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March 12, 2003

The Long Journey from Catholicism

* This email especially touched my heart and demonstrates the deadly power of religion without a personal relationship with Christ. - Eric

Dear Mr. Barger,
I found your internet site by accident yesterday as I was visiting other web sites.   I am glad I did since I have been reading several of your articles and find them interesting and informative.  This e-mail may be a little lengthy but I have a lot to say.

I read today the newsletter written on 3/5/2000 which linked to the article regarding your friend, Gary, who was questioning his Catholic faith (read article here).  I guess he has made a decision by now.  I found this article especially interesting since I am a former Catholic and can identify with many of the struggles Gary must have experienced.  For years I felt as though I was needing something in my life and had started questioning the Catholic religion and its belief system.  I was not sure what I was searching for but I was searching. 

All my life I had gone to Catholic church, had been baptized as a baby, received all the sacraments I was suppose to receive, confessed to a priest on a regular basis, and been thoroughly instructed in all the Catholic doctrines.  Never in all that time did I ever see anyone carry a bible to church.  We had one at home but it was never read.   Everything taught to me about Jesus was from my parents or the priests and nuns of the Catholic church and it was drilled into my head that the Catholic way was the only way to ever have a chance to get to heaven.  All other religions were false.

I had quit going to the Catholic church when I was grown and was able to choose what I wanted to do.  From time to time I would go back for a little while, because I felt I needed to or perhaps out of a sense of guilt.  Never did I feel close to God or even understand Him.  To me He was someone just ready to strike me down when I did wrong, so He was feared more than anything.  I couldn't be perfect so I felt there was no need trying to please God as I continued to fall short of what He wanted me to be. 

So for about 20 years I really didn't think about religion of any kind or about having a relationship with God.  It was pushed out of my mind.  I got divorced from my husband after 18 years of marriage and later remarried a dear friend I had known since high school.  He had come from a completely different religious background than I had.  Ray even went to Catholic church with me, when I would go, but I could tell his heart was not in it at all.  He said he was praying all along that God would get through to me and I would see the truth.

Ray would talk to me about the bible and the end times when Jesus would come again for His people and this was all foreign to me.  I thought he was making this stuff up about the tribulation and judgement day.  He said it was all in the bible but I would not have known because I had never read it for myself.  So I began searching to find the truth and one day I was reading articles on the internet and came across religions and cults.  I found an article on Catholicism and it caught my attention.  It was something like a light going on in my head or a door being opened.  I started to read about how many of the Catholic doctrines are against what the bible teaches and many others are made up completely, such as the belief about Purgatory (souls that weren't bad enough to go to hell but were in a holding place until they went to heaven).  Our prayers were suppose to get these souls out of Purgatory and into heaven.  

So much of what I had heard all my life was either not in the bible or an outright lie.   I was hurt by the deceit and then upset with myself for not finding out the truth sooner.  I was upset with my parents and all the teachers, priests, and nuns who had given me wrong information though the years.  Why didn't I check it out for myself, I do not know.  I cried that night like a baby because I was hurt and felt so deceived.   I apologized to God for not understanding and knowing sooner.  I felt He must really be ashamed of me that it took so long for me to discover the truth about Him and His great love for His children.  I was ashamed that I didn't seek the truth sooner.   When I told my husband, he was thrilled about what had happened.  I was not even sure what had happened but something had changed and I now feel closer to God then I have ever in my life.  I have a peace within that I did not know before and now know that this can only come from God.

That all happened in February 2002 so it's only been a little over a year.  Since then I have been baptized (the right way, by immersion).  In fact, my husband got re-baptized with me and we belong to a bible believing church and attend every Sunday.   I was even asked to teach a Sunday school class, but declined on that for now.   I read the bible faithfully, there is so much to learn and there is so much I didn't know.  I now have a personal relationship with Jesus, our Savior, and want to learn everything I can about Him.  I feel like I lost some time but I've got to make up by keeping God as the center of my life.  I have truly experienced His great love and I thank God that I know Him and can spend an eternity with Him when this life is over.

Sorry this e-mail was so long but I wanted to thank you for the article about Gary.   I believe that the truth has to be presented to all so closed minds can be opened and accept the truth.  It's not a religion but a relationship with Jesus that gets us to heaven.  I hope Gary has found the answer he was looking for, which will bring a peace to his life like no other.  Thank you again for that article and may God continue to bless you and your ministry.


(c) copyright 2003, Eric Barger

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