Last semester I left off with telling you how I came to know the person of Jesus Christ. Now I’d like to tell you the second part of my conversion story; how I met Christ’s Bride.
It all started with Baptism. The non-denominational church where I had become a member taught infant baptism was not legitimate. (One must have professed faith in Christ before baptism.) On the other hand, my mother insisted that my infant baptism was legitimate and I could not renounce my Catholic faith and get “re-baptized”. It was then I realized it was impossible for both sides to be right; one of them had to be wrong. That was a tough call: is my mother, who has raised me and loves me unconditionally, wrong, or my friends, who introduced me to Jesus and have helped me grow so much, wrong?
While this put me in a very difficult position, it was beautiful because it drove me to seek Truth. I did many things to try to make my decision. I prayed. I researched the Bible. I read commentaries. I spoke with priests. I sought advice from friends. I listened to talks. All of that was helpful, but it wasn’t until I met Jesus in the Eucharist that my heart changed.
I remember talking with a friend about whether or not one can be saved by faith alone. (That is a whole other topic; see James 2:24 for a short answer.) Out of nowhere he said, “Jessica, you can’t be Catholic. They believe that a piece of bread is Jesus!” At the time I had no idea why, but I knew that was going to be a pivotal moment. I also had no idea why, but I knew that he was wrong.
Some time later I was listening to Scott Hahn’s conversion story. He was talking about how we must eat Jesus’ flesh and drink His blood to have everlasting life. I thought, “Yeah, that is all great, but if only it was in the Bible somewhere, then Catholics would have a leg to stand on.” About 10 seconds later, Dr. Hahn quoted what he was reading…from the Bible! (See John 6:22-71) I couldn’t believe it; there was Scriptural evidence for the Eucharist.
As I took that passage back to my Protestant friends, we struggled with the idea of personal interpretation. After all, who was to say Jesus wasn’t speaking symbolically?
Here is where the teaching authority of the Church comes in to play. In his book, Where Is That in the Bible, Patrick Madrid gives the following phrase as an example: “I never said you stole money.” Depending on which word you give emphasis, the sentence has drastically different meanings. For instance, “I never said you stole money.” vs “I never said you stole money.” The question then, is how do we know we have the correct interpretation of Scripture. Thankfully the Catholic Church has been around since Jesus and the Apostles. The interpretation and Tradition have been passed down so we know what Jesus meant when he spoke 2,000 years ago. The Church has consistently taught that Jesus was speaking literally in this instance.
Additionally, given the context of Jesus speaking so dramatically and not correcting any of the disciples who left because they believed he was speaking literally, it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to believe that He was speaking figuratively. In 110 AD, St Ignatius of Antioch said, “I have no taste for corruptible food nor for the pleasures of this life. I desire the bread of God, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David; and for drink I desire his blood, which is love incorruptible” (Letter to the Romans 7:3 [A.D. 110]).
Lastly, one of the biggest difficulties I had in coming back to the Catholic Church was that I had grown so much in my faith and relationship with Jesus at a non-denominational church while my faith growing up in Catholicism was lukewarm at best, and I hardly knew any Catholics who had a loving, personal relationship with Christ, let alone a desire to evangelize. My perspective was altered greatly when I began to meet Catholics who were in love with Jesus.
If you are at all curious or questioning anything about Catholicism, I strongly encourage you to find a Catholic who is in love with Jesus and His Church, and seek answers to your questions. I promise, we exist! 🙂