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(why am I Catholic?) Because I Awoke from a Long, Bad Dream
Why I Am Catholic ^ | 8/26/2010 | Webster Bull

Posted on 08/26/2010 1:45:43 PM PDT by markomalley

For a long time I was mystified by several friends of mine. Each was born and raised Catholic, then fell away from the Church in their late teens or early adulthood. What could have caused this, I wondered? I was often critical of these friends. How could they not see the beauty of the Church they were born into? Then I realized that the same thing had happened to me.

I used to refer to my boarding-school years as the best educational experience of my life. Now, I see them differently: as the beginning of a nightmare from which I am only now waking up. When I went off to school at the ridiculously unformed age of fifteen, I was like some of my raised-Catholic friends; I was a devout little (redacted) altar boy. I am not being ironic. I loved serving at the altar, and during those mid-teen years I even thought seriously about becoming an (redacted) minister. Dear old Dr. Bassage, the revered senior minister at our church, had written my recommendation for boarding school, and I could see little better in life than to follow in his path.

Then I went away to school. Things happened there that I am still trying to sort out, but the end result was that three years later, I graduated a self-satisfied agnostic liberal railing against my father because he supported the war in Vietnam. I was destined not to return to church, as a regular devotion, for nearly 40 years. By then, my father was my best male friend.

What happened when I went away to school? I succumbed to the tyranny of my peers. While the school faculty was supposed to act in loco parentis, there was little in the way of authentic adult authority, except for “Dean Bob,” who threatened punishments from “restricts” to the ax. Our dorm master during my first two years was ridiculed by every student who lived on the floors he supposedly ruled; during senior year, I lived in a house where the benign master, beloved by the fifteen of us who lived above his ground-floor quarters, blithely ignored the odd, smoky odors emanating from upstairs. The school minister, known with genuine affection as “The Rev,” was the closest thing we had to a spiritual authority, but the times being what they were, his message had to be so rounded off at the corners, for reasons of ecumenism, that it had little edge. I do not remember much talk of Jesus Christ.

My peers taught me how to be an adult. A fifteen-year-old kid who was just learning to shave showed up at a dorm one day and, for purposes of survival, quickly kowtowed to the common mentality of the “buttroom” (where we smoked), the classroom, and the athletic field. The central characteristic of that mentality was a deep cynicism about all forms of authority, combined with an absurd self-satisfaction that was only punctured when, as occasionally happened, someone got seriously sick or injured, or a friend threatened suicide.

I ask myself how I could possibly have given up so completely my Christian faith, and the only answer I can come up with is this tyranny. To survive socially, to be accepted, and probably to counteract unspoken feelings of homesickness, I fell asleep to my real needs, my real nature. And so began a long, bad dream.

By the time I became a Catholic 30 months ago, I had sent my two children to boarding school. I make no judgment about them here; they are bright, successful, happy young adults, and each is following her own sincere spiritual journey, one of which has led to the Catholic Church. But if I saw the world as I do now when my wife and I faced the decision of where to send our daughters to high school, I would have thought twice about it.

I am a Catholic today because I finally awoke from that experience. What wakes a person up? Not himself. An alarm clock, maybe? I think the Church would call it grace.


TOPICS: Catholic
KEYWORDS: freformed

1 posted on 08/26/2010 1:45:46 PM PDT by markomalley
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To: markomalley
What wakes a person up?

spending a lot of time looking for something permanent in this world, and not finding it.

2 posted on 08/26/2010 1:53:56 PM PDT by PGR88
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To: markomalley

There is an important point embedded in this piece.

If you let people who despise everything you stand for, educate your kids, you are almost guaranteed to lose them. If you lose your kids, not much else really matters.

Parents have to take control of the education of their kids. In many or most cases this probably means getting them out of public school; it means keeping them in a Godly church; it certainly means taking an active role in their upbringing to make sure the principles you hold dear are properly modeled and lived and taught to them all the way through to adulthood.

They may still stray as they find their own way but they’ll know where home is.


3 posted on 08/26/2010 1:55:48 PM PDT by marron
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To: markomalley

sorry I don’t get it


4 posted on 08/26/2010 2:01:35 PM PDT by estrogen (2012 can't come soon enough)
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To: marron

Worth repeating: (If you let people who despise everything you stand for, educate your kids, you are almost guaranteed to lose them).


5 posted on 08/26/2010 2:02:48 PM PDT by Blue Turtle
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To: markomalley

**I am a Catholic today because I finally awoke from that experience. What wakes a person up? Not himself. An alarm clock, maybe? I think the Church would call it grace.**

Welcome home Webster!


6 posted on 08/26/2010 2:29:20 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: estrogen
Many people have gotten it. Sorry you don't. But ponder on this story and others.

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Former Anglican Bishop, Catholic Convert, Jeffrey Steenson on Anglocatholicism [Ecumenical]
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EWTN - The Journey Home - May 19 - Tom Cabeen, former Jehovah's Witness [Ecumenic]
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Who is Mary of Nazareth? [Kenneth J. Howell, Ph. D.}
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Dr. Robert C. Koons (former Lutheran) - Journey Home - Monday 3/31 - Conversion Story
The Story of a Convert from Islam – Baptized by the Pope at St. Peter's [Magdi Cristiano Allam]
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My (Imminent) Reception into the Roman Catholic Church [Robert Koons]
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The Challenges and Graces of Conversion [Chris Findley]
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Unlocking the Convert's Heart [Marcus Grodi]
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Bp. Steenson's Letter to his clergy on his conversion to the Catholic Church
Bishop Steenson’s Statement to the House [of Bishops: Episcopal (TEC) to Catholic]
Bp. Steenson's Letter to his clergy on his conversion to the Catholic Church
Bishop Steenson Will Become a Roman Catholic
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Why I Returned to the Catholic Church. Part VI: The Biblical Reality (Al Kresta)
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Conversion Story - Matt Enloe (former Baptist) [prepare to be amazed!]
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Catholic Converts - Stephen K. Ray (former Evangelical)
Catholic Converts - Malcolm Muggeridge

Catholic Converts - Richard John Neuhaus
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Catholic Converts - Israel (Eugenio) Zolli - Chief Rabbi of Rome
Catholic Converts - Robert H. Bork , American Jurist (Catholic Caucus)
Catholic Converts - Marcus Grodi
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7 posted on 08/26/2010 2:33:57 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: estrogen

Yours is the only rational response.


8 posted on 08/26/2010 2:43:51 PM PDT by Mr. Lucky
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To: estrogen

The author does not make it clear how he went from skepticism to Catholicism. So, to that extent, I must agree that I don’t get it.


9 posted on 08/26/2010 3:16:33 PM PDT by Tax-chick (I should be, but I'm not.)
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To: Tax-chick

Indeed. I had a similar experience, but for me it was the opposite. Separation from parental influence brought me into contact with Christ and his church.

Thanks for posting this mark!


10 posted on 08/26/2010 3:24:47 PM PDT by BenKenobi (We cannot do everything at once, but we can do something at once. -Silent Cal)
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To: BenKenobi

I had, I guess (from the limited data) a similar path to the author’s. I was brought up as a Protestant, became a non-Christian as an adolescent (my “existentialist period”), and then became a Catholic as an adult. I began attending the Catholic Church when I was 20, and was Confirmed when I was 26.

It would be interesting to know what, exactly, led him this way.


11 posted on 08/26/2010 3:29:25 PM PDT by Tax-chick (I should be, but I'm not.)
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To: Tax-chick

Wow, other then changing the years from 20 to 19, and from 26 to 25, your experience matches mine.

What church were you brought up in? My mom was Anglican.


12 posted on 08/26/2010 3:33:37 PM PDT by BenKenobi (We cannot do everything at once, but we can do something at once. -Silent Cal)
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To: BenKenobi

We started out Congregational, and then when they went bats over the Vietnam War, we went Presbyterian. My mother is still PC-USA, but she says she’ll change if her regional presbytery (central Florida) ever says they’ll ordain homosexuals. I don’t know where she’d go - Lutherans have gone loopy in recent years, too.


13 posted on 08/26/2010 3:37:27 PM PDT by Tax-chick (I should be, but I'm not.)
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To: Tax-chick

Tell her to swim the Tiber.

I went from Anglican to the Mennonite church and then to Catholicism. I disagreed with the protestant understanding that you simply leave a church that you don’t like.


14 posted on 08/26/2010 3:43:46 PM PDT by BenKenobi (We cannot do everything at once, but we can do something at once. -Silent Cal)
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To: markomalley

I was in Web Bull’s class. I’m surprised his experience at school was so different from mine. We, however, moved in different circles.

BTW, I thought then and I think to this day that the school minister was and is one of the finest men I ever met.

What does this article have to do with conversion to Roman Catholicism or Roman Catholicism in general?


15 posted on 08/26/2010 4:39:29 PM PDT by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: Kolokotronis
What does this article have to do with conversion to Roman Catholicism or Roman Catholicism in general?

I don't think anything particularly unique about Catholicism. I think it has more to do with losing the faith due to peer issues as a teen and then regaining the faith as an adult.

And, I think, in this case, one could easily replace Catholic with Orthodox or with one of the various Protestant sects easily enough. That is not always the case with posts from this site.

16 posted on 08/26/2010 4:46:09 PM PDT by markomalley (Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus)
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To: markomalley

“I think it has more to do with losing the faith due to peer issues as a teen and then regaining the faith as an adult.”

Ah! My prep school religious experience was, if anything, quite the opposite. My apostasy came later, in grad school and a bit after. Marriage and the arrival of the boys reversed that aberration.


17 posted on 08/26/2010 5:06:02 PM PDT by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: markomalley; Kolokotronis

funny how much web’s prep school experience matched mine. Where did you go and what class?

Coming home was a slow process for me, helped by intellectuals I respected, like Buckley. Mostly, it was a decision to open my eyes and ears to signs of grace.

Finding a local parish practicing the tridentine (latin) mass, with its unearthly peace, purpose, solemnity, and beauty, was an epiphany for me.


18 posted on 08/26/2010 9:57:38 PM PDT by bt_dooftlook (Democrats - the party of Amnesty, Abortion, and Adolescence)
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To: markomalley; Kolokotronis

funny how much web’s prep school experience matched mine. Where did you go and what class?

Coming home was a slow process for me, helped by intellectuals I respected, like Buckley. Mostly, it was a decision to open my eyes and ears to signs of grace.

Finding a local parish practicing the tridentine (latin) mass, with its unearthly peace, purpose, solemnity, and beauty, was an epiphany for me.


19 posted on 08/26/2010 9:57:50 PM PDT by bt_dooftlook (Democrats - the party of Amnesty, Abortion, and Adolescence)
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To: markomalley; Kolokotronis

funny how much web’s prep school experience matched mine. Where did you go and what class?

Coming home was a slow process for me, helped by intellectuals I respected, like Buckley. Mostly, it was a decision to open my eyes and ears to signs of grace.

Finding a local parish practicing the tridentine (latin) mass, with its unearthly peace, purpose, solemnity, and beauty, was an epiphany for me.


20 posted on 08/26/2010 9:59:00 PM PDT by bt_dooftlook (Democrats - the party of Amnesty, Abortion, and Adolescence)
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To: markomalley; Kolokotronis

funny how much web’s prep school experience matched mine. Where did you go and what class?

Coming home was a slow process for me, helped by intellectuals I respected, like Buckley. Mostly, it was a decision to open my eyes and ears to signs of grace.

Finding a local parish practicing the tridentine (latin) mass, with its unearthly peace, purpose, solemnity, and beauty, was an epiphany for me.


21 posted on 08/26/2010 9:59:17 PM PDT by bt_dooftlook (Democrats - the party of Amnesty, Abortion, and Adolescence)
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To: estrogen; Mr. Lucky
I read this article as a responsible of all orthodox Christians who return from the religion of secularism. The religion of secularism is highly attractive in N. America and W. Europe. Why? In my humble opinion it is because people have things taken care of by a higher power -- unfortunately in this case government. So people think that everything can be handled by other people, by the god called "government".

So they replace weekly mass/service with daily worshipping of the secular god Tel-E-veeshun and the weekly procession to the house of the secular god, the Malle.

They also get parables shown to them by Tel-E-veeshun, namely the parables like:

1. The tale of the person who had the wrong credit card and couldn't afford a longer vacation in Malibu
2. The tale of the housewife who did not listen to her friend when buying washing powder and ended up with less shiny dishes
3. The miracles of

I've spoken to Westerners who think life is all hunky-dory, who've never been to a funeral or a wedding or a christening, but believe that the world revolves around them.

God gives us freedom, yes, but too much of that leads to the devil, too little of that also is not what God wants. It's a fine balance, but Christianity provides that balance.

And, finally, he's right about schools -- we learn a lot from our companions and let's face facts --> most of us are not adult enough in our thinking until we're at least 21 (I'm talking about me -- I'm sure there are others who were far more mature at the age of 15!)
22 posted on 08/26/2010 10:49:13 PM PDT by Cronos (Omnia mutantur, nihil interit. "Allah": Satan's current status)
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To: Cronos

I agree with your post completely. The headline of the article, however, wasn’t all that well explained by the article. That’s all.


23 posted on 08/27/2010 6:25:58 AM PDT by Mr. Lucky
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To: Salvation
And I'm a Catholic today because, as I'm fond of saying, I wallowed around in secular humanism long enough that the cognitive dissonance became unbearable. So I took another look at my childhood, and found what I needed there. The teen years are so full of dangers... I read on someones facebook page that they were a "hopeful agnostic" which describes me for most of my life. Another friend is a "reluctant athiest" but I think she just hasn't got it yet. My early Catholic upbringing was really something we sort of sneered at until we finally figured out that what we believed then is what we really believe now.

What happens to people inbetween? Don't know, but I'm sure glad I found my way back.

24 posted on 11/21/2010 5:56:49 PM PST by vharlow
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