful and concise statement on the one, true, universal Catholic church.

I have bookmarked your site not only so that I may visit often, but also so that I may share it with my teenage daughters as they inevitably come under attack in their Catholicism.

Thank you for such a beautiful testimony.

dianne said...

Michael,I read your testimony,it was beautiful,I'm so impressed,what brought me back was a best girlfriend who is protestant,but cult like I THINK,she won't believe anything unless its in scripture,I listened ,but started reading our catechism,now we debate alot,and I'm back after twenty something years,I;m so full of peace now.That was terrific,and keep up your work for OUR LORD
bubbie-Dianne

Blackie said...

Thank you guys. All I can say is "I am an unworthy servant; I have only done what is expected of me." (See Luke 17:10)

I am grateful to God that what I have written has in some small way blessed you. The Holy Spirit gets all the credit! :)

Rest assured that I will add your intentions to all my daily prayers.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum.
Blackie

GODnSurf said...

I found your blog very inspiring. I too started to fall away from the Church, but fortunately the Holy Spirit nabbed me back without letting too much time pass by. Recently I have been studying much of Church history. I am trying to educate myself on everything. I find apologetics very interesting. When evangelizing to non-Catholics I don't know where to begin, what it takes to spawn there understanding of the Truth. My girlfriend is baptist and I have a hard time of getting things through to her. Do you have any for getting through to people without sounding too pushy?

SS Teacher said...

I read your testimony as a result of a link you provided within a rather enjoyable and engaging rant posted on CAF on January 2, 2010 in answer to Middleman.

I've rejected Catholicism and chosen Holy Orthodoxy. However, if there were no Orthodoxy I'd certainly be a Catholic.

You get an A+ for enthusiasm.

In Christ,
Mick

Blackie said...

Thanks SS. We'll keep the light on for ya and a place in the pew next to me.
Pax tecum.
Blackie

RaisedFromAshes said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story. I found it through CAF. I, too, am a cradle Catholic who wandered away from the church (and all churches, for that matter) when I was in my late teens. Struggles with alcohol, drugs, and an abusive relationship led me to start exploring churches - mostly protestant, non-denominational evangelical churches - a few years ago. I have been attending one for the past year that I really like but I have been feeling this need to return to the RCC. I attended Mass on Sunday and loved it. I am torn, but am glad to hear another person with a similar story.

jumpingjack flash said...

hello-- i am wondering how it is that you never managed to find a church body -- (non catholic)that was or rather functioned in the spiritual giftings of the Holy Spirit?
or did the chruch denomination you belong to accepted Cessationism ?

Did you belong to any church groups that had any signs and wonders like in mark 16;16-20 ?

i have been a part of the catholic charasmetic group-- and the best they can do is pray in tongues-- with out any understanding!

I f person wants to learn to function in the gifts of the Holy Spirit as in 1 cor 12-- the catholic church group does not provide that--

on catholic answers forum -- the dialog- seems to be in memorizing and quoting -- scripture - go to mass -- go to cummunion -- go to confession--

but at least you found a place where u fit

i

Blackie said...

J Jack Flash,
You are of course drastically wrong in your assessment of both me and the Catholic Charismatics.

I have experienced and even been used to demonstrate a number of these charisms over the years, and still do from time to time. However, it has been my own experience among non-Catholic charismatics/Pentecostals that there was more showmanship and ego at work that the Holy Spirit.

Having at one time, been a deacon in an Assembly of God church, perhaps I can speak to this issue.

Biblically there are 3 chapters of the New Testament that are critically relevent to any discussion of the gift of tongues (The official term for which is "glossolalia" ). they are 1st Corinthians 12, 13 and (most especially) 14.
Please read all 3 chapters for context, but I am going to simply post the most relevant verses that concern the practice of this Charism in the church and some real dangers that I sincerely pray that we don't borrow into our Charismatic Catholics from their non-Catholic cousins.

All from chapter 14:2-9 13-19, 23-28, 31-33, and 39-40

One of the biggest problems with this gift is that many people act like this passage does not apply to them and so you enter a Charismatic or Pentecostal service and may well find some serious violations of these passages in progress. I know I did almost every time we went to church and it never ceased to trouble me greatly, but no one would ever really address this with the congregation. They just seemed to ignore this passage and let things rip, which is plainly not right according to the New Testament.

Here is the only place where the CCC deals with this topic:
2003 Grace is first and foremost the gift of the Spirit who justifies and sanctifies us. But grace also includes the gifts that the Spirit grants us to associate us with his work, to enable us to collaborate in the salvation of others and in the growth of the Body of Christ, the Church. There are sacramental graces, gifts proper to the different sacraments. There are furthermore special graces, also called charisms after the Greek term used by St. Paul and meaning "favor," "gratuitous gift," "benefit." Whatever their character - sometimes it is extraordinary, such as the gift of miracles or of tongues - charisms are oriented toward sanctifying grace and are intended for the common good of the Church. They are at the service of charity which builds up the Church.

There is a BIG difference between the gift of prophecy and the gift of tongues and the way many n-Cs choose to interpret that passage is more characteristic of modern pentecostals than the early church and the New Testament itself.

An objective reading of those passages I cited earlier will make it pretty plain that St. Paul saw them as 2 different things. Even in Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost it was Prophesy that the people HEARD in their own tongues...but modern charismatics imply that it is prophecy and worse still if they give way to the very disorders that St. Paul deals with in his letter then one has to use some discernment as to if it is from God. Prayer in tongues should not be spoken aloud in a congregation. It's as simple as that, and prophecy is a different matter.

I think it's critically important for us not to pick up non-Catholic errors just because of some shared experiences, and so I urge extreme caution. As I've told others...I've been there.