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Complete Sharing – John Mann’s Faith Journey

In 09 Faith Journey on 2012/03/26 at 9:11 AM

My name is John Mann and I converted to Catholicism around ten years ago from being a Southern Baptist for 40 years. I was rooted pretty solidly in my Baptist faith and it created a bit of a division in my marriage to my wife Maggie because she grew up Catholic. Neither she nor I were going to convert to the other one’s religion so we went to separate churches for years and it wasn’t good for our marriage.

I had several problems when it came to Catholicism and much of it stemmed from Baptist ministers who told me things like: They pray to statues and to Mary, yet Jesus said the only way to the Father was through him. They don’t read the Bible. They think the bread is the actual body of Christ. Their Masses are ritualistic, almost cultish and they think they have to work their way to heaven. There were other derogatory things said as well. One thing I could never figure out is why my preachers were saying such negative things about a church I knew nothing about. I lived in the mid-west and in farming country so I’d never seen a Catholic church. They would have been better off focusing the message on what the congregation needed to improve their walk with Christ.

So these things negatively affected my attitude towards the Catholic Church and it made my experience, when I did join Maggie for Mass, uncomfortable. I didn’t understand the Mass and only enjoyed it when I heard the scriptures and the priest’s homily. Because of this, I told Maggie not to get her hopes up because there was no way I’d ever convert.

Enter Scott Hahn. Maggie knows that I love learning and take on about every subject I can get my hands on (i.e. algorithms, cyborg anthropology, economics, history, space technology, etc.). So she slipped in the audio version of “Rome Sweet Home” into my car’s CD player. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, Scott provides his story of why he and his wife Kimberly converted to Catholicism. I was bored while driving one day and figured I’d at least learn more about the Catholic Church and give Maggie a hard time about why she’s wrong. I listened to the CD for around 30 minutes when it hit me that this man was one of the brightest I’d ever heard. Before I knew it, I had listened to his entire story.

What really did it for me when it comes to why I jumped into RCIA (which was great and we had a Baptist Minister in our class), was that a brilliant man explained to me how he overcame some of the issues I also had with the Church. If he was convinced to convert, there was absolutely no reason why I shouldn’t because I had far less understanding than this religious guru. It reminds me of how Maggie and I handle things now when it comes to directives from the Vatican. There are things we don’t understand and that go against our grain; but even though this happens, we accept their direction because we figure they know way more than we do, so we just need to jump on board in support.

Let me wrap up with “I love being a Catholic!” Those things I thought were bad about the Church before I converted are now those things that have deepened my faith. Mass is so special to me because it invokes all of my senses, not just my eyes and ears as I experienced as a Protestant. I love participating in the various activities (St. Matthew has a ton of them) like Bible study. When I walk into the room, it glows with the love of Christ that is on everyone’s face. Come by and see it sometime; you’ll want to wear sunglasses! I don’t know of any other way to put it; St. Matthew Catholic Church is on fire and I feel so blessed to be a part of it. By the way, boy is it better when a husband and wife share the same faith. I can’t express it in words!

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