A year into my interminable journey to try to become a Catholic, I had this nightmare: I am trapped on the roof of a high rise building. Several people are stuck there with me. They are being rescued one by one until I am all alone. My terror grows as day turns into night. With no help in sight, I decide to take matters into my own hands.
My only hope is to climb down the side of the building. It is a treacherous descent, but somehow I make it to the bottom. I see the people who could have saved me. I walk over to them and, with tears in my eyes, ask plaintively, “Why didn’t you come to rescue me?” They look at me blank faced, with no answer. I wake up from the dream sobbing.
I desperately wanted to become a Catholic until I tried to join the Catholic Church. There I found endless bureaucracy and red tape that would make a day at the Department of Motor Vehicles look like a walk in the park. Rather than the enthusiastic support I encountered at Protestant churches, in Catholicism, I found a sluggishness that paid little heed to Christ’s proclamation that we swiftly make disciples of all nations.
In evangelical Protestantism, where I unexpectedly found myself in my early 50s, people would move heaven and earth to help me and others become “born again.” It didn’t matter if the church were closing for the day or if the hungry churchgoers were hankering for bacon and eggs. When a lost soul wanders into a church, business as usual comes to a screeching halt. If the building caught on fire, Protestants would still be evangelizing, despite the firefighters and flames. But Catholics? I found a starkly different universe, one in which rigid rules prevailed (even those that appeared to violate Canon Law) and receiving people into the Church seemed to be at the bottom of most people’s to-do list.
How did I even get into this strange, new world, me being the least likely person on the planet to want to become Catholic? My story begins in late 2009, when, after a lifetime of Jewish/Buddhist/paganism, I somehow felt moved to go to church. When people ask me why I became one of the rare Jews who converted to Christianity, I always say the same thing, “God only knows.” I haven’t the slightest idea why; it’s all God working inside of me.
Like many Jews, I absorbed since infancy an aversion towards Christianity. I didn’t have any Christian friends; I detested Christmas; and I’d never been to a church in my life. But somehow, for reasons only known to Him, God planted a deep hunger in my heart a few years ago to know Him and to do so in a Christian church.
I started out in Protestantism, where I remained for several years. This was a lucky move. Had I encountered the same roadblocks I later found in the Catholic world, I might never have become a Christian.
In Protestantism, I met friendly Presbyterians and welcoming Lutherans. I was particularly intrigued by the evangelicals and Pentecostals, who warmly invited me into their flock and spent hours teaching me information that I didn’t know, such as, who was Jesus Christ? What did a Bible look like and what did it say? I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal savior in early 2010, was baptized at a Bible-believing church a few months later, and never looked back.
But as wonderful as it all was, I felt a restlessness and hunger inside for something more, though I didn’t know what it was. Although I was having lots of good experiences at church, my relationship with Jesus wasn’t growing. And I wasn’t changing deep inside, as much as I was trying.
I searched for this ephemeral thing from one Protestant church to church, from the Baptists to the Pentecostals, until, one day out of the blue in late November 2013 (it turned out to be the first day of Advent), the thought suddenly appeared in my brain that maybe I should become a Catholic. This was a novel idea, one that I had never before considered, perhaps because nondenominational Protestants are so openly hostile to the Catholic Church.
It happened when I was reading the chapter on Martin Luther in a book by Mike Jones, Degenerate Moderns. When Jones described Martin Luther’s womanizing and boozing and his terrible manipulation of nuns and priests, a light went on in my head. Protestantism comes from the word, “protest” — I hadn’t put the two together before.
I didn’t like one bit the idea of being part of some radical, insurrectionary movement. Having by then rejected my own rebellious youth, I realized with horror that I had somehow found my way into yet another revolutionary movement — Protestantism. I resolved to start attending Catholic Masses and to learn as much as I could about Catholicism.
What I found made me want to run for my life as fast as I could back to the Protestants. I discovered Catholics who didn’t know much about the basic religious doctrines of the Church, and others who openly defied the moral teachings. I heard strange new terms, such as “cafeteria Catholics.” I discovered a multitude of people who didn’t read the Bible and who practiced indifferentism. I can’t tell you how many times people told me that I didn’t need to become a Catholic because being a baptized Protestant (or a Jew) was good enough. In short, I encountered today’s Catholic Church.
Despite my shock at the state of the Church, I started doing intensive research on the theology of Catholicism, which clarified and corrected many doctrines that concerned me in Protestantism. I also researched why the Catholic Church had become so disorderly and chaotic, that is, about the infiltration by many nefarious forces. But even more importantly, I became enchanted by the Mass and the Blessed Sacrament, which moved me to tears more than once. My relationship with Jesus grew by leaps and bounds, and I started making needed changes in my behavior. I had found what I was searching for all along, and it was Jesus in His one true Church, the Catholic one.
But after I had made my decision to join the Church, I came upon the biggest shock of all: that it would be a Herculean task to be allowed into the place. And what was the biggest hurdle standing in the way of me and eternity? The bane of my existence and so many others. I encountered RCIA.Read the whole article here.